Lillehammer is a small city of about 20000 inhabitants located about 180 kilometers north of Oslo. Situated directly on the northern end of Norway’s largest lake, Mjøsa, and at the beginning of one of the the country’s main valleys, Gudbrandsdalen, it has been an important merchant town for almost 200 years.
Norway has a long and proud tradition when it comes to winter sports and Norwegians are generally very serious about keeping this tradition alive for future generations. In fact, this tiny little country with just over 5 million inhabitants have won more medals at the Winter Olympics than any other country.
By many considered to be one of the best Winter Olympics ever arranged (and its not just us Norwegians saying that), the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994 is still very much alive in many Norwegians minds. In Norway in general, but especially in this region of the country, you can easily make some friends by casually bringing this up in a conversation.
Located about 16 kilometers from Lillehammer, one of the largest cities in the region, Hafjell is a winter wonderland for both kids and adults alike. Hafjell is a large and complete alpine ski centre with 44 kilometers of slopes and a varied selection of runs for everyone from the beginner to the very advanced.
Sometimes you want to go far away and explore new countries and cultures, and sometimes you just want a little break from your everyday life. Norway is blessed with an amazing array of recreational opportunities all over the country, and you rarely have to go far to experience something out of the ordinary.
Due to a heavy workload over a long period of time, we desperately needed to get away for a bit, but we didn’t have the time to go on a “real” vacation. So when you live in the Oslo area, what do you do? You either go to the mountain or you go to the sea.
We chose the latter and decided to go to the Tjøme archipelago, about an hour drive south of Oslo. This part of Norway has lots of cute little towns as well as quiet secluded areas where you can relax and rewind. It’s a popular destination for Norway’s rich and famous, and even the royal family has a summer home here, so expect to pay a premium on Norway’s already outrages prices for food, lodging and pretty much everything else.
We have been in Stockholm once before and really fell in love with the city, so when our plans to visit Denmark and Germany this summer fell through due to a misunderstanding around Rabies vaccination for our dog Gwen, we decided to revisit this beautiful capital of Sweden once again.
Last time we visited Stockholm we only got to see the inner city area, but we have heard so many good things also about Stockholm’s surrounding areas and decided to make this the main focus for our trip this time.
We pre-booked a 5 day stay at Hotel Birger Jarl in the Norrmalm neighborhood of Stockholm, which is the same hotel we stayed at the last time we visited the city. It may not be the most adventurous approach, but when you travel with your dog it’s nice to have some degree of predictability. We were – and continues to be – impressed with the hotel’s facilities for dog owners, including gift bag for the dog in your room upon your arrival, special tables in the restaurant so you can bring your dog with you to both breakfast and dinner, and just a generally positive atmosphere and attitude towards your pet. Continue reading…
Sweden’s capital Stockholm is the largest city in Scandinavia and offers a great blend of old Swedish culture and a fresh cosmopolitan atmosphere. It is a city of remarkable beauty, spread across 14 islands in Lake Maleren. The city’s location on and around the lake gives it both its charm and uniqueness, and is a source for countless possibilities for activities and adventures.
Stockholm has a population of approximately 1 million people and is divided into several distinct areas, each with its own draw and “personality”.
Hotels in Stockholm are quite pricy but the hotels keep a high standard and the hospitality level is second to none. The most expensive hotels are generally in the city centre and the prices are more reasonable if you stay in the suburbs or between the city and Arlanda International Airport. There are also a number of more affordable accommodations such as hostels and motels.
The city’s history dates back to the 13th century and can be experienced even today in the historic part of town, “Gamla Stan”. This must-see collection of historic forts, castles and buildings is not just a testament to the past but is a living, breathing part of the city with loads of cute small shops, bars and restaurants. Here you will also find The Royal Palace, home of the Swedish royal family. Parts of the castle is open to the public, and you can buy your entrance tickets either on-site or online. And if you would like to live among the Royals, there are actually a number of hotels nearby, including Scandic Hotel and Hilton.
Ormøya & Malmøya
This island is a small hidden gem just outside downtown Oslo. Just a five minutes’ drive south-east of the city center, it is also easily accessible by bike or even by walking. Being located close to huge industrial areas on the harbor it does not look like an inviting area when you drive down from Oslo, which is exactly why it is such a hidden gem. Once you get to the island you will be amazed by the small town feel and tranquility of the area. There are expensive mansions as well as small, well-kept cottages on the island and specially in the summer months the island is an amazing place to relax and walk around.
Ulvøya is an inhabited island in the inner part of Oslofjord, only 8 kilometers from the Oslo city hall. It is located just east of the Malmøya and as Malmøya is connected to the mainland by bridge. The island is known for its excellent beach, Sydstranda (South Beach), which appropriately is located on the south end of the island. The island has been inhabited since at least the 16th century and today has about 1000 inhabitants.
Lysaker / Vaekero
What used to be an industrial area on the western outskirt of Oslo has now been turned into somewhat of a gem with restaurants, apartments and even a beach. A hub for high paced IT companies such as Microsoft, Oracle and Computas, the area also offers a more laid back atmosphere once you step away from the office areas.
You can walk here, or ride your bike, along the waters edge from downtown Oslo. It is a beautiful route that will take you about 45 minutes by foot and it is well worth the calories spent.
There is a number of small beaches scattered around the area, but the main one is probably the one most suited for families with children. The beach is mainly pebbles, but there are a few sandy spots in between.
Gothenburg and its surrounding areas is a beautiful and tranquil part of Sweden with something to offer to almost every traveler.
Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest with a population of just over half a million people and the city is located on the Swedish west coast on the mouth of the Gota river. The size may not seem impressive and even though the city is dwarfed by her bigger sister Stockholm, Gothenburg has no problem holding her own. It has the largest port in the Nordic countries and is the host of some of the largest events in Scandinavia, including the Gothenburg International Film Festival and the Gothia Cup football tournament.
Downtown Gothenburg boasts a mix of small town charm and metropolitan style that makes it decidedly unique, and the main boulevard Kungsportsavenyn – or just Avenyn among locals – is a great place to sit people watching at one of the many excellent outdoor restaurants in the area. The city has a progressive and open-minded atmosphere due to a large number of students, which makes street life both multifaceted and inviting.
This peninsula on the west side of Oslo is one of the main summer recreation areas for Oslo’s own inhabitants. You can get to Bygdoy by car or take bus #30, which departs every 10 minutes from Oslo S, National Theater, etc. In the summer you can even get there by ferry from downtown Oslo which departs from the harbor next to the City Hall.
Here you will find the Viking ships museum, the Fram museum dedicated to Norway’s polar explorers, and the folk museum, which is a collection of Norwegian buildings from around the country.
Naturally these museums are mainly frequented by tourists from Norway and abroad, but the recreation areas that are so loved by the locals are just a few stone troughs away.
Just an hour and a half’s drive south from Norway’s capital Oslo you find a wonderful coastal area with scenic pathways and endless views of the ocean. The area is on the southernmost point of the Tjøme archipelago and is aptly named Verdens ende (World’s end) with its unobstructed views into the horizon. It can be quite busy in the middle of the summer, so if you have the opportunity to go on a warm spring or autumn day, you may get to enjoy a bit more of the peaceful tranquility the area has to offer than if you visit during the buzzing summer vacation weeks.
On the road down from Oslo, you should try to get the most out of your trip into this beautiful part of Norway by making a stop at the city of Tønsberg, and some of the small villages around the Nøtterøy and Tjøme municipalities.