Unlike popular Scandinavian cities such as Stockholm or Copenhagen, Oslo is often overlooked as a destination. However, the open-air capital is where you’ll find stunning beaches and parks coexisting alongside 19th-century architecture. Oslo has a charm of its own, with different neighbourhoods boasting different vibes.
Grünerløkka, once a run-down industrial district, has been transformed into a vibrant neighbourhood with alleyways painted with colourful street art. It is home to a young and creative crowd, alongside a slew of bars, vintage boutiques, established artist studios and interior stores. Once a haven for artists and creatives such as Oslo’s most famous painter Edvard Munch, Grünerløkka is the heart of the city’s most inventive food, coffee, mixology and shopping scenes.
Thorvald Meyers gate, the main street of Grünerløkka, boasts quality cafés. We particularly love Supreme Roastworks, which is run by Odd-Steinar Tøllefsen, a multiple award-winner of the World Brewers Cup. The eatery is furnished with wooden chairs and tables for a cosy atmosphere, and offers a fine selection of brews such as the Ethiopian slow-processed — making it great for discerning coffee connoisseurs.
If you’re more inclined towards tea, Tea Lounge is where you can sip on a cuppa in a laid-back setting. While the shop, with its small range of brews, is the perfect place to relax on a slow Saturday afternoon, it transforms into a bustling bar at night. You will truly get to enjoy the best of both worlds here.
“New Nordic” and international cuisine
Grünerløkka has a mishmash of cuisine from all over the world. For a hearty American breakfast, head on to The Nighthawk Diner, an all-American diner which is popular amongst the locals. For Mexican fare, Mucho Mas is the neighbourhood’s oldest Mexican restaurant, while Tijuana is a more recent addition. Both boast repertoires of authentic Mexican food and tipples.
Bass Oslo is the place to go for your Scandinavian fix. The restaurant features minimalist interiors and boasts specialities such as cured duck with pickled fennel, and asparagus with goat cheese cream, brown butter and hazelnuts.
Kolonihagen Grünerløkka is also one of the neighbourhood’s latest arrivals, specialising in “new Nordic” cuisine that is served in tapas-sized portions — perfect for when you’re starting to familiarise your palate with the local cuisine.
Forget chain stores that have the same offerings in every part of the globe. The allure of shopping in Grünerløkka lies in its independent boutiques run by young Norwegian designers, and its smorgasbord of cool thrift stores.
Just take a stroll along the neighbourhood’s shopping district, Markveien, and you will find stores with eclectic vintage finds — all at affordable prices.
Robot is one of the district’s most popular stores, selling imported vintage, retro and mod clothing. Here’s where the style mavens of Oslo shop. When in doubt, the shop’s friendly staff will give you advice on pairing vintage clothing with your wardrobe.
Another shop to check out is Ny York Vintage & 2nd Hand, an independent store stocked with unique pre-owned garments, as well as a beautiful selection of vintage jewellery, hats, accessories, shoes and sunglasses. The store’s name references the area at the lower end of Grünerløkka, which in the late 1800s was called Ny York by the locals.
Grünerløkka not only boasts Oslo’s industrial history, but also lush greenery, parklands and walking trails. Take a scenic walk across the Ankerbrua bridge, which spans the Akerselva River, linking Markveien and Torggata. Here, you will find sculptures by Norwegian sculptor Per Ung, such as the Peer Gynt and his reindeer.
The trendy yet laid-back Grünerløkka is Oslo’s up-and-coming neighbourhood that can rival even the trendiest parts of Stockholm. With its cool and colourful murals, quaint vintage stores and fusion food, the district deems itself worthy of a visit — and for a spot on your Instagram feed.
(Main image: Mucho Mas ; Featured image: @onlydecolove)