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  • Destination: I never wanted to ever leave Fjærland in Sogndal, Norway; books and a gorgeous hotel

    Fjærland, is a tiny little town in Sogndal (Norway). Nestled deep amidst towering mountains, it finds itself at the very end of one of the Sognefjord's long branches. The village exudes a delightful charm unique to Norway, comprising only a handful of beautiful wooden homes, a few distinguished hotels, a place of worship, and a couple of boutiques. One would never suspect, looking from the main road on the fjord's opposite side, that it is a destination worthy of an extended stay, perhaps even an unintended week-long visit. Allow me to explain the reasons why. Fjærland is an undeniable marvel, not just because of its breathtaking natural surroundings of Sogndal , but also because this small village is a respected haven for book lovers. Despite its modest population of only 300 people, numerous books, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, grace the shelves of various shops and barns. The literary collection extends beyond Norwegian titles, offering a significant assortment of English literature. This allows one the luxury of leisurely browsing book covers, enjoying the pleasure of an afternoon's literary exploration. I myself came across an English edition of 'War and Peace,' which I acquired and enjoyed while reclining contentedly in the lush grass, delving into its opening chapters. I still haven't finished it though. Along the streets, several covered bookshelves beckon passersby, allowing them to select a book on trust, with a humble 10 kroner left in the nearby mailbox. Indeed, where else does such a charming tradition persist in these modern times? The village, reminiscent of a bygone era, appears as if it has been plucked from the enchanting realm of a 1950s postcard. Adding to its allure, the venerable Mundal Hotel, dating back to the 1800s, adds an extra touch of grandeur. Unfortunately, it is currently closed for renovations, leaving one eagerly anticipating its transformation once it reopens. However, I am delighted to recommend to book a few nights at the Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel , which I think is a boutique hotel of utmost charm. Its exquisite rooms and the culinary expertise of its esteemed chef ensure a highly gratifying experience. The communal area, resembling a cozy living room, offers a welcoming refuge, a true haven for relaxation. The mesmerizing view of the cerulean fjord waters proves endlessly captivating, especially when a group of five dolphins gracefully glides past, leaving one in a state of wonderment. For those with limited financial resources, fear not, for Fjærland still provides the opportunity to enjoy a delightful vacation. Just beyond the village lies a charming campsite called Bøyum Camping , with ample space for tents and caravans. But, they also offer the rental of modest trekking cabins. If luxury is not a top priority, these accommodations will more than suffice. I myself had a thoroughly enjoyable two-night stay. Also in Fjærland: the Glacier Museum . This museum is a private foundation established by Den Norske Turistforening, International Glaciological Society, Norges vassdrags- og energidirektoratet, Norsk Polarinstitutt, Høgskulen i Sogn og Fjordane, University of Bergen, and University of Oslo in 1989. The purpose of the Norsk Bremuseum is to gather, create, and disseminate knowledge about glaciers and the climate. The foundation's activities span the fields of natural science and cultural history. The Glacier Museum illustrates the workings of nature and the interaction between nature and humanity through advanced film techniques, interactive models, and your own experiments with real glacier ice. The Norsk Bremuseum is designed for the inquisitive mind, definitely! Not least of all, Fjærland is a kind of mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Kayaking, skiing, and guided walks to the glacier are all part of the possibilities. Take a look at Fjærland Guiding and let yourself be enticed. My earnest suggestion is to embrace the unhurried pace of life in Fjærland, staying until your heartbeat achieves a state of absolute tranquility. The village's allure stems not only from its enchanting atmosphere but also from the enigmatic wonders of nature that captivate from every angle. Dedicate a day to exploring the outskirts of the surrounding glaciers under the guidance of a knowledgeable guide. And be sure to reserve a few precious hours for indulging in the ' Dampen ' , the floating sauna. The view it offers is truly extraordinary, and it is both a personal obligation and a gesture of respect to the locals to take an invigorating plunge into the icy fjord waters at least once. There is no better moment to savor this experience than when you can retreat to the comforting warmth of the sauna afterward. Fjærland, with all its resplendent charm, embodies the essence of a small-scale fairytale, providing an unparalleled sanctuary for the discerning traveler. I, for one, long to return. Tomorrow preferrably! **Getting to Sogndal: it is most likely you'll arrive at Oslo Airport (OSL). Public transport really takes forever to get you there and isn't all that flexible in these remote areas, 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.

  • 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

  • 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 UT.no , 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.

  • Destination: the Vega Islands; a breathtaking Norwegian archipellago protected by UNESCO

    A few weeks ago, I found myself on the island of Vega. It was more by chance than design. My holiday commenced earlier than expected, and given my recent responsibility for raising a Finnish Lapdog, we quickly decided to holiday within Norwegian borders. While many visitors to Norway often ponder how to craft their itineraries, I prefer not to bind myself to rigid plans. This is simply due to the weather. The decision was made when the weather forecast for the Helgeland coast was splendid, so we set our course towards Trondheim, from where we journeyed further north. The Helgeland coast is an enchanting part of Norway. Its coastline is so unique and spectacular that it has no equal anywhere in the world. Towering cliffs rising almost perpendicularly from the azure sea are a breathtaking sight. As you might have gathered from the title, the journey also led me to the island of Vega, where I spent three days. The indescribable natural beauty, the unique atmosphere, and the mindset of the islanders compelled me to write a rather lengthy article about this evocative island. After reading, you'll know: Where to stay Where to eat delicious food Which places and attractions you must visit before returning to the mainland. Your Stay For your stay, I have an immediate golden tip: visit Norway in June. In July, most Norwegians are on holiday, making the most fantastic accommodation often fully booked and considerably pricier. Now, to the point. I spent my first night at Basecamp Vega . This location is quite the stuff of dreams. Not only is it Instagram-worthy beautiful, but it also situates you in the heart of the landscape so characteristic of the Helgeland coast—towering mountain peaks and an azure sea. Basecamp Vega rents out tiny cabins with no more than a bed and a terrace. The remarkable feature of these cabins is the large hatch you can open, providing a stunning view of the coastal landscape from your bed. Additionally, the breakfast is simple but fine, and they serve a simple dinner should you desire it, along with ice-cold beer on tap. What immediately struck me was the cleanliness of both the cabins and the sanitary facilities. It is no coincidence that the smiling young twenty-somethings managing the facilities are responsible for this. The staff demographics left a curious impression on me: a man in his 60's who introduces himself to guests with notable pride as ‘the boss,’ and an army of smiley, exclusively young women who work the facilities. Anyways... Base camp Vega is aptly named for good reason. Within walking distance are the Vega Steps —an impressive sequence of wooden stairs leading you to one of the highest peaks on the island, offering a magnificent view. The same location features the Via Ferrata—a climbing paradise for daredevils. Under supervision of an experienced guide and secured with ropes and hooks, you can enjoy a beautiful climb. Base camp Vega also rents out kayaks for exploring the crystal-clear waters of the archipelago. Should you seek a bit more comfort, I highly recommend the Vega Havhotell . The hotel is idyllically located and exudes a very personal and hospitable atmosphere. It seems odd to mention, but not every hotel can claim this. The highlight of a stay at the Havhotell is undoubtedly the five-course dinner. All guests are expected at the table simultaneously, where the chef, with a healthy dosis of humour and some Northern Norwegian swearing, announces and explains the menu and wine selection. Highly entertaining. I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the dishes. While the dishes might be considered somewhat simple, the ingredients, preparation, taste, and presentation were of absolute class. The hotel also offers a wide range of fairly obscure bottles of akkevit. Finding a favourite, I’ll leave to you. Food As mentioned, the Havhotel is an absolute must for an excellent dinner. As you might guess, the selection of dining establishments is somewhat limited on Vega, simply due to the island’s population of just 1,200 inhabitants. One of these residents is Bente. Together with her husband, she runs Stavsmarken Gård . As the name suggests, this is indeed a farm where various products are made, including wonderfully delicious sausages. I dare say these are among the best I have ever tasted. Stavsmarken has a delightful little shop where you can buy all these goodies, either for your own enjoyment or as souvenirs. But it doesn’t stop at sausages. Everywhere you look, the walls of their little boutique are painted with local delicacies making it hard to resist indulging and filling up the trunk of your car. They also run a very charming café with excellent coffee and a moist, luscious carrot cake with a divine topping. Such lovely people too. That alone is reason enough to visit. I also heartily recommend popping into the local Spar supermarket . Here you’ll find an excellent selection of locally produced foods, including a locally brewed beer (Vega Havøl) that is well worth sipping on! Activities As you may know, the Vega Islands are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and that is no small feat. The coastal landscape, along with its unique flora and fauna, is unparalleled and must be protected. My first recommendation is therefore to visit the Vega World Heritage Centre . The building itself is an architectural gem, with a group of goats acting as gardeners, grazing the museum’s slopes. I actually recommend visiting this centre first. It allows you to appreciate the island with new eyes. There are countless outdoor activities. Exploring the islands by kayak is naturally recommended. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do this myself due to the aforementioned puppy, whose behaviour is not yet quite seaworthy. The Vega Steps are, of course, a must. Additionally, there are several beautiful hiking trails on the island that immerse you in its rich flora and fauna. Also, visit Martin Skjefstad at Risbakkvegen 103 . Martin is a highly skilled ceramic artist who produces stunning tableware from his idyllic workshop. It’s no surprise that his work is used in several renowned restaurants in the area, including the Vega Havhotell and restaurant Svang in Brønnøysund Conclusion What made Vega so special for me is its completely unique atmosphere. Naturally, the breathtaking landscape contributes significantly, but the islanders also have a distinct mindset. Everyone knows each other, but it seems that everyone also helps each other, which adds to its charm. I sincerely hope this article has provided the final encouragement for you to spend a few days on Vega.

