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  • Destination: Stokkøya Strandhotell; a rather joyous resort close to Trondheim

    I spent two nights at the Stokkøya Strandhotell , and it was an unforgettable experience. Although I rarely dedicate an article to merely a stay, in this instance, it would be a disservice to the hotel and its location to mention it only in passing. For numerous reasons, Stokkøya Strandhotell is a destination in its own right. With this modest little article I hope to: Convince you that spending at least two nights here will be unforgettable if you are travelling through Norway (forget about any hotel chains). Tell you about what it is that makes Stokkøya Strandhotell so exceptional. Allow me to begin with a small anecdote that, in my opinion, symbolises island life and the philosophy with which Stokkøya Strandhotell is, or seems to be currently operated. And for this anecdote, we must journey back in time. Immediately after Norway gained independence, the country experienced a period of prohibition, which sparked a lively smuggling trade. It was the fishermen who excelled in evading customs officers and smuggling significant quantities of alcohol. The story goes that one of these fishermen on Stokkøya discovered a stash of alcohol clearly meant for someone else but never collected. In those days, this find was likely worth a small fortune, which might have meant he could leave his hard life as a fisherman behind. However, instead of selling the alcohol, the fisherman decided to invite his comrades, fellow fishermen, and island residents for a celebration. It must have taken some time for the stash to be depleted, but one thing is certain – not a single crown was earned from the find. And as I imagine it, the entire island must have woken up with a colossal hangover. Perhaps this island-attitude to life captures the essence of Stokkøya, or at least that of the hotel, its staff, and its residents. Your Stay What makes this location so brilliant is that virtually everyone can enjoy it. By this, I mean both a very diverse demographic and people with different budgets. You can rent a complete holiday home with a group of friends and enjoy a magnificent view over the stunning bay (not within my budget) or book a fantastic hotel room furnished with Scandinavian design classics from both Louis Poulsen and IKEA. As a former interior designer, I chose the latter and was pleasantly surprised by the inventive simplicity of the design and layout of the room. From the innovative way the the ventilation system is 'packed away' to the shower controls and the amazing concrete skylight above the bed. Additionally, it is delightful that you have your own small patio where you can enjoy an ice-cold beer in the evening sun. Speaking of architecture and design, the vision of the architectural firm Pir II was to create such intriguing architecture that people would become more interested in moving to this remote municipality. Because Norway is so vast, some small towns sometimes struggle to maintain their population levels. This strategy appears to be working remarkably well, if only because it provided me with a reason to visit Stokkøya that I otherwise would not have had. Back to your stay. If you have a different type of trip in mind, you can rent a beautiful glamping tent right on the beachfront for a fraction of the price of a hotel room. The sound of the sea is truly the most relaxing way to drift off to sleep. Additionally, there is a fairly large field with space for at least 20 tents. This is the beauty of this place. It is not merely an exclusive compound where only the wealthiest of types stare each other down for whatever petty reason, as can sometimes be the case in the Norwegian capital. Here, different rules apply, and I greatly appreciate that. The staff is largely to credit for this atmosphere. Without exception, every individual here is incredibly friendly. I tend to believe that everyone who works here also wants to be here. The reception, the service, the cook, and the cleaners – I have rarely encountered such a relaxed, friendly, and helpful group of individuals. For the hospitality enthusiasts: I received a text message asking wether or not I was interested in reserving a table at the restaurant since there was a chance it would be fully booked due to increasing demand. That is customer service 2.0; you are assisted before you even knew you needed it. Food and Drinks Stokkøya is a relatively remote island. But it is 2024. So, it has never been easier to have virtually anything delivered to your doorstep at a moment’s notice. But what perhaps typifies island life, as when you arrive for breakfast here, it is immediately noticeable that almost everything is locally produced and, in many cases, homemade. And it goes far. This morning, I spread homemade chocolate hazelnut paste on my bread. The bread itself is baked just three kilometres away and delivered warm. All the jams are homemade, as well as the juices. Although I am extremely enthusiastic and hyped at the moment of writing, I can confidently say that this is the best breakfast I have ever had. Everything tasted honest and unique, unlike the majority of other standardised hotels. Simply said, the attention to detail and quality is on another level. Stokkøya Strandhotell boasts a fantastic restaurant situated in the beach bar with a compact menu. And this is precisely a recipe for success. The dishes they offer perfectly match the surroundings and are, without exception, based on what is locally available. Mostly excellent seafood, vegetables and lamb. The dishes are excellently shareable, meaning that when you are with two people, you can order almost the entire menu and thus taste everything. As mentioned, the dishes are relatively simple but in terms of flavour, texture, and ingredients, they are very satisfying indeed. And then there is the view from the restaurant. You are dining right on the beach and watch the sun slowly disappear in the distance before it sinks into the sea. Gorgeous... or romantic if that is your thing. I almost hesitate to mention it in a blog post solely dedicated to Norwegian travel destinations, but I will do it nonetheless. With this excellent dinner in mind, it can hardly be a coincidence that an incredibly charming Italian chef is at the helm in the kitchen. A cheerful and highly skilled one, moreover. Grazie! Activities I understand that the remote nature of the hotel might be a bit daunting. Let me immediately reassure you that you can entertain yourself here for days with numerous activities. The hotel rents out kayaks, paddleboards, and bicycles. They also have a sauna right on the beach, so you can run into the ice-cold sea with your sweaty body and loudly announce to the rest of the hotel guests that you have indeed gone completely under. About a 20-minute drive from the hotel, on one of the other islands, lies a rather fascinating cave that you can walk to (or 'hike' as everyone likes to describe walking nowadays). It'll take you about half an hour to reach the entrance of the cave, which reminded me of some massive cathedral. Most likely, this gigantic cavern was used in the Bronze Age as a defensive line when the nearby settlement was attacked by rival tribes. Who knows, I wasn’t there. You owe it to Stokkøya to visit the local bakery too . Housed in yet another architectural gem, you will find a very charming terrace where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and the most delicious freshly baked croissants, cinnamon rolls, and other treats. The bakery is about a 20-minute walk from Stokkøya Strandhotell. Follow the beach south until you reach a staircase that helps you climb the rocks, then follow the path over the rocks and through the forest. You will soon come to a red-painted barn. After that, turn left and walk a bit down the road, and you will quickly find the bakery. Do check the opening times in advance. What are you waiting for? I doubt you need any more endorsements, and for the average Norwegian, Stokkøya Strandhotell is likely already well-known, as the hotel has been in operation for about ten years. But if you have decided to visit this fantastic country, and you might only do so once in your life, I dare bet you will have an incredibly enjoyable time spending a few nights here, no matter the season. Indeed, I would not understand if, after reading this little article, you decide to book your stay with a generic hotel chain. Moreover, it is evident that the focus here is on the responsible use of food, resources, and energy. In these times of over-consumption, mass tourism, and the general depletion of our planet, this alone is an excellent reason to travel to this joyous resort. Besides, it is just over a two-hour drive from Trondheim, but since everything in Norway is at least a two-hour drive away, you can immediately dismiss that as a reason not to go. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Trondheim Airport (TRD). Public transport really takes forever, so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.

  • Destination: Heroes of Telemark; The hidden gems of Norway's enigmatic region

    Many travelers to Norway have traversed the route from Oslo to the spectacular fjord landscapes of the west coast. This journey takes you through an expansive, mountainous, and forested area that remains rather underappreciated on many itineraries: Telemark. In this article, I aim to highlight a few spots that you might ordinarily pass by, but which are almost obligatory stops when crossing this region. By the end of this article, I hope you will understand that Telemark is a destination in its own right. You will at least know: Where to find the most spectacular views A secret museum hidden in the forest The most unique and spectacular hotels in Telemark The best bread and the tastiest buns in Telemark, and possibly in Norway Let's start with something to tantalize your taste buds for the journey. The very best cinnamon buns, skoleboller, and other treats are to be found at Mjonøy. I pulled over here on a Sunday afternoon and was astounded. First, the location is enchanting. A collection of ancient buildings, the sound of a broad river, numerous picnic tables, hammocks, and the chirping of birds create an idyllic setting. And then there are the buns. They are freshly baked throughout the day in a wood-fired oven. Yes, you read that right. A wood-fired oven. In one of the small buildings, they are beautifully displayed. The shop is unmanned, meaning you help yourself, calculate the cost, and leave your money behind. Norwegians use VIPPS, a payment app requiring a Norwegian ID number. Foreign visitors pay in cash, so ensure you have some kroner with you. The buns cost around 40 NOK each, which is very reasonable considering the quality compared to what you might find at a typical petrol station. This way of trading epitomizes Norwegian society, which is built on trust. I hope you appreciate how special this is and respect it accordingly. Moreover, you can rent wonderfully cozy cottages here. So, if you're tired of driving and prefer to continue your journey the next day, don't hesitate to spend the night in a lovely bed where you can hear the river murmuring in the background. An art museum in an unexpected place Within walking distance of the picturesque Mjonøy, you will find a very special building. The Smørklepp Art Museum in Vinje, Telemark, Norway, houses over 40 paintings by Henrik Sørensen and works by Harald Kihle. Sørensen, known for his lyrical depictions and expressive landscapes of Telemark, studied under Matisse and created public decorations. Kihle was renowned for his paintings of folk life and nature in Telemark, often featuring horses. From the summer of 2023, the Sørensenhytta hut near the museum will display original furniture by Sørensen. A walking path from Mjonøy leads to the museum. It is well worth the visit, offering an exceptional opportunity to admire exquisite art depicting Telemark, right in the heart of Telemark. The little brother of Preikestolen no one knows about I might be guilty of a bit of clickbait, but as I've heard, that happens often on the internet. Nonetheless, I am not exaggerating when I say this place tested my fear of heights, and my stomach responded immediately. Near Åmot, you can take the turn onto Ravnejuvveg. After a short drive, you park by a sign indicating the spot; Ravnejuv. Then, in just five minutes, you reach a breathtaking viewpoint. You stand on a cliff, and when you look over the edge, your gaze plunges 350 meters straight down. While this place has nothing to do with Preikestolen, you understand the comparison. Even Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have gazed into the depths here. The best part? Almost no one knows about this spectacular location, so you might have it all to yourself. The (real) heroes of Telemark I alluded to them in the title, but in a different context. The heroes of Telemark were a group of Norwegian commandos who performed remarkable sabotage actions during World War II to thwart the Germans' plans to develop an atomic bomb. If you want to learn more about this, feel free to watch the film. My point here is that all this took place in and around Rjukan, where a heavy water plant was located. Rjukan is a place where you can easily spend a day or two. I highly recommend spending a night at the Tuddal Høyfjellshotell. This legendary yet intimate mountain hotel left an indelible impression on me. The building itself is like a Norwegian version of Alice in Wonderland, filled with curiosities and historical artifacts, with every step on the wooden stairs causing a creaking sound. The service is so exceptionally charming and good that I hope you treat yourself to waking up here. The best view in Telemark Just a stone's throw from the aforementioned hotel lies one of the most remarkable hikes in the province. Gaustatoppen is a mountain rising 1,883 meters above sea level and offering a spectacular view over about one-sixth of mainland Norway(!!!). On a clear day, you can see nearly half of southern Norway from the top, making it a fantastic place for a hike. For those who prefer not to hike, there is the Gaustabanen, a unique cable car that takes you to the top in just 15 minutes. The cable car, which started as a tourist project in 1953, was later financed by NATO and used for military purposes for 50 years. It’s about a two-hour drive from Oslo. End the day in a sauna Norway has experienced a renaissance of sauna culture over the past decade. While it has always been popular, the number of public saunas scattered across the country has increased significantly, and Telemark is no exception. If you're vacationing in this region, you're in luck, as there are several spectacular saunas available for a nominal fee. Heit Telemark Soria Moria Sauna Gaustablikk Sauna The most unique and spectaculair hotels in the Telemark If you're on a road trip, chances are you've rented a camper or are camping, which is fantastic. However, if possible, I highly recommend spending at least one night in one of the following hotels. I have been fortunate enough to stay at a few of these places, and I must say that all these stays have left an indelible impression on me. This is largely due to the fantastic locations, but even more so because of the exceptional hospitality and immense charm these hotels exude. A small selection: Dalen Hotel Tuddal Høyfjellshotell Rjukan Admini Hotel Tollboden Hotel This modest article certainly does not do justice to the entire region, as there is so much to discover in Telemark. However, I hope my personal experiences have given you a little guidance to start your endevour! Godspeed!

  • Stay: Energihotellet; both James Bond and hike-enthousiasts feel at home here

    For somewhat dubious reasons, I recently found myself in Haugesund. Due to a significant disruption to my travel schedule, which resulted in a day's delay, I regrettably had no time to explore Haugesund. Therefore, you can expect an article from me about this illustrious place on the west coast of the country at a later date. Anyway, the plan was to drive back to my hometown from Haugesund, a journey that could be completed in one day, but would entail approximately seven hours in the car, which seemed rather long. Thus, I sought out a charming hotel to spend the night midway. A particular hotel had long been on my bucket list, not only for its location and architecture but also because the new owners had revitalized the place in an exceptional manner. It seemed fitting to dedicate a brief article to it. After reading, you will have: Numerous reasons why a stay at Energihotellet will elevate your Norwegian holiday Local attractions you should not leave unseen Why visit Energihotellet Energihotellet is rather isolated, which is immediately a significant plus. A glance at the map reveals a vast lake, one of the largest in the Rogaland region, winding narrow roads, and towering mountains. This is no coincidence. The hotel formerly housed temporary workers from the nearby hydroelectric plant, and sometimes still does. Speaking of the hydroelectric plant, it was constructed in the early 1960s, designed by Geir Grung, a Norwegian architect. The building has a somewhat brutalist aesthetic, evoking a James Bond-esque atmosphere. And I am sure I'm not the first one to notice. Mysterious installations in such settings always give me the impression that a helicopter could land at any moment, carrying some eccentric villain accompanied by dubious bodyguards heading towards the hydroelectric plant entrance to conduct some shady business in order to reset the world order. To the point: the hotel itself is not located within the hydroelectric plant but just above it. The design of both the building and the interior is a beautiful synthesis of functionalism, minimalism, and mid-century design. The new owners have added a delightful twist without compromising the original character. Much of it remains in its original state, significantly enhancing the overall experience. What I truly appreciated was the manner in which the food was served. Firstly, the breakfast. As a modern human, I have, to put it mildly, a certain aversion to buffets. The amount of food wasted is one symptom of an unsustainable system that disrupts the planet's livability. Energihotellet understands this. Here, no buffet but an excellently curated plate with delicious fruits, vegetables, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and various other toppings. Additionally, there was freshly homemade bread. Forget about those continental breakfast spreads with 10 types of bread, countless varieties of cold cuts, eggs prepared in six different ways, and numerous other unnecessary items. This is all you need to start your day fully satisfied. The dinner was equally excellent. It’s not haute cuisine, but the dishes are beautifully presented and predominantly feature local products. All very tasteful. Speaking of local products, they have a fantastic selection of apple ciders, one of Norway's globally renowned beverages receiving more and more recognition recently. Ask for a bottle of Humlepung, and for non-Norwegians, do ask to get an explanation of the name! Do it! Now that you have a bit of an idea of what to expect, here’s a brief summary of why you won’t regret spending a night here: Attentative staff: informal, helpful, and cheerful A rather stunning setting with a fantastic view Use and promotion of local products, adding to the unique character of the place and the hotel An excellent sauna you can book. As a great sauna enthusiast, I was immediately excited. Moreover, the view from the sauna is as spectacular as from the hotel. A feeling of intimacy and authenticity. They're part of 'De Historiske Hotell', a series of exceptional hotels known for their charm and originality. That says it all, doesn't it. The surroundings As should be clear by now, the hotel is situated in a wonderful area perfect for nature lovers and outdoor activities. The hotel’s car park provides direct access to several hiking trails, and the possibilities in the immediate vicinity are endless. Additionally, the hotel is located on the countryroad ‘13’ road leading to Røldal, offering postcard-like landscapes with snowy peaks, green valleys, spectacular waterfalls, and picturesque, ancient farms. This stretch of road is part of the legendary Ryfylke National Tourist Road, a must if you decide to vacation in this area. My favourite stop along this route is Allmannajuvet, part of an old silver mine. Recently, several evocative architectural structures designed by none other than Peter Zumthor have been erected here, which are well worth a visit. Nesflaten itself, where the hotel is located, is a tiny village. To give you an idea of its size: it has a primary school with a total of 25 students and often less, including toddlers, preschoolers, and children under 12. Speaking of which, years ago, a boy at this school chose to start a small shop as his project, which part of the Norwegian school system's practical or theoretical subject requirement. This shop still exists but is now run by a former teacher from this very school. Products come from all over the world: Nepal, South Africa, and, of course, Norway. Even if you’re not interested in beautiful handmade products, it’s almost a duty to Nesflaten to have a chat with the former teacher— truly a woman of the world!

