Want to discover Oslo away from its mainstream tourist sights? Here’s where to find Oslo’s quiet corners and some alternative Oslo sights and attractions.
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We had less than a day in Norway’s capital and inadvertently spent a large chunk of it exploring a more alternative Oslo, far from the majority of the city’s major sights.
More specifically, we spent an entire morning in a cemetery. Or rather, two cemeteries.
We hadn’t even planned to visit Our Saviour’s Cemetery, but we stumbled upon it on route to photograph the quirky 18th century wooden houses of Damstredet and Telthusbakken – one of several attractions we had on our itinerary for that morning.
And, as we wandered past the gated perimeter, peering through the gaps in the railings as we did so, there was something about that beautiful, peaceful little corner of the city that drew us in. It was certainly an alternative Oslo sight to the one we’d planned to visit, but a beautiful one all the same.
Oslo’s Cemetery of Our Saviour
Created in 1808 as a result of the great famine and cholera epidemic of the Napoleonic Wars, Oslo’s Cemetery of Our Saviour is located 2.8 kilometres north of the city’s Central Station, in the Gamle Aker district (there’s a church nearby of the same name; more on that in a minute).
It’s divided into five sections: Æreslunden is Norway’s main honorary burial ground, where you’ll find a collection of well-known Norwegian artists buried (including the painter, Edvard Munch, and playwright, Henrik Ibsen), and then there are the western, southern, eastern and northern sections.
You walk between these sections along beautiful, shaded pathways lined with tall trees. Graves are well-tended and vibrant blooms of flowers add splashes of colour to a landscape of greens and greys.
Due to it being the preferred cemetery of bourgeois and other upper-class families in the city, many of the tombstones here are suitably grand, and each one is very different to the next.
I loved the wise old owl above. It almost felt as though the soul of the person whose grave he was guarding was hiding behind those dark, mysterious eyes.
Old Aker Church and Cemetery
We finally exited the Cemetery of Our Saviour the same way we entered – through the gates by the old church. If you keep the church on your left and continue on up the road in a northerly direction, you’ll arrive at Gamle Aker Kirke (Old Aker Church). This is also where you’ll find one end of Telthusbakken, however as a result of some construction work going on here, we weren’t able to access the street. So we decided to wander through the church yard in order to look for an alternative route in.
Believed to have been constructed as early as 1080, this medieval-era church is the oldest existing building in Oslo. It’s not an overly attractive building as churches go, but the surrounding graveyard, and the views it affords across Oslo, really stole our hearts.
The tombstones may not have been as grand in this cemetery, but there were blooms of vibrant pink, white and yellow flowers literally everywhere we looked, and the graves were equally well-maintained.
I’ve no idea what this says and I’m sure at some point there was a candle burning beside this little angel, but she’s beautiful all the same and sits guarding the resting place of someone’s loved one.
We spotted several angel statues doing just that; some were larger than the tombstones themselves and others were delicate little creations that were sat on top of the graves. It somehow brought life to this burial place for the dead.
Telthusbakken and Damstredet
Exactly as we’d hoped, our wander through Old Aker Cemetery did indeed yield the discovery of an alternative entrance on to Telthusbakken, through an allotment area around a quarter of the way down the street.
Telthusbakken is just 260 metres long, and Damstredet is even shorter, at just 160. However, both are utterly charming and picturesque parts of the city and are certainly not what I’d anticipated finding on the outskirts of central Oslo.
Like the cemeteries we’d explored beforehand, both Telthusbakken and Damstredet were delightfully quiet when we visited. A lone resident cycled down Damstredet towards us as we approached and we passed another girl walking her dog further up, but there wasn’t a single tourist in sight. Considering that we visited over an English bank holiday, just outside the height of Summer, this made a really refreshing change.
I guess these quiet corners of Oslo aren’t frequented by the majority of visitors to the city. Maybe most people stick to exploring the more central of Oslo’s sights (of which there are many), or perhaps they choose to hop on a tram out to Vigeland Sculpture Park.
But we loved our time in the Gamle Aker district, and had we not been on such a tight schedule, we would’ve wandered a bit further on, to neighbouring Grünerløkka. Labelled as the ‘Shoreditch’ of Oslo, Grünerløkka is one of the hippest parts of the city and is where you’ll find street art, exhibition spaces, artisan eats, indie boutiques, and vintage fashions. The Mathallen Food Hall looks like somewhere reminiscent of Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island.
Whilst many travellers base their exploration of a new city around its largest concentration of sights and activities, you’ll often discover the real gems a little further out of the centre. We certainly loved the alternative Oslo that we’d stumbled across.
So, put your walking shoes on and take a stroll. You never know what you might find.
Where to stay in Oslo
We stayed at the Saga Poshtel Oslo Central, a modern, clean and centrally located hotel just an 8-minute walk from Oslo’s Central Station. There’s a communal area in the downstairs reception with large windows overlooking the street outside, which is a great place to chill out at the end of the day. Our room was pretty small (but this seems to be the case with many of Norway’s ‘budget’ stays (hey, it’s all relative here!)), but perfectly clean and functional.
There’s also a fantastic buffet breakfast included, which makes the room price a lot better value for money, considering the cost of food in Norway.
My go-to site for booking accommodation is always booking.com. If you fancy somewhere a little different to where we stayed, you can browse all available Oslo accommodation and prices here:
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