  • Drink: the best non-alcoholic alternative to wine that tastes like a Norwegian forest; Villbrygg

    I reside on the edge of the forest. From my breakfast table, I gaze upon the treetops and behold a hillside adorned with trees of various kinds—birches, firs, and poplars. Each season, I find myself marveling at the inherent beauty of this place. Whether it's the yellow, orange, and red hues of autumn, the snow-covered conifers and muted winter light, or the budding light green of early spring, it never ceases to captivate me. I frequently embark on long walks through the woods, sometimes with a specific goal—perhaps to find berries , mushrooms , or edible plants. But often, I venture into the forest to unwind, reducing the sensory input to a pleasant minimum. The remaining stimuli become more intense—the sounds of birds and other creatures moving unseen through the woods, the scent of the forest floor, pine needles, and other plants. And there's something else that I can't quite articulate—call it a kind of energy. I'll leave that undefined for now. Speaking of sensory experiences and the forest, I come to a discovery I made recently and it concerns a drink which to me is the best alternative to wine: Villbrygg (wild-brew) particularly my personal favourite, Skog (forest). If the forest, as I just described it, had a taste, it would be the taste of Skog. The ingedrients leave most to the imagination; spruce shoots, lemongrass, yarrow, and birch leaves. Describing the complexity and nuances of the flavor is challenging. It's lightly acidic, slightly bitter, yet with a fresh kind of sweetness hinting at fermentation. I immediately thought of the light green tips of spruce that you can pluck and eat in spring—somewhat sour but sweet enough to make them enjoyable. When pickled, they serve as excellent supplements in various dishes. I'm incredibly excited about what Villbrygg is doing. Especially with the recent pandemic still somewhat fresh in my memory, during which people had to be restrained and contained because they would otherwise go amok, alcohol was not served in restaurants as some symbolic measure. I recall sitting at Geita in the midst of the pandemic, and an alcohol-free drinks menu was presented (which, by the way, was excellent). Villbrygg would have fit right in. That's because the flavours possess a certain complexity that you would normally expect from wine. You get my point by now. I am thrilled about how Villbrygg captures the flavours of the northern flora in delightful, refined, and complex beverages. It fits perfectly within the (hopefully enduring) trend of The New Nordic Food Manifesto as published in 2004, where overlooked locally produced- and available foods have received a complete and well deserved reevaluation. Oddly enough, the first sip of Villbrygg immediately reminded me of the restaurant 'The Little Pickle' in Oslo. This is a restaurant I wholeheartedly recommend. They have elevated the pickling of vegetables, in particular, to an absolute art. The dishes they serve are of an unpretentious simplicity but with incredible flavours. For example, I had never tasted pickled carrot before. And at 'The Little Pickle,' that carrot tastes like CARROT(!!!). Truly amazing. Well, at 'The Little Pickle,' I could easily imagine myself leaving a glass of wine for what it is, and order a glass of ‘Skog’ instead. If you're now incredibly eager to taste what I'm tasting as I write this article, you're likely out of luck. Because Villbrygg is only available in Norway and Berlin according to the last update.

  • 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. I deepdived at bit and I think Sixt has the broadest offer. You can find the best deals here . Simply type in the name of the airport, and see which EVs are available.

  • Hike: by train to the roof of Norway; hike from Finse to Dyranut

    It's a question I encounter quite frequently: Can one experience the breathtaking natural beauty of Norway without the aid of an automobile? Shortly said; is Norway by train a good idea? The answer is a resounding yes. I'll admit, I've given away the answer early, but allow me to now explain how you can embark on a remarkable nature adventure spanning 3-4 days from Oslo with no reliance on a car. However, a word of caution: embark on this journey well-prepared (and I'll touch on that later). Four years ago, I arrived here for the first time, and I was utterly overwhelmed by the stunning landscape. We arrived late in the afternoon, with the sun casting a golden hue over the entire valley as it began its descent. Anyway, plenty of sentiments here. To the point now. First and foremost, securing a seat reservation on the train known as the ' Bergens banen ' to Finse is essential. It takes a bit longer from Oslo, but within 4 hours, you'll reach your destination—or rather, the starting point of your hiking adventure. Do not underestimate the necessity of reservations; this train route tends to be fully booked at least a week in advance. The train journey to Finse takes around 4 hours. Finse itself is nothing more than a cluster of buildings. There's a hikers' hotel that hosts a jazz festival each year, an accommodation managed by the Norwegian Tourist Association, and a few holiday cottages and the like. Initially, it may feel quite peculiar... The history of Finse is quite intriguing. Around 1900, one of Norway's most ambitious infrastructure projects ever took place: the construction of a railway line from Oslo to Bergen through one of the most inhospitable terrains imaginable. Finse did not exist as a place back then, but accommodations were built for laborers, diggers, and contractors. The project spanned such a long period that it also gave rise to a bakery and several other shops. When the railway was completed in the new millennium (that's 1900), a hotel was opened next to the station. That hotel has remained in operation for the past 120 years, drawing tourists in all seasons. And the reason for its allure is not hard to discern. It's a remarkable place, firstly because there's a railway here, and secondly because you have a direct view of an impressive glacier. In summer, it's the perfect starting point for multi-day hikes, and in winter, it's ideal for snowboarding and kite-skiing. Every January, a small-scale jazz festival even takes place, which, as a devoted jazz enthusiast, greatly appeals to me (and I regret not having attended it yet). Anyway, this section was categorized under 'hike,' so let's get down to business. From Finse, you'll hike for about 2-3 days to reach Dyranut. I must say that the first leg can be quite challenging, with significant elevation changes, curves, and climbs. You wouldn't guess it from looking at the map, but the distances are indeed greater than they appear in this type of terrain. On the first day, you'll walk along the foothills of the Hardanger Jokulen. With the gradual melting of the large glaciers, we are likely among the last generations to witness this imposing natural phenomenon here. You can theoretically hike to Kjeldebu in one day, but it's approximately 17 kilometers on marked trails, which might be a bit far for inexperienced hikers. It's better to set up your tent near Skåltjørna, a beautiful lake at the base of the Hardangerjøkulen (massive glacier that is). The following day, after about 5 hours of hiking, you'll reach Dyranut . This is a roadside restaurant/inn along one of the main roads across the Hardangervidda. Here, you can catch your breath before taking the bus to Geilo. If you wish, you can also spend the night here. Purchase your bus tickets on skyss.no, and it's handy to download their app. Keep in mind that buses don't run very frequently here; in this case, only twice a day. For preparation on such hikes, several items are crucial. Of course, the obvious essentials like ample provisions, well-worn hiking boots , a sturdy backpack, and a warm sleeping bag are important. But also, bear in mind that you'll need the following on such trips: 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! If you'd like to visit Finse but don't fancy camping or hiking, that's also an option. You can enjoy the same splendid view in all comfort. Book a night at Hotel Finse 1222 . So, there you have it—an adventure through the breathtaking Norwegian wilderness, accessible without a car, with the convenience of trains and the charm of hiking. Prepare well, and you're in for an unforgettable experience. Pinky swear!

  • Hike: the big-5; wildlife and animals you might (not want to) come across in Norway