  • Transport: Why renting an EV in Norway for your road trip is by far the smartest choice

    A rather potent cocktail of substantial subsidies, parking benefits, dedicated EV lanes around Oslo (until recently), and an exceptionally well-developed charging network has made Norway the world leader in electric vehicle (EV) adoption and some sort of a utopia for EV manufacturers like Polestar, NIO, BYD, Voyah and Xpeng. Of course, it also helps that the average Norwegian has a decent amount of disposable income, which is crucial for purchasing the relatively expensive EVs available today. But you're here because you're wondering whether it's a good idea to rent an EV in Norway to make your roadtrip a quiet but elevated experience. In this article, I will explain: Why Norway is the perfect country for an electrified road trip Which obvious trips you can take in an EV How to plan your chargings Where you can rent EV's Norway is the perfect country for an electrified road trip As mentioned briefly in the introduction, Norway boasts an incredibly efficient (fast) charging network. Almost every petrol station along the highways has several charging points. Additionally, every town with a population of over 10,000 has multiple charging stations. Moreover, if you filter your search on Tripadvisor to only show hotels with EV chargers, you will find that the availability is more than excellent. Many of the larger hotels offer charging facilities in their car parks. So, after your morning breakfast, you can step into a fully charged EV to commence the next leg of your road trip. Another significant reason to rent an EV is the cost of fuel. At the time of writing, petrol costs around 24 NOK per litre (approximately €2 or $2.2). For comparison, in the US, a litre of petrol costs about 0.90 cents. In fact, Norway has the highest petrol prices in the world. Yes, you read that correctly. And this is in a country where much of the wealth comes from oil exports. But there is a sensible reason for this. The government wants to discourage the use of fossil fuel vehicles and has thus imposed high taxes on petrol. And it has worked. Four out of five new cars sold are electric. You can see the trend: it’s simply cheaper to rent an EV rather than a petrol car. The national scenic roads If I could give you only one piece of advice on what to see in this beautiful country, it would be the scenic roads. There are 18 of them, each breathtakingly beautiful. Of course, you won’t manage to tick off all 18 in one holiday, but even doing just three will leave you with unforgettable memories. The longest is over 400 km, but most range between 60 km and 200 km. I’ve checked, and charging facilities are excellent. You can drive each scenic road entirely electrically. An overview of Norway’s charging network When you look at this map, you start to understand why I wrote this article. At first glance, it might seem like you’re looking at a supermarket map, but it’s actually the number of charging stations, allowing you to plan your electrified journey based on your itinerary. Simply find the type of electric vehicle you're driving, and it'll automatically calculate your charging trajectory based on your approximate range. Rather handy indeed! Renting an EV Almost every reputable car rental company has a substantial number of EVs available, ranging from mid-sized Volkswagen ID.3s to the luxurious BMW iX40s. The only real consideration you need to make is how much luggage and how many passengers you have because most EVs available for rent have a range of around 400 km WLTP or more. You’re likely to arrive in Norway by plane. You might be used to every airport having a car rental company, but that’s not the case in Norway. This country is incredibly vast, with numerous small airports. And by small, I mean a runway and a departure and arrival hall (some airports don’t even have a staffed control tower). However, the following airports do have car rental services: Oslo Gardermoen Airport (OSL) Bergen Flesland Airport (BGO) Stavanger Sola Airport (SVG) Trondheim Værnes Airport (TRD) Tromsø Langnes Airport (TOS) Kristiansand Kjevik Airport (KRS) Ålesund Vigra Airport (AES) Bodø Airport (BOO) Sandefjord Torp Airport (TRF) Molde Årø Airport (MOL) Harstad/Narvik Airport (EVE) Haugesund Karmøy Airport (HAU) Evenes Airport (EVE). If you decide to rent an EV, do so well in advance. Especially during the high season (June to September), most of the fleet is usually rented out. So if you’re planning a trip, it’s best to reserve one now. You can find the best deals here. Simply type in the name of the airport, and see which EVs are available. Now that we’ve reached the end of this article, which is commendable, I must confess something. I have been a car enthusiast from a young age. And as a humble blogger living in an expensive country, my budget for driving a car is limited. You probably guessed it: I own a classic 1999 Mercedes C240 estate, but it’s a pristine example. Give me a thumbs up if you see me driving.

  • Hike: Prehistoric rock carvings on the slopes of an ancient volcano just outside Oslo

    Since ancient times, the environs of Oslo have been inhabited, and for good reason. The lengthy expanse of the Oslo Fjord provided shelter from the elements, boasting a more stable climate compared to the tumultuous weather of the west coast. Moreover, in yesteryears, the Oslo Fjord teemed with vast quantities of fish. Evidence of this abundance lies in the myriad rock carvings discovered in the vicinity of Oslo. Let's delve into some of these ancient depictions, accessible for your own exploration. By the end of this little article, you will know: How to reach the rock carvings Their (potential) significance Key observations to make Rumors had reached my ears of prehistoric rock carvings nestled just a stone's throw (pun intended) away from my house, a mere three kilometers as the crow flies. Yet, strangely, I had never bothered to ascertain their precise location until last week. As a great lover of historical sites in Norway, it is with slight shame to admit not knowing my close surroundings. To my surprise, the journey was simpler than anticipated. From Oslo, you board bus 150 heading towards Gullhaug, where you'll get off that same bus at Steinskogen Gravlund. From there, consult 'Dalbo' on your Google Maps, cross the road with care, and proceed along Daeliveien, leading directly to the several rock carving sites, clearly indicated with signage. Alternatively, you can opt for the metro to Gjettum, accessing Daeliveien from the opposite direction. Assuming familiarity with signage and rudimentary navigation skills via Google Maps, the journey should be rather straightforward. And if not, ask a local! Norwegians like to help out and point directions. What sets these rock carvings apart, uniquely Scandinavian, is the depiction of a large rowboat manned by over 20 rowers. Presumably a war vessel, it's also plausible that such longships were utilized for fishing expeditions, given the erstwhile abundance of fish in the Oslo Fjord. Regrettably, contemporary times have witnessed a stark decline in marine life within the fjord due to severe pollution from sewage, agricultural runoff, and overfishing. However, in antiquity, the fjord thrived with life and bio diversity, with fishing serving as a primary food source for the local tribes. The interpretation of rock carvings remains ambiguous, subject to varying hypotheses among archaeologists. It has been posited that these carvings may demarcate territorial boundaries, serve as conduits for rituals, or invoke favor from higher powers, particularly the animal depictions, believed to enhance hunting luck. The initial rock carvings at Dalbo were unearthed in 1959, comprising numerous ship motifs, circles, and footprints spread across ten distinct areas. At Gjettum, rock carvings were first discovered in the 1970s, with additional findings in the 1990s. Multiple rock art sites feature abundant ship motifs, footprints, images of horses and the like. Presently, these sites are obscured by turf and challenging to locate, a fortunate circumstance considering the propensity of certain individuals to leave their mark, something we would now call vandalism. Thankfully, the past two decades have seen no further damage inflicted upon the rock carvings. Hence, it is imperative to refrain from defacing or trampling upon these ancient relics. Both out of respect for those from ancient times, as well present day humanity. I must confess, a sense of reverence overcame me upon beholding the rock carvings last week. It's profoundly moving to contemplate how our European forebears etched their existence onto these stones, now imprinting upon our collective consciousness. These carvings afford a remarkable glimpse into bygone eras, bridging temporal chasms and rendering the distant past palpably proximate. In addition to the rock carvings, this locale boasts a rich tapestry of history. Should you fancy a brief ascent, consider scaling the Gråmagan Bygdeborg. Unsure of the route? Download the UT.NO app for precise directions. In essence, a bygdeborg denotes a prehistoric defensive structure typically erected atop elevated and strategically positioned hills or cliffs. Constructed at various junctures throughout history, these fortifications served diverse purposes contingent upon their contextual milieu. Typically featuring palisades, ramparts, ditches, or a combination thereof, bygdeborger afforded protection against incursions. They might also incorporate ancillary defenses such as fortified gates, towers, or catapults to repel adversaries. At times, bygdeborger doubled as dwellings or communal gathering sites, alongside their defensive function. Upon reaching the remnants of the Gråmagan Bygdeborg, the clarity of its strategic placement becomes immediately apparent. Commanding a breathtaking view on Oslo, the Oslo Fjord, and the surrounding hinterlands, the site affords unparalleled vantage points to anticipate potential threats and warn the settlements below. It reminded me a bit of the beacons of Gondor, perhaps an empty reference for those unversed in the lore of Middle-earth, the panoramic view alone justifies the modest ascent. For those of you being geology-nerds, the Gråmagan Bygdeborg is situated upon the flank of an ancient dormant volcano, testament to the volcanic activity that once characterized this region hundreds of millions of years ago. For those of you interested in rockcarvings and planning a longer journey beyond the Norwegian capital, there is an abundance of beautifully preserved rock carving sites across the country. And do have a look at the article I wrote about rock carvins in Alta.

  • Stay: remote and unique places to stay; 6 bucket-list destinations in Norway

    With this title, I've set myself quite the impossible task trying to only pick 6 unique places to stay in Norway. For the country is truly littered with remarkable accommodations, each possessing its own unique character. Yet, after much deliberation, I've dared to select six that are just that bit more extraordinary. If perhaps you're destined to visit Norway only once in your lifetime, it's almost an obligation to yourself to spend at least one night in one of these six magnificent destinations. Yes, even if you had originally planned to go camping. Allow me to guide you through the farthest reaches of the country, exploring six bucket-list stays, each leaving an indelible mark upon you. Eaglenest Eco Lodge It is no coincidence that I begin this humble narrative by mentioning the Eaglenest Lodge. Perched at a lofty elevation of 901 meters above sea level, and extending boldly into the sky by 8 meters, the lodge offers panoramic vistas that mesmerize visitors throughout the seasons, from the crisp azure days of January to the vibrant hues of autumn. Nestled against a rather steep side of the picturesque valley of Gudbrandsdalen, the Eagle Nest Eco Lodge reminded me somewhat of a modern interpretation of the beacon of Gondor. And if you didn’t catch the Lord of the Rings reference there; it’s high up! The nearby Rondane, Dovrefjell, and Jotunheimen national parks make the Eagle Nest an excellent springboard for the exploration of some of the most spectacular natural sites the country has to offer. A sturdy and exceedingly comfortable bed, ingeniously fitted with a sliding feature, a bespoke kitchen crafted from local mountain pine, a rejuvenating hot tub, and an open-air log burner; the lodge seamlessly merges the ruggedness of its surroundings with contemporary sophistication. Paying homage to the rich heritage of Gudbrandsdalen, the interior exudes an aura of authenticity, adorned with rustic elements such as aged farm doors, intricately carved wooden shelves, and locally sourced hand-carved slate. Nearby Natural Highlight: Rondane National Park Woodnest Woodnest offers a distinctive and Instagram-perfect treetop cabin experience. Overlooking the rather intriguing town of Odda, deeply nestled in a long and somewhat mystical side arm of the majestic Hardangerfjord, these cabins are crafted by the esteemed Norwegian architects Helen & Hard, embodying a profound reverence for nature. Each 15m2 cabin is ingeniously constructed to be cradled by the supporting tree, seamlessly integrating the living essence of the tree within its structure. Equipped with electricity, a compact kitchenette, high-speed Wi-Fi, modern conveniences such as flush toilets and showers, and underfloor heating to ensure warmth on chilly nights, each cabin provides a haven of comfort and convenience. Their design has been lauded on many platforms, and now it’s your turn to spend the night there. Nearby Natural Highlight: Trolltunga and Hardangerfjorden Pan Treetop Situated within Finnskogen, in Solør, the 8-meter elevated cabins are nestled within a vast nature reserve teeming with history and wildlife. Bears, wolves, moose—they’re all there. Although chances of seeing them are rather slim, you might if you manage to keep your voice down and have your eyes on the edge of the forest during twilight. Because that’s usually the time a moose would consider coming out in search of dinner. The PAN treetop cabins are renowned for their unique and distinct architecture; the cabins have garnered numerous awards and garnered widespread acclaim in the international press. PAN1 and PAN2 can accommodate up to six guests, featuring one double bed and four single beds, while PAN3 comfortably houses four individuals. All cabins are equipped with water and electricity, ensuring a comfortable and relaxing stay. The tranquility of its surroundings is rather unique because Finnskogen isn’t exactly a massive tourist magnet, but unjustly so in my opinion. This truly is one of Europe’s last untouched wildernesses. Nearby Natural Highlight: Finnskogen The Bolder Most people come to Lysefjord for a day trip to walk up the steps to Preikestolen, and rightfully so. But very few decide to find accommodation outside of Stavanger. For those seeking a slightly more adventurous stay, Bolder is your best option. Elevated upon substantial concrete pillars, these lodges boast glass facades that afford panoramic views of the surrounding natural splendor of Lysefjorden and the surrounding mountains. Crafted by the esteemed architectural studio, Snøhetta, the Bolder Lodges epitomize an ethos of environmental sustainability; they’re there, but they barely touch the ground. The newly introduced StarLodges epitomize a sanctuary immersed in the embrace of nature, offering a leisurely travel experience. These off-grid luxury cabins perch delicately on the precipice of steep mountainsides, providing guests with a sense of weightlessness amidst the ethereal beauty of the clear blue fjord below. Exuding convenience and comfort, the lodges are meticulously outfitted in collaboration with renowned brands to ensure an unparalleled stay. From high-speed Wi-Fi to well-appointed kitchenettes and inviting living spaces, every amenity is thoughtfully provided. Nearby Natural Highlight: Preikestolen and Kjerag Manshausen Nestled within the scenic Steigen Archipelago off the coast of Northern Norway, Manshausen Island beckons as a singular destination where adventure, tranquility, and a profound connection with nature await. It’s a bit of a cliché, but I dare to call it a destination in itself. Taking the amazing view you have from the seaside cabins into account, a stay here is a justified item on a bucket list. Manshausen boasts an array of 16 structures, among which nine Sea Cabins stand as epitomes of understated elegance, offering unparalleled vistas and an ambiance of serene minimalism. Designed with meticulous attention to comfort, these cabins feature expansive floor-to-ceiling windows that seamlessly merge the interior with the captivating waterscape. The sea cabins have won a ton of architectural awards, for obvious reasons. Nearby Natural Highlight: the Lofoten Archipelago The Arctic Hideaway As the title suggests, this certainly is a hideaway because it doesn’t get more remote than this location. Nestled amidst the untouched expanse of northern Norway, The Arctic Hideaway is for those seeking tranquility and communion with nature. An hour's boat journey west of Bodø transports you to this secluded sanctuary, where eleven distinct cabins gracefully cascade from hilltops to the water's edge. Here, the absence of man-made clamor and visual clutter affords a rare opportunity for sensory renewal, immersing visitors in the unspoiled majesty of the Arctic landscape. Fordypningsrommet, aptly named "The Immersion Room," is more than a mere retreat; it is a conduit for profound connection with the natural world. Distractions dissipate in the face of elemental forces, allowing the essence of one's being to emerge, fostering encounters with the deepest recesses of the self. Amidst the rhythmic cadence of the waves and the ethereal dance of the northern lights, clarity of thought finds fertile ground. Upon the island, the trappings of modernity are conspicuously absent—no cars, no shops. Yet, in this dearth of distractions, lies the invitation to engage wholly with the natural milieu, to embrace the rhythms of existence unfettered by the demands of contemporary life. This place is utterly unique and will leave a mark in your memory you’ll want to revisit over and over again. Nearby Natural Highlight: the location itself

