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Destination: Drøbak; a taste of southern Norway within half an hour from Oslo

The Sunday town. That is, more or less, the unofficial moniker that Drøbak has bestowed upon itself. This is primarily due to the abundance of independent and stylish shops that are open on Sundays. Yet, by doing so, Drøbak, positioned as one of the most picturesque villages near Oslo, does itself a disservice.

Because Drøbak is worth a visit on weekdays too. My initial encounter was some five years ago. It was early April, with temperatures just a few degrees above freezing, and a dense mist draped over the Oslo Fjord. At first glance, this might not appear to be an alluring setting, but the opposite is true. Drøbak exudes charm in every aspect, all year 'round.

Drøbak in Norway
Photo by Rachel McGrane on Unsplash

The history of Drøbak is nothing short of captivating. It acquired trading rights in the 19th century, a feat remarkable for a place of its modest size. This was owing to the fact that the Oslo Fjord would often freeze near Drøbak, making it one of the few viable locations for cargo ships to unload. Furthermore, being one of the narrowest stretches of the Oslo Fjord, it facilitated crossing on ice in times past. Additionally, Drøbak held strategic importance in the defense of Oslo, with the grand Oscarsborg fortress and several sunken German warships serving as imposing testament to its significance.

Nevertheless, let us set aside this historical narrative for the moment. The principal allure of Drøbak lies in its exceedingly charming center, predominantly adorned with old wooden houses boasting colourful facades. It evoked reminiscences of the enchanting coastal villages found in southern Norway, which I recently wrote an article on. While exploration of Drøbak is best experienced firsthand, I do have a few recommendations of places not to miss!

Firstly, who can resist the allure of coffee table books? It may seem somewhat arbitrary, but as the obvious name suggests, Coffee Table Books is solely dedicated to these visual 'symbols of portrayed status'. A very charming little shop it itself. However, the main reason I'm sending you here lies in the quality of the coffee. It is, quite unequivocally, the finest in Drøbak. It really is!

Housed within one of Drøbak's oldest edifices is an immensely charming lunch café & winebar, perfectly primed for Instagram-worthy moments. The façade, constructed of bright red-painted wooden panels, has acquired a gentle slant over time. Inside, a crackling fireplace lends a cosy ambiance. Mind your head, particularly if, like me, you stand close to 1.90 meters tall! I heartily recommend the fish soup; it is truly delish!

At the Follo Museum, one immerses oneself in the rich tapestry of local culture and history (especially fun for kids). Beyond the standard exhibitions, a myriad of events is hosted. Of particular note is the guided tour through Drøbak led by one of the museum's knowledgeable guides.

Drøbak also serves as a culinary haven, particularly for enthusiasts of traditional Norwegian dishes. Look no further than Kumlegården for a taste of authenticity. While I shan't delve into the intricacies of Norwegian cuisine, it suffices to say that comfort food reigns supreme. Kumlegården excels in presenting traditional dishes such as pinekjøtt, rakfisk, and kumler, amidst an ambiance that exudes Norwegian charm. The service, too, is impeccable.

Should you desire lodgings in Drøbak, options are somewhat limited, as it tends to be more of a day-trip destination. However, if you elect to pitch camp just beyond Oslo's periphery, I have a splendid recommendation for you: this holiday home. Nestled amidst scenic splendour, its unparalleled vistas surpass those of any hotel in the vicinity.


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