    Depending on where you hail from, the flora and fauna (or wildlife) in Norway can appear rather exotic, and indeed they are. Here, you won't find the famed Big Five, but instead, you'll encounter a myriad of creatures that are unique to the Arctic region and seldom seen elsewhere in the world. In this article, I shall be delighted to enlighten you about them. Furthermore, I shall provide you with some valuable tips to enhance your chances of spotting these creatures and offer guidance on how to conduct yourself when encountering them. I'm naming a few of my favourites. The moose, often referred to as the 'king of the forest' in colloquial terms, symbolizes the northern realms of the world. Both Norway and Sweden vie for the moose as their emblem. Countless Swedish Volvos proudly display a sticker reminiscent of the Ferrari logo - a yellow background with a black moose. Likewise, the moose frequently appears in Norwegian symbolism, logos, tourist shops, and popular culture. Surprisingly, though, in daily life, one seldom glimpses them (unless one knows where to look). That's the thing about moose—they are challenging to spot, even though countless road signs warn of their crossings. They often stand still, blending into the forest with their gray-brown hue, rendering them nearly invisible. But I shall provide you with some moose-spotting tips. The prime time is typically early evening just before sunset when they often venture close to the forest edge to graze or drink. If you happen to be in a car, pay attention to open spaces and meadows surrounded by woods, as these offer the best chances of spotting one. If you are out backpacking, there's a chance you might encounter one as well. If that happens, exercise caution, especially if they have offspring, as they can be protective and may attempt to intimidate you by approaching or even charge in your direction. Maintain a safe distance, for they are neither domesticated nor pets. Therefore it's also advisable to carry a pocket-sized pair of binoculars . (A wise purchase in general, if it was only in order to study the o-so-good-looking Norwegians in their natural habitat.) Even though I live near the capital, I spot a moose at least twice a week. I often board the bus before 5:00 AM, driving from the valley where I reside through densely wooded areas to the city. Along one of the bends, there lies an expansive meadow where I frequently see a moose standing. I suspect the moose may be somewhat trapped between urban areas, making the best of its situation. I have also encountered them a few times near Sognsvann, a popular hiking area just outside the city. Thus, you need not venture deep into the wilderness to increase your chances of spotting one. If you wish to guarantee a moose sighting, you can visit Viltgården or Dyreparken in Kristiansand. The latter is highly recommended if you aspire to observe Arctic animals. Moreover, the enclosures are sufficiently spacious to provide the animals with an excellent living environment which can't be said about most zoo's. And then the reindeer. Another (mythical) symbol of the Arctic landscape, these enchanting creatures with impressively antlered heads inhabit nearly the entire Arctic region. Even in Southern Norway, a substantial herd resides in Setesdalvesthei. Valdres also boasts a noteworthy population. I can vividly recall a few years ago, in the heart of February, when I was in the Valdres mountains. It was a splendid winter day with fresh snow and soft, beautiful light. Suddenly, we heard a tinkling sound. We exchanged glances and initially wondered why there were bells ringing in the middle of winter. However, not long after, we caught sight of the first reindeer—an imposing alpha male. Shortly thereafter, a massive herd crossed our path. For twenty minutes, approximately 300 reindeer strolled by. It was a truly magical experience. Reindeer have adapted significantly to their environment, primarily because there is very little food available in winter. Apart from a bit of moss and some birch bark, there isn't much on their menu. Consequently, reindeer have a significantly lower heart rate to conserve the scarce energy they have at their disposal. Therefore, it is best to leave them undisturbed. Do not approach them, no matter how tempting it may be. And yes indeed, bears reside here as well. To put your mind at ease, their numbers are relatively low, numbering only in the thousands. Thus, the likelihood of encountering one is quite slim. However, if you decide to venture into the Norwegian wilderness bordering Sweden or explore the sparsely populated areas in the northern part of Norway, it is imperative to be well-prepared. Here are a few tips: Make regular noise either by singing the French national anthem loudly and repeatedly or use one of these bear-bells, and ensure you are attentive to your surroundings. The probability of a bear attacking you is not necessarily high, but when startled, they might feel threatened. When camping, use scents to signal your presence. Bears, as it turns out, strongly dislike human urine. If you have the opportunity, urinate into a container or bottle (I understand that this might be somewhat challenging for the opposite gender) and spread it in a large circle about twenty meters from your tent. It doesn't have to be a lot, but the goal is to ensure that the bear smells that humans are nearby. In most cases, this will cause them to take off. If you wish to be absolutely sure, you can order a canister of bear spray. And stuff your wood away properly. Anyway, if you'd like to get to know more, a Youtube rabbithole is waiting for you. Fun fact: Just one month prior to writing this piece, a bear was spotted in the middle of a field, less than 30 kilometers from Oslo . For those unfamiliar with lynx, it is a rather large cat with enormous, endearingly fluffy paws. I have never encountered one in the wild, as they are quite elusive. However, I did once come across their paw prints in the snow, which was excitement enough. The wolverine is in fact and endangered species with only a few hundred individuals left. Consequently, the likelihood of encountering one is exceedingly low. The Kristiansand Zoo houses one of these remarkable creatures, providing a highly impressive spectacle. Attempting to provide an exhaustive account of the various bird species inhabiting different regions is a monumental task due to their incredible diversity. However, I hold a deep fondness for birds. While it may be a stretch to call myself a birdwatcher, I come rather close. This passion has been with me since childhood when I knew all the bird names by heart and could recognize each birdcall. Though that knowledge has somewhat faded, I still become genuinely enthusiastic when encountering a rare species or a magnificent bird of prey. My personal favorite is the dipper, a tiny black-and-white bird that frequents fast-flowing streams where it finds its sustenance. I have seen one once, and that remains my sole encounter. It is a creature with very specific preferences and requirements, and in this regard, I can relate entirely. For all you birdlovers roaming the lands, this book holds a great bank of knowledge on Norwegian bird species. And then, of course, we have all the marine mammals, but I shall reserve a separate article for them since the quest to spot a whale or an orca can be a goal in itself. What else could you encounter? Mammals: Red Deer: Another prominent deer species, red deer are widespread in Norway's forests and mountains. Arctic Fox: This resilient and well-adapted species thrives in Norway's Arctic tundra. Gray Wolf: Though rare, gray wolves have been observed in parts of Norway. Badger: Found througout the entire country. Birds: White-tailed Eagle: Norway is home to one of the largest populations of these majestic eagles in Europe. Golden Eagle: These birds of prey inhabit the mountainous regions. Puffin: Found along the coastline, puffins are a favorite among birdwatchers. Common Eider: Coastal areas provide habitat for this sea duck. Capercaillie: A large woodland grouse species inhabiting the boreal forests. Snowy Owl: These striking owls occasionally visit Norway during the winter months. Marine Life: Atlantic Salmon: This iconic fish is native to Norwegian rivers and is prized by anglers. Cod: Abundant in the North Atlantic, cod is a staple in Norwegian cuisine. Humpback Whale: Norway's coastal waters are a prime location for whale watching, including humpbacks. Orcas: These apex predators can be spotted in Norwegian fjords. Seals: Both harbor seals and grey seals can be found along the Norwegian coast. These are just some of the diverse animal species that call Norway home. Norway's unique ecosystems and varied climate zones contribute to its rich biodiversity, making it an appealing destination for nature enthusiasts and conservation efforts alike. Go out and explore. And be kind to those beasts!

  • Destination: a list of (the most amazing) saunas in Norway

    My very first memory of a sauna dates back to my childhood. I must have been nine years old or thereabout. I was at the local indoor pool with my friends, and we thought it would be fun to give the sauna a try. To cut a long story short, I fainted. However, that childhood 'trauma' has since been processed, and now I eagerly join a group of friends to the sauna every month with great delight. Opposite the opera house here in Oslo lies SALT , a creative hotspot featuring a bar, a stage, dining spots, and, of course, a sauna. It's an immensely pleasant place to socialize and relax and in general is the sauna in Norway experiencing a full-on revival. And more recently, after years of continuous stress and insomnia, both my mind and body called me to a hold. I've become a regular now, visiting a sauna at least twice a week to calm down, breathe, and give my body a rest. But enough about me. Let's say you're traveling and it's pouring rain. You could certainly succumb to misery and watch the meaning of life slip away before your eyes. Or you could consult a map to find a sauna and approach the day from an entirely different angle. Hence, I thought it would be a nice idea to compile a list of public saunas that are worth visiting, whether due to their location or their view. Presented in no particular order: 1. Pust in Tromsø : I passed by it during the summer, although unprepared. Meaning that we were on our way to eat out. Yet, the location is superb. The floating sauna rests in Tromsø's old harbor, offering a view of the Arctic Cathedral. It doesn't get more exotic than this. 2. Badstuflåte in Hammerfest : You can "rent" this one for free. Yes, you read that correctly. Such things do exist in this remarkable country. Just get in touch with the local municipal official. It's another floating sauna. You'll need to light the wood stove yourself, leave it neat and clean, and above all, abstain from bringing alcohol. Adhering to the rules is essential for the sustainability of such sympathatic amenities. I said it before; the North is special. 3. The Soria Moria sauna in Dalen : This architectural marvel has garnered attention on numerous architect websites. The view is spectacular. And if an overnight stay at the nearby Dalen hotel is a bit heavy on your budget, this serves as a worthy substitute. 4. Dampen in Fjærland : Nestled in a narrow branch of the Sognefjord is a tiny village. If you're a regular visitor on 'Ha det Mamma', you're likely aware of my enthusiasm for Fjærland. But let's put that aside for now. The fact is, you can book a sauna here with an incredible view. A footbridge leads you to the floating pontoon, from where you can admire the fjord, the mountains, and, if you're lucky, a group of dolphins that frequently swim by. 5. Pust in Sandvika : I mention this one because it's a relatively new sauna (and close to my home). Especially if you're a bit fed up with the city's hustle and bustle or embarrassed about your body (which half the Western world seems to unjustly suffer from these days), this is a perfect retreat. Fairly intimate, and often there are still a few available time slots. It's particularly beautiful in winter, as you sweat while gazing out over the frozen Oslo fjord. A perfect Sunday afternoon escape. 6. Rjukan : This is a historic region I've written about before. If you find yourself exhausted and satisfied after climbing the Gausta Toppen, spending an hour in the sauna is a splendid idea. It's great for muscle and tendon recovery, and it guarantees a peaceful sleep. Well worth reserving an hour here during your stay at the Tuddal Høyfjellhotel . 7. Lærdal badstue : One could easily call this one of the more picturesque fjord villages. Numerous historic buildings still stand, and there's a fantastic bakery. It's a lovely spot to arrive at late in the afternoon and depart the next day. Another attraction here is one of Europe's longest tunnels. An impressive feat of engineering. And, of course, there's a sauna! Don't forget to book beforehand since it's one of the more tiny ones! 8. Sandane is a lesser-known destination. This is mainly due to the hordes of tourists flocking to Loen to capture their insta-perfect photos. It's said to be beautiful there. Thus, this provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy a relaxing hour in a nearly empty sauna. It's also one of the most affordable options on this list. 9. Kok Oslo : Perhaps you saw it in the news. Not long ago, a Tesla ended up in the water in Oslo. Nothing remarkable, you might think. However, the two passengers were rescued by the captain of a floating sauna. Indeed, you can book these floating saunas. In complete privacy, you sail along a stunning stretch of the Oslo fjord. You can dive into the refreshing water with a spectacular view of the capital. It's a true highlight when visiting Oslo. 10. Eldmølla : While most saunas are situated by the sea or a lake, this one is an exception. It is an architectural experiment constructed beside a small stream in the mountains of Valdres. Not only is this area one of my favourites in terms of natural beauty, but it is also an excellent base for exploring Jotunheimen or the fjord landscapes on the west coast. This relatively unknown and new sauna is prime material for influencers, but without the influencers. It is an absolute must-visit. In truth, the entire country is scattered with saunas, so grab your Google Maps and you're likely to stumble upon one wherever you may be. Just make sure to adhere to the following basic rules: Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated. Don't stay in the heat for more than 20 minutes. Take a break outside or jump in the water. If you have any health issues, like asthma or worse, consult your doctor to determine if a sauna visit is a good idea. Most saunas you come across are public. So you won't be alone. Respect that! Follow general (social) hygiene rules. No naked willies, and bring a towel to sit on. Slippers or woollen socks are also advisable, especially in freezing or snowy conditions.

