Surrounded by fjords, forests and fields, Oslo is an urban metropolis wrapped in nature.
The Green Party are in power as part of a local coalition government, pushing through initiatives such as a car-free city centre, improvements in cycle highways and public buses powered by biofuel – and it’s even been named Green Capital of the World for 2019.
If you’re on a mission to go green in Norway’s eco Eden, these are the places you should check out…
Grow grains, bake bread and be happy
Where: Loseter City Farm and Bakehouse
Straining their iron necks far beyond the steel skyline, a chain of cranes is a reminder of the building work underway in Oslo’s Bjorvika bay area. A new Munch museum, opera house and library are all on the cards for 2020.
But amidst the tangle of disused train tracks and dual carriageways is a scene more idyllic than industrial, with BMWs and Audis occupying the same vista as a horse and cart.
Oslo’s urban farm sits below two iconic concrete towers on the edge of the city, where roads are superseded by swathes of pine forest. As part of the Future Farmers art project helmed by American Amy Franceschini, 100 growing boxes were given to the community (there were 4,000 applicants) and a city farmer was employed to help people learn how to grow (he’s on site every Wednesday). “Growing and empathy with nature can help the decision-making process,” says project organiser Anne Beate Hovind.
A Bakehouse designed to resemble the hull of a Viking ship has rescued ancient grains, providing a space for community baking sessions, and there are plans to introduce a pig and hens – one day. For more information, go to www.loseter.no/en
Fine dine without any waste
Where: Restaurant Kontrast
No-one likes waste, especially at the dinner table. Fortunately there’s no risk of leaving any forlorn morsels trailing the rims of plates at this one Michelin star restaurant, tucked discreetly below an arcade in the city’s trendy Vulkan district.
Even the distance travelled by ingredients is carefully monitored; 80% of the menu is sourced from within an hour of Oslo. As a result, the six or ten course tasting menu (from £88/950 NOK-£135/1450 NOK) is a tour of Norway’s finest farms; dishes might include scallops from the island of Froya, or skrei, a spawning cod swimming in the waters around Lofoten.
Taking the nose to tail approach one step further, chef Mikael Svensson’s menu makes use of everything available in the larder – so if a pork shoulder slow-cooked for 36 hours appears as a main meat dish, don’t be surprised to taste pig lard buttered on sides of bread. Tongues, brains, stems and stalks all have their place, making Kontrast even more innovative than Oslo’s high-flying crop of forward-thinking restaurants.
If you’re teetotal, or want a night off the sauce, try the juice flight of cold teas, fruits and herb infusions. Visit www.restaurant-kontrast.no
Sweat about the state of our oceans
Drying codfish on large triangular racks known as hjell has a long tradition in coastal areas of Norway. Now the pyramid structures have settled in Bjorvika, where the mouth of the Akerselva and Alna rivers meet the Oslofjord.
Conceived to honour the ocean’s vast resources, the project originally had a home in Arctic island Sandhornoya, but until 2018 it will stay put in the capital.
During the day, sauna worshippers can sweat in the main Arena area, sitting on pews stacked to the sky while listening to whale hymns floating through speakers (tickets £18.50/200 NOK). Cool off in water barrels immediately outside.
The whole experience is low-fi – there are no lockers, changing rooms are communal and you’ll need to bring your own towel (only a few are available to rent) – but the hands-on, inclusive approach is charming.
Grab a drink in the front-of-house bar (from a glass, not plastic) and pay attention to debates, installations and events intended to highlight the effects of climate change and pollution on the Norwegian coastline. A sound recording inspired by Svalbard’s endangered seed bank is currently playing overnight (11pm-11am) in the open-air Arctic Pyramid (free entry).
Sleep easy with a sustainable host
Where: Scandic Vulkan hotel
Hotels by their very nature aren’t especially eco-friendly – all those showers, daily sheet changes and half-used, discarded miniature toiletries. The Scandic Vulkan hotel though, is attempting to make commendable amends by employing green gadgetry, such as solar cells and running on geothermal energy.
This was the first hotel in Norway to be given an official Class A energy rating, meaning it uses resources extremely efficiently. Each of the 149 rooms features a recycling bin for plastics and paper, and bicycles can be borrowed for free to explore the local area. Rooms from £93 (1000 NOK) per night with breakfast. Visit www.scandichotels.com