The Top Bars In Grünerløkka, Oslo

Drink Kong in Rome
Drink Kong in Rome | Image Courtesy of Alberto Blasetti
Shreyas Kulkarni

Grünerløkka is Oslo’s haven for hipsters, artists, radicals and all-around cool kids with its assortment of great clubs and pubs. We take a look at the top 10 places to go in this hotbed of hipness after dark.

Bar Boca

Bar Boca happens to be the smallest bar in all of Oslo, proving that good things come in little packages. This charming bar is a legend of sorts, and a great place to meet people. With its matchbox-sized space made cozy and nostalgic by low-key 1950s decor, you can expect to overlap tables and mingle with strangers over the course of a busy weekend night. Though the venue is small, the cocktail list is anything but. bar Boca is known for serious cocktails made with fresh ingredients and for innovative bartenders who can come up with brilliant new concoctions on the spot. If you ask a Boca bartender to surprise you with a drink, you won’t be disappointed. For an easy classic mixed drink off their list that won’t let you down, order ‘another dark and stormy’ (and another, and another). If cocktails aren’t your style, they’ve also got a great craft beer menu and a wine list.

Aku-Aku Tiki Bar

The only tiki bar in town, Aku-Aku’s striking decor and potent drinks will transport you from Oslo to your own fantasy island. They have an exciting selection of tropical-inspired drinks in a range of surprising flavors. Some are fruity (like the classic Mai Tai), some spicy (like the chili-hot Missionary’s Downfall), and all of them pack a strong punch. Although the bar offers a beer list, exotic mixed drinks are what Aku-Aku does best, with a special focus on rum-based beverages. The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable, so you’ll have plenty of help to pick the drink that’s perfect for you. Whatever you choose, the best part of all is sipping from your own tiki mug while grooving to a steady soundtrack of classic surf jams.

Parkteatret

Originally a cinema built in 1907, Parkteatret is a beloved local concert venue today and a popular bar to boot. The old foyer of the cinema now hosts Parkteatret bar, which attracts regular crowds with its wide selection of quality drinks, tasty coffee and intriguing live music. The extensive bar menu features a large selection of craft beers, classic cocktails and fine spirits, making this a great choice for going out with work colleagues who all like different things. Craft beer geeks will be especially happy here. The crowd is quite hip and young and the service is quick, so stop in for a couple rounds before you head in for a great concert.

Schouskjelleren

With its flickering candles, massive fireplace, and rustic wooden furniture, at first glance Schouskjelleren reads more like a German beer cellar than a Norwegian pub. With a microbrewery located in the basement of the former Schous brewery, Schouskjelleren brews and serves more than 60 varieties of beer. If you don’t know where to start, the educated staff is here to help. They’re happy to provide a small sample glass to help you avoid buyer’s remorse. If you want to try the hits, the most popular drafts here are the Cannonball, Evil Twin Disco Beer 97, and the Schouskjelleren Uncle Knut 32.

Mir

With its facade of classic, quaint architecture tattooed in trippy multicolored street-art, Mir is a great example of Grünerløkka’s alternative charm. This is the place to go for a casual night of cheap beer and laid-back entertainment, whether you’re playing a round of foosball with friends or checking out a local music artist. Rather than starting with a structured plan or mission, this is a venue that’s been given room to grow organically and develop a mind of its own. This results in a charming, meandering atmosphere with lots of distinct areas and events to explore, like quizzes on Mondays, improv jazz blowouts on Tuesdays, and DJ sets on Friday nights. You can play a round of darts or cards any day of the week, or head to the aviation-themed ground floor and curl up in an airplane-shaped seat with a beer and a book from the bar‘s own library. From rockers and jazz musicians to artists and sleepy students, Mir’s freeform sensibility attracts an eclectic local crowd. This makes it a great place to relax and get a genuine feel for the neighborhood.

Grünerløkka Brygghus

Located in the heart of Grünerløkka, Grünerløkka Brygghus offers a great selection of home brews and other uncommon beers on tap, along with a tasty menu inspired by British pub food. Try the bangers and mash and the fish ‘n’ chips. Beer bottles are liberally upcycled as decorations, combining with the bar‘s wooden stools, ceramic tiles, and handwritten chalkboard menus to create a homey, crafty atmosphere, well suited to a bar specializing in craft brews. A couple standouts on the beer list include the Peacock Pale Ale, a bright brew with citrus fruit notes, light malt and a hint of caramel, and the Corow White IPA, which follows up on its floral and spicy scent with a surprisingly sweet, fruity flavor for an IPA. If light beers aren’t for you, the bartenders will point you in the right direction with their own recommendations based on your personal taste. Be sure to check out their daily draft specials, and their bottle list for even more options.

Anker Hotel Lobby Bar

Opened in July 2010, the Anker Hotel Lobby bar is a stylish, modern bar, its wide open space lit by streams of sunlight spilling in through the windows. Large groups will have no trouble finding room in this sizable venue, and are nicely accommodated with ample seating in the bar area, including comfy sofas. This is also a great choice for group outings since the drink menu is well-balanced and offers a solid selection of beer, wine, and spirits across the board. Anker is mostly frequented by younger crowds given the huge space and the free Wi-Fi. However, its proximity to the city center makes this a great spot for travelers to take a break too. Their outdoor seating is an especially great place to relax on a sunny day.

Bettola

Bettola is a beautifully furnished bar harkening back to 1950s Italy, with traditional Italian drinks and retro classic cocktails to match. Their cocktail list features both timeless and experimental mixes, and you’ll even find a range of their cocktails on tap. Their wine list is also worth a look and contains a number of impressive bottles. Known for their brilliant service, the bartenders here can also personalize a drink for you based on your taste and preferences.

Blå

Blå is a popular DJ club and legendary jazz bar set in a monochromatic, stylized factory hall. Their music schedule helps set up a certain unspoken weekend rhythm in Grünerløkka: on Saturdays, you go clubbing; on Sundays, you go shopping at the market; and on Mondays, you rock out to metal. Simple. Though first-timers may struggle to find Blå’s entrance, you’ll know you’re close when you see the gorgeous street art splashed across the alley walls leading up to it (see above), and a huge DIY chandelier of old glass, beads and mirror shards hanging outside the door. Inside you’ll find cheaper beer and cocktails than you would in most Oslo clubs, served by quick, friendly bartenders to a lively crowd of young professionals and students. The dress code is casual to reflect the bar‘s laidback atmosphere, and there’s a great outdoor area to enjoy your drinks and get a breath of fresh air between DJ sets. They’re open 24 hours, so during the summer their outdoor seating becomes the epitome of cafe leisure,where you can bask in the near-endless Scandinavian sunshine.
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