Tucked deep into the base of its very own fjord at the southern end of Norway, Oslo is an astounding city that oozes Scandinavian culture and real urban cool. Sleek, steel-dressed buildings crowd its harbour. A cutting-edge opera house that mimics an iceberg glows in Carrara marble on the seafront. There’s even a ski jump whizzing down the hills of Holmenkollbakken on the north side of town. Once you’re done gasping as the sheer audacity of it all, get ready to delve into the history and culture. That means unravelling the brooding plays of Henrik Ibsen and the haunting art of Edvard Munch, along with sightings of the Norwegian Royal Palace and even Viking warships.
From modern studios with all the comforts of home to sleek penthouses with views over the Oslo Fjord, Airbnb in the Norwegian capital has all sorts of tempting stays up its sleeve. This guide can help you hit upon the most enticing neighbourhoods in the town. It also gives some hot tips on the very best Airbnbs that Oslo has to offer. Let’s take a look…
Yes. Airbnb operates just like any other traveler accommodation portal in Norway. It’s totally legal and allowed. You can book your hip pad with a balcony overlooking the fish markets of Aker Brygge or boho bolthole in artsy Grünerløkka and not worry about falling foul of local authorities. As it stands, there’s not even a tourist tax to pay for nightly stays in the capital. You might just be asked to present your passport either before or upon arrival, but that’s the same as in a conventional hotel.
Where should I stay in Oslo Airbnb?
Most travelers will start their Oslo journey in the retail mecca of the Sentrum(1) district, or pick a marina-side pad between the fish eateries of Aker Brygge(2). Little Vika(3) is close to both of those, but has more cultural leanings thanks to its concert halls and museums. Young folk looking to hang with Norway’s hipsters should head straight for Grünerløkka(4). Quieter streets and good Airbnb bargains can be had east in Gamle Oslo(5). Finally, there’s wonderful Holmenkollen(6), stringing through the hills and woodlands to the north with its forest hikes and groomed ski pistes.
Sentrum (City Centre)
Something for everyone
Very central – just as the name implies
Can be expensive
Busy all the time
The heart of Oslo and the most-visited corner of the city is the Sentrum. It bustles and hustles with life, especially around the main shopping drag of Karl Johans – a montage of street entertainers, high-street fashion shopping and chain coffee brands that comes alive in the warmer summer months. A few historic landmarks like the lovely Oslo Cathedral and the grand Stortinget buildings of the Norwegian parliament can keep the sightseers busy. In addition, there’s dining, cafés, bowling alleys, and multicultural foods galore in the fun-filled precinct of Torggata.
Aker Brygge usually has pride of place on lists of Oslo’s very best neighbourhoods. It’s come full circle since its days as a gritty fishing port. Now, it’s gilded with shiny new apartment blocks, dotted with creative galleries, and has a reputation for holding some of the best seafood gastronomy in the city. Yep, staying here means having fantastic open-air restaurants right by the water’s edge on the doorstep, serving up the crème-de-la-crème of Nordic fish. It’s also the place to be if you’re keen to take boat trips down the Oslo Fjord.
Culture vultures should feel right at home in the central district of Vika. It’s small but it’s packed with things to do. The vast National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design arguably leads the way, especially for its collection Edvard Munch paintings. The huge Oslo Concert Hall is also here, offering regular philharmonic orchestras, jazz gigs and more. Then comes the Nobel Peace Center, which chronicles the philosophy and history of the Nobel Peace Prize. Checked them all off? The salt-washed marina, with its fantastic fish kitchens, and Sentrum, with its shopping strips, are only a short walk away.
Grünerløkka has followed the same trajectory of many of Europe’s hipster neighbourhoods: Once an industrial quarter, it’s now been revamped to host creative start-ups and curious art workshops. That makes it Oslo’s most youthful and edgiest corner. Come to find coffee beans being roasted in 18th-century tenement blocks. Look for the vintage flea markets in Birkelunden at the end of the weekend. Come for the dive bars, the microbreweries and the tasty output of the Mathallen Foodhall.