  • Destination: Rondane National Park; so beautiful it should be painted

    Wait a minute, it has been painted. In fact, apart from Munch’s 'The Scream', Harald Sohlberg’s 'Winter Night in the Mountains' is perhaps one of the most iconic Norwegian paintings ever created which is on display in Norway's National Museum . And Sohlberg found his inspiration in the breathtaking landscape of Rondane National Park. I recently visited for the first time and was equally blown off my feet by the unspoiled beauty of this mountainous and incredibly diverse part of Norway. Being just over a 2.5-hour drive from Oslo, it’s one of those spectacular landscapes that you can easily include in your itinerary. In this modest article, I’ll provide you with: My recommendations for a fantastic overnight stay The must-see spots Places you might unjustly overlook Your Stay Let’s start at the beginning. When you’re planning to explore this area partially on foot, having a good base is an essential part of your experience. And for that, I have a wonderful recommendation. Picture a crystal-clear river gently flowing by, a charming meadow flanked with wildflowers, fire pits, a barbecue, and a sauna. From there, you overlook a terrain featuring a beautifully old red-painted farmhouse and several cabins. Welcome to the Rondane River Lodge . A sense of summer nostalgia washed over me as I first sat down on the terrace. The atmosphere is charming and peaceful. Flowers everywhere and it smells like the forest. To my great surprise, I found fresh Belgian waffles on the lunch menu. The explanation came when I met the hostess, a Belgian. The brilliance of this place, apart from its central location in the heart of Rondane, lies in the intimate and personal hospitality extended by the Belgians. I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with Belgium and Belgians. The beauty of this place is that you can either rent a hotel room or a fully furnished cabin, making it suitable for both transient travelers and those who wish to stay longer. It’s also ideal for couples and families with children, something not every hotel can claim. They offer a modest lunch and dinner menu, but the dishes on offer are of excellent quality. We stayed in one of the larger cabins. After a long day outdoors, it’s wonderful to hang up your hiking boots, light the fireplace, and relax with a nice beer from Hogna Brygg. In the evening, they serve a three-course dinner in the restaurant with delicious, locally sourced dishes. The Must-Sees of Rondane As I mentioned in the introduction, Rondane’s allure lies in its breathtakingly beautiful nature. The diversity of landscapes is vast, from high mountains with snowy peaks to fairy-tale forests threaded with crystal-clear streams. It’s no coincidence that one of Norway’s scenic roads runs through Rondane. This road has several stops along the way, some enhanced with small architectural features such as viewing platforms, sanitary facilities, or visitor centers. These stops are invariably worth pulling over for. When you see this symbol , you know there’s something to see. One of these stops is Strømbu. This is an excellent starting point for a day hike through one of the most beautiful parts of Rondane. In summer, hiking paths lead in all directions, but when the snow falls, kilometers of groomed tracks await cross-country skiers. As you now understand, Rondane is for lovers of breathtaking nature, flora and fauna, hiking, and cross-country skiing. Places You Might Unjustly Overlook When heading to Rondane from Oslo, you’re likely to pass through Ringebu, from where you take the road that leads you up into the mountains and valleys of Rondane. Make sure to stop in Ringebu, as you owe it to yourself to pick up some delicacies for the journey at Annis Pølsemakeri . They make arguably the best sausages in the country and sell various other locally made treats. Don’t forget to visit the Ringebu Stave Church . This is one of the 28 remaining stave churches in Norway, located in the municipality of Ringebu in Innlandet county. The stave church, probably built around 1220, is a significant cultural heritage site and one of the oldest stave churches in the country. The brilliance of Rondane is that it’s not overrun by hordes of tourists; no cruise ships dock here, no trains run through, and there are no tourist shops. This gives the area its unspoiled character. So don’t spread the word too much after spending a few days here! Let’s keep this tip to ourselves, shall we?

  • Drink: the best bars in Oslo, according to me

    The best bars in Oslo... This exercise, in truth, is a bit rediculous since taste varies. But I'll proceed anyway in an attempt to let you glimpse Oslo through my eyes. In a completely arbitrary sequence, I present to you the drinking establishments I hold dearest (though regrettably frequented far too infrequently of late due to a persistent lack of funds, the result of escalating living costs). Fuglen . Initially, I frequented this spot solely in the evenings for an exceptional cocktail or a beer (they make an amazing old-fashioned). It was only later that I found myself drifting by during the day. They now boast a slush machine that crafts a splendid tonic and espresso slush. A treat for connoisseurs. Moreover, it attracts a fine international clientele alongside the more enigmatic, trendily attired Gen-Zers with intricate tattoos and principled canvas shoulder bags. I must confess a great fondness for mid-century interiors, and Fuglen is a remarkably authentic example of such. Dattera til Hagen . The most exceptional quality of this establishment lies within its clientele. Nestled inconspicuously amidst Oslo's most "international" district, it caters to a truly diverse audience. I'm not sure if this could be called one of the hidden bars of Oslo, but it's not frequented by foreign visitors at least. It's mostly students, hipsters, new Norwegians, and an assorted array of characters gather in the convivial courtyard to indulge in their libations. The atmosphere is utterly unpretentious, exuding an optimistic cheerfulness that becomes evident upon entry, as you traverse the artistically decorated corridor. Bryggeri Bar in Nedre Foss Gård . This is the haven for those seeking an unparalleled array of craft brews, hitherto unexplored by the palate, and for the sheer spectacle of its interior. One of the more unique watering holes in Oslo. The amalgamation of copper and wood imbues the place with a distinctly inviting ambiance. Here, in the company of a dear friend, one can discuss life's intricacies over a rich, chestnut-hued porter or a jaw-dislocating pale ale. Kastellet . It is within these walls that the most exquisite cocktails are conjured, and the interior is a marvel in itself. A kaleidoscopic amalgam of design classics graces this metropolitan cocktail bar on the second floor. Kastellet can easily be called one of the more trendy cocktail bars in Oslo. Here, one encounters the more elegant and affluent urbanites - the Botox-adorned lips, the impossibly attractive twenty-somethings flaunting ostentatious Rolex timepieces, and the aspirational influencers, all order their cocktails here. Be not deterred, have a cocktail or two, feast your eyes, and then move on. Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri . Descend the staircase, and you'll find yourself in a dimly lit cellar that carries an almost medieval allure. At the far end, a substantial hearth smoulders, evoking an olfactory sensation reminiscent of its ambiance. This locale is steeped in history, as it occupies the grounds of the erstwhile Schous brewery. Here, one may savor splendid brews, and this spot remains a reasonably well-kept secret while being one of the best craft beer bars in Oslo. Blå . A veritable institution in Oslo, exuding a ceaseless vibrancy. A particular recommendation is the Frank Znort Quartet, whose musical prowess turns Sunday evenings into legendary affairs. Oslo Mekaniske Verksted . Housed within an antiquated workshop, this may well be Oslo's coziest haven. Its interior is adorned with an assortment of curiosities - aged maps, globes, tomes, and posters. Expressing precisely why this place is so enchanting proves elusive, a sentiment captured most poignantly upon a visit during the early eve. Additionally, the amiable bar staff are a blessing. Bortenfor . A realm unto itself, this falls into a realm beyond categorization. A bonus category if you please. The closest neighbour of Blå. Relaxed, chilled, stylish and excellent to spend a warm summer evening on the terrace. One of the chill bars in Oslo. HIMKOK is nothing but an institution in the Norwegian capital. Tucked away on the second floor, one would not even closely suspect to find anything here. And for good reason. This bar is ranked number 10 in the top 50 of the worlds best bars. Yes, you read that correctly! And that.... is just amazing! I resided in Tøyen for a while. It's a bit of a neighbourhood that the rest of western Oslo tends to turn up their noses at. This is undoubtedly due to its more diverse demographics. This perception is entirely unfounded because what used to be a windswept and grim square has now transformed into a hub of warmth and activity. This is where you'll find Glasnost ; a rough-around-the-edges but oh-so-cozy pub where the (trendy) locals gather for their tipple. It exudes a kind of homely atmosphere, adorned with a multitude of quirky decorations. I instantly feel at home in such places.