  • Stay: 5 of the classiest and oldest (historic) hotels in Norway

    I have a penchant for antiquity. I relish the aroma of aged books and tarred wood, love automobiles with at least a quarter-century under their belt, and find solace in jazz tunes from the era of the moon landing. If only I possessed more audacity and wealth and where born 60 years ago, I'd readily admit, I'd likely attire myself each day as if I were English countryside gentry. Entirely unjustified, pretentious and misplaced, obviously. I appreciate your honesty I hear you say... You're welcome. Well, you grasp the gist. This article delves into antiquity. Or in the charm of 5 out of many historic hotels in Norway, to be precise. And let me clarify right off the bat, as the Japanese may peruse this piece with a bemused gaze, for the world's oldest hotel undeniably resides in Japan, tracing its origins back to the year 705 (Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan). The oldest hotel in Norway, on the other hand, emerged more than 900 years later, its inception dating back to 1640. Certainly, in the ensuing centuries, tourism started to really boom in Norway. Particularly, European (royal) elites began journeying northward to be enraptured by the breathtaking Norwegian landscape, reaching its zenith in the 19th century. During this epoch, dozens of legendary hotels emerged all across the land. In this article, I introduce five, including the oldest among them. Hotel Walaker (1640) Utne Hotel (1722) Hotel Union Øye (1891) Dalen Hotel (1894) Tuddal Høyfjellshotel (1895) Walaker Hotel Walaker Hotel embodies a fairytale-esque allure in Solvorn, nestled along the shores of the Lustrafjord in Luster, Sogn. This historic establishment boasts a remarkable lineage, being, in fact, Norway's oldest continually operating hotel. And it shows. History oozes from its exquisitely adorned walls. Situated on Vetle-Vollåker in Solvorn, one of the fjord's most charming villages, I stumbled upon it serendipitously while en route to the Urnes stave church, having missed the ferry. Out of curiosity, we ventured inside and were captivated at every turn. In operation for over three hundred years—nearing four!—it saw the light of day in 1640 and has since remained a sought-after destination for guests seeking to immerse themselves in Norwegian history amidst the quintessential, breathtaking fjord landscape. Owned by the Nitter Walaker family since 1690, it stands as the oldest family-run hotel in Norway. Quite unique! Utne Hotel We journey back to 1722, to a quaint village along the Hardanger fjord. In that year, a remarkably intimate and charming hotel was established, which, as of 2024, still thrives. Utne Hotel exudes vivacity and authenticity, boasting a rich history against a backdrop of awe-inspiring landscapes—I refer, of course, to the natural scenery. Allow me to furnish you with some particulars: The hotel can be deemed intimate, with merely 17 unique hotel rooms, each exuding its own distinct character. The communal areas, too, exude a particularly inviting ambiance. The quality of traditional craftsmanship pervades the interior, significantly contributing to the nostalgic ambiance upon crossing its threshold. Then, there's its location, for this hotel holds its place for good reason. Utne Hotel lies proximate to mountains and fjords, offering a breathtaking vista of the stunning scenery. Hotel Union Øye Hotel Union Øye is a historic hotel nestled along the banks of the Norangsfjord in Ørsta, Sunnmøre. Originally erected in 1891 in Swiss style, designed by the Norwegian architect Christian Thams, it boasts a lengthy tradition as a destination for mountaineers, royalty, writers, and lovers. I mean, peruse the list of legendary and illustrious hotel guests. I'd wager a hefty sum you'd recognize at least half of them. Kings, queens, writers, poets—they all savored their morning repast here. You luxuriate in tranquility and serenity in a hotel best described perhaps as the Norwegian rendition of the grand Budapest hotel. Truly, so exquisitely beautiful and tastefully appointed. Moreover, the surroundings are breathtaking. This is bucket list material, believe me. Dalen Hotel Norwegians describe it as the adventure hotel. And with that, the crux is largely articulated. Dalen Hotel, a historic establishment nestled in the historic region of Telemark, opened its doors in 1894 and seems plucked from an enthralling children's tale of fairies, kings, and magical creatures. The hotel stands as one of the largest wooden structures in Norway and boasts a rich history as a beloved destination for European nobility and royalty. It has been preserved in its original style, offering a unique blend of historical charm and modern comfort. Each space is breathtaking in its own right. If you're contemplating marriage, this is an excellent honeymoon destination. Tuddal Høyfjellshotel Tuddal Høyfjellshotel stands as one of Norway's oldest and most charming high-altitude hotels, nestled on the sunny side of the majestic Gaustatoppen. Originally erected in 1895 as a high-altitude sanatorium, today, you encounter the 5th generation Gurholt family tending to the premises. I first visited in 2020 and was utterly enthralled by the ambiance. It's somewhat secluded, imparting an exclusive feel. The interior, too, is breathtaking. Creaking staircases, exquisite woodwork, and traditional adornments abound, rendering a leisurely stroll through its corridors and chambers truly worthwhile. Activities such as flatbread baking, guided hikes, and special events are offered, and the hotel is a popular venue for weddings and celebrations. Order an aquavit, settle by the fireside, and transport yourself into a century-old time capsule.

  • Hike: hiking is an excellent way to experience Norway; here's my best tips!

    Embarking on a hiking holiday in Norway is an unparalleled experience. Picture this: a 70-liter backpack, sturdy hiking boots, and a few weeks of unbridled time to wonder around. It's what I like to do most, though sadly, I've indulged in it far too infrequently in recent years due to...well, life happening. I think it's fair to say that Norway's breathtaking landscapes are best explored on foot, making it the ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. In this guide, I'll share some invaluable tips for those considering a hiking holiday in Norway. Proper preparation is key, so take your time to gear up for your adventure. Here are some essential pointers to ensure an unforgettable journey. Plan Your Route and Accommodation First and foremost, decide which region of Norway you want to explore on your hiking journey. This decision is entirely personal and depends on your experience level and physical condition. Some areas boast challenging terrain with steep ascents, turning seemingly short hikes into demanding endeavors. Therefore, thoroughly research the terrain beforehand to estimate the time needed for your trek. I highly recommend utilizing, a fantastic resource offering detailed maps with estimated distances and durations for various routes. It also classifies routes based on difficulty levels: easy, moderate, challenging, or extra challenging. Additionally, it provides information on available trekking cabins, a network of public shelters scattered across the country. These cabins offer overnight accommodations for a tiny fee, provided you bring your own sleeping bag. Cabin facilities range from basic shelters to semi-luxurious lodgings with hot meals available during high season. The DNT website contains all the necessary details for planning your stay. Most DNT cabins without hosts are secured with a standard DNT key. It's wise to carry this key with you at all times, safely stored in your backpack, especially if you plan to venture off the beaten path. Members can easily obtain this key for a deposit of 100 kroner, available through DNT's webshop, local tourist associations, select tourist offices, and certain stores. Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations governing cabin stays to ensure a smooth experience. This remarkable system, democratizing outdoor living and accessibility, relies on everyone adhering to the guidelines. Wild Camping Norway is perfect for wild camping, boasting vast expanses of pristine wilderness and an extensive network of trails. The country's "Right to Roam" or "Allemansretten" grants people the freedom to enjoy nature responsibly, regardless of their background or origin. To summarize, Allemansretten encompasses the following points: Access to Nature: Individuals have the right to hike, bike, ski, or swim in the countryside, provided they do not harm the environment or property. Camping: People are free to camp in nature as long as they do so respectfully and without causing damage. This includes setting up camp away from residential areas, refraining from making fires during dry periods, and leaving no trace behind. Foraging: Berry picking, mushroom hunting, and collecting wildflowers for personal use are allowed, but commercial exploitation is prohibited. It's essential to harvest only what you need and treat nature with respect. Fishing and Hunting: Fishing and hunting are permitted in nature, subject to specific rules and permits depending on the area and species. Respect for Nature and the Environment: While Allemansretten grants considerable freedom, it's crucial to treat nature with respect. This entails leaving no litter behind, avoiding damage to plants or animals, and respecting the peace and tranquility of others. Allemansretten is a cherished aspect of Norwegian culture, contributing to the preservation of the country's natural beauty. It enables people to revel in the stunning landscapes and engage in outdoor activities while assuming responsibility for conservation efforts. Before embarking on a wild camping adventure, familiarize yourself with both written and unwritten rules regarding wilderness camping. What to pack Packing varies from person to person. Personally, I prefer traveling as lightly as possible, particularly on extended hiking trips exceeding four days. This allows me to allocate more space for provisions. Additionally, I tend to tolerate cold weather rather well and often camp during winter. However, if you hail from warmer climates, your needs may differ causing the underneath packing list to increase a bit. In general, I did my best to compile a little list of basics you'd have to think of bringing. Waterproof jacket and trousers Lightweight windbreaker and hiking trousers with moisture-wicking properties Woolen or blended underwear with an extra set Wool socks with a snug fit and an extra pair Wool sweater or jacket, or a lightweight down jacket Lightweight tent (I always bring one, even though I'm planning to stay in cabins, just to be sure of shelter in case something might change, like the weather for example). A thin matress or underlay to seperate you from cold surfaces Woolen mittens or gloves that retain warmth when wet Lightweight sneakers (nice to have when your hiking boots are wet) Well-worn (!!!) hiking boots to prevent blisters Shorts and t-shirt made of wool or synthetic fibers for warmer weather A thermosflask, both for your morning coffee and to keep the water you drink from rivers nice and cool during warm days. Backpack with suitable volume Waterproof bag that fits inside the backpack (optional rain cover) Sleeping bag if camping; otherwise, a sleeping bag liner for DNT huts (even in midsummer, temperatures can drop at high altitudes) Power banks for charging devices First aid kit with blister plasters and sports tape Minimal toiletries and a small/lightweight towel (preferably biodegradable toothpaste) Toilet paper and an extra garbage bag (you will not find trashbins in the wildernis and dumping your rubbish is an absolute no-go). Sunglasses and sunscreen Insect repellent/mosquito net Map, compass, and waterproof map case, or GPS device Multitool and duct tape Matches/lighter Compact headlamp/flashlight Cash/debit card DNT key Digital DNT membership card Provisions! Rather too many than too few! When hiking in Norway, always inform someone about your plans before setting out. It doesn't need to be overly detailed, but ensuring someone is aware of your intended route is crucial. While Norway's natural beauty is unparalleled, it's essential to acknowledge the potential risks involved. As previously mentioned, preparation is key.

  • Eat: My favourite Asian restaurants in Oslo

    Sometimes, I still yearn for Amsterdam, particularly for its immense diversity. Especially in Amsterdam East, where I resided for years, every 10 meters you'd encounter a different eatery. From Javanese to Jordanese, and from Cantonese to Iraqi—packed within 130 nationalities; what opulence. Yet, I must confess, nearly all my favourite dishes hail from Asia. Thankfully, in Oslo, multiple migrant groups have settled, unlocking the door to 'the East'. To somewhat elevate immigrants and the cultural and culinary richness they bring along, it seemed fitting to guide you through my favourite Asian restaurants in Oslo, listed randomly as they're truly all worthwhile. Listen to Baljit Baljit, son of an Indian immigrant, acquainted Norway with the vast richness and variety of Indian cuisine in the late 1980s. Continuing his father's tradition, he honed his skills as a chef. 'Listen to Baljit' became the moniker of his restaurant. Opting to focus on street food—dishes purchasable directly from food stalls—he crafted an extensive menu featuring diverse small dishes sourced from various regions of India. I emphasize this because the diversity within India is immense; failing to acknowledge it would do the Indian cuisine a disservice. I dare say this is one of the finest Indian restaurants in Oslo. At least, I've dined there thrice, and each time was superb. The ambiance is informal, prices somewhat manageable. The dishes boast excellent quality, taking the concept of comfort food to another level. Izakaya Navigating the fine line of aligning aesthetics with cuisine can often lead to a themed restaurant. However, the opposite holds true at Izakaya. Although I've never been to Japan, the credibility emanating from this tiny basement eatery is impressive. The dark wooden ceiling, decorations, and an overall curated shabbiness immediately transport you to another realm. The youthful servers exude friendliness, suggesting they're all part of an indie band in their spare time, evident from the uniquely dressed twentysomethings with challenging tattoos and canvas bags populating the bar stools. The menu is compact, each dish, in its simplicity, a masterpiece. Noodles so firm they could bounce back if dropped. The shiitake is delightful, don't overlook the spinach cheese pancake. And don't forget a glass of warm sake and sesame ice cream for dessert. If you're not convinced yet; it's always bustling, no reservations accepted. So, arrive early, or enjoy a beer at the bar while waiting. Yum Cha Hong Kong conjures up fantastical imagery. Again, a place this humble blogger has never set foot in. Yet, I feel somewhat acquainted through Yum Cha, an outstanding restaurant specializing in typical Hong Kong dishes. Firstly, the interior is stunning. Dim sum is naturally popular in Hong Kong and is served at Yum Cha. However, the precisely prepared Cantonese dishes are truly masterful. I made the mistake of ordering too much when dining with another couple. Underestimating the satiating quality, the table was laden with steam baskets, bowls, and plates. Miraculously, everything was devoured. My favorite was the garlic pak choi and the fried shrimp balls. Yes, and of course, the amazing dim sum. Yum Cha is somewhat concealed in a street rarely frequented by tourists. However, believe me, it's worth taking the metro or tram to Majorstuen. Golden Chimp Situated at a corner of two streets in the Grønland district, embodies the most 'international' essence of Oslo, subtly reflecting the rich diversity of ethnicities shaped by past armed conflicts. Personally, I find solace in such areas, though I understand not everyone shares this sentiment. Inside Golden Chimp, a wondrous experience awaits. The walls sparingly adorned with kitschy artifacts, peculiar images, and the occasional odd primate. This brings me to the name: Golden Chimp. While unsure of its origin, it brought to mind that (perhaps ugly but groundbreaking) artwork by Jeff Koons, featuring the likeness of Michael Jackson and that peculiar little monkey, found in the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo. Overall, it somewhat resembles a fusion of a senior citizen center in a Chinese city suburb and a roadside eatery in a Soviet country. In essence, here you dine on the most delightful and extraordinary dumplings. The ingredients used are excellent and sometimes surprising. I would say these are the best in Oslo, if not in Norway. While unafraid of experimentation, they firmly stay within the boundaries of what I'd describe as comfort food. Dalat Absolutely fantastic. Let's start with that. If you're acquainted with Vietnamese cuisine, this will be a feast of recognition. If not, you'll never desire anything else after Dalat. What's splendid about Vietnamese cuisine is the marvelous mix of fresh and raw vegetables, herbs, and savory flavors. The blend of taste, aroma, and texture renders it incredibly satisfying. Thankfully, a relatively large Vietnamese minority resides in Norway, ensuring a constant demand for excellent Vietnamese fare. The eatery itself hardly garners attention, despite its prime location in the city center. But that's alright. Those who frequent here know of its existence as they've been here for the 8th time. Expect no influencer-friendly ambiance; it's truly about the food here. The interior feels somewhat bare but certainly adds to the authenticity. The people running the place are just the sweetest you'll ever meet. Opt for classics like Pho and fresh spring rolls. Oh, and it's not overly pricey. Also pleasing. Koie Ramen There's a stark difference between ramen and ramen. With the popularity of the Japanese noodle dish, numerous ramen shops have emerged, some with questionable quality. However, what's crucial with ramen are the noodles. Particularly that they're fresh and firm. In fact, entire Netflix documentaries are dedicated to the perfect noodle. Let them deal with that; the point is, Koie Ramen has consistently surprised me with the quality of their ramen. I dare say they make the best in Oslo, perhaps evidenced by the recent opening of a second branch. And precisely that second one appeals to me greatly. It's never crowded, the kitchen always bustling, perfect for a quick bite. The new branch is near the new Munch Museum, yet despite the prime location, few are aware of its existence. As mentioned, excellent ramen and swift service! Happolati Perhaps a tad pricey, but worth every penny, considering this might be one of Oslo's premier Asian fusion restaurants. I have no vested interest, having dined there only once, but it was an experience. Surprising dishes, excellent service, and a stunning interior, though subject to debate. As a former interior designer, I have a penchant for beautiful places, and this is one such gem. Andersen & Voll crafted the design, offering a splendid interpretation of Japanese and Scandinavian design while maintaining the grandeur of the establishment. Nonetheless, you're here for the menu. Presented in 6 or 8 courses. For me, 6 courses are more than sufficient, especially when paired with a wine package. Head here for a date; you'll be pampered.

