Seven things you should know if you’re flying to Oslo

  • 07th September 2013

The Norwegian capital not only boasts more than a million citizens and a history dating back to 1048. It’s got heated streets, trams that run on time and a jazz festival to boot. Here are seven more things you should know if you’re flying to Oslo…

1. More cosmopolitan than your average Norwegian city

Like many a capital, Oslo is perhaps more cosmopolitan than other urban areas in the country. Much of this has to do with immigration, with newcomers coming from Asia and Eastern Europe. And how cosmopolitan are we talking?

Well, it hosts the Oslo Jazz Festival, the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony and there’s a nudist beach within the city limits. And if you find yourself there on May 17 – National Day – find yourself some Norwegian garb and join the locals in their traditional costume lining the streets leading up to the royal palace. A lot of the locals will come up and say: “Gratulerer med dagen!” which means “congratulations on the day!” And this is exactly the same phrase used when it’s your birthday.

2. It’s cold in Oslo…

On the outside anyway. But, because there’s both hydropower and oil in abundance, heating is cheap and the Norwegians aren’t afraid to use it. In fact, several streets have heated pavements. Yep, you read right. Heated. Pavements.

3. It’s not just the heating which gets switched on…

Preparations for the winter start early. They get ready for the freezing weather and long, long nights by starting to take a regular dose of cod-liver oil from the end of the summer and everyone will have a set of studded winter tyres to get on before the roads get too slip-sliding.

4. Buses and trams run on time

Unlike certain national public transport systems you might care to mention, in Oslo the business and trams run bang on time. Trust me, they’d be more than a few complaints if passengers had to wait too long outside. Those drivers know what’s good for them.

5. Don’t exercise below -10 degrees

The locals are big, big outdoor fans, big fans of extreme sports, and big fans of skiing, running and skating. But here’s the thing: you never exercise below minus 10 degrees. It’s a dry cold in Oslo, but once that thermometer gets down minus double figures, it’s time to put those trainers back in the cupboard.

6. Happy to be at home

The good people of Oslo like their own company and doing their own thing. So don’t expect masses of pubs and clubs open till all hours during the winter. They’re a little more select in their nightlife than other European cousins, and while they’re happy to party during the summer, things are quieter post-September. But if you are having a night in, you’ll need to buy your alcohol from State-run outlets. You can’t buy wine, spirits or even strong beer from ordinary shops.

7. “I have enough friends, already…”

In the UK (and on Facebook and LinkedIn…) more is seen as better when it comes to your extended friendship network. Norwegians believe long-term quality is better than quantity, so they only consider a few, close companions as friends. Nothing personal…

That’s our whistle-stop guide. If you have any more tales from the Norwegian capital, let us know and we’ll post the best ones.