  • Clothes: unsightly Norwegian woolen sweaters

    Well, some folks might consider Norwegian woolen sweaters unsightly, but it's crucial to acknowledge that the history of woolen garments in Norway is deeply rooted in the practical needs of its people. Back in ancient times (let's not mention the Vikings), when surviving harsh winters was the top priority, Norwegians turned to wool for warmth and protection. Sheep farming became an integral part of rural life, with communities raising sheep and perfecting the art of spinning wool into yarn. The long, freezing winters provided ample time for such endeavors. Consequently, the Norwegian sweater, known as the "genser," evolved into a cherished garment that blended functionality with artistic flair. Each region developed its own distinct knitting patterns, reflecting local traditions and cultural identities. These intricate designs, passed down through generations, told tales of the land, the sea, and the legends that shaped Norwegian heritage. Nowadays, woolen clothing, especially sweaters, enjoys the same popularity as in times of yore. Almost as popular as botox and " raske briller ." But I digress, let's get back on track. I fondly recall purchasing my very first Dale of Norway sweater from a vintage shop in Amsterdam back in 2012 (and I still rock it every winter. If you ask me kindly I might post a picture of that unusual sight later). Judging by its vibrant purple and neon green shades, it must have hailed from the 1990s. Some may consider it unappealing, but I grew increasingly smitten with it. It wasn't until I moved to Norway that I truly grasped the timeless allure of these sweaters. It's not just about their impeccable craftsmanship and use of the finest wool; it's also the Norwegians' meticulous care and respect for them. They are an integral part of Norwegian (outdoor) culture, and Norwegians proudly flaunt them. When a thread unravels, it's promptly repaired. Having lived in Norway for almost a decade, woolen sweaters have become a prominent feature of my winter wardrobe too. Almost every year, I add one to my Christmas wish list. Last year, luck was on my side, and my wish came true with a magnificent sweater from de Vold . It's so thick and substantial that it almost serves as a jacket. It came with a hefty price tag, but I already know that I'll treasure it for a lifetime. If you find yourself in Oslo, a visit to the Dale of Norway Flagship store is a bit of a must. It exudes elegance and instantly sparks anticipation for wintertime. Or check out their factory outlet in located right next to their factory. The same goes for the Devold brandstore . However, for some of us, myself included as a resident of Norway, life can be quite costly, let alone affording a woolen sweater priced at 2000NOK. Moreover, when traveling, one typically wishes to allocate most funds towards exploring as much of this magnificent country as possible. But fear not, for there's still a way to acquire a stunning (vintage) Norwegian sweater at a fraction of the cost of a new one. And trust me, very few visitors from abroad are aware of this: Fretex ! This chain of second-hand stores, operated by the Salvation Army, stretches across the entire country. They often boast a substantial clothing section, including a selection of vintage Norwegian sweaters. My preferred Fretex shop is located at Ullevålsveien 12 in Oslo, but you'll also find Fretex stores in smaller villages like Voss. By supporting Fretex, you contribute to the charitable work undertaken by the Salvation Army for vulnerable individuals, while also promoting reduced consumption. It's a win-win, wouldn't you agree? You can also explore their webshop , although the selection of woolen sweaters there is somewhat limited.

  • 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! I wrote a seperate article about the place. 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: animals; wildlife in Arctic Norway

    During the summer of 2023, we found ourselves without any definite vacation plans. I had already spent all my funds on family-related trips to the Netherlands, and the prospect of going somewhere didn't particularly appeal to us. That is, until an unfortunate twist of fate led a friendly couple to leave their car stranded in Kristiansand. With time on our hands, we decided to seize the opportunity and deliver the car to the far reaches of North-East Finnmark. The quickest route would take around 22 hours, spanning over 2200 kilometers. Nevertheless, the fastest route doesn't always offer the most scenic journey, and opportunities to explore the extreme north don't come around often. Thus, we chose to veer off course near Kiruna, directing our path towards Narvik, and then meandering further into the North-Eastern reaches of Finnmark. It turned to be a journey spanning approximately 3600km. Along our expedition, we stumbled upon what I believe to be one of North Norway's best-kept secrets: the tourist route from Russelv to Havøysund . Its allure lies chiefly in the indescribable landscape and the abundance of (wild) creatures encountered along the way. Within a mere 5 hours, we crossed paths with three moose, several sizable reindeer herds, a group of dolphins, a couple of reindeer carcasses, and, of course, sheep. We located a camping spot a kilometer from Lillefjord, a tiny settlement nestled in a bend along the road to Havøysund. Although it was late, the midnight sun ensured that daylight persisted. After a meal, an intriguing 'spouting' sound caught my attention. My initial thought was perhaps a seal. I hurried towards the coast to investigate, discovering before long the source of the sound: about six dolphins. I called out to my partner, and with admiration, we observed the dolphins leisurely swimming deeper into the bay. Shortly thereafter, something absurd unfolded. A small flock of sheep grazed near the shore. While not an uncommon sight, as the entire region is dotted with grazing sheep, somehow this particular flock managed to capture the attention of the dolphin troupe, which had drawn closer to the coastline. Whether intentional or not, I cannot say, but the dolphins commenced a frenzy of jumping and diving, successfully startling the sheep into a panicked run. Laughter echoed as the flock took off. Luckily, I managed to capture the comical spectacle on film and submitted it to the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK. They found it equally amusing and featured it on their website . The vast biodiversity and unspoiled nature in the northern reaches of the country prompted contemplation. As we strolled along the water's edge, I couldn't help but notice the copious amount of marine debris washing ashore. Much of this waste originates from the fishing industry, including buoys, fragments of fishing nets, styrofoam, aerosol cans, and shampoo bottles. Given the absence of municipal services in this remote corner of the world, it falls upon individuals to act responsibly. Hence, when you explore these regions, I hope you'll consider picking up a piece of plastic or a discarded fishing net and disposing of it in a proper waste container when you encounter one. It may be a drop in the ocean, but it's the least we can do. This unexplored corner of the world is truly worth a visit. Aside from encountering the most amiable and accommodating locals and wildlife in Arctic Norway, you'll hardly come across anyone else. Reserve a tiny but charming apartment for a night in Havøysund. The ultimate gem in Havøysund is the restaurant ' Havets Smak ', meaning the taste of the harbour. The seafood dishes they offer are genuinely exceptional, truly of the highest quality. And just look at the amount of people that have been at 'Havets Smak'. It's like discovering gold for the first time...at the end of the world. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Narvik Airport (HFT). From there 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: 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: if I had one day...to visit Finnmark (Arctic Norway)

    Every now and then, we encounter those seemingly unattainable queries: What if you had only a single day to make the most of? What if you were granted millionaire status for a fleeting moment? Yet, when the context shifts to arctic Norway, this introspective exercise doesn't seem quite as outlandish. So, let's embark on this mental exploration without hesitation. If I were to find myself with a solitary day in Norway's embrace, it's safe to say that I would eagerly set forth along one of the country's renowned national tourist routes, specifically, the one traversing Varanger. My reference to this more remote path isn't intended to complicate matters more than I have to; rather, it's due to the unfortunate oversight that this may well be one of the most obscure and underestimated national tourist routes—unjustly so, regardless of its geographical seclusion. The journey would start in Varangerbotn, and the road would gracefully lead to Hamningberg. The simplicity of this route is truly striking. However, anticipate making frequent stops en route, about thirty of them, as you'll find yourself irresistibly drawn to halt the car, your jaw hanging in sheer awe, as the landscape unfolds before your eyes, leaving you humbled by its beauty. Finnmark stands as a distinct realm on its own. Both for its people and its landscape. While I don't particularly adhere to religious beliefs (not at all in fact), let's entertain for a moment the possibility that the narrative of a biblical creation offers a plausible hypothesis for our planet's origin. Picture, if you will, the notion that fragments of landscape remained scattered in various corners—a handful of sand dunes, a pair of imposing basalt cliffs, a smattering of pebble-strewn shores, a slice of tundra, expanses of sandstone, and so on. These remnants, it would seem, were masterfully employed to craft the entire northeastern coastline of Finnmark. The captivating tapestry of diverse terrains, each with its own character, unfolds as a testament to nature's artistry (that on the other hand, I am a strong believer of). Every inlet and peninsula reveals a unique countenance, a true celebration of the natural world. This visual symphony also accompanies the Varanger tourist route. Yet, what lends an enchanting quality to these national tourist routes is the fact that the Norwegian authorities have extended invitations to architects, tasking them with designing essential amenities—restroom facilities, panoramic viewpoints, and inviting seating areas—thoughtfully situated at strategic points along the route. These havens are discreetly indicated by this logo on adorning roadside signs, serving as beacons for those traversing these paths. Allow me to assure you, without reservation, that each pause taken here is an investment yielding abundant rewards. Not trying to be grotesque here. It is what it is. I'll refrain from delving too deeply into the experiences you'll encounter on your voyage; those are best savoured firsthand. Nevertheless, I do intend to dedicate several separate posts to unveil tips and recommendations for those intending to visit Finnmark. Those you will stumble upon when using the tag 'Finnmark'. And so, I reiterate: should you find yourself with a mere day to spare in Norway, embark on a national tourist route—particularly the one meandering through Varanger. Keen to spend the night in the region? Consider the Kongsfjord Arctic Lodge or the Jakobselv Kaia . **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Kirkenes Airport (KKN) since there's direct flights from Oslo. From there it is most wise to reserve a rental car (long) in advance. Charging stations are rather scarce in this outpost of the world, so in this case rather rent a petrol car. Check here for availability.

