Those who are "born to shop" like Oslo, as it's one of the most shopper-friendly cities in Scandinavia, with traffic-free streets set aside for prospective buyers. The heart of this district is the Stortorvet, where more than two dozen shops sell everything from handicrafts to enameled silver jewelry. At the marketplace on Strøget, you can stop for a glass of beer at an open-air restaurant in fair weather. Many stores are clustered along Karl Johans Gate and the streets branching off it.

Best Buys -- Look for bargains on sportswear, silver and enamelware, traditional handicrafts, pewter, glass by Hadeland Glassverk (founded in 1762), teak furniture, and stainless steel.

Shipping Goods & Recovering Vat -- Norway imposes a 19.4% value-added tax (VAT), but there are ways to avoid paying it. Special tax-free exports are possible; many stores will mail goods home to you, which makes paying and recovering tax unnecessary.

Shopping Hours -- Most stores are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to 3pm. Department stores and shopping malls keep different hours -- in general, Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 6pm. Many shops stay open late on Thursday and on the first Saturday of the month, which is called super lørdag ("super Saturday"). During the holiday season, stores are also open on Sunday.

Shopping Malls

Mall shopping is a firmly entrenched tradition in Oslo, thanks to the uncertain weather. When it rains or snows, discerning shoppers have several malls from which to choose.

Our favorite place for wandering and shopping in Oslo is Aker Brygge (tel. 22-83-26-80), a former shipbuilding yard that was recycled into a postmodern complex of steel-and-glass buildings. In all, there are nearly 65 shops here, most of them upmarket fashion boutiques. There are also 40 restaurants, along with pubs, movie houses, and theaters. When it's raining, duck into the indoor shopping mall. Even if you don't buy anything, Aker Brygge makes for a great people-watching experience. The location is right on the harborfront across from the Tourist Information Center at Vestbanen.

Paléet, Karl Johans Gate 37-43, is set on Oslo's most central and most opulent shopping street. The weatherproof complex consists of 45 different shops and boutiques, all of them relatively upscale and flooded with light from skylights. You can purchase candles, incense, sweaters, art, housewares, cosmetics -- you name it. Thirteen different restaurants, including burger and beer joints and one serving Indian food, refuel weary shoppers. You can also stop to admire a bronze statue of skating great (and former movie star) Sonja Henie.

Oslo City, Stenersgate 1, opposite the Central Station, is the biggest shopping center in Norway -- loaded with shops and restaurants. Also near the Central Station, Galleri Oslo, at Vaterland, has been called Europe's longest indoor shopping street. Businesses are open daily until midnight, including Sunday. A walkway connects Galleri Oslo to the Central Station.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.