  • 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. 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.

  • Destination: a list of 19 beautiful villages in Norway you've never heard of (but should definitely visit)

    Norway is an immense country with relatively few inhabitants. Consequently, the number of major cities is quite limited, and they are widely dispersed. However, nestled between these cities lie a plethora of picture-perfect and picturesque villages that seem almost too beautiful to be real. Moreover, for each village, I provide a fantastic accommodation option, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty away from the beaten path. Unlike many other blogs, I have actually visited these places myself. So, some first-hand recommendations here. Grimstad Grimstad is a stunning small town on the southern coast of Norway. It was the longtime residence of the world-renowned playwright Henrik Ibsen, who worked there as a pharmacist for an extended period. Additionally, this town, with no more than 24,000 inhabitants, hosts a branch of the University of Agder and the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research. Opt for one of the most beautiful vacation homes you can find in the region for your stay. Things to do in Grimstad: Enjoy a drink at Apotekergården. Indulge in delicious cinnamon buns at Hesnes Gartneri. Explore the history at the Ibsen House. Savor a fantastic dinner at Smag og behag. Tvedestrand A picturesque village where time seems to have stood still. Beautiful white houses and a small harbor where numerous pleasure yachts dock in the summer. The first time I visited here, I couldn't help but think of the Truman Show. Once you're here, you'll understand the reference. Stay at the Tvedestrand Fjord Hotel, located right by the water, which greatly enhances the perception of this beautiful village. Things to do in Tvedestrand: Take a boat to Furøya for a delightful lunch or dinner (summer only). While not in Tvedestrand, the Trebåt festivalen taking place in August in Risør is nearby. Nyksund This village on the west coast was completely abandoned in the 1970s but has recently experienced a remarkable revival, becoming a creative hotspot. In the 1990s, a group of German students and artists moved here. For lunch, dinner, and accommodation, head to Nyksund Ekspedisjonen. Mandal Mandal may be a small dot on the map, but it boasts incredibly beautiful beaches where I've spent many summer days. The village itself is charming. Stay at Mandal Hotel, but be aware that it can get quite crowded during the peak season. Things to do in Mandal: Visit the beautiful beaches. Indulge in treats from Edgar's Bakeri & Konditori, the best bakery in the area. Explore the Vigeland house, where the legendary Norwegian artist brothers lived and worked. Experience the Mandal Jazz Festival. Bærums Verk Former industrial heritage from the 16th and 17th centuries has been transformed into charming shops. If you're staying in Oslo, this is an excellent short day trip. Things to do in Bærums Verk: Enjoy lunch at Melboden, where you can sit in the sun on a picnic bench and enjoy delicious pizza and a cold beer. Watch young artists showcase their skills at the glassblowing workshop (especially on Saturdays and Sundays). Have dinner at Værtshuset. When the weather is nice, the garden is a picturesque setting for a meal and drinks. If you're with children, the tiny steam train museum is worth a visit. Visnes Ice-blue glacier lakes and a beautiful meandering river characterize Visnes. This is one of those legendary Instagram locations where many influencers pose with their back-ends against a stunning backdrop. Stay at Visnes Hotel Stryn. Things to do in Visnes: Visit the Briksdal Glacier (Briksdalbreen). Explore Raksætra. Drive along Gamle Strynefjellsvegen. Fjærland A picturesque village on the fjord, Fjærland boasts an enormous amount of second-hand books, a beautiful hotel, and serves as a base for various outdoor adventures. Stay at the beautiful Fjordstove hotel. Things to do in Fjærland: Explore the numerous second-hand bookshops. Relax in the floating sauna, 'Dampen.' Join Fjærland Guiding for mountain excursions and kayak tours on the fjord. Agatunet A gem of medieval fjord culture, Agatunet consists of perfectly preserved medieval buildings, offering an excellent glimpse into the past. Located near Odda, why not stay in Woodnest? Things to do in and around Agatunet: Go on a cider tour, a specialty of Hardanger. Hike to Trolltunga, the iconic rock formation even featured in an IKEA poster. Explore the entire Hardanger area, it's gorgeous! Lærdalsøyri One of the most beautiful fjord villages, Lærdalsøyri is also home to the world's longest road tunnel. Moreover, it has become a destination for lovers of (vintage) sports cars, with several meetings taking place, especially during the summer. Stay at 29 | 2, one of Norway's most beautiful boutique hotels. Things to do in and around Lærdal: Drive along the Aurlandsfjellet Scenic Road. Visit the Stegastien viewpoint. Explore the Borgund stave church, one of the most beautiful and famous ones. Vardø Home to a world-famous monument, Vardø is worth visiting just to see it. The village itself feels like a frontier, incredibly remote, which makes it a unique destination in itself. Stay at Vardø Hotel. Things to do in and around Vardø: Explore Hamningsberg, a beautiful secluded fishing village at the end of the legendary Varanger road. Visit Drakkar Leviathan. Explore Vardøhus Fortress. Enjoy the view from Domen Viewpoint. Uttakleiv When you think of Norway, you might not immediately think of a surf culture. However, there are plenty of beautiful sandy beaches that become surf destinations in both summer and winter. Lofoten is dotted with accommodation options, so you'll find something suitable. Husøy (Senja) One of the more remarkable places to build a village, Husøy is a tiny island, fully exposed to the wind. It's difficult to imagine what it's like to live here year-round, especially during the months of darkness. While you don't necessarily have to stay here, I recommend booking a night at Tranøya for one of the most unique accommodations in and around Senja. Things to do in and around Senja: Explore Senja, one of Norway's most beautiful islands. Drive along the National Tourist Route. Visit Senja Coffee Roasters. Explore Ånderdalen National Park. Havøysund A tiny fishing village at the end of the world, Havøysund boasts the oldest evidence of permanent settlement dating back to the Neolithic Age. Stay at the Arctic View Glamping & Restaurant and enjoy excellent seafood dishes during the summer. Røst One of the most remote islands in Norway, Røst offers breathtaking views in all directions. It's also home to a huge colony of puffins, making it a mecca for nature and bird lovers. If you're tired of screen time, this is the place to be. Stay at Telegrafen or Bryggehotel. Things to do in and around Røst: Visit Skomværkroa for a refreshing drink. Rent a stand-up paddleboard or join a fishing excursion. Å The name alone conjures up images of wonder. Å is also one of the most photographed places in Lofoten, and for good reason. It's almost mandatory to stay in one of the characteristic Rørbuer. Things to do on Lofoten: Explore Lofoten! Brekkestø One of the most beautiful and charming coastal villages on the southern coast of Norway. You'll hardly encounter any tourists here, just Norwegians enjoying their holidays, mooring their boats to enjoy an ice cream. If I were to build a house somewhere, it would be here. If you decide to stay, I recommend the Lillesand Hotel. Things to do in Brekkestø: Visit Brekkekjærhaven Kulturkafé. Explore downtown Lillesand. Røros Røros is one of two towns in Norway designated as "mining towns" by the king, along with Kongsberg. The town has preserved its old wooden houses and cultural landscape, earning it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. With its unique and well-preserved wooden workers' houses, Røros has a distinct character, especially charming and romantic in winter. Stay at the Erzscheidergården hotel. Things to do in Røros: Visit Røros Church. Explore Røros Museum. Attend the winter fair. Sogndalstrand An adorable little coastal town hidden away in southwest Norway. This beautiful village has hardly been discovered by the masses, leaving it beautifully preserved. Although it looks quaint, life on the southwest coast of Norway was tough in the past. You don't see much of that now. If you're spending a night here, Sogndalstrand Kulturhotell is your best option. Things to do in Sogndalstrand: Explore Brufjellhålene. Visit Helleren i Jøssingfjord. Solvorn One of the most picturesque fjord villages, Solvorn has a long history as a trade center, church site, and courthouse site. It's also the place where the ferry crosses to Ornes, home to the famous 12th-century Urnes Stave Church. Naturally, you'll stay at the oldest hotel in Norway, with a history dating back to 1650; the Walaker Hotel. Things to do in Solvorn: Visit Urnes Stave Church. Explore Galleri Walaker. This comprehensive guide should provide you with an excellent overview of some of the most enchanting places to visit in Norway, along with fantastic accommodation options and activities to enjoy during your stay. Enjoy your journey through the breathtaking landscapes and charming villages of this Scandinavian gem!

  • Read: salmon on your sushi and 13 other Norwegian inventions you didn't know about

    Once upon a time, there was a Viking... That's how I could easily introduce this article. Indeed, there was once a Viking who discovered that when you look through a piece of moonstone under a cloudy sky, you can still see where the sun is, making navigation and course-keeping much easier when the sky above the Atlantic Ocean is covered with dense clouds. Although there is no direct evidence, this seemingly simple invention appears to be the reason Vikings successfully sailed the previously unknown seas and discovered entire continents, such as present-day North America and Greenland. This very invention inspired me to write a small tribute article about inventions made by Norwegians, or inventions made in Norway...or inventions with a Norwegian origin. Yes indeed, I need to widen the criteria a little bit but that makes the list more entertaining. Let it be an encouragement to do some exploring on your own. Here we go! 1. Cheese Slicer (Ostehøvel): The modern cheese slicer was invented by the Norwegian carpenter Thor Bjørklund in 1925. It has since become a widely used kitchen tool worldwide. Occasionally, a rather shouty Dutch person may stand up and loosely claim it to be a Dutch invention, but that cheesehead can take a seat again because it's truly a Norwegian invention. Sit please! 2. A-ha's "Take On Me" Music Video Technique: The groundbreaking animation and live-action combination in A-ha's famous "Take On Me" music video from 1985 was developed by Norwegian artist and animator Michael Patterson. While the song itself stormed the global charts, the music video made an equally significant impression for those with a refined taste. 3. Oil Platform Technology: Norway is a pioneer in offshore oil and gas extraction. The country has developed advanced technologies for deep-sea drilling and platforms, significantly contributing to the global oil and gas industry. As this is a blog, and I'm allowed to express opinions, I hope these technologies will soon be used to halt the dramatic warming of the planet. However, according to the Norwegian government, we should continue burning fossil fuels because 'it's not that bad.' 4. Salmon Farming Techniques: Norway is a leading country in salmon farming and has developed innovative techniques for aquaculture. The country's expertise in fish farming has had a significant impact on the global fishing industry. However, this technique is controversial, to say the least. The industry around farmed fish is quite repugnant. Ecosystems suffer tremendously from the hormones, heavy metals, and antibiotics that end up in the seawater. Additionally, the living conditions for the salmon are deplorable. Furthermore, the health effects of these heavy metals on humans (NOT HEALTHY) are questionable. 5. Sonar Technology: In the early 20th century, the Norwegian scientist and inventor Carl August Bockish made significant contributions to the development of sonar technology, essential for underwater navigation and communication. 6. The Paperclip (not the one that became a massive succes): Although the invention of the paperclip is often attributed to Johan Vaaler, a Norwegian patent officer, it should be noted that the design he patented in 1899 wasn't the one that became popular. Nevertheless, his contribution to the early development of the paperclip is acknowledged. I wouldn't mind being remembered for doing an almost legendary invention. 7. Kongsberg Target Systems: Kongsberg Gruppen, a Norwegian defense and aerospace company, has developed advanced target systems for military training. These systems are used worldwide by armed forces for shooting exercises and simulations. 8. Norsk Hydro's Aluminum Production Process: In the early 20th century, the Norwegian company Norsk Hydro developed an innovative method for aluminum production. This method, known as the Birkeland–Eyde process, has been of great importance to the global aluminum industry and, in retrospect, of enormous value. 9. Moonstone navigation: As I mentioned earlier, the evidence is not entirely conclusive. But there is a strong suspicion that moonstone helped the Vikings navigate on the open sea when it was particularly cloudy. You can locate the sun when it's cloudy, which is extremely useful when trying to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Moonstone is actually a type of gemstone that belongs to the feldspar mineral group. It is known for its distinctive adularescence, a phenomenon where the gem appears to display a milky glow or shimmering light, reminiscent of the moon's soft glow. This optical effect is caused by light scattering between microscopic layers of feldspar within the stone. Voila! 10. Bluetooth: This is pure clickbait, of course. Because I'm talking about the Bluetooth symbol. Bluetooth itself was invented by a mishmash of inventive companies from Sweden and Finland. But the symbol comes from Harald Bluetooth. He was a Viking king known for uniting Denmark and parts of Norway during his reign. The Bluetooth symbol, a bind rune merging the initials of Harald Bluetooth in Nordic runes, was created by combining the runes 'Hagall' (H) and 'Bjarkan' (B). It's a bit of cheating, but you'll have to deal with it. 11. Kon-Tiki: It can't be considered a true invention, but it's noteworthy. In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl demonstrated that it was possible to cross the Pacific Ocean using ocean currents with a reasonably simple raft, thereby proving that pre-Columbian South American cultures could have settled in Polynesia, contrary to the prevailing belief that the islands were originally populated by people from Asia. 12. Salmon on Sushi: Sushi has been around for a while, but salmon on sushi is a different story. The introduction of salmon in sushi is often and rightly credited to a Norwegian named Bjørn Eirik Olsen. In the 1980s, he worked in the seafood industry and recognized the potential of Norwegian salmon in the Japanese sushi market. He introduced the concept of using salmon in sushi to Japanese chefs, and it was met with approval and became popular. And now, the whole world enjoys 'Norwegian' sushi. Well, the salmon, at least. 13. Rottefella Binding: A Norwegian invention that may not be well-known globally is the Rottefella binding. Rottefella is a Norwegian company founded in 1927, and they developed the first ski binding with a toe binding that could be opened with a pole. This binding revolutionized cross-country skiing, making it easier for skiers to manage descents and asc ents. The Rottefella binding became a standard for cross-country skis, and the company continues to develop new technologies for ski equipment. 14. The Ski: The origin of skiing dates back to ancient times and is believed to have originated in the region spanning modern-day Norway, Sweden, and Russia. Skiing was not so much invented as naturally developed as a form of transportation in snowy and mountainous areas. It's somewhat challenging to connect a direct geographical location to 'the invention.' But since the word "ski" itself comes from the Old Norse word "skíð," referring to a piece of wood or a ski, I'm inclined to believe that the development primarily took place in what is now Norway. Early evidence of skiing dates back to prehistoric times, and ancient petroglyphs and ski fragments have been found in the Nordic region. Skiing was crucial for hunting, transport, and communication in these snowy landscapes. While skiing as a practical skill likely predates recorded history, the modern sport of skiing began to take shape in Scandinavia. Norway, in particular, played a significant role in the development of skiing, and the word "slalom," used in ski racing, has a Norwegian origin.

  • Destination: 'syttende mai'; how to join in on the celebrations of Norway's day of the constitution on May 17th.

