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The Business Traveller: A business travel guide to Oslo

  • TheVigelandSculptureParkVisitOSLONancyBundt
  • 13 Nov 2014

The Norwegian capital is home to some of Europe's most exciting renewable energy companies – but staying there certainly isn't cheap. Find out more in our monthly guide to business cities.

Each month our resident business travel expert Mark Frary writes the Heathrow Express travel guide to a major city. This month: Oslo.

Business travel buzz

Norway has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world, and the highest in Europe after Luxembourg. It is also has an expensive capital; Mercer ranks Oslo as the 20th most expensive city to live in the world.

Oslo, set at the tip of Oslofjord which leads to the North and Baltic Seas, has always had a close business connections with the sea. Some 60 ships a day use the city's port and it handles 125,000 containers annually. The city is home to the world's largest ship and offshore classification society DNV GL.

Oslo, Radhus City Hall seen from Fjord, ©VisitOSLO, Roberto Meazza
Image: Oslo, Radhus City Hall seen from Fjord, © VisitOSLO, Roberto Meazza

Yet the sea is not Norway's only economic powerhouse. In a country where 99% of the electricity is generated from hydropower, it is no surprise that the country is a world leader. Statkraft is the largest renewable energy producer in Europe and is based in Oslo's Lilleaker suburb.

Oslo's central business district comprises Vika, Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen. Vika is the city's diplomatic district while Aker Brygge, which was previously home to a vast shipyard, was redeveloped in the 1980s and now combines business, shopping and entertainment in a mixture of traditional wharves and more modern buildings. Fornebu is an R&D hub that attracts many ICT companies including Telenor as well as being the office headquarters of Statoil; airlines SAS and Norwegian Air Shuttle are also here.

Oslo, View over Tjuvholmen, ©VISITOSLO, Nic Lehoux
Image: View over Tjuvholmen , Oslo, © VisitOSLO, Nic Lehoux

Express Essentials

Oslo's main airport, Gardermoen, is served from Heathrow by both British Airways and SAS five times a day; flight time is two hours ten minutes. Gardermoen offers two hours' free wi-fi. The Flytoget Airport Express Train runs from the airport every ten minutes at peak times, taking around 20 minutes to reach the centre of the city and is the recommended option.

Taxi fares are fixed from the airport but depend on destination and time of day. Remember that the airport is 50km out of the city and the fare will be steep and the journey longer than by train.

Culture shot

The Nobel Peace Prize is unusual among the awards funded by the legacy of dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel in that it is the only one awarded in Oslo - the others are presented in Stockholm. The ceremony takes place on 10 December each year, the anniversary of Nobel's death and will again take place in Oslo City Hall. To learn more about the Peace Prize laureates and Alfred Nobel's life, plan a visit to the Nobel Peace Center opposite City Hall.

Oslo, Nobel Peace Center, ©VISITOSLO, Johannes Granseth
Image: Oslo, Nobel Peace Center, © VisitOSLO, Johannes Granseth

Vigelandspark (or Frogner Park) is an open-air collection of more than 200 amazing sculptures by Norwegien sculptor Gustav Vigeland. It's open 24 hours a day and is close to Majorstuen metro station and well worth a quick visit if you have time between meetings.

Oslo, The Vigeland Sculpture Park, ©VisitOSLO, Nancy Bundt
Image: Oslo, The Vigeland Sculpture Park, © VisitOSLO, Nancy Bundt

If you have a little more time, take Metro 1 to Holmenkollen for what has to be the world's most beautiful ski jump, fashioned from steel. There's a simulator and a zipline to see what it feels like as well as a ski museum; the country is the birthplace of modern skiing.

Oslo, Holmenkollen ski jump, ©VISITOSLO, Frode Sandbech
Image: Oslo, Holmenkollen ski jump, © VisitOSLO, Frode Sandbech

The black book

Oslo business hotels charged an average rate of £161.89 per niht, according to business travel agency HRG's Interim Hotel Survey. This was down substantially from £190.36 the previous year, the fall largely accounted for by an improvement of sterling against the Norwegian kroner.

Since its opening in January 2013, The Thief on the islet of Tjuvholmen, has become a firm favourite with business travellers. The hotel, right next door to the Astrup Fearnley Museum for contemporary art, is high-tech and design-led but not clinical - the service and staff are excellent. Rooms from kr1,690 (£166).

If you prefer something more traditional, The Grand Hotel, where Peace Prize laureates stay each year in the Nobel Suite, is an Oslo classic. The hotel is very centrally located on Karls Johan Gate. The rooms are traditionally designed and many of the upper classes of room are beautiful, although some could do with a refresh. There is a dedicated women's floor.

Oslo, On Karl Johan, ©VisitOSLO, Nancy Bundt
Image: Oslo, On Karl Johan, © VisitOSLO, Nancy Bundt

When it comes to food, it has to be seafood. Lofoten Fiskerestaurant has a stunning location at the end of Aker Brygge. This does not come cheap. A main fish dish will cost almost 300kr, a fresh lobster even more.

Stockfleth's at Lille Grensen is one of Oslo's oldest coffee shops and is the perfect spot for a slice of cake and some free wi-fi.

Business insiders

Need to know more about Oslo from those who live there? Follow these influencers on social:

Stig Jøssund, one of the co-managers of the @IgersOslo group, and with a beautiful eye for the Norwegian capital, posts mainly in B/W.

Oslo Innovation Week, @OsloIW, an annual celebration of entrepreneurship in Norway,  tweets regularly about Oslo's start-up scene

Nordic Nibbler, British freelance photographer and food writer, who makes you hungry for Norwegian food

David Nikel's Life in Norway blog. David writes about food, travel, Norwegian life and the challenges of learning Norwegian.

Tor Gronsund, author and lecturer at BI Norwegian Business School, @tor, for insights into Nordic business

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