Living up to its lofty name, the recently renovated, 19th-century Grand Café exudes Scandinavian elegance. It combines modern and classic design elements, featuring high ceilings, Thonet chairs, an open kitchen, and art-filled walls. With a prime location on Karl Johans Gate, the city's main shopping street, it's also perfectly positioned to snag clientele from the nearby luxury boutiques and department stores. Grab or coffee or choose from a list of 40 wines by the glass. Once you've enjoyed your drink, you can wander over to the Munch Museum or the Ibsen Museum to pay your respects to the cafe's two most lauded former diners. Legend has it that Munch even once swapped a painting for a Grand Café meal.
Located in the trendy, bustling neighborhood of Grünerløkka, Parkteatret Bar—a cafe by day—has an appealing retro vibe. Boasting a clientele of laptop-toting hipsters and trendy young parents, its comfy chairs, arched windows, and 1950s-style lettering promise a trip back in time. Built in 1907, the one-time cinema is now a performing arts venue. You can kick-start your morning with a cup of coffee and organic bread from Handwerk, an Oslo artisanal bakery. Then, in the evening, come back to sip a craft beer as you watch the concert-goers file in. To enjoy your own free show, you can grab a spot at an outdoor table overlooking the popular public square of Olaf Ryes Plass, where you'll catch buskers and other street entertainers.
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Next to the Akerselva River, Tim Wendelboe seems almost too cool for school. The sleek coffee shop is also home to a micro-roastery and a barista training center, and its eponymous owner—a World Barista and World Cup Tasters champion—is a hometown hero. Aspiring coffee masters come from all over Europe to study his expert brewing methods. That means no matter what you order, you'll be guaranteed a flawless cup. The tasting of the day offers a sampling of four different coffees, if you'd like to try a variety. With their bouquets, top notes, and finishes, these heavenly brews are just as complex as fine wines.
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An eclectic meeting spot for people of all stripes, Kulturehuset—the Culture House—lives up to its name. This is where Osloers come to enrich their cup of coffee or freshly baked cookie with a range of cultural activities. By day, you can challenge locals to a game of shuffleboard or ping pong, browse an extensive collection of books, or find a seat upstairs at the unofficial co-working space. After hours, the music goes up, coffee turns into beer, and a line outside begins to form. The cafe hosts all sorts of evening events, from lectures to dance parties. You'll wish you had a coffeehouse like this when you were in college.
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Another multi-purpose space, Hendrix Ibsen is a neighborhood cultural institution located in lively Vulkan. In addition to the coffee shop, it serves as a venue for concerts, art exhibitions, lectures, and book launches. During the day, it's also a cozy spot to while away the afternoon. The cafe is centrally situated, just across from the sleek new Mathallen food hall and steps from the Akerselva River. The hipster hangout is a major draw for Oslo's most fashionable residents and is the first place in town to offer nitro coffee on tap. There's also a dozen different beers on tap, with over 50 total to choose from.
You probably wouldn't expect to find great coffee in a shopping mall. But, with its hip interiors and tasty array of snacks, The Room offers an Instagram-worthy respite from the bustle of the city. Located inside the luxury shopping center Paleet, it also boasts a quality cup of joe along with equally photogenic pastries and cakes, all baked in-house. Choose from a variety of wellness-oriented fare, like fresh, seasonal salads and healthy bowls of muesli and yogurt. Even on the greyest of Norway's winter days, the bright, streamlined decor—accented with marble tabletops and modish chairs—promises a colorful pick-me-up.
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With a name meaning “worry-free,” Café Sorgenfri lives up to its promise. You'll fill your cares slipping away as you enter this gleaming, old-school space, lined with fun and eclectic travel souvenirs. Opened in the artsy pier district of Aker Brygge by a pair of antique-collecting brothers, the cafe has become a repository for their unique mementos. An astonishing variety of lamps hang from the ceiling, and the jam-packed interior feels like a trip into the past. But one thing that's entirely up-to-date: the menu. You'll find beautifully plated seasonal fish and seafood dishes, along with some of the most fetching open-faced sandwiches in town. There's also a long list of aquavits to choose from if you're in the mood for a stronger brew than coffee. Skål!
Travelers rarely make their way to the quaint, residential district of Vålerenga, but Galgen showcases all of the neighborhood's off-the-beaten-track charms. The bright, painted-wood interiors reflect the colorful wooden cottages just outside. The cafe's casual, cozy setting will make you feel like you've found the "real" Oslo, far from the shopping hubs and museums of the tourist-packed downtown. You'll see local families sitting down for an early meal. Come with your own appetite: an all-day breakfast menu includes pancakes with bacon and eggs with avocado. There's also a leafy backyard, so leave your laptop at home and savor the welcoming space. You're better off with a good book as your only companion.