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Entertainment in Oslo is usually split between outdoor pursuits and nightlife. Picnics in the park or hikes among the hills are popular activities after work and on weekends. Oslo’s many restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, cinemas and theatres are always full. Owing to the high cost of alcohol, many choose to have parties at home, or at least to begin the festivities at home with pre-parties, and then go out to bars or dance clubs.
Oslo has several movie theatres that feature mostly Hollywood films, though there is a rich and active Norwegian and Scandinavian film industry that is represented.
Shopping in Oslo
Oslo is a shopper’s paradise, as it’s filled with boutiques and shopping centres. That said, it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so expats might be shocked when they realise how much and how quickly they can spend in Oslo.
Most shops in Oslo are open weekdays 10am to 5pm, and Saturdays 9am to 3pm. Many shopping centres have extended opening hours from 10am to 9pm from Monday to Friday and 10am to 6pm on Saturdays. Most shops are closed on Sundays.
Some of the most popular shopping areas of Oslo include:
Downtown Oslo is full of shops with most of the best-known brands, and also contains the malls of Oslo City and Byporten, which are brimming with stores and cafés for every taste and just about every budget too. Aker Brygge, the wharf next to City Hall, has expensive designer shops, as well as regular shops, cafés, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and bars. Paleet, on Karl Johans Gate, has more upscale shops, with exclusive boutiques.
Comprising the streets Bogstadveien and Hegdehaugsveien, Majorstuen is one of the largest and most exclusive shopping districts in Oslo. Here, shoppers will find a good mix of exclusive brands, mid-price clothing and value clothes. Hegdehaugsveien is especially well known for its high-end boutiques, featuring designer brands. There is a monthly farmer’s market at Vibes gate, as well as market days twice a year when the whole of Bogstadveien is closed off to traffic and fills up with people looking for a bargain.
Frogner – Bygdøy allé
This street offers a good selection of exclusive, modern interior design shops. In this area, one can also find small independent shops with everything from exclusive underwear to kitchen utensils. Down the road toward Skøyen are several popular furniture and interior design shops as well.
This area is full of designer boutiques, small cafés and parks. It is the place to find young Norwegian designers. Small, independent shops with clothes, pottery and handicrafts are presented, as well as second-hand book and record shops. Some chain stores can also be found here.
This area has become known for its wide variety of affordable shops run by immigrants. They offer Oslo’s best selection of fruits and vegetables. If shoppers are looking for cheap fabrics, jewellery, spice, fruit and vegetable markets, this is where it can be found. Most of the stores are situated on Grønlandsleiret and Tøyengata streets, or on Smalgangen.
Nightlife in Oslo
As a city with one of the world's highest costs of living, both locals and expats mostly drink before going out (called Forespill). After dinner, there is usually a pre-drinks gathering at someone’s house, and once everyone is well warmed up, the party moves to a club. Revellers often go to Frogner on the west side or Grünerløkka on the east side. Karl Johan and Youngstorget are also nightlife hubs.
Coffee culture in Oslo
Norwegians love coffee and drink it at home, at the office and on the go. Kaffebrenneriet, a shop akin to the Norwegian Starbucks minus the big, comfortable chairs, has a great selection, including homemade pastries and sandwiches. Expats will also find a fair share of French pâtisseries – Pascal and Åpent Bakeri are among the most famous.
►See and Do in Oslo provides an overview of the city's best attractions
"The only thing that has slightly changed my way of life (considering the higher standard of living) is that it is particularly expensive to go out for a drink or a nice dinner. We still do it, just less often. Also, imported goods are extremely expensive."
Read our interview with Central American expat Gisèle to learn more about living in Oslo.
Are you an expat living in Oslo?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Oslo. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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