Depending on the time of year, Oslo can be a winter wonderland or a sunny paradise perfect for couples out on dates, whether it’s the nervy first or the hundredth. While it is possible to eat out in Oslo at a decent price, it can be expensive, and a particular strength of the Norwegian capital is its limitless supply of alternative date opportunities afforded by the city’s many beautiful viewpoints and spectacular natural scenes.
In summer, the areas surrounding the city centre really open up with plenty of opportunities for dates. One of the nicest escapes from the city is taking a boat (free if you have the Ruter public transport ticket) from Aker Brygge to one of the many little islands minutes away in the Oslo Fjord. They’re quite varied: Hovedøya features a forest, monastery ruins and a nice café, Gressholmen includes a nature reserve, and Langøyene even includes a nudist beach (friendly advice: that might be a bit much for a first date). Pack some food, a jumper for the evening, and find an island you’ve never been to before and explore it together.
This one is a little more expensive (105 NOK per person), but it is one of the most popular date destinations at the moment in Oslo. Despite its name, Oslo Camping is an indoor mini golf course as well as a bar and nightclub after 6pm. The 18-hole track will bring out a healthy bit of competition and the fun activity should help put both of you at ease. They also have toast if you get hungry.
If you’re dating a sporty Norwegian, this is a particularly great idea. Hiking is basically a Norwegian human right. Hiking will raise your heart rate and get the blood flowing and pheromones wafting, helping you to bond together quicker and more intensely. It’s likely to end up in some very satisfying views too, particularly if you hike at Vettakollen or around this area.
The Norwegian right to roam rule means that you can camp in most places as long as you aren’t right next to homes or in someone’s private garden. In summer, this is a great thing to take advantage of for an adventurous date in the relative wilderness. You can get yourself some beautiful views, isolation and well-earned early nights together – again, this is probably not a first-date date, but if you know each other well it’s a great way to get out of your normal routine.
Not everyone will find the idea of getting sweaty and out of breath on a first date appealing – at least not from hiking. If you would like beautiful views of Oslo and the Oslo Fjord but don’t quite fancy hiking, fear not. Ekeberg, on the opposite side of the city centre to Vettakollen, has some pretty good views of its own and a much less exhaustive climb, and you can even take the tram if you so fancy. The Ekeberg Park on top of the hill is great for picnics and features lots of strange art installations that’ll make for easy talking points, as well as some 5,000-year-old Stone Age cliffside carvings.
Speaking of weird art and perfect picnics, let’s not forget Vigelandsparken, the largest sculpture park in the world. This iconic Oslo site is free to enter, and you can spend a good deal of time discussing all the statues, exploring the river bank paths and enjoying the sun and a picnic – ideally with a one-time BBQ grill – in the sunshine. This is a great space for a gentle stroll, which is perfect for relieving awkwardness and getting the conversation to flow.
Oslo’s open-air Folk Museum is one of the city’s best museums. In the summer, this museum is full of costumed Norwegians, cute farm animals and idyllic scenery. Though tickets are 140 NOK (100 for students), there’s plenty of houses to explore and more than enough to do to avoid potentially awkward silences. You can see folk dancing every hour and even visit an old-school sweet shop.
Another excellent museum for a date is the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology in northern Oslo. This museum is great fun and highly interactive, allowing you to cooperate on projects or try out your skills against each other – whichever takes your fancy. You’re almost guaranteed to learn more things about each other that you never even thought you needed to know.
Tøyen and Gamle Oslo are two neighbouring districts in eastern Oslo. Gamle Oslo (“Old Oslo”), unsurprisingly, is the site of the old Oslo city, which burnt down hundreds of years ago. It has retained some pretty ruins that you can explore, but today, it is home to some of the most interesting shops and best and cheapest Eastern-style restaurants, as is its neighbour Tøyen, the new up-and-coming Oslo district. Both districts also feature some of the best-preserved classic Oslowegian architecture, including lots of pretty, colourful 19th-century apartment blocks.
One of the most fun activities to throw yourself at in winter in Oslo is tobogganing at Korketrekkeren, which you’ll find on the same metro line as Vettakollen and Holmenkollen. Rent a toboggan for between 100 and 150 NOK each or bring your own, then slide down the mountain to your hearts’ content. The course ends up at a metro station further down the mountain, and you can then take the metro back up again and go again as many times as you like. This one’s quite scary and a little bit dangerous (mainly in a good way) and is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. It may be a bit hard to chat while you’re going at it, so this date might be better if you already know each other a bit.
For a more classic and relaxed winter date, head down to the square between the National Theatre and Parliament in the city centre. The water sculpture lake is converted into the Spikersuppa ice skating rink every winter. You can bring your own skates or rent some for 100 NOK, and in the run-up to Christmas, the rink is surrounded by the Christmas market stalls – ensuring that you won’t be far from a nice cup of hot chocolate or gløgg (mulled wine) to warm you back up afterwards.
Sognsvann lake is less than 20 minutes from the city centre by metro. It is a very pretty lake in summer and can be absolutely gorgeous in winter when the snow and fog sets in. It is a popular swimming destination in summer (complete with an ice cream kiosk) and even more popular for skiing in winter. A walk around the lake takes about an hour; perfect for a first date when you’re not yet quite ready to commit to a full day together. If you don’t ski, snow shouldn’t stop you from visiting in winter – as long as you’re wearing appropriate clothing, a tour around the lake will be just as nice during the colder months as in the summer.
Featured image by Laurent.