Sadly for Oslo, the historic core of the medieval city – the area known as Gamle Oslo – burned to the ground in the 1600s. But there are still traces of that venerable part of town in the many ruins and reconstructed façades that dot the quarters east of Sentrum. Close to the water, you’ll catch examples of amazing modern architecture, like the Oslo Opera House, which soon give way to the grid of streets that is Old Town – now mainly residential. Parts of Gamle Oslo worth noting for Airbnbs include Grønland (a multicultural hub with a strong Asian and Middle Eastern influences) and Tøyen (a green area that lays claim to the legendary Munch Museum).
It can take around 30 minutes to go from the salt spray of the Oslo Fjord to the forest-clad hills of Holmenkollen. But doing the journey means trading the brick and concrete jungle for something altogether more Scandinavian. Here, woodlands spill down the sides of high fells, winter brings plumes of snow to the parks, and little lakes hide up in the valleys. Come the cooler months, the slopes of the Oslo Winter Park and the Holmenkollen are two major attractions, bringing in skiers and ski jumpers (and those who just prefer to watch) from all around the globe!
You’ll feel right at home in this comfy apartment in buzzing Grünerløkka. It blends bohemian styles with a touch of Scandinavian charm, mingling exposed-brick walls with painted timbers and contemporary furnishings throughout. The views out onto the street from the come-laze-in-me living room are fantastic. There’s a fitted, separate kitchen. The bedroom is bright and breezy.
Delve deep into the northern reaches of Oslo to escape to the city’s green lungs of woods and mountains with help from this cosy cabin in Holmenkollen. It’s got space enough for four guests behind its timber-clad walls, along with a cosy lounge and a little flower-dotted terrace. The real draw is the location amid nature, which puts hiking trails and cross-country skiing tracks right outside the front door.
You’ll have 135 square metres of space to enjoy as a family in this lovely flat. Awash with thought-provoking art pieces that give it a vintage, kitschy, turn-of-the-century feel, the property doesn’t compromise on conveniences – think large dining area for meals in together and a duo of living rooms with sofas. Location wise, you’re in hip and happening Grünerløkka, where there’s an abundance of coffeeshops and restaurants, along with efficient tram links to Oslo’s major attractions.
Nine individual bedrooms mean this large apartment can host a whopping 15 guests in total. What’s more, it’s near the acclaimed museums and exhibits of the Vika district, so there’s plenty in the vicinity to keep your cultural receptors satisfied. Travelers enjoy the use of a big self-catering kitchen and two bathrooms. What’s more, extra services like regular housekeeping can be organised on request.
Fling open your window in the morning to be greeted by a breezy terrace and the scents of the salty Oslo Fjord, all thanks to the location of this modern flat down on the edges of Gamle Oslo. It’s got a wonderful balcony where you and your other half can snuggle in with a glass of wine, along with bright interiors and a large king-sized bed. Guests can also access a Zen rooftop garden.
Oslo certainly isn’t the cheapest city break option in Europe. However, Airbnb might just be able to help you mitigate the hefty price tag that comes with this Scandi capital. That’s not just because nightly rates in Airbnb apartments tend to be a tad lower than in conventional hotels. It’s also because you get self-catering facilities in many of these sorts of accommodations, which means less spent on eating out, and it’s possible to get multi-room flats to share out the cost with everyone you’re planning to travel with.
The downside is that you won’t get the same level of service in an Airbnb as in a hotel. For the most part, you can forget frills like daily housekeeping and breakfast buffets, on-site concierges and dedicated lobby bars. The likes of those are available in more traditional establishments, like the Grand Hotel, which fuses classic European grandeur with a sleek spa and pool facility right in the beating heart of the capital.
Cool and collected Oslo is one of Scandinavia’s most happening capitals. One moment, you’ll be gasping as daring ski jumpers float off the Holmenkollen. The next, you’ll be sailing the Oslo Fjord or appraising a Munch painting. Airbnbs in Oslo offer a comfy pad for your break, not to mention nightly rates that could be a little easier on the wallet than your usual hotel. Leaving Oslo? Check out our guide: How to go from Oslo to Stockholm.