The beautiful district of St. Hanshaugen is home to one of Oslo’s largest parks, with phenomenal views of the city. This charming borough provides the perfect setting for a romantic day out in Oslo. Experience its picturesque historical streets (and their signature wooden houses), trendy bars, and some of the best cafés and delicatessens in town.
St. Hanshaugen in Oslo is named after the popular park at the heart of the district. This park originally got its name from the summer solstice (St. Hans in Norwegian), as the hill was a popular place for midsummer celebrations—today it is still a hotspot for summer festivals, concerts and events. Steeped in history and packed with cosy cafés, indie shops, and French-inspired delis with a Norwegian twist, St. Hanshaugen is ideal for a couple’s day out. Whether you’re looking for a picnic with a view, a night to remember at Oslo’s famous opera pub, or simply a romantic dinner for two, here are the top ten things to do in St. Hanshaugen.
1. Kickstart the day with brunch
Go for brunch at a local favourite! Café Laundromat is a cosy café with a quirky atmosphere and a great concept: “Eat, read, wash”. As their name suggests, they have a small laundromat, as well as one of Oslo’s biggest privately owned libraries with over 4,000 books for you to browse over your morning coffee. With brunch classics like Eggs Benedict, Banana Pancakes, or a Full English Breakfast on the menu, you’re sure to start the day off right. Best of all, when you eat here you’re also donating to charities like Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders. What’s not to love? If you’re looking for a quality coffee and a bite to eat, head to Åpent Bakeri, an artisan bakery. Try a freshly baked cinnamon bun—one of Oslo’s finest.
2. Shop in style
Hunting for vintage gems and local boutiques? From gorgeous handmade items to second-hand clothing and finds from designers like Gucci, Dior and Burberry, St. Hanshaugen has lots to explore.
Check out StudioBazar, created by artist and designer Emma Wright. This beautiful boutique is all clean lines, and offers a selection of unique clothing from across the world with a focus on using natural fabrics. Be sure to also browse through their lovely range of cosmetics, or their delicate silk kimonos. On bustling Ullevålsveien you’ll find Fretex, a wonderland for vintage clothing and furniture. Norway’s largest second-hand chain, Fretex is part of the Salvation Army mission. Whether you’re looking for stylish boots from Alexander Wang or a classic bomber jacket, their range is regularly updated and there are always treasures and bargains to be found. For book lovers, look no further than Per Magnussen Bok & Papir, a 100-year-old independent bookstore. This bright book haven has just had an extreme makeover and is filled with interesting titles. As well as the friendly staff, this place also has a great atmosphere.
3. Grab a coffee pit stop
When it’s time for a coffee break, you won’t have to look far to find a quality coffee in St. Hanshaugen. Java is a sleek coffee and wine bar with a laidback vibe. Sit back and try their refreshing iced cortado. If you like your coffee with a view, why not try the open-air café in St. Hanshaugen park?
4. Take in the history of the city
St. Hanshaugen has some fascinating historical landmarks. The area is home to Vår Frelsers gravlund, a cemetery best known for what is called ‘The Grove of Honour’ where many famous Norwegians are buried. Here you can visit the resting place of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, close to where artist Edvard Munch and Nobel Prize-winning writer Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson are commemorated. Nearby you can find the oldest building in Oslo, the medieval church Aker Kirke, which was built in 1100AD. From here you can walk down the picturesque streets of Damstredet and Telthusbakken, which retain the small town character of Oslo in the early 19th century with its beautifully preserved wooden houses.
5. Chill out at a local pub
St. Hanshaugen and the area surrounding it has some great laid back pubs with character. Right in the heart of St. Hanshaugen you’ll find Colletts Café, a simple and homely gastropub. Another favourite is Colonel Mustard. A short walk from St. Hanshaugen—you’ll find it in nearby Alexander Kiellands plass—this relaxed bar and restaurant is inspired by the board game Cluedo. With its chilled atmosphere and its stack of games, Colonel Mustard is a great place to kick back over a board game and a cold beer.
6. Head to foodie heaven
If you’re looking to stock up on tasty treats for a picnic in St. Hanshaugen Park, step into Oslo’s best-loved delicatessen, Gutta På Haugen. This deli has an impressive range of gourmet foods, cured meats and cheeses, and fresh fruits and vegetables. If you find yourself spoilt for choice, one of the friendly staff will be sure to help you put your ideal picnic together. Røtter St. Haugen is a health food store with a lot to offer. With raw chocolate, Yerba Mate, and organic fruit and veg, they offer a host of vegan-friendly foods. For dessert, look no further than Oslo’s finest confectioners, Pascal. Their delicious cakes and colourful macarons are a special addition to any picnic.
7. Picnic in the park
St. Hanshaugen park is the heart of the area. The perfect spot for a romantic picnic, the park is best known for its scenic views over Oslo. This beautiful 19th century park is dotted with statues and flowers. Stroll up to the attractive pavilion and sit by the reflecting pool, or relax at the open-air café in the summer.
8. Where to eat
Dine with the locals at Restaurant Schrøder, an old-school eatery serving classic Norwegian fare. Try authentic Norwegian dishes (don’t miss the reindeer patties) in a traditional atmosphere. Schrøder is famously one of the favourite haunts of Harry Hole, Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s anti-hero. For hearty dishes made with love, head to Smalhans, a popular neighbourhood hangout. With a focus on high-quality produce, Smalhans serves up wholesome food at reasonable prices. Try the ‘Dagens Husmann’—a rustic dish offered as an alternative to a home-cooked dinner—served between 16:00 and 18:00.
9. Wine or beer?
There are plenty of bars and pubs in the area, but here are some gems to look out for:
Café Rouleur is where cycling meets culture. This stylish joint is both a bike workshop (with high-end bicycles from Norwegian brand FARA for rent) and a space for cultural events: think DJ nights, art exhibitions, and beer tastings. Serving top-notch espressos by day, by night it’s a bustling bar where you can enjoy gluggable wines and handcrafted spirits. Try their signature drink ‘Nordmarka’, named after the forest terrain on Oslo’s doorstep.
L’ardoise is a restaurant, confectionary and wine bar in one. A cosy place with a charming atmosphere, L’ardoise is run by three Frenchmen who each know their craft. Head to their library room wine bar for a great range of organic wine paired with a selection of snacks: from French cheeses to their outstanding homemade treats from the confectionary.
10. A night at Oslo’s famous opera pub
Round off the day with an unforgettable experience: dive into the deep-sea world of Underwater Pub. This unique bar with a maritime theme is Oslo’s famous opera pub. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, you can enjoy music from professional opera singers—for free. This incredible talent is on show in a vibrant and informal atmosphere, decked out like the cabin of a ship. You can even bring along your own food or order from one of the nearby takeaways to eat in. Sit back and listen by the fireplace, or enjoy a glass of wine from the 19th century bar on the mezzanine level.
Text: Georgina Berry