  • Destination: wall of Fins; fishing on Senja (Norway)

    When you venture into the northern reaches of Norway (Senja in our case) during the summer, you swiftly find yourself transported to a different realm. This transformation is owed to the extraordinarily picturesque landscape, the sparse population, and the sun that barely dips below the horizon. But it's also influenced by the multitude of Finns who choose to spend their summer vacations here. One Finnish-registered camper after another cruises past, and what an enchanting language they bring with them. I might not grasp a word of it, but the expressions, the cadence, and the sentences truly captivate the imagination. Oddly enough, Finnish seems to share more with Hungarian than any other European language. Very peculiar. With those Finnish tourists occupying my thoughts, I couldn't help but detect a certain ambiguity when we coincidentally parked the car by a restaurant named 'The Fat Cod'. One of the first things that caught my eye was the 'Wall of Fins'. Knowing that 'The Fat Cod' is managed by a group of Swedes, there seems to be a playfully ambiguous undertone at play. The 'Wall of Fins', as the name suggests, consists of about twenty codfish tails securely nailed to a wall, not of people from Finland. It should come as no surprise that 'The Fat Cod' , as its name and the 'Wall of Fins' indicate, is a seafood restaurant. What did come as a surprise, though, was the quality of the dishes. It might not be a gourmet establishment, but what they prepare is truly exceptional in taste. The fish soup is a work of art, and their fish & chips might very well be the finest I've ever savored. Regrettably, the cod sashimi wasn't available, but I've heard commendable things about it. The hosts running the restaurant are friendly and cheerful, infusing the place with a delightful ambiance. Equally astounding was the locale. 'Camp Steinfjord' which 'The Fat Cod' is a part of, is situated within an old shrimp factory in a quaint village right by the sea. It feels as secluded as New Zealand and exudes an oddly exotic aura. There are approximately twenty houses around, and a spotless sandy beach where camping is a splendid option. Later, I discovered that the waters around Senja boast some of the world's finest fishing grounds. The sea temperature is optimal for nurturing a bountiful supply of food in the form of algae and small fish, creating a virtual buffet for other fish species. This has turned it into a sort of Mecca for fishing enthusiasts. And this is precisely what you can experience at 'The Fat Cod' too. Camp Steinfjord, the collective term for all things fishing-related in this little bay, rents out fishing rods that almost guarantee a catch from the pier in next to no time. Moreover, you can immerse yourself even further by trying your hand at deep-sea fishing – a more serious pursuit. You can rent all sorts of fishing gear and even drysuits here. Staying overnight is an option as well . The rooms are simple yet impeccably organized. Once again, the rule applies: be an early bird as unique places like this tend to be booked up well in advance. The reason I depict Steinfjord as a destination is because there's ample justification to linger here for a few days. Not only is the beach indescribably stunning, but the surrounding mountains offer plenty of entertainment. If you also happen to have an affinity for fishing, I can't really conjure up a better place to spend a few days when you're on Senja. If you're just passing by, at least have a beer on the jetty and see others attempts on adding another Fin to the wall of Fins. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Narvik Airport (TRD). From there public transport will take you forever to get there, 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: the Borgund stave church, and 7 more stave churches for your bucketlist

    If you're here for the list, scroll straight down. Might you be keen on a small history lesson; hold the line! The notion that Christianity pioneered the art of marketing holds some truth. Globally, the unconventional church gained ground by interweaving local folklore, myths, and symbols with Christian elements, facilitating the conversion of local populations. This trend was not exclusive to Scandinavia, where the rugged landscapes of Norway gave rise to a distinctive approach to church construction. The wooden structures, named for their unique vertical posts or "staves," were once prevalent across northwestern Europe. With steep roofs adorned by dragon heads and intricate carvings, stave churches reflected a fusion of Christian and Norse pagan influences. Stave construction, characterized by vertical wooden columns connected by horizontal elements, defined these churches. While the extensive use of wood posed preservation challenges, it also contributed to their aesthetic appeal. The roofs, often steeply pitched with overhanging eaves, featured decorative ridge ornaments and dragon heads, adding a touch of Norse mythology. Elaborate carvings on portals depicted religious scenes, mythological figures, and intricate patterns. Some stave churches adopted a cruciform floor plan with multiple naves, enhancing their visual and symbolic significance. During the early Middle Ages, stave churches flourished in Scandinavia, particularly in Norway, serving as places of worship and community gatherings. Most existing Norwegian stave churches were built between 1150 and 1350. It's estimated that as many as 1000-2000 stave churches were constructed during the medieval period, likely found in nearly every village in Norway. In contrast, only 271 stone churches were built during the same period, with 160 remaining today. Comparatively, Sweden boasts 900 and Denmark 1800 medieval stone churches. Provisions in the Frostating Law and Gulathing Law suggest that stave construction was the norm, despite the Catholic Church's preference for stone. Before the Reformation, all wooden churches were constructed using stave techniques, with only one or two small churches possibly built with timber framing. Timber framing, introduced around the year 1000, was a younger technique in Norway than stave construction. Stave construction remained largely unaffected by timber framing techniques. The majority of stave churches were situated in less populated areas, such as mountain valleys, forested regions, fishing villages on islands, and smaller fjords. Stone churches were prevalent in cities, along the coast, in wealthy agricultural areas, and in the largest church parishes in fjords on the Vestlandet. Few new churches were built in Norway during the 1400s and 1500s. By the mid-1700s, most Norwegian stave churches had disappeared, replaced by churches constructed with timber framing. Some stave churches underwent modifications or expansions in the 1600s and 1700s, such as the conversion of Flesberg Stave Church into a cruciform church with a timber framing extension. Fires, storms, avalanches, decay, and the need for larger spaces led to the demolition of most stave churches to make way for new constructions. In 1650, around 270 stave churches remained in Norway, but 136 disappeared in the following century. By 1800, 95 stave churches still stood, and over 200 former stave churches were known by name or through written sources. From 1850 to 1885, 32 stave churches were lost, with only Fantoft Stave Church disappearing since then. If you've been following my previous blog posts, you may have read about Luster and its surroundings, home to the Urnes Stave Church. Regarded as the oldest preserved stave church in Norway, it was constructed around 1130, potentially incorporating parts from the 11th century. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its original stave construction and intricate carvings, blending Christian and Norse motifs, offer a glimpse into medieval wooden architecture. Despite its diminutive size, it sparks a wealth of imagination. There are approximately 180 standing stave churches today, with the following list featuring the most prominent ones. I added links to Google-maps for easy location marking in anticipation of your epic road-trip through Norway ;). Urnes Stave Church : Ornes, Luster municipality - Oldest preserved stave church with intricate carvings blending Christian and Norse motifs. Borgund Stave Church : Borgund, Laerdal municipality - Well-preserved with a distinctive triple nave design, dragon heads, and decorative carvings. Heddal Stave Church : Notodden municipality - Largest stave church in Norway, featuring an impressive size and intricate carvings. Kaupanger Stave Church : Sogndal municipality - Modest in design but historically significant, dating back to the 12th century. Hopperstad Stave Church : Vik municipality - Richly decorated portal and intricate carvings, dating back to the 12th century. Gol Stave Church : Gol municipality - Reconstruction showcasing a blend of stave church and Gothic architectural styles. Torpo Stave Church : Aal municipality - Reflects medieval origins and preservation efforts, with influences of both stave church and Gothic styles. Lom Stave Church : Lom municipality - Unique combination of Romanesque and Gothic elements, one of the largest stave churches in Norway. When going to Lom, have a look at the article I wrote previously . If you find yourself in Oslo, you also have the opportunity to see a stave church. In the late 1800s, the stave church from Gol was deconstructed and resurrected in what is now the Norwegian Folk Museum on Bygdøy, Oslo.

  • Stay: wooden dwellings for lovebirds: a stay in Valdres natur- og kulturpark

    Old places have something special. I can't quite describe it, but perhaps a soul? It is certainly a fascinating idea that people have lived and experienced their lives in certain places for hundreds of years. Vasetstølen is no exception, and I think that's why it appealed to me so much when I first visited. In the 16th century, Vasetstølen was a summer farm where the cattle could graze on fresh grass and herb-rich vegetation somewhere right in the middle of the Valdres area. Especially in autumn, when nature begins to change colors, it is a gift to enter here after a long walk. The fireplace crackles, and a bowl of rømmegrøt warms you up. Do not expect refined cuisine here, but rather dishes based on tradition. This place is particularly worth visiting for those who want to experience the simplicity of classic Norwegian farm life. If you are looking for a special place to stay in Valdres natur- og kulturpark, I have a wonderful recommendation for you: Herangtunet Boutique Hotel in Heggenes. I have never slept there myself (my inlaws have a cabin nearby) so in that sense I do not have any skin in the game, but I once looked around and I was completely overwhelmed. The interior has a kind of rugged grandeur with suites in various styles and themes. And just look at the location! I can picture myself with a blanket on my lap, next to a bonfire with a hot coco in my hand. Absolutely stunning. Additionally, they offer all sorts of activities that will immediately make you understand why I completely fell for Norway. In any case, are you in love? Or about to? Book a night or two. You’ll leave a different person. By the way, the surroundings of both Vasetstølen and Herangtunet are stunningly beautiful. There are numerous beautiful hiking trails, and if you feel like picking blueberries or mushrooms, the lower-lying forests are a goldmine. Here, you also have a good chance of encountering reindeer. I have seen a large herd pass by multiple times in the area, both in winter and summer. It's good to know that you shouldn't get too close to them. Especially not in winter. They have a lower heart rate during that time to conserve energy and might not run away if you approach them. But that doesn't mean they don't get stressed. So keep your distance, ok? All in all, a stay in the Valdres area is like food for your soul. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Oslo Airport (OSL). Public transport really takes forever to get you there, 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: the king's speech; lunch on Bygdøy