    After the Easter festivities subside in Norway, the nation not only embraces the arrival of spring but also eagerly awaits one of its most distinctive national holidays: May 17th, known as Constitution Day or 'syttende mai' as Norwegians say it (seventeenth of May). The 17th of May is Norway's Constitution Day, an annual celebration held on May 17th to commemorate the adoption of the country's constitution in 1814. This historical event followed the Napoleonic Wars, leading to the establishment of Norway as an independent kingdom, although the union with Sweden persisted until 1905. This day stands out for its unique charm, as every village and town orchestrates a children's parade. The spectacle involves students of various ages marching through the streets bedecked with banners and flags, accompanied by stirring marching bands. The profound symbolism underlying this event is the recognition that children embody the future. While in France, the grotesque (and old-fashioned) grandeur of the military parades down the Champ Elysees, in Norway, it is the children who take the spotlight, a truly enchanting sight; for they are considered to define the future of the country and therefore celebrated. Furthermore, May 17th is an occasion to revel in the nationwide celebration, casting a picturesque hue of blue, red, and white across the landscape (the colours of the national flag that is). The esteemed national TV channel NRK offers comprehensive coverage of the festivities unfolding throughout the entire country, leaving foreigners in awe. As an expatriate, I am personally moved each year as I witness the parades. They do send camera crews to even the smallest of villages, which I find so charming. In light of this, I wish to provide a brief overview of what to anticipate and how to actively partake in the celebrations, particularly during Constitution Day in Oslo, Bergen or Trondheim. Celebration 1. Children's Parade: The highlight of the celebration is the iconic children's parade, a tradition observed nationwide. In Oslo, the capital, the largest parade takes place. Schoolchildren, accompanied by marching bands, march past the royal palace, where they are saluted by the royal family. 2. Traditional Attire (Bunad): Many Norwegians don the bunad, the traditional Norwegian festive attire, during the celebration. This attire holds significant cultural and national symbolism as it refers to the region their family is from. My favourite might be the Norlands bunad, but I'll leave it to you to pick your favourite. And do ask people about their bunads. Everyone is honoured to get the chance to explain. 3. Culinary Traditions: Indulge in the tradition of enjoying ice cream and hot dogs on May 17th. Additionally, partake in barbecues, picnics, or other communal events that characterize the day. Most parks are packed with people, which supplies an excellent way to mingle and join the festivities. Some amusing facts 1. Diverse Bunads: Norway boasts over 400 distinct types of bunads, reflecting regional and traditional variations. Witnessing the kaleidoscope of colors and patterns during the festivities is truly captivating. 2. May 17th Cake: Kransekake, an almond cake, is a popular dessert on this day. Many people partake in a special May 17th breakfast with friends or family, creating a bustling morning scene. 3. Russ Celebration: Graduating high school students, known as Russ, also join in the May 17th festivities. They often have customized "Russ buses" and actively participate in the parade, contributing to the lively atmosphere. How to best experience the day 1. Children's Parade Participation: Whether joining the procession or observing, dressing in a suit, a nice dress, or festive attire enhances the experience of national pride and energy. 2. Appreciate the Bunad: While foreigners typically do not wear bunads (bit of a no-go really), take pleasure in observing Norwegians proudly donning these regional representations of cultural identity. The sight is just gorgeous! I love it equally much, year in, year out. 3. Picnics and Togetherness: Celebrate the day with friends and family, engaging in picnics in the park. The convivial atmosphere encourages mingling, fostering a sense of community rarely experienced during the rest of the year. A great opportunity to experience a completely different side of an otherwise rather introverted country. 4. Attend Local Events: Many cities and towns organize concerts, parades, and other activities. A simple Google query will point you in the right direction. The day often concludes with concerts and fireworks, depending on the town. 5. Observations on May 18th: If you encounter individuals wearing bunads on the morning of May 18th, it's a fair assumption they've had 'fun' during the night 'nudge, nudge, know what I mean'.

  • Read: No, I'm not the only one; 4 more blogs about Norway

    Although I would like to believe it, I am not the sole blogger writing about Norway. And that is not surprising. There is quite a lot to tell about this magnificent country; the landscapes, culture, history, food and so on. At first glance, Norway may seem like a rather homogeneous society but significant differences exist among all the various regions. In the southern part of the country, close to the Bible Belt, one might strongly adhere to the motto 'in God we trust,' whereas in the north of Norway, 'in cod we trust' gives a good impression of how people feel about the (state) church and the general mindset up north. And then there's the enormous variety in landscapes. The lush forests of the south and the appealing coastal inlets, the alpine terrain of Jotunheimen and the tundra's of the north. And all these nuances and differences causes an endless flow of inspiration for me to write down everything I find so magnificent about living here. Anyway, I digress a bit. The reason for this article is actually to elevate the diversity of blogs focusing their attention on Norway to a pedestal. Feedspot has already helped with that by compiling a list of 15 blogs that are worth mentioning for their relevance and originality. A fun fact; HA DET MAMMA is found in fourth place. Of course, that's not the point, but the internet loves lists, and I am no exception. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to present to you my favorite blogs about Norway. In fact, as a relative newcomer in this world, I do look up a bit to these diligent individuals. For answers to all your questions (including the most frequently asked ones according to Google), turn to Norway with Pål 2. Highly organized and an excellent series of travel and accommodation tips 3. of my favorites, and a topic that hardly gets covered on HADETMAMMA; social codes in Norwegian society. Very entertaining to read; the social guidebook 4. And finally, a guilty pleasure; recipes for excellent saffron buns, traditional Scandinavian fare, and fantastic sandwiches. Moreover, the tasteful photography will make your mouth water! Have a look! Moreover, I am naturally quite curious about you. Are you also a blogger, and do you write about Norway? Do inform me. It would be delightful to exchange thoughts sometime. Find me on the socials!

  • Destination: Viking sites in Norway; a (nearly) complete guide to the 15 most important ones.

    When you set foot within the Norwegian borders, you'll quickly notice that the word 'Viking' is quite prevalent. Just consider the number of businesses: Viking Tow Trucks, Viking Window Cleaners, Viking Shoes, and so on. This suggests that Norse Viking folklore plays a lively role in modern society. That's not entirely accurate, but the visible remnants of this illustrious era are abundant in Norway in the form of countless Viking sites, museums and excavations. Therefore, for those intrigued by Vikings, Norse sagas, Viking festivals, folklore and Viking artifacts I've compiled a list of numerous places associated with them. Viking ships, burial mounds, exhibitions; the lot! By the way, did you know that 'Viking' is actually a verb? In the case of a sea journey, you 'go Vikinging.' You are not a Viking. Well, that's a little linguistic nerd quirk. Okay, here's a tidbit since you're here anyway. Even though it hasn't been conclusively determined, the likely reason the Norsemen sought places where there was 'something to be had' probably has to do with a massive volcano erupting on the other side of the globe. This caused a global temperature drop for several years, less sunlight, and particularly in the far north, resulted in very poor harvests. This forced them to search for places where farming was easier such as England and the west coast of France (Normandy is named after Normann or Norseman). Now, onto the list. I've tried to be as comprehensive as possible, but forgive me if I missed something. And referring to the title of this being a nearly complete guide, has of course to do with all the yet to be uncovered sites in Norway. 1. Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset), Oslo: Home to well-preserved Viking ships, including the Oseberg, Gokstad, and Tune ships. Currently closed due to a massive extension being built. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until 2027 for the doors to open again. 2. Historical Museum (Historisk Museum), Oslo: Features an extensive collection of Viking artifacts, including tools, weapons, and jewelry. I found myself a little starstruck and nearly spent the entire afternoon in this museum. Especially the jewels and ornaments left a profound impression. 3. Midgard Vikingsenter: Tønsberg: Tønsberg is not only Norway's oldest city (absolutely worth a visit) but also the Viking Center. In the 2000s, an enormous amount of buildings and artifacts from the Viking Age were discovered here. An impressive visitor center has been built around it and a well replicated Viking homestead was erected. Definitely worth the visit, if I may say so. 4. Lofotr Viking Museum, Borg: Located in the Lofoten Islands, it includes a full-size reconstruction of a Viking chieftain's longhouse. What's incredibly cool about it is that it's beautifully situated. You hardly realize it's a museum, making it easier to imagine how it looked back then. Because, oh, the surroundings are beautiful. 5. Avaldsnes: Known as Norway's oldest royal seat, Avaldsnes has the remains of a Viking farm and a reconstructed Viking longhouse. Besides, a part of the hilarious Norwegian series Norsemen was filmed here. 6. Bryggen Wharf, Bergen: A UNESCO World Heritage Site with medieval buildings that were part of the Hanseatic League, influenced by Viking trade. Now, it's not really a typical Viking place, but Norway's history as a trading nation has its roots in the Viking Age. 7. Stiklestad National Cultural Center, Verdal: Site of the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where King Olaf II (Saint Olaf) fell. The visitor center explores Viking history. One of those events you're lucky not to have been a part of. About 10,000 deaths occurred, which was an enormous number for that time. 8. Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo: An open-air museum with historical buildings, including a Stave Church and a farm representing Viking-era architecture. One of my favorite museums in Oslo. 9. Viking Village Njardarheimr, Gudvangen: A reconstructed Viking village where visitors can experience daily life and activities. And not just fun for children, believe me. 10. The University Museum of Bergen (Bryggens Museum): Exhibits artifacts from medieval Bergen, showcasing Viking history in the context of the city's development. Very interesting exhibition. Especially when it rains, which happens quite often in Bergen, this is a good activity to have in reserve. 11. The Heddal Stave Church, Notodden: Although primarily a medieval church, it provides insights into the architecture and craftsmanship of the Viking Age. Need I say more about stave churches? This is one of the most impressive and largest stave churches within the country's borders and worth a visit. 12. Kaupang Viking Town, Tjølling: Archaeological site of a former trading town dating back to the 8th century. I've never been there, so I can't say anything about it. 14. Trondenes Historical Center, Harstad: Home to a reconstructed Viking longhouse and offers insights into the Viking history of Northern Norway. This is particularly fascinating when you consider that in winter, there was hardly any light here. How on earth did they do it without flashlights? 15. Jernaldergården (Iron Age Farm), Stavanger: A reconstructed Iron Age farm where visitors can experience daily life from the Viking Age. A fantastic representation of a small iron age village. Great fun for kids and adults a like.

  • Destination: 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Norway; what are they and where to find them

    Norway proudly boasts a remarkable array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, underscoring its rich cultural and natural heritage. These UNESCO-designated locales in Norway, celebrated as world heritage sites, encompass both tangible and intangible treasures (so, stuff you can touch and stuff you can not touch), firmly securing their place on the global stage. For those seeking to explore the historic tapestry of Norway, I made a nice list, marked on google maps. But what is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a locale or expanse acknowledged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its cultural, natural, or blended (both cultural and natural) significance. The primary aim of this distinguished designation is to pinpoint, shield, and perpetuate these sites for the advantage of both contemporary and forthcoming generations. This acknowledgment not only underscores the worth of these sites but also stimulates global collaboration in their safeguarding. Now that we've brushed up on that, let's transition to the inventory of World Heritage sites found within the borders of Norway. I've added a brief description of what they are and pinned them on Google Maps, so you can save them on your personal map. This ensures that you won't miss a thing during your road trip. Let us set off! 1. Bryggen (Wharf) - Bergen: Nestled in the city of Bergen, Bryggen is a historic wharf adorned with vibrant, wooden edifices. It stands as a testament to the significance of the Hanseatic League's commercial endeavors during the medieval era. 2. Urnes Stave Church The Urnes Stave Church stands as an exceptional specimen of a medieval wooden church, adorned with intricate carvings and regarded as a Nordic artistic masterpiece. 3. Røros Mining Town Røros, a meticulously preserved mining town from the 17th century, encompasses the town itself, its copper mines, and the encompassing cultural terrain. 4. Rock Art of Alta The Alta rock art showcases petroglyphs dating back to the late Stone Age and early Metal Age, depicting scenes of hunting, fishing, and everyday life. 5. Vegaøyan – The Vega Archipelago Situated in northern Norway, the Vega Archipelago embodies a cultural landscape reflecting traditional fishing and eider farming practices. It encompasses houses, fishing facilities, and a distinctive system of eiderhouses. 6. Struve Geodetic Arc The Struve Geodetic Arc comprises a series of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, utilized in the 19th century to meticulously measure the Earth's shape and size. 7. Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord This site encompasses two fjords, Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, celebrated for their extraordinary natural beauty, dramatic landscapes, and cultural import. 8. Rjukan–Notodden Industrial Heritage Site The industrial complex at Rjukan–Notodden played a pivotal role in artificial fertilizer production, representing a significant chapter in industrialization history. Intangible UNESCO Cultural Heritage in Norway: 1. Traditional Music of the Setesdal Valley This element encapsulates the traditional vocal and instrumental music of the Setesdal Valley, mirroring the cultural heritage and identity of the local community. 2. Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques This pertains to the traditional craftsmanship of constructing dry stone walls, a time-honored agricultural practice in Norway.

  • Destination: a road trip through Norway; a rather epic itinerary

    After watching all the endless Instagram and TikTok posts featuring unnaturally good-looking influencers casually hip-swaying their buts into a breathtaking Norwegian panorama, it's now time for you to embark on your own adventurous road trip in Norway. Because reels are just reels. Therefore, I've compiled a delightful list to assist you in planning your road trip itinerary through Norway. Depending on how long you plan to stay in Norway, my earnest advice is to attempt connecting as many of the routes below as possible. Make sure to make a selection beforehand and carefully chart your course. Unless you have a generous two or more weeks planned for Norway, it's unlikely you'll manage to explore all the routes. But don't fret about any fear of missing out (FOMO), as each route is equally breathtaking and spectacular. Even if you only witness three, you'll return home with stunning vistas etched in your memory. I'll confess straight away; having lived in Norway for almost nine years, I still have four routes to cross off my list. However, I do have a few favorites: Sognefjellet, Varanger, and Rondane. But pay no heed to my preferences; forge your own path. The blue-marked names are linked to Google Maps for easy saving and routeplanning. Godspeed! Gute reise! Bon-voyage! Toedeledokie! 1. The Atlantic Road (Atlanterhavsveien): Traversing the rugged Atlantic coastline, this engineering marvel (it's partly a bridge = spoiler) connects small islands, providing panoramic views of the ocean and dramatic coastal landscapes. 2. The Trollstigen Road: Known as the "Troll's Path," this mountainous road boasts hairpin bends, steep inclines, and breathtaking views, including the cascading Stigfossen waterfall. 3. The Geiranger-Trollstigen Route: This combined route links the serene Geirangerfjord with the exhilarating Trollstigen Road, offering an unforgettable journey. 4. The Jæren Scenic Route: Along the southwestern coast, this route showcases white sandy beaches, sand dunes, and traditional farmlands, providing a delightful contrast to Norway's mountainous landscapes. 5. The Varanger Scenic Route: Extending into the Arctic wilderness of Finnmark, this route takes travelers through expansive tundra, coastal landscapes, and charming fishing villages. 6. The Helgelandskysten Scenic Route: Traversing the Helgeland coast, this route captures the iconic Seven Sisters mountain range and picturesque coastal scenery. 7. The Senja Scenic Route: Encircling the island of Senja, this route highlights rugged coastlines, fishing villages, and mountainous landscapes, enhanced by ever-changing light conditions. 8. The Ryfylke Scenic Route: Winding through the Ryfylke region, this route offers diverse landscapes, including fjords, mountains, and lush valleys, complemented by architectural viewpoints. 9. The Sognefjellet Mountain Road: As the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe, this route provides stunning views of glaciers, high mountain plateaus, and the renowned Jotunheimen National Park. 10. The Aurlandsfjellet Mountain Road: Unfolding through high mountain terrain, this route reveals dramatic fjord views, snow-capped peaks, and the charming village of Aurlandsvangen. 11. The Valdresflye National Tourist Route: Crossing a high mountain plateau, this route features expansive landscapes, crystal-clear lakes, and panoramic views of the Jotunheimen mountain range. 12. The Gamle Strynefjellsvegen: This historic route takes travelers through mountainous terrain, showcasing remarkable stone architecture and offering breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. 13. The Rondane National Tourist Route: Encompassing Rondane National Park, this route provides access to Norway's oldest national park, known for its high mountain plateaus and diverse flora and fauna. 14. The Andøya Scenic Route: Encircling the northernmost island in the Vesterålen archipelago, this route offers views of the Arctic Ocean, rugged coastlines, and bird cliffs. 15. The Gamle Strynefjellsvegen: This historic route takes travelers through mountainous terrain, showcasing remarkable stone architecture and offering breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. 16. The Gaularfjellet National Tourist Route: Meandering through Gaularfjellet mountain, this route presents stunning fjord views, waterfalls, and the unique Utsikten viewing platform. 17. The Hardanger National Tourist Route: Running through the beautiful Hardanger region, this route features fruit orchards, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic views of the Hardangerfjord. 18. The Møre Coastal Route: Along the coastal region of Møre og Romsdal, this route unveils picturesque fishing villages, coastal landscapes, and the famous Atlantic Road. 19. The Havøysund National Tourist Route: A complement to Nordkapp, with its terminus at Havøysund and the surrounding islands, offers a surprising encounter with a vibrant community along the coast of Finnmark.

