In March of 2019, Kipling & Clark’s content writer/editor and global destinations specialist, Emily, visited Norway and Denmark with her traveling companion to do some scouting of where to stay and what to see. Please enjoy the photos and reading about her favorite things on this scouting trip! Click on the link to read our full Norway & Denmark Private Tour itinerary.
1.) Luxurious Scandinavian Design
Each city we visited featured at least one premiere luxury hotel that seemed to embody the essence of great Scandinavian design — simplicity with a focus on hyggelig (cozy) lighting and the perfect balance of eco-friendly materials and warm textiles.
In Olso, two stand out above all the rest, The Thief and the Amerikalinjen, both by Nordic Choice Hotels. The Thief hotel sits in the hideaway of Tjuvholmen (Thief Islet), once a haven for smugglers and other bandits. Filled with international art pieces and designer furniture collected by the hotel’s owner, Peter Stordalen, it is perhaps the most sophisticated and chic luxury hotel in Norway. Each of the 118-rooms feature private balconies looking out across the surrounding fjords. When visiting, we especially loved the quiet pool and the very nice spa with sauna, steam room, and invigorating cold showers!
We were lucky enough to see the beautiful Amerikalinjen while in Oslo the day after it opened! Once home to the Norwegian America Line, established in 1919, the Amerikalinjen is located in the center of the city, just a short walk to the central train station. The decor is a blend of early 20th-century, in keeping with the building’s history, and modern amenities. Spaces are large and open, as the hotel encourages guests to mingle and move freely from one space to the next. We loved the large terrace area with its glass ceiling, the basement jazz club, and the attached café featuring a daily jazz band! Though the spa isn’t as nice as the one at The Thief, we found the Amerikalinjen to be bright, beautiful, and lively — much more suited to our client’s who travel in with young people and in large groups!
Following our scouting visit, it was clear that the best, luxury hotel in Bergen is hands-down the boutique Opus XVI. As relatives of the late, world-renowned Norwegian composer (and Bergen’s most famous citizen), Edvard Grieg, managing directors Britt Marie Grieg and Alexander Grieg sought to create a boutique experience for guests full of culture and never lacking in luxury. Located just steps away from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bryggen, the Opus has only 65 rooms and suites, each one individually decorated with a blend of classic and modern styles. Enjoy the library, the beautifully decorated dining and lobby areas for afternoon tea, a small gym, and the high-touch Nordic hospitality at this boutique property!
The 90-room, neo-classical (palace) property, Hotel d’Angleterre, is located close to the fashionable Strøget shopping street, is the finest luxury hotel in Copenhagen. Try the hotel’s touted “world’s best hot chocolate” in the Balthazar Bar, as well as the hotel’s outstanding spa, the “Amazing Space Spa.” Most notably, the d’Angleterre boasts the 2013 opened Marchal, a Michelin star rated restaurant.
2.) Exploring rural Norway and the fjords
We feel Norway offers pure, natural allure – it is truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Rural Norway’s amazing, steep-sided fjords, glacial lakes, and pristine rivers, offer a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, fly-fishing, paddling, and more!
While visiting rural Norway, we stayed at the boutique 29ǀ2 Aurland for two nights and it was honestly the best part of our trip. Though currently, the 29ǀ2’s season doesn’t officially begin until April, they were gracious enough to open early for us! To read a complete account of our stay here, please click the link to the full blog post.
On our way from Aurland to Bergen, we took a two-hour fjord cruise from Flåm to Gudvangen aboard a modern, 100% electric boat with amazing views from all angles. Though there was a little bit of rain at first, the weather cleared up and we were able to enjoy the calm, gorgeous fjord views outside on the boat deck, though the inside offered impeccable views as well. Seating was spacious and comfortable and there was even a nice café with hot and cold beverages and tasty treats! This was truly an experience unique to the astounding fjord scenery of Norway and one we will never forget.
3.) Picnic lunches and trendy food halls
Much like Chicago, Scandinavian countries are cold and dark for a large portion of the year, so as soon as the days start getting longer and the sun a little warmer, people head outside to soak in as much Vitamin D as possible. Nearly every restaurant has outdoor seating, open even when it’s still chilly and dressed up with cozy furs and heaters. Locals enjoy bringing packed lunches or grabbing food from a nearby food hall, stall, or café to bring with them on their walks and hikes.
In Oslo, we enjoyed a snack while taking in the view of the Oslofjord from the top of the Opera House. You can walk up the sloping walls of the stunning marble architecture even if you aren’t seeing a show!
On our first day in Aurland, we enjoyed some coffee and cinnamon rolls on our Turlidfossen waterfall hike. The next day, up high in the mountains, we sat down for a delicious picnic lunch, prepared by Bjørn, of smoked lamb sausage and potato salad with serval beverage choices after our Nordic skiing lesson from Tone!
In Bergen, we took the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen, where we enjoyed the stunning view of the city and the surrounding fjords. Here, we munched on a traditional Norwegian skolebrød (sweet roll filled with custard and dipped in icing and grated coconut) from a local bakery before we hiked. You may also choose to enjoy the outdoor seating of the Fløien Folkerestaurant.
In Copenhagen, we enjoyed many pølse from local fast-food favorite, Steff Houlberg. They have food trucks and stands everywhere and a perfect for a quick bite! Torvehallerne Copenhagen, a trendy foodie-haven and indoor/outdoor food hall with endless options. On our first night here, we grabbed a sandwich from a stall here and took it with us down to Nyhavn.