    When you take a glance at Google Maps, it becomes apparent in no time. A lot of woodland, ginormously expensive houses, and some charming beaches. The abundance of museums in the area is hard to miss as well. And don't get me wrong, go ahead and visit them all. Bygdøy is truly a splendid spot to while away a day. But immersing yourself in culture and gawking at posh villas can work up an appetite. Now, here's where it gets intriguing because I have an impossible choice for you. A picturesque botanical greenhouse or a tiny island without a road access, requiring a boat trip to reach it. First and foremost, let's talk about the greenhouse: Kongsgården Gartneriet Café . As the name implies, it's part of the property owned by the Norwegian royal family... or something like that. Now, I'm not necessarily a fervent fan of monarchies, but if I had to choose, it would be the Norwegian one. The best speech ever delivered by a monarch came from the Norwegian king . It gives me goosebumps just reminiscing about it. Anyway, let's return to Kongsgården Gartneriet Café. First things first, I highly recommend going there on a regular weekday, slightly past midday. The waiting time can get a bit lengthy on weekends. It won't come as a surprise that most of their delectable dishes are crafted using locally grown vegetables and fruits. The flavors are sublime, and the location is equally splendid yet utterly inconspicuous. Whether you spot it on Google Maps or happen to stumble upon it, it blends seamlessly into its surroundings. If you happen to have an insatiable craving for fish and chips or succulent shrimp, Bygdøy might not be the ideal spot. Instead, go to Lille Herbern . You'll have to hop on a tiny ferry from Bygdøy, which takes a mere one minute to whisk you away to a dock. From there, a stroll of a few minutes will lead you to an enchanting little cottage with a vibrant terrace. Sailors, hikers, and couples on romantic rendezvous gather here for a bite and a sip. It's an atmosphere of carefree joy, and their fish and chips are the bomb. The choice is yours: a verdant haven inside a greenhouse fit for a fairy tale, or a hidden gem on a secluded island. Whichever path you choose, culinary delights and captivating experiences await in Bygdøy. Aye!

  • Drink: A guide to the best cup of coffee in Oslo, according to me

    Allow me to begin by stating that Oslo is a veritable haven for coffee aficionados (and, naturally, for pastry enthusiasts, though that is a topic for another day). Thus, I thought it would be delightful to present you with a list of recommendations for places that I believe serve the best coffee in Oslo. Given that debating taste is a futile endeavour, I shall limit myself to venues that have truly charmed me and where you can procure excellent coffee. Let us not complicate matters further. This list is in no particular order, so number one is not necessarily the best (but it is certainly the coziest)! Fuglen Initially, I frequented this spot solely in the evenings for an exceptional cocktail or a beer. It was only later that I found myself drifting by during the day. They now boast a slush machine that crafts a splendid tonic and espresso slush. A treat for connoisseurs. Their 'regular' coffee is delightful as well. Moreover, it attracts a fine international clientele alongside the more enigmatic, trendily attired Gen-Zers with intricate tattoos and principled canvas shoulder bags. I must confess a great fondness for mid-century interiors, and Fuglen is a remarkably authentic example of such. Håndbakt The name alone—Hand-baked—evokes a sense of artisanal excellence. They offer a superb lunch menu and their slow-dripping filter coffee is a masterpiece. This is one of those places that tourists rarely stumble upon, as it is rather discreetly located. A complete injustice, in my opinion. I am quite fond of this part of the city! Tim Wendelboe A coffee institution named after its founder and absolute coffee champion, Tim Wendelboe. Need I say more? I do not frequent it often, as it is far from my usual weekday routes. However, if you find yourself in Oslo and possess a discerning palate, do visit for a cup of coffee elevated to an art form. Oslo Raw The density of pastel-clad influencer girls here is somewhat high, which I find a bit off-putting. Nonetheless, the cakes, tarts, sandwiches, and coffee served here are of world-class quality. Do not be deterred; settle in for a cup of coffee and marvel at the exceedingly attractive clientele who, for some reason, populate the streets of one of Oslo's most expensive districts. Solberg & Hansen In terms of quality, Solberg & Hansen are arguably among the finest coffee makers in Oslo. If one could earn a PhD in coffee making, the team at Solberg & Hansen would certainly graduate with honours. Additionally, they are situated right by Mathallen in Oslo, which has become an institution for an unparalleled culinary experience. With numerous stalls offering dishes from around the world, this is an absolute must-visit when you are in Oslo. Kiosk! The cutest little coffee shop in Oslo. Housed in a former petrol station and transformed into a coffee house following a neighbourhood crowdfunding campaign. The coffee is excellent, but the story behind its establishment is an even more compelling reason to stop by. Lille Oslo Kaffebrenneri A charming spot with self-roasted beans and a particularly cosy back garden where you can enjoy your coffee in typical Oslo surroundings. Possibly the best coffee in the city. Yet, as I mentioned in the introduction, debating taste is a hopeless exercise. Lille Valkyrien Kaffe og Tehus A tiny, adorable coffee and tea house with an excellent selection of superb coffee. Additionally, you can purchase beans to brew your favourite cup at home. It is situated on one of the longest, yet most tourist-unknown, shopping streets. Here you will find a wealth of marvellous shops and boutiques.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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: a guide to Valhalla; when and where to see the northern lights in Bodø

    The Northern Lights have inspired some of the most dramatic tales in Norwegian mythology. The Vikings celebrated these lights and believed them to be the earthly appearances of gods. Other Nordic cultures, however, held a sense of trepidation towards them. They wove tales of horror and developed superstitious rituals in hopes of safeguarding themselves. Odin, the supreme deity and lord of Åsgard, commanded reverence and admiration from all Vikings. It was their belief that Odin chose warriors who met their end in battle upon Earth, guiding them to Valhalla. The Valkyries, mounted female warriors clad in armor with spears and shields, were tasked with ushering Odin's chosen warriors to Valhalla. The Vikings perceived the Northern Lights illuminating the sky as reflections of the Valkyries' armor as they traversed from the battlefield to Odin. In other Norse legends, the Northern Lights were believed to be the breath of brave soldiers who fell in combat. In yet other tales, they were seen as Bifrost, the bridge linking Asgard and Midgard, ferrying warriors to their final resting place in Valhall. For the Sami people , the Northern Lights did not recount tales of heroism and bravery. Instead, they regarded it with a mixture of fear and respect. The sight of the Northern Lights signified something ominous. It was thought to be the souls of the departed, and it was taboo to speak of it. Interacting with the light by waving, whistling, or singing underneath it was deemed perilous, as it could become aware of your presence. The belief held that the light might descend and carry you to the heavens, or worse yet, sever your head if it discovered you! Many Sami individuals still prefer to stay indoors when the Northern Lights grace the sky, just to be safe. No matter your perspective, it remains a phenomenon that captivates the imagination, even mine. I spent around three years in the far south of Norway, residing in Kristiansand. I frequently checked my alert app, hoping for a chance to witness the Northern Lights. I succeeded once, following a massive solar flare eruption. However, it was a bit underwhelming. I had ventured to the darkest corner of the city in the dead of night, ascended a hill, and caught a fleeting glimpse of a tiny, curtain-like, white cloud for a mere four seconds. Now, living considerably farther north (near Oslo) in an area with minimal light pollution, I am treated to multiple occurrences of the Northern Lights each year. In fact, there are times when I stand in my kitchen and chance upon white-green curtains dancing above the valley through my window. Each time, I find myself in utter awe and I take tons of pictures. If you happen to visit Norway between October and March, you stand the greatest chance of catching a glimpse of this extraordinary phenomenon. Yet, there are certainly no guarantees. Firstly, the (celestial) weather conditions must be favorable. A nocturnal sky with minimal cloud cover is desired. Ideally, a solar flare eruption directed towards Earth and potent enough to produce the Northern Lights. Then comes a measure of luck. You might find yourself sound asleep, missing the spectacle entirely. That happened to me countless times, waking up the next morning to seeing the most amazing pictures other people took. Nevertheless, you can increase your odds. Begin by selecting your destination. Trondheim, for instance, lies notably farther north than Oslo. Yet, the optimal choice would be Arctic Norway, locations situated on the latitude of Bodø and upwards. If you're truly dedicated, seek accommodations further removed from cities, boasting a clear northern view, and preferably featuring expansive windows. Let me provide you with the most amazing accomodations close to Bodø. yet far from city-lights in order to increase your chances: Manshausen The Arctic Hide away Folvika Northern Retreat Also, consider installing a Northern Lights app . You could even activate notifications alerting you to heightened solar activity and the subsequent chance of witnessing this luminous display. However, it bears repeating that there are no certainties. It's a bonus for those with good patience and karma if you will. Good luck! **Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Bodø Airport (BOO). From there 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: an 11-year cycle at its peak; 2024 is the best year to witness the Northern Lights.

