32 Thorvald Meyers Gate
Tel: 47 41 17 69 66
There's something surreal about stepping off a frozen Oslo street into this tropical oasis. Spiky puffer fish illuminated from within and glass buoy lamps hang from the bar's wavy woven bamboo ceiling, shedding a dim glow on this hipster tiki hangout where the focus is on tropical drinks. Piles of lemons, limes, oranges, and pineapples populate the bar counter, and infused liquors such as chili rum with piri-piri peppers (made in house) round out rum selections from Guatemala, Guyana, and beyond. Each fruity concoction comes in its own special serving goblet, which might be a ceramic coconut shell, hurricane glass, or the massive volcano bowl with room for multiple straws for communal sipping. While the drinks will put a dent in your finances (you're still in Oslo, after all), they're as good—perhaps even better—than anything in the islands. If nothing else, come for the kitsch escapism and cool crowd.—Terry Ward
Open Sundays through Tuesdays 1 pm to 1 am, Wednesdays and Thursday 1 pm to 2 am, Fridays and Saturdays 1 pm to 3 am.
Tel: 47 22 33 70 05
One of Oslo's oldest Irish pubs, the Dub (as locals call it) occupies several big rooms on the ground floor of a building that dates to 1666. Inside, wood tables and booths are dark and moody, but the atmosphere stays sunny with live Irish music, lamps that cast a golden glow on vintage photos hanging on the walls, and the laid-back crowd that spans the ages and genres from students and tourists to long-term expats from England, Ireland, and Australia. Musicians playing traditional Irish tunes take to the small stage in the front of the main bar on Tuesday nights. And if it's all too loud and raucous, you can escape to one of the quieter back rooms for conversations at a lower decibel level.—Terry Ward
Open Sundays and Mondays noon to 1 am, Tuesdays through Thursdays noon to 2 am, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 3 am.
Tel: 47 98 49 08 40
The crowds start queuing just past midnight come Friday and Saturday night at this sceney nightclub on the top floor of Oslo's posh Steen & Strøm department store. There's something undeniably Miami-ish about the abundance of white pillows atop lounge-style couches, leggy, scantily dressed crowd, and huge dance floor illuminated with pulsating pink lights. The DJ-spun music segues from ambient lounge tunes to thumping dance vibes that go into the wee hours. During the summer months, when the midnight sun makes for round-the-clock daylight, there's no better perch than outside overlooking Oslo's jumble of rooftops in the not-quite-grayish glow of 3 am with a sunny cocktail in hand.—Terry Ward
Open Mondays through Thursdays 10 am to 7 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 10 am to 3 am.
40 Thorvald Meyers Gate
Tel: 47 41 17 69 66
Boho-chic is the look at this popular Grünerløkka hangout: vintage purple velour couches, high-back booths, walls painted dark red and hung with smoky mirrors, and rustic wooden tables topped with candles flickering inside red and green citronella jars. A café by day, Fru Hagen is a prime preparty spot, and crowds gather to kick off the evening with buckets of beer or simple cocktails. The parlor-style ambience lures the neighborhood's thinkers, writers, and artists (decibel levels stay low enough that conversations can always be had and heard). Even when DJs take to the turntables later in the evening on Friday and Saturday nights, the laid-back lounge vibe keeps things mellow and cozy.—Terry Ward
Open Mondays and Tuesdays 11 am to midnight, Wednesdays 11 am to 2 am, Thursdays through Saturdays 11 am to 2 am, Sundays noon to 11 pm.
Tel: 47 98 49 08 40
Equal parts coffeehouse, old-fashioned cocktail bar, and vintage design shop, this downtown Oslo drinking establishment's appeal is very Mad Men, yet totally unpretentious. Bar stools line the street-front window, the woven straw wallpaper on the walls dates to the 1930s, and items for sale might include a Tandberg amplifier from 1965 or a 1950s art glass penguin sculpture. It all makes for a very atmospheric backdrop for enjoying cocktails prepared with bespoke precision. Syrups are made in-house, as are infused spirits like chipotle vodka. The Dandelion—made with aquavit, fresh lime juice, and a sprinkling of bee's pollen—is sure to shed some light on a dark Oslo night. If you're interested in taking some of the décor home, just point your smart phone at the hang tags—dangerous after a couple cocktails.—Terry Ward
Open Thursdays through Saturdays 8 pm to 3:30 am.
90 Henrik Ibsens Gate
Tel: 47 21 89 90 20
The orange and black color scheme inside this popular bar on Solli Plass is a nod to its original intention when it opened in 2010: a Veuve Clicquot Champagne bar. Soliis instead became a gathering ground for students and young Swedes; the 20 beers on tap far outsell any form of bubbly. Leather banquette couches line the walls and there are several high-top bar tables, but later in the night it's standing room only here as the whole room morphs into a dance floor. Get there early, especially on summer nights, to snag one of the outdoor couches (blasted with heat lamps throughout much of the year) for some great people-watching on the square.—Terry Ward
Open daily 1 pm to 3 am.
Tel: 47 21 44 72 88
Vintage arcade games like Space Invaders and Pac Man are the draw at this bar, once home to Oslo's public baths. It's all in good fun, though the stiffest competition is at the shuffleboard table in the far back room. If you're not into playing games, settle into a booth for conversation over one of the 70 beers available (the Belgian and German selections are particularly comprehensive). Mondays draw a big English-speaking crowd for the pop quiz games, and DJs spin dance and lounge music on weekend nights. While the bar doesn't serve food, you're welcome to bring your own or order pizza to enjoy with your favorite pint—something you'll see groups of Norwegians taking advantage of most every night.—Terry Ward
Open Mondays through Thursdays 3 pm to 3:30 am, Fridays through Sundays 1 pm to 3:30 am.