Oslove. What I love and What I don’t.

Last Sunday we took a walk to Frognerparken and looked inside of the City Museum (Bymuseet) which is located there. Right now there is an exhibition about the history of Oslo called “Oslove” (which is a popular hashtag here on Instagram). It was interesting to see the development of old town of Kristiania (which was here before Oslo) into the modern capital.

I especially liked the wall with photographs of people who came to Oslo from different places in the world in the past century. Some of the photos had handles and if you pull it will open a little window where you can read about a person and see more photos or things. My first window was about a Ukrainian man who came to Oslo a hundred years ago and started a cigarette production. He was a Jew born in Kiev, and left Ukraine not out of fun, as I understood. As I was reading, I hoped that one day I also will be able to leave my mark on this city. I also left Ukraine not out of fun, but looking for a better life, like that man. In the end, he was able to build it with his own hands. I am still in the process of building and doubting.

The rooms of exhibitions changed with the era: in the beginning it was dark and narrow, with raw stone walls, in the end it was a big room full of light, with the portraits of teenagers from many nationalities who live in Oslo today. I especially was excited to see a screen with people telling what they like and what they don’t like about Oslo – because the kids there were from the school where I used to work and I recognized their faces.

As we were walking out into the sharp cold air outside, we asked each other: “what do you like and don’t like about Oslo?” Leaving the climate aside, because it is a feature of the whole country. I want to share my answer here.

What I like about Oslo is its nature. The city is full of it. I need to walk only five minutes to the river Akerselva and there is a nice pathway along it all the way up to the lake Maridalsvannet. It is enough to take a tram or a subway to the last station to get to the forest where you can get lost for hours (been there, done that :)). There are several lakes where you can walk around: Sognsvann, Bogstagvann, Ostersjøvann. There is a Bygdøy peninsula with beaches and a forest. And in summer you can take a ferry to the islands, just 10 minutes from the city centre, and to picnic or walk there.

view from the island of Hovedøya

The nature is a great place to go when you need to restore the peace of mind or just get some fresh air. There is enough silence and solitude which are so important to some of us to fill up on energy. I like that Oslo provides enough space to be by yourself, though sometimes that was too much for me. Oslo, like a true Norwegian, respects independence, stillness and individual freedom, and there is enough room for that in this city.

a walk around the Sognsvann lake

What I don’t like about Oslo is its provincial character. It has the charm of the village-capital, but I miss the heartbeat of the big city. I have lived in Hamburg and felt its vibrant life, even though I was an au-pair with no budget for concerts and theaters. When I come to London, Barcelona, Kiev, I feel that pulse which I miss in Oslo. That feeling that the city is full of young and creative people that make things. Oslo caters well for families and older people, but the rest have to think for themselves. So if you want to do an exciting shopping, if you want to have a musical night with dinner, if you want to experience the big city vibe – you go to the airport and travel out of the country. To Italy – for shopping, to London – for musicals and shopping, and to any capital in Europe – for big city vibe. Then you come back to Oslo and rest and say: “oh, so many people, so much traffic it was there. So good to be back!” But I miss that pulsating and vibrant spirit, and don’t want to fly every time I miss it.

It is also popular to leave Oslo for the holidays: the school holidays, for Christmas, for Easter. And there are some days of the year when there are very few people on the street, the shops and cafes are closed, and if you didn’t leave – you feel pretty stuck. We felt this during the Easter week when on Thursday everything was down, the city felt like a ghost town, it was raining – and we had no better idea than to walk and look for a cafe that was open. Pretty lonesome view it was. Then we drove to Gothenburg in Sweden, and it was a bit more cheerful even though it was bitter cold. There was a hockey game, people on the streets, shops, restaurants and cafes were open and full of people. I don’t know why Oslo has to be so empty and forlorn during the holiday season.

And what do you think about your place? What do you like and don’t like about it?

12 thoughts on “Oslove. What I love and What I don’t.