    You may have caught wind of recent news if you're reading this in early October 2023. Perhaps you've seen reports that the Northern Lights were visible as far south as France. Yes, you read that correctly— the Northern Lights were seen in France. According to accounts, they were visible to the naked eye and certainly with a good camera and a slightly longer exposure. The fact that the Northern Lights were observable so far south is neither a coincidence nor an exception. Every 11 years, the conditions for seeing the Northern Lights are exceptionally favorable. I'll spare you the scientific details, but in essence, the sun rotates in a way that a region on its surface with frequent solar flares becomes more directed towards Earth. Because of the 11-year cycle being at its peak now; 2024 is the best year to witness the Northern Lights. Therefore, there’s no time to lose to plan your journey north to witness this incredibly impressive phenomenon. However, as you hopefully understand, there are no guarantees. While you're preparing to spend an entire night gazing at the sky, it might happen that on that very day, it's overcast, or there simply hasn't been enough solar activity. Unfortunately, your travel insurance doesn't cover this, and suing the Norse gods won't be of much use as they do not speak any English. Nevertheless, as mentioned, your best chances are during the winter and early spring, as well as late autumn of 2024. Therefore, I thought it fitting to compile a list of fantastic locations for you that are not only worth a visit on their own but also ideal for Northern Lights viewing. Let's set off, in no particular order: Trevarefabrikken is quite an institution in Arctic Norway. It's one of those places you immediately want to be a part of. You want to become a fixture there. You want to be friends with the bar staff. And perhaps, you might even fall in love. Well, it's a dangerous place because there's a chance you won't want to leave. In brief, what makes this place special is, firstly, its location—right by the sea, with mountains in the distance and a vast sky stretching above you (which is crucial when you come here to see the Northern Lights). Moreover, there's remarkably little light pollution because it's so remote. Additionally, it's a kind of cultural hub. If the misfortune befalls you that it's cloudy for three days and rain is beating against the windows, your trip to Northern Norway won't feel wasted. As I mentioned, you feel immediately at home here. As an interior enthusiast, I'm particularly pleased with how the rooms are designed— a bit 'rough around the edges,' as it's sometimes described. Still, exceptionally tasteful and unpretentious. The communal spaces also feel warm and pleasant despite the industrial character of the building itself. When leaving, your suitcase will probably be a bit more heavy due to the weight of all the beautiful experiences and encounters you've had at Trevarefabrikken. If you're looking for more privacy, I highly recommend the newly opened (September 2023) WonderInn Arctic . This tried-and-true concept of beautifully furnished and secluded small cabins, with fantastic beds and, more importantly, huge glass walls providing a magnificent 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 what's happening in the sky. Or you observe the Northern Lights from your own hot tub. Nothing wrong with that either. Moreover, WonderInn Arctic is incredibly isolated, giving you a pleasant sense of insignificance. The nearest airport is about an hour's drive away (EVE). The Arctic landscape and the expansive view make this WonderInn one of the most extraordinary memories. This is a dream location with limited capacity. I'm not joking when I say that if you plan to come to Norway next winter, it's advisable to book your overnight stay here now. Regular hotels might still have a bed available, but these exceptional places sell out. Better safe than sorry! Aera - Panorama Glass Lodge is a place in the same class as WonderInn, but here, the feeling of luxury and privacy is just a bit more significant. You sleep under a large glass window, in a very spacious bed, and you really don't need to leave your room. Here, you bring your life with you. Your dinner is brought directly to the cabin, where the staff sets up a lovely table for you, just like in a restaurant. Enjoy your private dinner while waiting for the Northern Lights to appear outside your window. You truly don't have to think about anything, allowing all attention to be directed towards each other and the tremendous window, with the opportunity to witness one of the most spectacular natural phenomena that exist. I mean, this is where I’d easily spend a week winding down and forgetting there’s a world out there. Lastly on my list is Varanger Lodge . And now, we find ourselves at the very end of the world. I have recently fallen a bit in love with this area. Not just because of the unbelievable beauty of the landscape and the unique flora and fauna, but also due to a tremendous fondness for the Norwegians who live here. They are a different kind of people—down to earth, warm, and incredibly helpful. Varanger is a magical place. Numerous herds of reindeer roam around, seemingly unconcerned about people or cars. Anyway, I won't allow myself to be tempted again to write in lyrical terms about this part of Norway. For that, you can read what I previously wrote about Vardø . Wherever you decide to go, I wish you a fantastic journey, and do let me know through Instagram how it went and where you've been. I'd love to hear from you. **Getting there (or anywhere): it is most likely you'll arrive at an airport. In this remote part of the world public transport eats up a lot of your time. 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.

  • Stay: a cabin in Norway; here's how to find the most spectacular ones

    As I traverse through this magnificent land called Norway, I am often overcome with a strong desire to acquire a charming holiday cabin somewhere. However, reality often throws a spanner in the works. Firstly, it's a rather costly venture. The other hurdle is that the distances here are so tremendously vast that, apart from a few weekends, it's often not worth the effort. But fear not, for a solution now exists. You may be familiar with all the commonly used rental platforms, but forget everything you know about them. A new platform has recently emerged: Landfolk. What sets this platform apart is its focus on breathtaking locations, exquisite interiors, and well-equipped holiday homes of high quality. To cut to the chase, through Landfolk, you have the opportunity to stay in the most spectacular locations without having to break the bank. To convince you, let me share a few tips about areas that hold a special place in my memories. I previously wrote an article about Luster and its stunning surroundings. And that's where I'll take you first. Not long ago, two brothers decided to build a small holiday cottage high above the Lusterfjord. Nestled high above the Lusterfjord, you find yourself in a completely different world. From the terrace, you have a breathtaking view of the mountain ridges and lower villages along the fjord coast. Additionally, you enjoy the sun here until late in the evening, which isn't always a given in such mountainous areas. The bedroom is on the second floor, allowing you to keep your curtains open without worrying about curious sheep or foxes, so you can fully appreciate the magnificent view. Moreover, the cottage is tastefully decorated. Once you're here, you won't want to leave, so you'll have to accept that risk. Get a sneak peek here. The nearest airport is Sogndal, from where you can drive to Skjolden in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you prefer something more rustic, then Bygstad is the perfect place for you. A beautifully restored farmhouse from the 12th century in a romantic farmer style. It doesn't get more spectacular in terms of landscape than the Norwegian west coast (of course, I may be a bit biased), and you stay right in the midst of it. The farmhouse is situated at 230 m above sea level and is perfect as a basecamp for excursions to Storehesten, Lisjehesten, the Skaraly day trip hut, and Bergsheia. This is a perfect spot when you're traveling with, for example, another couple or children. As the farmhouse consists of multiple buildings, you can retreat to your own space and gather again for breakfast the next morning. Furthermore, it's close to the Førde airport, which you can reach within an hour's flight from Oslo with Widerøe. I've previously described Senja in one of my articles. It's so breathtakingly beautiful that I've been contemplating how to return there as soon as possible for the past 6 months. Maybe I should leave it up to you. Because if you're truly seeking an exotic location, then Bjarkøy might be the right choice for you. Far above the Arctic Circle, surrounded by mountains and right by the sea, stands an incredible holiday home . The house is located in the northernmost archipelago of Norway, with 365 islands and islets, white sandy beaches, and Arctic swimming waters. The sea offers the opportunity for both boat and land fishing, and there is easy access by ferry, making day trips to Senja, Lofoten, Vesterålen, and Narvik easy-peasy. The view is surrealistically beautiful, and you have all the space and amenities you could wish for. A total of 5 beds, a sauna, a hot tub, and a pizza oven are just a few of the many features this house offers. If you're still not convinced, perhaps I should consider hanging up my blogger hat. No, I won't...of course. If you're planning to visit any of these cabins, it's very wise to reserve a car in advance. Since these areas are rather rural and remote, the availability of rental cars is limited. I'd suggest to reserve one right away as soon as your plans are a bit more specific. Check here for availability .

  • 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.

  • Eat: in the spirit of Jeff Koons; the best dumplings in Norway

    Setting aside the fact that I never truly embraced full adulthood, one could roughly pinpoint my entrance into maturity somewhere around the mid-first decade of the new century. It was likely during that period that the premises, which now houses Norway's best dumpling restaurant, must have served an entirely different purpose. Reflecting on the past, I vividly recall my initial visit to this establishment years ago on a freezing February evening, and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by a gentle wave of nostalgia. The ambiance struck me as a peculiar blend, reminiscent of both a social room in a carehome for the elderly and a classroom from the late '90s. The Golden Chimp is situated on a corner of two streets within the district of Grønland. Grønland stands as Oslo's most "international" neighborhood, where the rich diversity of ethnicities subtly echoes all the armed conflicts of the past four decades. Personally, I find comfort in such areas, although I understand that the sentiment might not be shared by everyone. But I wonder off. I was contemplating and describing the interior of the venue. The walls are sparingly adorned with kitschy artifacts, peculiar images, and an occasional odd primate. And this brings me to the name: Golden Chimp. I'm uncertain of its origins, yet it brought to mind that (deeply ugly yet perhaps trailblazing) artwork by Jeff Koons, featuring the likeness of Michael Jackson and that peculiar little ape, which you can find at the Astrup Fearnley Museet here in Oslo. Nevertheless, the reason for my current reflections revolves around the fact that I have never savored such delectable and extraordinary dumplings before, and likely never will again. I would say these are the best in Oslo, if not in Norway. The ingredients they use are of exceptional quality, and their ability to surprise and delight knows no bounds, all the while staying firmly within the parameters of what I would describe as comforting cuisine. I would be eager to dine there when returning home and realizing the fridge is entirely bare. I would bring my Tinder date here, and the next. Your parents would probably love it. When in need to nurse your Sunday-afternoon hangover; Golden Chimp. When life feels overwhelming in general; Golden Chimp. If suddenly your Korean in-laws would happen to suddenly grace your doorstep and you're a terrible cook; Golden Chimp. When solitude calls and everything and everyone else can take a back seat, this is the perfect spot to relish your own solemn company.

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