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Romantic Norway

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Romantic Norway
From Mother Nature’s epic light shows to boutique hotels hidden away in beautiful forests, Norway offers plenty of options for couples seeking a romantic escape from the intrusions of the real world.
By David Nikel, AFAR Local Expert
Photo Courtesy of Johan Wildhagen/visitnorway.com
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    Journey to the North Cape
    Getting to the northernmost point in mainland Europe is all about the journey. The vast plains of Finnmark county, picturesque fishing villages, the barren yet beautiful Magerøya island, and sharing the narrow roads with reindeer are just some of the memories you’ll take away. The North Cape itself has a modern visitor center with plenty of space to relax even when the crowds come at midnight for a glimpse of the almost-setting sun. Spend the night at one of the campsites near Skarsvåg for a more personal evening with the midnight sun.
    Photo Courtesy of Johan Wildhagen/visitnorway.com
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    A Lofoten Road Trip
    Few places offer more dramatic scenery with the comfort of warm accommodation close by than Norway’s Lofoten archipelago. Stock up for your trip in the main town of Svolvær, making time to catch a boat to the imposing Trollfjord, accessible only from the water. The drive along the island’s only highway becomes ever more impressive, with more rugged mountains and stunning beaches around every turn. Grab a fish burger to go from Anitas Sjømat before arriving at Lofoten’s most photogenic region—the delightful village of Reine and the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum at Å deserve at least a full day.
    Photo Courtesy of Kjell Ove Storvik/visitnorway.com
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    Charmed by Ålesund
    Norwegian towns are characterized by their whitewashed wooden buildings and simple architecture. Ålesund is the exception. Surrounded by water with a clear view to the dramatic Sunnmøre Alps, the coastal town stands alongside Prague, Budapest, and Riga as a fine example of art nouveau architecture. Visit Jugendstilsenteret museum to learn how the city was rebuilt in the style of the time following a devastating fire, before climbing the steps to Fjellstua at the top of the town mountain to admire the buildings from above. Ålesund is also an ideal base to explore the romantic Hjørundfjord, a fjord that has all the beauty you expect with less of the crowds.
    Photo Courtesy of Mattias Fredriksson/visitnorway.com
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    Bergen’s Quieter Side
    Escape the crowds of the Bryggen wharf and instead spend the day exploring art history at Bergen’s KODE. The art museum’s vast collection is spread over four buildings surrounding a lake, and it creates a peaceful spot to stroll despite being in the heart of the city. Take a break from the galleries to enjoy a coffee or light lunch at Smakverket, where you’ll find a chalkboard menu packed with the day’s specials. Mix things up with some architecture by taking the light-rail out to Fantoft Stave Church, reconstructed using authentic materials and techniques following a fire in 1992.
    Photo Courtesy of vistibergen.com
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    Historic Trondheim
    Many visitors are charmed by the historic feel of Trondheim’s compact center, almost entirely surrounded by the Nidelva river. The wooden houses and cobbled streets of the Bakklandet neighborhood line the eastern side of the river; share a sticky cinnamon bun in one of the sidewalk cafés. For something more substantial, Bakklandet Skydsstation offers a herring buffet and reindeer stew, among other Scandinavian favorites on the menu, but it’s the intimate interior and traditional decor that will stick in the memory. Cross the photogenic Gamle Bybro bridge for a wonderful view along the river before visiting Nidaros Cathedral, the world’s northernmost medieval cathedral. The sculpture-laden West Front is a must-see, as is the Norwegian crown regalia.
    Photo by Tom Gustavsen
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    An Arctic Experience
    Tromsø is known as the Paris of the North with good reason: The biggest city in Arctic Norway will charm the pants off of you. Whether for the northern lights in winter or the midnight sun in summer, take the Fjellheisen cable car up to the Storsteinen mountain ledge for an ideal vantage point. The Arctic Cathedral is best known for its late-night concerts held daily throughout the summer season, while the city’s vibrant nightlife is worth exploring. A stop at Sweet Heart is recommended to refuel with some traditional Scandinavian candy, or find the ideal gift for the sweet-toothed friend or relative.
    Photo by Yngve Olsen Saebbe
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    Big City Romance
    While the fjords and fishing villages of rural Norway win the romance stakes, a stay in the capital offers plenty for couples. Wander past the upmarket boutiques of Frogner to reach Vigeland Sculpture Park, home to more than 200 works of art and surrounded by open parkland—the perfect spot for a lazy picnic. A shopping village might not be everyone’s idea of romance, but the atmosphere at Bærums Verk is worth the journey. The former ironworks has been largely preserved, and its riverside location is picture-perfect. Back downtown, book well in advance for a table at the in-demand Maaemo. Chef Esben Holmboe Bang sources the ingredients for his multicourse Michelin-starred feasts from biodynamic farms and foraging trips to the mountains.
    Photo by Tuuka Koski