  • Stay: 3 breathtaking out-of-the-ordinary boutique hotels in Norway

    The term 'Boutique Hotel' has become a somewhat ubiquitous buzzword. Let us, therefore, promptly cast it aside, especially since we're in Norway. What truly captivates me is the incredible endeavor of those passionate individuals who, independent of major hotel-chains and in alignment with their distinctive vision and determination, venture to establish hotels. It is with great enthusiasm that I dedicate this article to three (Boutique) hotels in Norway, each having stolen my heart for essentially the same reason. These establishments are unequivocally unique, exuding exceptional hospitality and, not least, adorned with a profound sense of aesthetic allure—a sentiment articulated from the perspective of a former interior designer. Let us set off! 29 | 2 The narrative unfolds in a rather epic fashion. Within close proximity lies one of Europe's most awe-inspiring train journeys, a fjord of unparalleled beauty, the Lærdal Tunnel, the world's longest, and a myriad of other captivating features. It becomes evident that reserving a night at Hotel 29 | 2, named simply after the plot of land it graces, places one in the realm of a somewhat legendary levels. Commencing with the interior, it is best characterized as eclectic. Dispensing with the clichés of Scandinavian minimalism and stereotypical use of design classics, it presents a tasteful amalgamation of exquisite objects, textiles, and furnishings. The ten rooms, in total, represent a harmonious blend of colors, patterns, and materials, creating an ambiance that evokes an undeniable sense of homeliness. The same discerning eye for detail and refinement extends to the culinary offerings. Artfully presented dishes, predominantly sourced from local ingredients, transcend the gastronomic experience one might encounter in the finest dining establishments Norway has to offer. Strangely, the context enhances the flavors, rendering the dining experience even more exquisite. This hotel, naturally, boasts an array of modern amenities. Whether one chooses a brief sojourn or an extended midweek retreat, monotony is alleviated by a plethora of possibilities—stand-up paddleboards, a bubbling hot tub, and a charming menagerie of farm animals. The infectious enthusiasm and attentiveness of the staff contribute to an unforgettable experience. Formulating a conclusion proved to be a deliberative process. Yet, I find myself steadfast in the belief that Hotel 29 | 2 represents one of the most superlative sojourns available in Norway. This assertion is not predicated on the number of stars, gilded embellishments on culinary offerings, or ostentatious displays of pretentious wine bottles. Rather, it is the realization that 29 | 2 splendidly encapsulates the essence of Norway—modesty, warmth, groundedness, and loyalty. Hardanger Fjord Lodge To renovate, grow, blossom, harvest, ferment, grill, preserve, salt, and smoke – these are the (culinary) arts practiced at Hardanger Fjord Lodge. Beyond this, it also stands as a testament to the elevation of hospitality to an art form. Once again, I find myself immersed in a place so uniquely characterized that it transcends quantification in stars, existing only within the realm of experiences. In my estimation, this constitutes true luxury—not defined by stars or the dimensions of a room's television, but by the presence of a bed within an environment so unparalleled that no other establishment can rival it. The habitual considerations of star ratings and budget constraints, which often preoccupy travelers when selecting accommodations, find no relevance at Hardanger Fjord Lodge. With a mere nine rooms, the lodge remains perpetually uncluttered. Anticipate mingling with fellow travelers during set dinner times, thereby contributing to the singular charm of the experience—momentarily becoming part of an exclusive assemblage in an extraordinary setting. Attempting to articulate the tastefulness of the hotel's interior leaves me momentarily at a loss for words. The classic and historical attributes of the venue have been subtly elevated, eschewing nostalgia for a contemporary aesthetic. Sustainability, a prevailing ethos, permeates not only the fundamental elements within the rooms but extends to the meticulously curated breakfasts and dinners. In stark contrast to chain hotels with lofty sustainability proclamations, often discarding a significant portion of their breakfast buffets after 11:00 in the morning, Hardanger Fjord Lodge adheres to a principled approach—local products supporting the indigenous economy and society. In accordance with the lodge's ethos of savoring life's moments, the pace is deliberately unhurried, affording due attention to every detail. Åmot Should one aspire to luxuriate in rural splendor shielded from prying eyes, a correspondence with the proprietors of Åmot is in order. If, perchance, the producers of the forthcoming season of "The White Lotus" seek an 'exotic' locale, this setting is to be suggested. An even more sublime experience awaits those planning to celebrate with an intimate circle of friends or family. Åmot, exclusively available for reservation, does not readily accommodate the casual wanderer seeking impromptu sleepovers. A minimum reservation of three nights is required, and for good reason. The proprietors, Steinar and Yngve, distinguished by impeccable attire and manners, tailor each visitor's experience according to individual preferences. The spectrum of offerings knows no bounds—yoga classes, massages, private concerts, or chamber music performances are at the guest's disposal, if desired of course. The culinary offerings, masterfully crafted by an exceptional chef, and the libations, served with precision and care, contribute to an indulgent experience. I can't call it anything less. The indulgence at Åmot is not confined to the physical realm; it extends to the enchanting Norwegian landscape. Åmot orchestrates an idyllic dream vacation, with a plethora of meticulously organized activities and experiences. And then there is the interior—an endeavor to articulate it leaves me nearly speechless. The spaces at Åmot embody a rugged rural luxury seamlessly aligned with the surrounding landscape and local culture. Far from ostentatious, it is, in fact, the epitome of understated elegance. I venture to assert that Åmot transcends the conventional definition of a boutique hotel, yet I include it here owing to the sentiment expressed in my introduction. Because that's where it fits perfectly.

  • Destination: Jawohl; great news for you Germans planning a trip nach Alta, Norwegen

    It was a surprise last summer in Finnmark. Or perhaps not, really. In any case, I came across large quantities of converted fire trucks, Volkswagen T2s, T3s, T4s, and Unimogs. I've always found it charming; you Germans with your highly creative vehicles, often originating from decommissioned military airfields. Well, I digress a bit. Because the reason for this article is to celebrate that soon there will be a direct route from Frankfurt to the exotic Alta, Norwegen. In fact, Discover Airlines will start their direct route to Alta in the winter of 2024. But it's not only in winter one should explore arctic Norway. Considering that it takes about 35 hours with your Unimog, and now perhaps only 5. I sincerely hope to encounter you en masse in the far north in 2024. So, it's high time to raise the flag for Alta and give you an introduction to what awaits you here. First, I'll provide you with a list of the coolest places to stay in Alta for at least the first night, assuming you also want to explore the rest of Finnmark. My personal favorite is tucked away among tall pine trees. A beautiful little sanctuary with highly comfortable beds: GLØD Aurora Canvas Dome. You might hear some barking occasionally, but that won't surprise you given the name. The accommodations (for guests and dogs) are in excellent order. And the staff excels in providing excellent service, making your stay a very pleasant experience: Holmen Husky Lodge. Right by the river, bathed in luxury. For that, you can easily go here: Sorrisniva Arctic Wilderness Lodge. Straightforward and with an excellent hotel breakfast. For that, book a night at: Thon Hotel Alta. Now that your accommodation is sorted, it's time to tell you a bit more about Alta itself. As you may know, the Alta Museum is world-famous. This is due to an enormous amount of exceptionally well-preserved rock carvings (by chance discovered by a Norwegian boy playing hide and seek way back in the 70s). The Alta rock carvings, incidentally on UNESCO's World Heritage List, contain thousands of images engraved in the rock by early inhabitants. These drawings are more than 6000 years old and provide insight into the life and culture of that time. Incredibly fascinating and sometimes very moving to see. I can't imagine what it must have been like living there. I can't barely imagine what it must be like living there today (joking of course). The Northern Lights Cathedral of Alta is well worth a visit. This imaginative building was inaugurated in 2013. The Christian symbolism inside the church is abstractly designed, giving the church a very unique atmosphere; not so traditionally Christian, which personally puts me more at ease. And take it from me; reserve a dinner table at Trasti & Trine. So cozy, you can't even imagine. Furthermore, the true allure of Alta and the region lies in the untouched nature. Rarely have I felt so insignificant and, at the same time, so 'alive' as during my time in Finnmark. My top recommendation is to rent a car in Alta and drive into the wild tundra. First, set course for Havøysund and be overwhelmed by the breathtaking route to get there. This is part of a total of 18 routes spread throughout Norway that are designated as particularly photogenic. Along the way, you'll find yourself pulling over more than average to take in the stunning landscapes. A golden tip for when you arrive in Havøysund: have lunch or dinner at Havets Smak. An amazing restaurant with incredibly good dishes in a place where you really wouldn't expect it. And another thing; almost no one knows about it. If you decide to drive even further east, then I recommend reading the article I wrote about Vardø and Hamningsberg and the surrounding areas. I'd suggest you do so and deliver back your car in Kirkenes and fly back to civilisation from there. Because believe me, it's worth it. It really is. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Alta Airport (ALF). Due to popular demand especially during summer, it is most wise to reserve a car (long) in advance.  Check here for availability.

  • Destination: 4 yoga retreats in Norway amidst stunning surroundings

    I confess. The title is a bit of an obvious choice, considering Norway's vastness and a population of only 5 million (and beautiful nature basically everywhere). No wonder most yoga retreats are situated in breathtaking locations. In this post, I'll take you through yoga retreats in Norway, each with its own character and identity. Allow me to introduce: Nøsen Yoga og Fjellhotel, Meretes Garden, Attme Have, and Venabu. Valdres It's no coincidence that I start with Nøsen Yoga and Fjellhotel. That's because I know the area where the hotel is located very well. Countless hikes and cross-country skiing afternoons in the area have left me somewhat biased towards the location. Valdres, as a region, is magical and diverse. Vast forests, marshlands, and impressive mountain ridges give this area a mysterious feel in any season. Nøsen has become a bit of an epicenter for the Norwegian yoga scene. The facilities are excellent, and there are numerous opportunities for organizing yoga events. They also have a well-filled calendar with various yoga-related activities throughout the year. Ålesund In the heart of one of the most spectacular areas of Norway lies Meretes Garden. You may have heard of Trollstigen or the Juvet Landskaps Hotel; they are all a stone's throw away. Merete has done it wonderfully; a huge greenhouse converted into a serene place where a large group can practice yoga. Accommodations are in beautiful glamping tents. And of course, there's that stunning rural setting with minimal distractions, allowing you to focus excellently on body and mind. This place is almost too good to be true, but it is true. Bardufoss It was challenging to determine if Attme Have is the world's northernmost yoga retreat. It could very well be because it is quite far above the Arctic Circle. As the name suggests, this yoga location is right by the sea. Not long ago, Leikny and Tom Edvardsen started their retreat, and it has since become a destination in itself. In addition to yoga classes and courses, you can thoroughly enjoy the breathtaking nature of Northern Norway here. Recently, you can stay in Aurora cabins. From your bed, you have a beautiful view of the sea, mountains, and sky (and the northern lights if you're here during the dark months). Additionally, Senja is not far away, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful islands in Norway. Rondane In the shadow of the beautiful Rondane area, you'll find Venabu. And something special is happening here. Because here, you can combine yoga and horseback riding. It's more natural than it sounds. Whether you're an experienced or a novice rider, you connect with the beautiful surroundings in a unique way. When you return after a few hours of riding, it's delightful to start a yoga class with a cleared mind. Venabu also offers Tai Chi and Qi Cong. If you want to send both your body and mind on vacation, this is the place. Are you running any yoga activities in Norway yourself? Let me know!

  • Destination: a 4 days road trip in Norway; it's brief but it's possible

    Allow me to commence by stating that a 4 day itineray in Norway is somewhat on the brief side. Norway, being an expansive country, with very few roads going in a straight line. Moreover, each mountain pass is spectacular, every valley picturesque, and every local bakery serving the finest cinnamon buns. Hence, my aim in this article is to showcase and immerse you in what, in my perspective, renders Norway incredibly beautiful and spectacular. I have charted a route for you and selected four truly remarkable accommodations. In short, pack your suitcase, for you are embarking on a road trip! And the route does not traverse Oslo, where I will touch upon later. Day 1: You arrive in Ålesund, a magnificent city on the west coast of Norway. Situated in a breathtaking location with the deep blue and icy Norwegian Sea on one side and the steep snow-covered peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps on the other. The first time I visited, the temptation to stay was immense, so enchanting did I find it. The city is relatively compact, allowing you to get a good impression within an afternoon. The multitude of fantastic restaurants, coffee houses, and terraces make it tempting to linger for a few days. However, the title of this blog post suggests a bit of haste. Therefore, swiftly proceed to where you rest, namely Hotel 1904. The imposing Art Nouveau facade belies what awaits inside; a very tastefully and modernly furnished design mecca that would quicken the heartbeat of any interior enthusiast. Moreover, the staff understands the precise meaning of world-class hospitality. Day 2: After a delightful breakfast, check out of Hotel 1904 and embark on a journey to Trollstigen. This is one of the many spectacular driving routes in Norway. The view from the lookout platform over the elongated valley is truly stunning. The journey itself to Trollstigen is breathtaking too. From Trollstigen, the road zigzags down (make sure to stop at Gudbrandsjuvet for a coffee), setting the course for the next overnight stop. Be prepared to frequently pull over and capture yet another photo of the breathtaking scenery. Regarding accommodation, I faced a tremendous dilemma, so I leave that choice to you. Either stop at the Juvet Landscape Hotel, known for, among other things, the film Ex-Machina, or drive a little further to Hotel Union Øye, which can rightfully be considered one of the most unique and stately hotels in Norway with a rather legendary history. Day 3: Wherever you wake up, today the road leads to Geiranger, one of the most spectacular fjords, immortalized as UNESCO World Heritage, and onward to a tiny but legendary village. There's much to tell about the latter; in fact, I've written about it before. In short, this is a picture-perfect fjord village surrounded by beautiful nature. There's, of course, a fantastic hotel, or I wouldn't send you there: the Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel. Fjærland is also famous as a book mecca. For a few kroner, you can grab a second-hand copy of a major author here. Additionally, this is a fantastic base for various adventures, from glacier expeditions to kayak trips. And, of course, a visit to the spectacular floating sauna is a bucket-list item. If you have an extra day, this is the place to spend it (or an extra day in Bergen, that's also not a bad idea). Day 4: Once you've had your breakfast, it's time to set course for Bergen, perhaps the most beautiful city in the country along with Ålesund. This is the longest drive you'll make on this vacation, but fear not, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. First, input Hopperstad Stavechurch into your navigation system. After a brief stop, continue towards the E16 heading for Voss, allowing you to take a short walk to Bordalsgjelet in the mid-afternoon; a spectacular gorge carved out by a wildly flowing river. Believe me, it's worth stopping the car here briefly before completing the final stretch to Bergen. Describing Bergen as a city cannot be encapsulated in a few sentences. I won't even attempt it. The abundance of charming wooden houses, great restaurants, beautiful vistas, fantastic museums, and cozy cafes make Bergen a destination in itself. Perhaps you might decide to spend 5 or 6 days in this amazing country contrary to the title of this blog post because it pained me a bit to rush through it in such a short timeframe. But we made it, and you've seen an incredible amount of beauty. Planning to stay an extra night in Bergen? Excellent idea. Treat yourself and book a room at Hotel Norge. What a splendid and spectacular piece of hospitality that is. I mentioned it briefly at the beginning; Oslo. Oslo is a bit of a boogieman in this piece. Because, truly, it's a very pleasant city to spend a few days, and by all means, do so. The reason I directed you to the west coast is that the quantity of spectacular landscapes and highlights is simply greater, allowing you to spend your precious time most effectively. Because we were a bit hasty, remember? **One last thing: it is most likely you'll arrive in Ålesund by plane. It is most wise to reserve a car (long) in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.Norwegen roadtrip

  • Drink: where to taste the mythical Viking after-work-drink 'mead' (or mjød)?

    Let us embark upon dispelling at least one myth; mead was not invented by the Vikings. The identity of the pioneering brewer of the initial litre of mead remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. Were it the Chinese? The Ethiopians? The Egyptians? Or the ancient Greeks? Perhaps it is one of those phenomena that mysteriously and concurrently arose in several locations simultaniously, just like cave art, shipbuilding, agriculture and dating-apps. Regardless, this mythical elixir has firmly embedded itself in Norse mythology and was imbibed with gusto by Vikings during festivities and, perhaps, following a day of hard labour. In contemporary times, mead is still consumed in moderation by a cadre of connoisseurs and, conceivably, a handful of black-metal rockabillies dressed in black. Nonetheless, beer and the ubiquitous latte macchiato have, of course, surged in popularity. Yet, I can well imagine your inclination to taste a sample of this illustrious libation. And, to divulge forthwith, you can indeed do so. For this purpose, you may visit Vinmonopolet, the state liquor store, of which I previously penned an article. Fortunately, there are also a handful of bars and restaurants where your desire can be fulfilled. I have endeavored to ascertain which obscure bars most certainly maintain a stock of mead. Here's where you can most likely have a taste of mead: Oslo: RØØR, Schouskjelleren, Brygg Trondheim: Øx Bergen: Lucky,Apollon, Pingvinen, Henrik Øl og Vinstove Stavanger: På Kornet Sandnes: Melkebaren Tromsø: Agenturen Missing a place I do not know about? Please, find me on the socials and point it out for me.

