A Wintery Weekend in Oslo - The Details

Monday 4 February 2013

While we've realised just how difficult it may be to make all of our travel destinations a reality, we've been doing a bit of planning.  After our third weekend in a row in Stavanger, I started to feel a bit restless and began looking at trips we could do in the beginning of February without taking any of Joe's holidays.  I kept an eye on flights that would get us to our destination Friday night and allow us to stay until Sunday night all within a 'reasonable' budget.  Some destinations were insanely expensive for such a short trip (Stockholm was an $800 return ticket) while others feasible.

Oslo turned out to be our best option.  Wednesday afternoon I came across some flights that would work, the weather looked tolerable and by that evening, we had a weekend trip booked for Friday.

Where we stayed:

We stayed at the Comfort Grand Central right in the Central train station in Oslo.  The location was perfect - we arrived via the express train from the airport, walked right to the hotel without having to drag our bag through snowy & icy streets and were right on the doorstep of some of Oslo's main attractions.
The hotel was decidedly the hippest chain hotel I've ever stayed in.  The rooms were fairly basic (they pride themselves on eliminating unnecessary things to bring the cost of the rooms down) but comfortable and they included WiFi and breakfast at no extra cost.  The hotel was high-tech - you could check in to your room via your smartphone which would then be used as your key to your room by scanning it overtop of the doorknob.  We checked in the other way - via an iMac which logged us in, allowed us to choose our checkout time and spit out our room cards & receipt for us.
While the rooms were basic, I got a kick out of their clever signage - the do not disturb sign for the door had a can of Whoop-Ass on it and the welcome page on the TV told us that Sundays are for recovering from Saturdays thus the checkout time was 6:00 pm.

Where we ate:
Dining out in Norway is ridiculously expensive and Oslo was no different however we did find some great places.

Xian Lo - Knowing that we wouldn't be downtown until around 8:30 pm Friday night, I had written down a few restaurants found around the web to make our choice a little easier.  Xian Lo was a 5 minute walk up Karl Johans Gate from our hotel and it was a fantastic choice.  Serving Vietnamese food in a fancier setting, this meal wasn't cheap but it sure was delicious.  We ordered right off the menu but they do have a 4 or 5 course set meal that you can choose as well.
Restaurant Håndverkerstuene - Norway isn't really known for it's food and I'll admit, we don't indulge in it very often but this place stood out because of it's beer menu.  They literally had hundreds of beers in house and a very good selection of Norwegian beers.  The waiter did a great job recommending beer for Joe (who knows his stuff) and the food was ok.  The menu was quite small, which is generally a good sign for us, and very Norwegian with fish, sausage & pork being the main courses.  While it wasn't the best meal I've ever had, it was good.  (I should mention, Joe was very impressed with his sausage meal and Two Captains beer by Nøgne.)
The Nighthawk Diner - I had seen this diner reviewed on a couple of other blogs and when Sunday rolled around, Joe and I made the trek to the Grünerløkka district to check it out.  There were people literally lined up outside of the door from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.  Specializing in American classics, we feasted on burgers, french fries, onion rings and I indulged in a $7 can of Dr Pepper.  This was not a cheap burger fix but a ginormous burger in a retro diner that almost made us forget the cost & the unhealthy aspects of the meal.

The Particulars:
Traveling within Norway, one of the most expensive countries in the world, is expensive.  As mentioned before, we don't have budget airways like EasyJet or RyanAir in Stavanger and while taking the train from Stavanger to Oslo is an option, it is an 8 hour journey and would take far too much time for a short weekend trip.  While this might look quite expensive, it's pretty reasonable by Norwegian standards.  As a rule of thumb, we double the cost of anything in North America to get the Norwegian cost.

1 round trip air ticket Stavanger-Oslo via Norwegian (Friday night - Sunday night) $300 CAD
2 nights at the Comfort Grand Central (standard double room) - 1960.00 kr ($355 CAD)
1 return Airport Express Train to Sentrum - 340 kr ($60)


  1. LOVE that hotel. Sounds like a dream :)

  2. The hotel looks awesome... love all the techy aspects and design quirks :)

    Spontaneous weekend getaways are the best!