    • Thank you for your comment and for stopping by 😊 Yes, good word – “deserted”)) It seems that people prefer to spend there free days elsewhere. Weekends differ: Saturdays there are shopping crowds, Sundays it is peace and stillness 🙂


  1. Hello, having lived in various cities (Brussels,Paris and Oslo) I agree with your positives : it offers pretty much all a large city can offer but in comparison with other capitals lacks that big city vibe, the positive is that you can access the nature very quick and is great for outdoor sports, we went kayaking last summer and it was just great. What I like is that many things are very practical and quick : public transports, it can be quiet at times but it is rarely overcrowded so you have space and time to run your errands for example. And I do not mind for example to stay here in July when everyone is on holidays. In Paris unless you go shopping or do your activities at odd hours it is always crowded everywhere, and that can be exhausting if you do not have the flexibility to do so. There is not much I do not like about Oslo as a city, the things I do not like would be related to local culture : pressure to conform to the norm,…

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    • I agree, it is very comfortable and practical for being a city. It is a small city though. I thrive in big cities, but after 10 years in Oslo I am afraid I am too spoiled by short walking distance to downtown, space and peace on the transport, and that relaxed feeling with few crowds. I want to try living in Barcelona, wonder how that would go for me 😆 Paris is on my dream list too, I would live there for a year, just to have it with me for the rest of my life))
      And I agree with you that the bigger problem is not the quality of the city itself but the culture of conformity and some other traits which are typically Norwegian.

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      • I lived one year in Paris and it was great but I was fortunate to live in a nice neighborhood, for all those large cities a decent level of income is needed otherwise it will be a pain (long commute, etc) :). I have a friend who was sent to Barcelona and lived there for 2 months his experience was very positive in terms of practicality and all, so maybe you should try an adventure there! I am currently looking at relocating (not necessarily to a large city) so that is why your post attracted me in the first place 🙂

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      • Funny enough, Paris defines itself inside of the narrow borders and looks not big – but I can imagine the rental prices inside of these borders. Otherwise there are suburbs which are cheaper, but this is a totally different Paris, I guess 🙂
        Barcelona in 2 months must be lovely, you just take the best of it 🙂 It is not huge city, and unique Mediterranean metropole, so I believe it has future, not only among tourists 🙂 I want to try some years there. And ideally, I would love to build a combination of Spanish and Scandi life. I think, in this balance even Oslo would seem much lovelier 🙂
        Relocation sounds exciting! Which cities have you considered?


      • Since I am Belgium somewhere not too far, so it could be again Paris :). Indeed Paris Intra-Muros is not the large (it is not London or New-York in size) and within 30 minutes you can be from one end of the city to the other. The warmth of the south, a more “continental” culture (a.k.a. normal social behavior 😉 and nicer food combined to the practicality of Oslo would be a great combo!

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      • Indeed, Belgium paves a direct way to Paris. More surely than Oslo. But who knows… 😉 Ahaha, I loved your note of “normal social behavior” 🙂 I know, after 11 years in this country I start losing the idea of what is “normal”. But somewhere inside of me, I know that I miss that Southern culture that reminds me more of what I grew up with. Norway, beautiful and mystical as it is, feels like it can never be my own 🙂 But cheers for custom-making our combos!

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  2. Very interesting to read your blog. I live in Gothenburg and we do get many Norweigens coming here for the weekend. On the other side I like visiting Oslo. Gothenburg is not a capital and whenever I go to a capital city, including Oslo, I am reminded of the difference. Gothenburg is a wonderful place but it’s just not big enough to offer everything a big city can. It’s good to travel often I suppose so we get what we are missing. I’m originally from London and living outside a capital took some getting used to. The worst part is not being able to fly direct to every other major European city. Luckily I can reach Oslo by train and bus easily! 😊

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    • Thank you for stopping by! Interesting experience you have. I agree that Gothenburg lacks that capital vibe. Though it feels livelier at times. But true, Oslo is a capital, even if very small one 🙂 And wow, after London, that whole country in a city, that must be such a great difference! I am forever in love with London, and had once a dream of living there. But mu oh my, Oslo has spoiled me 😆 I like comfort and peace, and I don’t want more than 2 million now in my next city. I am an urban animal but that big city jungle feels exhausting to me ( I am getting old 😆). Your comment has sparkled many thoughts in my head 👋

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  3. Interesting. I have a 16 hour lay over in Oslo in December. Hoping to make it to the river and find a nice place to eat and enjoy some drinks. Thanks for the info.

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    • If you make it to the river you can pop by Mathallen, the Food Court. There you can find several restaurants and food joints. And a nice atmosphere on a cold December day. It gets dark early then, around 4pm, so it’s good to do something cozy :)) Enjoy your stay!

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