From luxurious day spas in top hotels to basic saunas enjoyed by all, Oslo has plenty of wellness and fitness options however you choose to pamper yourself. While saunas have been used in Scandinavia for years to cleanse and relax, spas have only gained popularity recently and there are now several new spots offering top-quality treatments to choose from. Oslo is also perfectly suited to fitness fans, as there are a number of hikes of all levels accessible by public transport, workout spaces across the city and countless exercise classes available.
A tradition hailing from neighbouring Finland, saunas are a great way to soothe aching muscles, relax and catch up with friends. Most are located right in the heart of the city centre on the fjordside, so you can enjoy a bracing swim in between bouts of heat.
For an immersive sauna experience, Norway’s biggest sauna SALT is perfect for a night with friends, with private bookable saunas for up to eight people and sessions include lively entertainment. “Every weekend we invite guests to join us for a steamy Sauna Session – evenings where DJs, performance artists, poets, musicians and others entertain in the sauna,” says Sara Bjølverud, head of marketing and communications at SALT art & music. “It’s a unique place that offers concerts, theatre, quiz nights, sauna, art installations, food, drinks and much more, all year-long.”
“For another unique experience, I would recommend visiting Oslo Fjord Sauna, a sauna club with four floating saunas in Bjørvika,” says Bjølverud. These beautifully designed sauna rafts fit up to 15 people each and operate year-round, if you can face braving the icy water. Located between the Opera House and the Sørenga wharf, the saunas have drop-in sessions available most days and fantastic views of the fjord and islands.
If you are looking to cruise around the fjord as you warm up in a sauna, KOK Oslo is your best bet. These pre-bookable boats are stationed opposite Oslo Opera House with a wood-fired sauna, changing room and a deck on board that can hold either 10 or 14 people. Boats are equipped with electric motors powered by roof-mounted solar panels, so you can enjoy silent sea-views as you sail past the city.
From lavish treatments in Oslo’s most stylish hotels to destination spas worth spending a whole day in, there are now several places to get your pampering fix across the city.
If you can spare a whole day, The Well is a must-visit. Just outside the city centre, a dedicated spa bus leaves the Clarion Hotel several times a day to whisk guests to the enormous space complete with 11 pools, 15 saunas and steam baths, a Japanese bathhouse, Turkish hammam, Moroccan rhassoul, relaxation rooms and much more. From 2021, The Well will even have its own hotel, so you won’t have far to float after a day in this pampering paradise.
Even if you’re not staying at the chic The Thief hotel, you can still purchase a day pass to use their tranquil spa. Inspired by natural Nordic elements including slate, sea and moss, the spa has a cave-like swimming pool, gym, sauna, steam room and hammam plus an extensive treatment menu. “The raw and organic merge seamlessly with clean contemporary lines in the intimate spa area,” says World Spa Reviews. “Dim lighting soothes, as a low-level window provides swimmers glimpses of the fjord beyond.”
If you’re craving a top-notch massage, the DaiKai Wellness Retreat is handily located right in the heart of the city, less than five minutes’ walk from the Nationaltheatret station. Combining traditional Chinese, Japanese and Western massage techniques, there are double and triple rooms for massages with friends and a peaceful relaxation room to unwind in.
Sweat it out at RAW, a studio tucked behind the Royal Palace that is devoted to hot yoga with classes including bikram and vinyasa flow. Friendly staff and a relaxed feel mean first-timers won’t feel overwhelmed or out of their depth. “Our name is RAW and that’s what we are,” says yoga teacher and studio owner Maja Grythe. “Raw, true, real, honest and full of heart and fire. It’s a community, not just a yoga studio.”
Leela Yoga started as a class in Frogner Park but now offers a full schedule of all types of yoga in its studio, as well as retreats and workshops. Drop-ins are welcome, space permitting, and the studio holds several classes in English. Just take tram 17 to Heimdalsgata or bus 30 to Herselbsgate.
Those who know their barbells from their kettlebells will love EVO, a chain of small, specialist gyms that first opened in Oscarsgate in the city centre. Offering reception-free centres with long opening hours every day of the year, EVO now has 40 centres across the country and new members can sign up easily online.
Students can benefit from fantastic discounts at SiO (the Student Union of Oslo), which runs six large fitness centres across Oslo. Take tram 17 or 18 to Holbergs plass to use Athletic Centrum, which is right in the centre. There, you’ll find a large cycling studio, studios and even physiotherapy and massage services. Anyone can join, but a membership for students is greatly reduced.
When time’s short, it’s still possible to get out of the city centre and experience Norway’s beautiful countryside on a hike. Take the metro line to Lillevan and hike past Frognersetern restaurant and the mighty Holmenkollen ski jump. “The trip follows part of the 50-kilometre (31-mile) trail, down a toboggan run from the first Luge World Championship in 1955, past Midstubakken and further down to Holmenkollen Chapel,” says Einar Tønnessen, an experienced guide with tour group Oslo Hiking.
For a more challenging hike, take the bus from Jernbanetorget to Hammern to trek into the forest up to the viewpoint of Kamphaug. Carry on to Skjersjøen, one of the most beautiful lakes in Norway, and the wild river of Skjersjøen on a demanding 10km (6mi) hike. “There is a charming and accessible path along the riverbank, along which you can cross bridges, enjoy waterfalls, frothing rapids, lush trees and the twitter of birds,” Tønnessen says.
Float your troubles away at Bare Flyt, which has two centres in Oslo dedicated to floating. Said to reduce stress and relieve pain, the centre also offers massage, infrared sauna and freezing cryo treatment to increase blood circulation and remove tension. Or you can just lie back in the soundproof pools and floating tanks, and unwind without any effort at all.