  3. I'm so jealous of your living in Norway! It's the only family heritage I feel any business claiming, as my great-grandfather came over to the States from a small town outside of Oslo and I'm 1/4 Norwegian. The rest of me is total American mutt, but growing up with Norwegian family bits and Norse mythology tales told to me from birth, etc. I've always had an extra bit of longing to see the country and see the town in which my great-grandfather grew up. We tried to get to Oslo whist in England, but while discount flights were £5 regularly, nothing else was cheap, as you know! We'll get there someday, though.
    A friend of mine lived in Bergen for a little over a year and loved it- so much so that their dog is now named Bergen. Have you been up there yet? It's closer to you than Oslo, yes?
    We also love hotels like that- I mean really, if you're traveling all you need is a clean bed and shower, right?? The location sounds perfect, too! I'm going to keep it in mind. Can't wait to see your pictures!

  4. oh my gosh... so funny how i gape at 300 for a flight within europe because now i'm so used to flying for less than 150 even though just to fly from sf to my parents house in california (1 hour flight) that's what i would pay. it's great that you can figure out some weekends to start crossing off the list! thats what i'm trying to do too!

  5. wow thats alot of money for a flight within europe!

  6. oh I wish that we could have made it to Oslo when we were in Scandinavia. glad to have some tips for when we finally make it!

  7. Got some tips for you if you are looking for a weekend getaway in Norway:

    Besseggen - a great walk in the summer
    Galdhøgpiggen - why not a walk to the top of Norway's highest moutain
    Trolltunga - maybe even more impressive than Preikestolen

    or maybe some cities during summer?

    Fredrikstad - just south of Oslo with a great old town
    Aalesund - a great little town northwest
    or any of the cities in south Norway. Grimstad, Arendal, Kragerø og the bigger Kristiansand. Many of them with only cute white houses.

    Or for a longer stay:
    Svalbard - a very special place to visit!
    Lofoten island - dramatic scenery

    Also, Norwegian.no have many sales on tickets during the year, so you might get one way tickets for 199 NOK some times!

    1. Thank so much for the tips.

      We do hope to do a lot more trips within Norway as some of these have been on our list! I'll definitely look into the others you recommended!

  8. That hotel looks amazing! I love quirky high-tech places like that :) I can believe how expensive it is to travel inside the country though being from Canada...although as you know in Canada we have a bit more of an excuse because it's massive. Glad you two got to squeeze in a little getaway!

  9. Looks like a fun time. I would love to travel here.

  10. What is typical Norwegian food like? You say it's unremarkable, but what is it? Any chance on a post on the topic?

    1. i concur, it is bland and boring. although the seafood is quite amazing.

      lots of fatty meats and boiled potatoes, especially where jay lives in western norway. no added spices or heat.

      the problem with norwegian cuisine is they still eat like they are poor to an extent. its getting better, but the cuisine hasnt really yet modernized itself like in other scandinavian/nordic countries.

  11. So that is the name of the Vietnamese restaurant :) I think I've been there (if it is the one inside of Eger Torget ...like a shopping center). It was very good! I didn't order (b/c I was poor) but my friends all gave me a bunch of their food when they couldn't finish it (yes, I'm that poor).

    I really want to stay at that hotel now. Maybe I'll just go in there and eat sometime or hang out. It looks like it would be my scene ;)

    And I've totally indulged in a milkshake or two at Nighthawk :) Never had their food though. Thanks for providing me with some tips in my own city!!!! And of course, super glad to finally meet!

  12. I've always wanted to go there... So jealous of you!

  13. Oslo is definitely one of my dream destinations, I also heard Tromso is a good place to see the northern lights. All these Norway posts make me want to be there now.

    1. Tromse is definitely a big draw for Northern Lights as well as dogsledding. We get the Northern Lights in Canada so it's not quite as alluring to us however, I do think it would be cool to visit the arctic circle!

  14. that hotel sounds cool. especially the door sign.


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