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Mathallen Oslo celebrates five years this month

Here are five foodie facts you might or might not know about Oslo's famous food hall. By our travel editor Marie Peyre.

Mathallen Oslo celebrates five years this month
Photo: Finn Ståle Felberg / Mathallen
1. Mathallen has had six million visitors since opening in 2012
 
Although about 40% of visitors come from the local neighborhood, Mathallen has also become an attraction for all Oslo residents, particularly at the weekend. Many foreign tourists increasingly find their way to Mathallen too – 120,000 visited this summer.

2. Food is at the core of everything at Mathallen, but we're not just talking food shops and restaurants

 
Cooking classes (at the Kulinarisk Akademi) and events are an important part of activities here. For example, Årets Kokk (Chef of the Year, i.e. Norway's official selection for the international Bocuse d'Or cooking competition) has taken place at Mathallen three times. Mathallen has also hosted a number of current affairs programmes and TV series, not to mention the many festivals taking place throughout the year. 

3. There are two large beehives on the roof of Mathallen
 
The modern wooden structures, designed by acclaimed Norwegian architects Snøhetta, are part of a pilot project to help bees survive in an urban environment. The idea? Create a route filled with green roofs and flowers for the bees to pollinate their way through – the world's first urban bee highway. Managed by a certified beekeeper, the beehives produce honey due to go on sale in Mathallen this autumn. The best bit? No carbon footprint.

4. Mathallen was established as part of the development of the Vulkan area

 
Vulkan is a former industrial area by the Akerselva River in East Oslo. The 'Old Broverksted', a distinctive brick building that now houses Mathallen, has stood next to Akerselva's oldest bridge since 1908. It was in use until the late 1960s. Mathallen received in 2014 the Norwegian Heritage label Olavsrosa for successfully transforming an older industrial building and adapting it for new, sustainable use.

5. Mathallen is home to a steady flow of new ventures

 
Soon visitors will find Hungarian food on offer here, as well as a Poke bar, a French crêperie and a place selling the ever-popular Portuguese 'Pastel del Nata'. Plans for 2018 also include a more streamlined connection with Vulkan Depot next door. Vulkan Depot already boasts Michelin-starred restaurant Kontrast, sourdough bakery Handwerk, Smak av Italia (Taste of Italy), Sapporo Ramen (Oslo's very first ramen bar) and a grocery shop. 
 
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Five great things that you can do for free in Oslo this winter

Don't let the cold put you off, there's plenty to see and do in Oslo in the winter months. Here are our picks.

Five great things that you can do for free in Oslo this winter

There’s no escaping the fact that Norway is an expensive place to call home or visit as a tourist. Therefore one might think that a decent day out in Oslo might cost an arm and leg and leave your wallet trembling with fear.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case, and there is plenty to see and do without paying a princely price.

Luckily, there’s plenty to cater to everybody’s needs too. So whether you want to get active, find somewhere warm to hunker down or soak up some culture, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained for almost nothing.

Ice Skating

A fun activity with others, there are plenty of skating rings in Oslo to choose from, and the vast majority are free for the public to use.

Spikersuppa is the most famous of these and is located between the National Theatre and Norway’s parliament.

The rink is open for business every day, Sunday’s included. If you don’t have your own skates, you will have to pay for rental.

Another smaller spot, that weather depending, really lets you soak up some spectacular scenes is located by the Diechman Bjørvika library.

This rink is on the smaller side but offers views of the Oslo Opera House and Oslo Fjord. However, there are some downsides, as there are no rentals available, and if it’s too warm, it’ll be a puddle rather than an ice rink.

If you want to skate for completely free, then the Voldsløkka ice rink in Sagene offers free rental.

There are also other places you can borrow equipment for winter sports completely free (more on that below).

Toboggan run at Korketrekkern 

If doing a few laps of an ice rink might be a bit too pedestrian for you, then you might want to take things up a notch.

The toboggan run at Korketrekkern is over 2km long and takes around 10 minutes to complete. Kokketrekkern is Oslo’s most popular toboggan run for good reason. Once finished, you can ride the metro back up to Frognerseteren from Midtstuen for another go.

The toboggan run is, you guessed it, free, and you can bring your own sled. If you already live in Oslo, you’ll either have your own or know someone willing to loan you one.

If you don’t have a sled, then you can rent one for 150 kroner.

Similar to ice rinks, the toboggan runs are weather dependent.

Vigelandsparken

Home to over 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland, designer of the Nobel Peace Prize medal and the famous Angry Boy statue, Vigelandsparken is an essential destination all year round.

The park in Frogner, west Oslo, is at its best during the winter months after fresh snowfall. If it’s icy or the snow has started to melt somewhat, then it may be worth postponing.

Vigelandsparken makes the perfect place to take in some crisp winter air while also being able to see some of Norway’s most prized sculptures.

Deichman Bjørvika            

If you are averse to the cold weather, then hunkering down in the Deichmann Bjørvika library may be an attractive proposition this winter.

The library, adjacent to the Oslo Opera House, boasts over six floors, a cinema hall, stages and workshops for people of all ages.

Each floor has a different atmosphere, and the library is a delight for fans of modern architecture.

The library regularly hosts free events too. Whether it’s a children’s cinema or practicing your Norwegian with others, there’s plenty to do.You can see the library’s list of events here

Cross country skiing 

There are more than 2,600 kilometres of prepared cross-country ski trails that run deep into Oslo’s forests. For night owls, there is also 90km of floodlit tracks.

An added bonus is that you can take public transport to some of the best locations that Oslo has to offer.

You can take the number 1 metro line to Midtstuen, Holmenkollen, Voksenkollen or Frognerseteren. The number 3 line will take you to Skullerud or Mortensrud, and the number 5 line will get you to Songsvann.

You won’t need to fork out a fortune when it comes to equipment, either. This is because you can rent equipment for free from the Norwegian Volunteer Centers or frivilligsentralen. 

Sagane Frivilligsentralen has free rental for ski equipment, ice skates and toboggans, meaning you can complete everything on this list completely cost-free.  

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