  • Destination: a boutique hotel in a storm-weathered paradise; a two-night escape to Austevoll (Norway)

    The reason I felt compelled to write an article about Austevoll (Norway) is not coincidental. I first visited it a long time ago and became a little enamored with this charming group of islands. As the emblem of the area suggests, it's all about fishing here. And it has been for a long time. Crab traps are stacked against the wooden boathouses, and here and there, a massive fishing trawler is moored. The allure of this area is the spectacular landscape. You can kayak, fish, hike, and cycle. That might sound like the island is only populated by people in their fifties and older, but the opposite is true. It buzzes with activity in the summer. Especially in Bekkjarvik, pleasure yachts dock frequently, creating a very lively atmosphere. Most tourists can't tear themselves away from the urban life of Bergen. Understandably so. This makes Austevoll and Bekkjarvik, in particular, popular among Norwegians themselves. And they undoubtedly want to keep it that way. But it's too late now. Because not too long ago, a stunning boutique hotel opened here; Beckerwyc House. The name is derived from an old English sea chart where Bekkjarvik is presumably translated to 'Beckerwyc.' The rooms are incredibly stylish and often have views of the picturesque coastal landscape. When you have a cup of coffee in the lounge, you might think you're in a modern Italian apartment in Milan. But no, you find yourself in a coastal village with just over 500 inhabitants. You'll be slightly confused again in the morning when your breakfast is served in your room. Big city a Norwegian fishing village. To elevate the whole experience at Beckerwyc in the evening; award-winning chef Ørjan Johannessen cooks up a Michelin-worthy storm at the Mirabelle restaurant. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that the Mirabelle restaurant alone is worth traveling to Bekkjarvik for. The culinary journey one is boarding, is of a worldly quality based on the local riches fished up from the sea. My prediction is that it won't be long before Beckerwyc House and restaurant Mirabelle become a destination in itself because they have that potential. And it's up to you to beat the crowds long ahead. When on Austevoll, do not forget to visit Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri, the boat and kayak rental and the Marstein Lighthouse.

  • Stay: The 20 most distinguished luxury hotels in Norway

    To commence, let me elaborate on the title. When one envisions a luxury hotel, the average reader might promptly think of 5-star establishments, towering structures in Dubai where a Rolls-Royce chauffeurs you to the entrance, and room service that knocks on your door within 5 minutes to deliver a vintage bottle of Krug Clos du Mesnil. I understand. But let us calibrate a bit here. Because I wish to take a slightly different approach. Norway truly is a different type of country, and I would like to redefine luxury because filtering based solely on star ratings will cause one to overlook the most extraordinary hotels on the most breathtaking locations. For me luxury is about a splendid location, attentative staff, amazing interiors, excellent food and a certain overall uniqueness. Therefore, I wish to present this splendid list that precisely adheres to my definition of luxury. In no particular order: 1. Hotel Union Øye 2. Juvet Landskap Hotel 3. Hotel Brosundet 4. Hotel Sommerro 5. Dalen Hotel 6. Eilert Smith Hotel 7. 29/2 Aurland 8. Hardanger Fjord Lodge 9. Tuddal Høyfjellshotel 10. Herangtunet Boutique Hotel 11. Britannia Hotel 12. Amerikalinjen 13. Hotel 1904 14. Erscheidergaarden 15. Storfjord Hotel 16. Hotel Mundal (currently under renovation) 17. Bergen Børs Hotel 18. Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel 19. Øyna Kulturlandskapshotel 20. Grand Hotel Oslo

  • Destination: Norway on a shoestring; how to travel on a budget

    Scandinavia has an image problem among many visitors, particularly when it comes to expenses. Hence, it seems apropos to impart a few refined suggestions for keeping the costs under control. Transportation In the event of contemplating the rental of a camper or car to traverse the landscapes of Norway, it would be judicious to initially scrutinize the current exchange rate of the Norwegian crown. As of the present writing, it registers modestly in relation to major global currencies. Consequently, opting to procure transportation within Norway often proves more economically prudent. Nevertheless, a discerning approach to price comparisons is advisable. For instance, one might opt to fly to Gothenburg (SE) and secure a rental car  or campervan there, a choice that frequently yields considerable savings, especially when one plans to travel through Norway for more than a week. For those planning a sojourn in Oslo, the acquisition of an Oslo pass is a commendable consideration. This pass not only grants unfettered access to the city's public transportation but also extends privileges encompassing the majority of museums, select shops, restaurants, and various cultural performances held within the city, including those at the opera. In the case of air travel to Norway, diligent inquiry into airports serviced by budget airlines is recommended. Notably, carriers such as Wizzair and Ryanair facilitate direct routes to Oslo TORP. Accommodation For those possessing a penchant for adventure akin to my own, the prospect of free camping with a tent may be a tempting proposition. It is noteworthy that Norway, by law, allows camping virtually anywhere. Prudent familiarity with the pertinent regulations is advised of course. Alternatively, the option of effortlessly renting petite caravans presents itself, affording the opportunity to forgo opulent hotels while still enjoying accommodations in the most breathtaking areas. Otherwise, campsites often provide basic rental cabins. Food & Drink The realm of sustenance, in particular, is notorious for its potentially exorbitant nature, a phenomenon extending to both my own experiences and those of the average Norwegian. Major supermarkets unveil a section where items on the cusp of expiration are generously discounted. Additionally, the discerning traveler may wish to take note of the Holdbart stores, where products boasting extended shelf lives yet nearing their expiration date are offered at significant markdowns — an ideal solution for those embarking on familial camping escapades. En route in a van or camper, investing in essentials at such establishments is a prudent move. At petrol stations, resist the allure of snacks and sundries, as prices there tend to scale lofty heights. Instead, navigate towards the nearest village for a more indulgent experience, partaking in the delights of cinnamon buns, skoleboller, and hotdogs. For those undertaking journeys during the balmy summer or early autumn, a delightful encounter with roadside signage and stalls awaits. Frequently peddling fresh fruits, vegetables, or eggs, these makeshift markets present an opportunity to economize, all while imparting an ineffable charm to the gastronomic exploration. It is advisable to keep a modest sum of cash on hand, as these stands often operate on the honor system, allowing patrons to leave remuneration before claiming their selected goods.

  • Stay: the gift of feeling young again; staying in a tree house in Norway

    The greatest gift you can give an adult is the feeling of being 'young' again (at least for a little while). I last felt young, and I'm not even old, when I slid down a snowy hill on a child's sled. The combination of pure joy and adrenaline is a rarity in an average adult life. I feel the same way about treehouses. As a child I used to build them with my friends, high above the ground in an ancient chestnut tree. It was nothing more than a rickety platform, a few walls, and a 5-meter-long rope ladder that we could pull up so no one else could come up. We felt like kings of an empire. Speaking of tree houses, there are quite a few of them in Norway. In fact, the Norwegians have elevated the construction of such huts to a kind of art form. And you can indeed stay in them. Isn't it wonderful to feel young again during your vacation? I've selected 5 treehouses for you with the only condition that you can (more or less) reach them by car and sleep there with two persons or more. Here we go! In the inland of the historic South Norwegian region Agder lies a very small village; Konsmo. Nothing special. A beautiful valley, a few houses, and mostly meadows and forests. And right there, deep in the woods by a small lake, is a kind of 'settlement' consisting of well-equipped treehouses with comfortable beds and a wood-fired hot tub. The location is picturesque and romantically rustic. Treetop Fiddan is a mini paradise where you lose track of time. Picking blueberries, making a fire, the jacuzzi, and sleeping soundly with only the sound of birds outside. If you're in South Norway, this is almost a must. Odda is a small town nestled between the mountains at the end of a long branch of the majestic Hardangerfjord. It's a place that captivates the imagination, not least because of the filming of the Netflix series Ragnarok that took place there. But also, in Odda, there's a small architectural masterpiece with a fantastic bed and an equally amazing view. In fact, the view is magnificent. I dare say this is one of the most exclusive accommodations in Norway. Additionally, Woodnest is an excellent base for a hike to one of the most Instagrammed spots in Norway: Trolltunga. Staying in Trekronå means living high in the treetops of Ogna, a small town near Stavanger. Two cabins on steel legs in the pine trees near the golf course in Ogna. Nearby, you'll also find Holmasanden, a beautiful sandy beach that is equally stunning all year round. In summer, it's perfect for swimming and sunbathing, and in winter, you can hike in the area and enjoy the elements. The cabins are perfect for three people. And all conveniences are provided. Kitchen, bathroom, and sitting area; it's all there. If you feel like it, you can reserve the sauna. The legendary PAN treehouses are a phenomenon in themselves. This is, of course, due to the architecture and construction, but just as much because of the location. It's not for nothing that the huts are equipped with a professional telescope. The beautiful, open view allows you to, with a bit of luck, see an elk, fox, or wolf passing by. The huts are located in one of the wildest parts of Norway, close to the Swedish border. And by wild, I mean sparsely populated. Hedalen is perhaps best known for a stave church from the 12th century. Additionally, the area borders the breathtaking Valdres and its associated nature parks. Less known is that there is also a fantastic treehouse, or several in fact; Fosstopp. The name suggests it already. There is indeed a waterfall nearby. This is the perfect place when you're traveling with a large family or a group of friends. The treehouses are in the middle of nowhere, so you have the forest, the rushing river, and the beautiful view all to yourself. Moreover, Fosstopp's treehouses are only a two-hour drive from Oslo Airport. A long weekend is not a bad idea. **Getting there: Since most locations in this arcticle are rather remote, public transport isn't really an option, so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability at your arrival airport of choice.

  • Stay: agritourism; Norway as a champion of extraordinary farm stays.

    If you possess even a modicum of knowledge about Norway, it will come as no surprise that Norway has been an agricultural society for nearly a thousand years. Let's set aside, for the moment, the significance of fishing. The country is truly adorned with (former) farms. As urbanization and prosperity increased, the number of farmers able to sustain the farming life diminished. Faced with significant competition from abroad, the country began to transform gradually. To cut a long story short, due to the decline of small farming operations, agritourism in Norway has experienced tremendous growth in the last decade. In fact, I dare say that Norway has emerged as an absolute champion in the realm of farm stays. The level of creativity exhibited by Norwegians in transforming former farms into holiday paradises is nothing short of impressive. In this piece, I wish to inspire and encourage you to book at least one, preferably several, of these accommodations during your travels through Norway. I am convinced that this adds a unique dimension to your journey that cannot be found in any hotel. Certainly, there are hundreds of farm stays to choose from. To simplify matters, I have selected the most exceptional and unique ones (in my own humble opinion). In fact, I've compiled a top 5, a decision that might incur the displeasure of the rest of the country. Nevertheless, I'll take that risk for now. If need be, I may write another article later. Here we go, in no particular order: The epitome of rural romance seems to have been recently reinvented by Steinar and Yngve at Åmot. Åmot is the name of an ancient farmhouse that has been in the family for over a century. It has been transformed into a marvel of aesthetics, hospitality, and romance. Everything here is tasteful, from the décor and colors to the presented cuisine, not to mention the impeccable attire of the hosts. The attention to detail at Åmot influences the entire experience, leaving you impressed at every moment of your stay. Moreover, Åmot is excellently situated on the west side of Norway, nestled between the Sognefjord and Dalsfjord – an ideal base for exploring the stunning nature of this part of the country. And rest assured, there are still sheep. During my travels, I often sleep deeply, perhaps due to the plethora of impressions. Occasionally, I wake up not entirely sure of my surroundings. This may happen when you stay at Flatheim. The landscape alone is breathtaking, situated just below the tree line with snow-capped peaks seemingly within reach. Which is no surprise since Flatheim is situated right next to one of Norway's scenic roads; the Gaularfjellet Scenic Road. The rooms at Flatheim are beautifully decorated, evoking a pleasant sense of nostalgia. During summers, they run a charming little café serving homemade bread and pastries. Flatheim has elevated the essence of agritourism to an art form. For those seeking responsible travel, reserving a few nights here is highly recommended. Who could have dreamed of a Michelin-starred restaurant on a farm a century ago? Perhaps the guests of Boen Gård, as for centuries, elites have frequented the area for fishing in the adjacent river teeming with salmon. It's no surprise that Boen Gård understands hospitality, but what must be emphasized is how they have truly elevated it. As mentioned, the dinner is of unparalleled quality, prepared with mostly local ingredients. The service is equally outstanding. However, what makes it truly remarkable is that you can also stay overnight. This makes it an excellent base for exploring the beautiful southern coast of Norway, and the town of Kristiansand of course. And don't forget to encourage the hosts to share the history of the manor. The stories that emerge are astonishing. Huser Gård is just under 20 minutes' drive from Oslo Airport. In the rolling landscape, right by the river, it is a rural oasis of tranquility. The farm consists of several buildings – a residence, a barn converted into an event venue with a particularly cozy communal space. What Huser Gård is most famous for is WonderInn. They rent a series of completely different micro-houses: an igloo, a gypsy caravan, and a glass cube. Additionally, there's an amazing sauna right by the river that you can use for free. Last but not least, a herd of alpacas, a couple of ponies, two little pigs, and a troop of chickens. This is the perfect marriage of rural romance and Instagram. Brimi Sæter is quite an institution, and by that, I mean it's world-famous... in Norway. And for valid reasons. Besides world-class hospitality, there's a cheese factory, and the buildings and outdoor spaces are populated by all kinds of animals. You stay in a manner you couldn't even imagine in your wildest dreams. The attic (låvelofte) is traditionally furnished with a multitude of traditional beds. You wake up, and breakfast is served more or less at your bedside. Absolutely unique in the world and an unforgettable experience. Moreover, the food served is of immense quality, most of it homemade. The farm is situated above 800 meters, meaning you are above the tree line in Norway. From every window, you have an incredible view of the surrounding mountains. And the spectacular Jotunheimen is within close reach. I trust that this list has managed to inspire you. In fact, I sincerely hope you visit all the aforementioned destinations, as each possesses its own distinctive character and is situated in diverse locations across the country, each with its unique charm. If you happen to peruse my article on the most spectacular roads in Norway as well, your holiday can't help but be a resounding success.

  • Stay: you've chosen to visit Flåm in Norway (Flam). But where to stay?

    Where to stay in Flåm (Flam), Norway is a question that can only be answered with a sense of ambivalence. Because Flåm (you say 'Flohhm' not 'Flaehm') exerts a rather captivating allure on the average visitor and finds its place on most (American) itineraries. This is both just and unjust. Just, because Flåm boasts a terminus for a cul-de-sac train journey, a uniqueness within the Norwegian fjord landscape. One can experience a significant elevation difference by train from Myrdal station at 867m to Flåm at sea level, an experience inherently remarkable. Yet, unjust, for Flåm itself has evolved into a tourist hotspot, replete with ubiquitous sportswear shops, over-crowded terraces, and restaurants offering mediocre dishes at substantial prices. The parking lots are dotted with tour buses, and, with a stroke of misfortune, three or more colossal cruise ships may be moored, obscuring the view and diffusing a scent of burnt bunker fuel through the valley. Moreover, I can imagine more charming fjord villages. Therefore, I advise against overnighting there, at least not within Flåm itself. For after the legendary train ride and an hour of nosing around, the village exhausts its novelty. Therefore, allow me to recommend a few lodgings in close proximity, possessing unique character and, importantly, unburdened by hordes of tourists. 29|2 Aurland is a small-scale boutique hotel, family-run, and strategically positioned. Nestled in an elongated valley with a deep blue river and stunning steep slopes, it's a mere fifteen-minute drive from Flåm. The hotel boasts an incredibly tasteful décor, marked by meticulous attention to detail. The hospitality extends to guests with a sense that each arrival is the first. Culinary offerings are nothing short of artistry, with beautifully presented dishes featuring fresh, top-tier ingredients. If you possess a musical talent, feel free to inquire about playing a piece by Chopin on the grand piano gracing the communal dining hall. And beware, due to limited availability, rooms have a tendency to sell out long in advance and for good reason. In a wholly different category lies the Lindstrøm Hotel in Lærdal. The wondrous blend of tradition and modernity bestows upon the hotel a uniquely captivating character. The breakfast is sumptuous and outstanding. However, the reason for singling out this establishment lies primarily in its location. Lærdalsøyri is a beautiful small former trading post with roots deeply embedded in the medieval era. The charming sight of wooden houses along Øyragata sparks the imagination, standing in stark contrast to the moored cruiseships in Flåm. For those seeking more privacy, eschewing the standard hotel routine, I present an excellent recommendation—a remarkable 'treehouse' named the Raven Nest, inspired by traditional stave church architecture. Sleep amidst the treetops, equipped with all comforts. Breakfast arrives in a box, crafted by a local caterer, featuring locally sourced and exceptionally high-quality ingredients. Utterly romantic. Overall, I would advise you to book a fjord cruise that includes Nærøyfjorden and the Stegastein lookout. In that sense one covers the most exceptional highlights of the area. And I speak from first-hand experience!

