A casual reader of Time Out might be swayed towards the usual long-weekend destinations, to either walk along the Seine that slices its way through Paris, or to become just another number in the line that snakes towards the entrance of the Vatican.
However, in the coming months, perhaps consider the path less travelled, where the hoi polloi won’t swarm and the Canon-toters don’t run riot, and, it being summer soon, perhaps a location far removed from the beachgoers and Havaiana-wearing masses. One such place in which you may find respite is Norway, famed for its ability to meld a city lifestyle with friluftsliv (outdoor living). Indeed, the country, and especially its capital Oslo, has been garnering more attention over the years, partly due to its frequent high-ranking in myriad “happiest countries” indexes – however it is yet to hold the public imagination the way in which its Nordic counterparts have managed to.
To help get you started on exploring this irresistible destination, we’ve set out three Norwegian location for you to consider – an exploration of Oslo; a trip to Bergen, the second city; and an idyllic escape to Norangsdalen, to a renovated hotel classic.
The big-hitter: 48 hours in Oslo
Stockholm and Copenhagen have long been the region’s designated calling cards for visitors and travellers, both urban centres distinguished for their design, fashion and restaurant pedigree. Oslo has yet to have received the fervour and attention that its Nordic-capital peers have been given – its dearth of the high-rise piles typically found in European metropolises may not do much to attract the throngs, but as a city caught between fjords and mountains, there are much finer alternatives to skyscraper-gazing that can be found here.
Fitted out in contemporary artworks by local creatives, such as Camilla Löw and Bjørn Ransve, The Thief bills itself as a creative bolthole in whose 116 rooms, overseen by Anemone Wille Våge, showcase modernist pieces by the likes of Tom Dixon and Patricia Urquiola, and the plush scheme counteracts the stereotypical view of Scandi-Nordic style as sterile and overly muted. Culture abounds in this compact city, notably in the Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum, which houses big-hitters such as Ai Weiwei, Andreas Gursky and Bruce Nauman; as well as at the new National Museum, home to Edvard Munch’s The Scream and slated to open this summer. Ogle at the Opera House, Snøhetta’s glacier-like construction clad in white marble, and take the short drive up to Ekebergparken, for sculptures with a view, or Nordmarka, for a cabin escape in the forest. Sample the progressive cooking at three-Michelin-starred Maaemo, and imbibe envelope-pushing libations at Himkok.
The second city: 48 hours in Bergen
The coastal town of Bergen, in western Norway, partially enclosed by the Seven Mountains that surround it, has built a reputation for inclement weather, but still brings in modest numbers of travellers who come for its proximity to dramatic nature and rows of bold-hued, gabled wooden structures.
Check-in to off-grid Tubakuba, a scrap-timber cabin cantilevered over a mountainside, defined by its cube form and whose entrance brings to mind the shape of a tuba bell; The Hanseatic, closer to town, offers a more homely yet eclectic fit out. For a hit of art, make a beeline for Aldea, where galleries, workshops and residencies mix, or, when needing to scratch the retail itch, try Lot333 for menswear staples from Norse Projects and Andersen-Andersen, and homewares courtesy of Kinto and Frama. Locals count the Vidden trail amongst popular al fresco activities, or head to the peak of Ulriken, the highest of the nearby mountains, for singular views of the city below. Refuel on a shot of Tim Wendelboe-supplied caffeine at Kaffemisjonen, and sample the raw marinated trout at Enhjørningen.
The escape: 48 hours in Norangsdalen
For that classic Nordic escape into rural terrain, we’d nudge you towards the west-coast Norangsdalen, one of the narrowest valleys, and often accepted as the most beautiful, in Norway where remnants of old farmhouses and roads are still evident. The main draw to the area is, however, the recently renovated Hotel Union Øye, once popular with Europe’s upperclasses.
Located in Øye, a fjord hamlet, the accommodation is replete with the usual trappings of a remote luxe getaway home, where a medley of wood panelling, worn-leather seating, fireplaces and herringbone parquet floor abounds. Of all the options, each of which is named after the notable guests who once stayed here, including playwright Henrik Ibsen and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we’d suggest opting for the Torestova, which is a separate building that’s styled on a traditional western-Norwegian farmhouse. Wild swimming, kayaking, and helicopter rides over fjords, peaks and ocean are on offer to guests, and chef Knut Edvard Kjersem’s homage to native produce takes the form of a daily changing menu.
What to pack
Mr P. tapered cropped trousers
Globe-Trotter Centenary Carry-On
Cheaney Ingleborough B hiker boot
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