  • Stay: a grandiloquent list of the 15 most special hotels in Norway: the best places to stay

    As the title promises, this list comprises the utmost in hotels and best places to stay in Norway one could possibly envision. Strangely enough, I had to leave quite a few hotels unmentioned. However, when you're in the midst of planning your journey to Norway and decide to reserve a night at one or more of the establishments below, rest assured, you're guaranteeing yourself an exceptional stay. Let us set off (in no particular order). Juvet Landscape Hotel: A pinnacle of modern (landscape) architecture, this establishment stands as one of the most iconic expressions of contemporary design. When you stay here, a glass wall is the only barrier separating you from the spectacular Norwegian landscape. Towering mountain peaks, a swiftly flowing river, and lush vegetation surround you. Moreover, you reside on the edge of one of the country's most epic highways, featuring Trollstigen and Gudbrandsjuvet. Primarily, this hotel serves as a canvas for an ever-changing exhibition of seasons: a forest so green it almost hurts your eyes, water from the rushing river so blue it appears dyed, and mountain slopes disappearing into the depths. Hotel Union Øye: A legendary hotel of unparalleled beauty, Union Øye is a place where I would don my Tweed jacket, meticulously polish my leather Chelsea boots, and tuck a Tolstoy novel into my suitcase. The illustrious history of this establishment is evidenced by the notable list of historical figures who graced its premises. Among them, Emperor Wilhelm (that illustrious figure with the unique arm) ordered a cup of coffee, Karen Blixen indulged in Eggs Benedict, and Roald Amundsen, either before or after reaching the North Pole, savored a glass of whisky as a reward for his efforts. Depending on where in the world you are reading this blog, these anecdotes may hold varying significance. After all, I pen this from a European perspective. It cannot be denied that Hotel Union Øye finds itself on a list of places with exceptional allure from a bygone era. In an age of endless reels and anonymous comments, this establishment is a breath of fresh air. Sommerro: The new kid on the block, boldly ascending the lists of the most fantastic hotels with great panache. If your weekend inclines towards a sincere proposal, perhaps in the form of a marriage proposal or something similar, then this is the place to do it. Words, unfortunately, fall short when summarizing the opulence and lavishness that this establishment bestows upon its patrons. A personal favorite within its confines is the exquisite bar, Ekspedisjons Hallen, an artifact reminiscent of the vibrant 1920s. Here, an atmosphere of elegance unfolds without descending into the obscene. The art-deco interiors transport you to another era, amplified by the live jazz—an auditory treat that cocoons you in a space where time seems reluctant to escape. Picture spending an evening there with your beloved, leisurely swirling ice cubes in your ice-cold amaretto sour. If this hotel were an actress, it would undoubtedly be Eva Green. Åmot Hotell: Here, you immerse yourself in a kind of rural-chic on steroids. Not only is the hotel far removed from anything remotely resembling a city, but the entire setting is one that defies easy expression in words. The spaces are adorned with a seemingly effortless nonchalance, yet with a keen sense of style and composition, enveloped in a sort of rural chic aesthetic. I almost dare to label it as un-Norwegian, but that would be a mischaracterization. I believe it encapsulates the identity that adorns contemporary Norway – a departure from flashy sports cars, embracing a renaissance of history, quality, and simplicity. I have yet to experience a night's stay here myself, but if there's anything on my wish list, it's a visit to Åmot. Could that affluent sugar uncle kindly make an appearance soon? Storfjord Hotel: I have pondered at length how to encapsulate this hotel in a few words, and I believe "Rustic Luxury" does it justice. Firstly, the entire hotel exudes the aroma of wood, one of my absolute favorite scents. The rooms and suites are tastefully adorned with muted colors, exquisite textiles, and untreated walls, lending Storfjord Hotel an exceptional allure. You can comfortably appear at breakfast in your Dale of Norway sweater and then spend the entire day outdoors in the breathtaking surroundings. Moreover, the restaurant is truly a masterpiece, arguably the finest in the wide vicinity. Trevarefabrikken: A now-iconic cultural institution situated in the heart of the Arctic region. The rough edges of the rugged fishing existence have been honed and transformed into an exceptional abode. The location alone is undeniably spectacular, but equally noteworthy is the vision the founders had in developing this old wood workshop. Here, you don't immerse yourself in ostentatious luxury; instead, you delve into the heritage of a region intimately connected to the weather, tides, and harsh climate. The sense of community among people in Northern Norway differs significantly from that in major cities like Oslo and Stavanger. This distinction becomes apparent the moment you set foot over the threshold, where you are embraced by a heritage entwined with the elements and a rugged environment. Amerikalinjen: Ask any random European, and undoubtedly, you'll be regaled with a tale of a family member who, a few generations back, escaped poverty and embarked on the journey to America. My great-uncle, for instance, left the bulb region in the Netherlands to start a farm somewhere in Missouri. Never heard from him again. Norway, too, did not escape this dance. In contrast to its current prosperity, Norway was a bit of Europe's underdog until the 1960s. This led to entire villages emptying as people boarded ships in pursuit of fortune and happiness. Amerikalinjen is named after this exodus. It is an extraordinarily beautiful hotel, exuding a grandeur rarely encountered in contemporary times. The cocktail bar is truly a work of art where bartenders took masters degrees in cocktail shaking, and the cellar frequently hosts jazz gigs. Hardanger Fjord Lodge: If I were to provide a description of what precisely constitutes a boutique hotel, I would point you directly to the Hardanger Lodge. The enchanting surroundings, the intimacy, and the tastefully rustic decor impart the sensation of stepping into a parallel world where time dances to a different rhythm. The level of attention devoted to details here evokes thoughts of Japanese dedication. It is a kind of rustic bubble in which you find yourself. If your sojourn in Norway commences here, thereafter, not much can really go amiss. Tuddal Høyfjellshotell: Every evening at 19:00, a meticulously crafted four-course dinner is promptly served, uniting all guests in the dining hall simultaneously. This ritual imparts a uniquely special ambiance, allowing one to pause and observe their fellow patrons, gaining a profound sense of the community within the hotel. The service is truly extraordinary, brimming with enthusiasm and unwavering dedication. You experience a genuine sense of being seen and valued. The culinary offerings center around locally sourced ingredients, evident in the flavors that come to life on the plate. Anticipate no avant-garde culinary experimentation; instead, relish beautifully executed, honest dishes that captivate the palate. It feels as though you have entered a cinematic scene, reminiscent, perhaps, of "The Grand Budapest Hotel," albeit set in the picturesque backdrop of Norway. Eilert Smit Hotel: While the exterior manifests functionality, stepping inside transports you immediately to the splendor of mid-century design. This appears to be a nod to the era when Stavanger, whether consciously or unconsciously, prospered. Regardless, in terms of hospitality, the Eilert Smith Hotel stands head and shoulders above the rest in Stavanger. This distinction doesn't solely arise from the elegance of the rooms and communal spaces. The staff also possesses a keen understanding of what guests anticipate when selecting such a hotel for their stay. Truly, everything is orchestrated to ensure your sojourn is as delightful as possible, all delivered with a kind of innate elegance (a skill I'd be eager to master). Dalen Hotel: What lingers today is a hotel adorned with an ambiance and aristocratic allure that stands unrivaled in Norway. A majestic entrance, substantial leather armchairs, and meticulously hand-printed wallpaper. The artistry displayed in all the woodwork alone is nothing short of breathtaking. Offering a variety of rooms and suites, each exudes the same regal charm. If the choice were mine, the Dalen Suite would be the epitome of romance, making it, without a doubt, the most romantic hotel in Telemark, if not the entirety of Norway. Even if you opt to lodge elsewhere, it's still worthwhile to park the car momentarily and indulge in a glance. Høyvarde Fyr Hotel: 'Fyr' can signify two things in Norwegian; 'boy' or 'lighthouse.' In this instance, it, of course, refers to the latter. Yes, you read it correctly; you can stay here. But only in July. It doesn't get much more exclusive than this. Keep in mind that this is no ordinary hotel where you casually stroll in and ring the reception bell. So do get in touch with them beforehand. Herangtunet: If you're in search of a distinctive retreat in the Valdres Nature and Culture Park, Herangtunet Boutique Hotel is the place to be. Personally, I haven't spent a night there (my in-laws have a cabin nearby), so I don't have a direct experience, but I took a stroll around and was utterly captivated. The interior exudes a robust grandeur with suites in various styles and themes. And just take a look at the location! I envision myself with a blanket draped over me, beside a campfire, holding a mug of hot chocolate. Absolutely stunning. Additionally, they offer an array of activities that immediately elucidate why I fell head over heels for Norway. Are you already in love? Or on the brink of it? Book a night or two. You'll leave as a different person. Energi Hotellet: The rooms at Energi Hotellet are, in fact, the antithesis of everything you've encountered so far. Minimalistic, pristine, and immaculate. Energi Hotellet is a gem of 1960s architecture, initially intended for the employees of the hydroelectric power plant. It still serves that purpose, but the hotel has undergone a subtle metamorphosis. Additionally, there's a strong emphasis on local ingredients, resulting in relatively simple yet overwhelmingly delicious dishes. For dog enthusiasts, your four-legged companion is welcome. The reason to book here extends beyond the hotel itself. It's the panoramic view that unfolds from all 14 rooms, showcasing the breathtaking surroundings! Hotel 1904: Ålesund is an elegant Art Nouveau town. Exactly that elegance can be found at Hotel 1904. I always find it a bit complicated to use superlatives like 'the best' or 'the most beautiful' when I'm not talking about my girlfriend. So, I tread carefully. This is one of the most beautiful and elegant hotels in all of Norway. Quite nuanced, wouldn't you agree? In earlier stories, I hinted that I used to work as an interior designer. I can confidently say that I have a kind of professional eye for interior spaces. What immediately catches my attention are the materials used; not just the curtains but also the skirting boards and the floor. Then comes composition and lighting. But, I won't bore you with that. If you value beautifully designed spaces even a little, book a few nights here. Especially during the darker months, this place is an oasis of perfectly crafted contemporary coziness. I walked in this summer out of curiosity, precisely because of what I just described. I was impressed, as well as by the staff, who welcomed me with understated warmth, despite the fact that I had a huge backpack on my back and was wearing flip-flops. Not exactly the typical attire for the clientele that usually populates the lobby here. All in all, I didn't stay overnight because it's not budget-friendly for a simple blogger like me. But the beds probably rank among the best you can sleep in in Norway.

  • Destination: the Swiss connection; how to get to Lofoten islands from... Zürich

    It is tempting to jest about the multitude of Norwegian millionaires and billionaires who, in recent years, bid farewell to Norway, seeking refuge in Switzerland. Besides the Swiss flag, also the allure of favourable tax climates seems a big plus. For those fortunate individuals, news of direct flights from Zürich to Harstad in the summer of 2024, courtesy of 'Edelweiss Airlines,' may be little interest, because Norwegians with such means might prefer chartering private planes. Nonetheless, it's a boon for the Swiss, because how to get to Lofoten islands is no longer a question (and of course Germans, French, Americans, Chinese and Koreans are more then welcome too). Hence, I extend a warm welcome to the Swiss from this remarkable region. Keeping it simple, I dedicate this article to ten splendid accommodations across various price ranges and categories. By the end of this piece, I hope you find yourself making a choice, though it's doubtful, given the breathtaking allure of each and everyone of them (and no, it's not allowed to stay neutral). Here we go, in no particular order: 1. Svinøya Rorbuer These cabins have achieved legendary status, propelled by the rise of Instagram over the past decade. Everything you imagine about Norway is encapsulated here – red-painted wooden cottages in a rugged landscape with steep slopes and an icy blue sea. Traditional fishing sounds surround you – the lapping of water, seagull cries, and the clinking of anchor chains. Authentically immersed in the lifestyle, a stay at Svinøya Rorbuer introduces you to this captivating existence. Moreover, it serves as your one-stop-shop for a myriad of Arctic activities, from Northern Lights safaris to sauna visits, golf surfing (yes, you read that right), and fishing excursions. 2. Trevare Fabrikken Essentially a converted carpentry factory, this place buzzes with creative activity. What makes it special is, first and foremost, its location – right by the sea, with Bergen in the distance and an expansive sky overhead. It has become somewhat of an institution in Arctic Norway, a cultural hub hosting numerous concerts and events in the summer. The food is fantastic, and the entire atmosphere finds no equal in Norway. I've developed a bit of an affection for this place, and I believe you will too. 3. For big families For those traveling with a large family, sometimes a hotel may not be the ideal choice. If you desire relaxation without worrying about your children inconveniencing other vacationers, and you appreciate stunning nature and architecture, then this is your place. I sense a tinge of jealousy at the thought of your stay here next summer. 4. Spectacular Architecture Picture-perfect. That's what comes to mind for an architecture and interior enthusiast like me when I take in this place. The warmth of wood and the subtle minimalist design of this holiday cottage are impressive. But ultimately, it revolves around the surroundings, which are possibly even more breathtaking. Laupstad itself is a tiny hamlet on a calm bay. Don't spread the word, but there might be a pirate ship docking. 5. WonderInn Arctic For those seeking more privacy, I highly recommend the recently opened (September 2023) WonderInn Arctic. This tried-and-tested concept of beautifully furnished secluded cabins, boasting fantastic beds and, more importantly, enormous glass walls offering a splendid view of the polar night from your bed, is worth considering. Here, you sleep with your curtains open, so you don't miss a minute of the celestial spectacle. 6. Back to Basic and Cheap It's something humanity seems to yearn for more and more – a return to the essentials. What do you truly need? A roof over your head, a wood stove, some food, clean water, and good company. Maybe a cold beer after a long hike through the incredible wilderness. In all honesty, that's pure happiness for me. If you feel the same, then this is the place for you. 7. End of the World And by that, I mean the following. When you sail west, the first land you encounter is Greenland. When you sail north, it's Spitsbergen. Here, you immerse yourself in the coastal culture that has existed for thousands of years in this part of the world. The location is incredible in every way – the view, the tranquility, and the beautiful surroundings. Moreover, the guesthouse is cozy and intimate. 8. Tranøya Fate led me to discover Tranøya in the summer of 2023 – a small island just off the coast of Senja. Here, against the backdrop of an old church, stands a unique old farmhouse managed by two sisters who practically grew up here. They have transformed the island into a destination in itself. Besides blissful sleep accompanied by the gentle lapping of waves, this serves as your base from which to explore the breathtaking surrounding nature, embark on boat and fishing trips (did you know the world's best fishing waters around Senja?), partake in guided or independent ventures, and delve into the island's history. 9. Surfin' The cottage is situated near a pale white beach. And believe it or not, but this part of Norway is a genuine surfing destination. In fact, Unstad is the most northern surfing destination in the world. This imparts a uniquely pleasant atmosphere. There are always a few campers by the beach, and in the evenings, stories are shared around campfires. It is precisely for this reason that life has returned to Unstad. There has even been a documentary made about it. 10. A pearl in no-mansland Almost nobody lives here. Not unique to Norway, but unique in how you can be a part of that. This holiday home is not only wonderfully designed but also situated in a unique location. The panoramic view in all directions is stunning. Here, you stay in complete privacy with your family or a group of friends. But on one condition: that you occasionally refrain from touching your phone for an hour and only focus on the incredible nature and each other.

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