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High design cities in Europe

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Scandinavia
Every detail at this former farm has been carefully executed to focus on one thing, and one thing only: Its spectacular natural setting, now part of a nature preserve near the southwest coast of Norway. Its award-winning design—all nine...
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Scandinavia
Trolltunga (Troll's Tongue) is a challenging hike in Skjeggedal, Norway. It is one of the most rewarding hikes I have ever done. It wasn't crowded and the views were incredibly beautiful. It took us about 5 hours to reach the ledge of the...
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Kirkeveien, 0268 Oslo, Norway
When I visited Vigeland Park on a beautiful sunny day last August I simply couldn't believe my eyes. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. Absolutely breathtaking... I spent hours there wandering around the...
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Grüners gate 1, 0552 Oslo, Norway
Tim Wendelboe is a micro roastery in a happenin' little neighborhood in Oslo called Grünerløkka. It's a cozy place with only a few chairs, but you can order and stand at the bar or take a cup to go as you stroll the streets. You won't find sugary...
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Strandpromenaden 2, 0252 Oslo, Norway
The once seedy Tjuvholmen, or “Thief Island,” is the city’s newest arts district. Its showpiece is the Astrup Fearnley Museum, which reopened last September in an elegant, sail-shaped complex designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. The open...
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Kongeveien 26, 0787 Oslo, Norway
One of Oslo’s most recognizable landmarks is a former sanatorium designed in the “dragon style,” an ornate Norwegian variant on Swiss chalet architecture. Next door sits the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, rebuilt for the 2011 Nordic World Ski...
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Brynjulf Bulls plass 1, 0250 Oslo, Norway
The Nobel Peace Center was opened in 2005 and is absolutely fascinating…and very humbling. It was established by Alfred Nobel (who was Swedish) in his will. He gave no reason for this but some feel it was to assuage his guilt over being the...
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Sommarøy, Norway
Situated upon the northern tip of Norway, Tromsø is an arctic gem well worth hopping on that 2 hour flight from Oslo. The city itself is reflective of its inhabitants; friendly, slow-paced and possessing a beauty so natural and fresh you have to...
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Jernbanetorget 1, 0154 Oslo, Norway
The historic former train station, the Østbanehallen, now houses the Comfort Hotel Grand Central. Rooms feature bold graphics by Norwegian-American artist Ariel McMillion and views of the Oslo Fjord or the shopping street Karl Johans Gate. Book...
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Harbak, Norway
The island of Stokkøya, just off Norway’s west coast, is for people whose idea of a “wild” beach retreat means untouched dunes, not all-night DJ dance parties. Stokkøya Sjøsenter began as a campsite but now offers accommodations for every budget....
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0553 Oslo, Norway
My favorite Oslo memory was shopping at their Sunday flea market. During the week the neighborhood is alive with locals shopping at boutiques, sipping their morning coffee at one of the many cafes or simply walking their dogs through Birkelunden...
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Undredal, Norway
Undredal is a sleepy village nestled in a valley in Western Norway. It is famous for its brown goat cheese, or "gjetost," which is produced by eight farms using traditional methods. Undredal welcomes tourists and is accessible by an access road...
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Lille Øvregaten 14, 5018 Bergen, Norway
This gorgeous place in the heart of Bergen was just begging to be an AFAR highlight. Board games, books, homemade cupcakes, vintage gramophones, folk indie music and disparate couches and tableware are precisely what makes this small café so...
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Nærøyfjord, Aurland, Norway
You can cruise the fjords by either going on the "Norway in a Nutshell" tour or doing it on your own. Getting to the fjords isn’t as easy you think. You need to take a series of trains, buses and ferries. After a lot of research, I found that the...
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Sollivegen 12, 9020 Tromsdalen, Norway
The Fjellheisen cablecar in Tromsø, which takes you up Mount Floya, operates 24 hours in the summer, when the Arctic sunshine stays with you all night. Whether you're planning to hike or merely to stand and gaze at the view of the...
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Finse, 5719 Finse, Norway
Finse, an easy-to-miss railway stop high in the mountains on the popular Bergen-to-Oslo train route, draws hardy urbanites year-round. The town offers access to some of the most remote and beautiful alpine hiking territory in southern Norway...
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Orrestranda, Klepp, Norway
You don't associate the cold Norwegian climate with beautiful beaches, but all the 60 km long coastline between Stavanger and Brusand is a walk along some of the most beautiful beaches in Scandinavia or Northern Europe. You can take the train to...
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Scandinavia
My husband says I can find a place to shop anywhere. Sure enough, in the fishing village of twenty permanent residents on the tiny island of Ona, Norway, I managed a purchase from one of only two shops - both pottery studios. On a whim, we had...
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Nordnesparken, 5005 Bergen, Norway
It was August, so it seemed a perfectly sensible idea. I'm in Norway, land of the fjords—let's go for a splash in one! Bergen has a lovely little lido that offers you just that opportunity. Sure, you can swim in its heated outdoor pool, but the...
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Lysebotn, Norway
When visiting Norway, be sure to spend a day in Lysebotn, where base jumpers leap from mile-high cliffs over the fjords. There is a vibrant little community here, a fun bar and a few hostels and hotels. You can camp if you're on a budget, and the...
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Strandvegen 166, 9006 Tromsø, Norway
If you live in Tromso, the northernmost city in the world, you work in either the oil or the fishing industries. Since an afternoon out drilling for oil didn't seem much fun, my sister and I made our fishing debut out on the Signe I, a...
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Hans Nilsens vei 41, 9020 Tromsdalen, Norway
Many visitors are surprised to learn this cathedral's striking modern design dates to the 1960s. The soaring triangular structure is visible from downtown Tromsø, although taking a bus or cab is recommended as the walk across...
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Kongeveien 5, 0787 Oslo, Norway
You can’t go to Oslo in the winter without checking out the Holmenkollen Ski Jump. It just so happens that the FIS World Cup occurred the weekend I was there. The ski jump is 60 meters/197 feet high! This is a popular place for not only ski...
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Huk Aveny 35, 0287 Oslo, Norway
This small museum houses 3 unearthed Viking Ships and I found the history fascinating. I didn’t realize that the Viking burial ceremony was similar to the Egyptians. Their belief was that the dead needed food and drink (2 oxen were killed and...
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Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavík, Iceland
The weather outside may be frightful, even in summer, but the waters of the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa in Iceland are always delightful. We visited the Blue Lagoon Spa during an 8-hour layover in Reykjavik. All inclusive round-trips are available...
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Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Opened in 2011, Reykjavík's Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre is not only the most significant classical music venue in Iceland (home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera), but also one of the country’s...
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Geirsgata 8, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
They call it The Sea Baron, but ironically it's as cozy as you could wish for. This tiny restaurant is one of the oldest on Reykjavík's harbor, and serves the world's best lobster soup. Stay and rub elbows with fellow seafood lovers at the...
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Friðheimar, Reykholt, Iceland
With its jagged landscape comprised of lava rock, Iceland's topography isn't exactly conducive to growing an abundance of produce, but its citizens have devised a clever way around it. Greenhouses proliferate throughout the country, lighting up...
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Mannerheimintie 4, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
The concept store Skanno features two sprawling floors of funky, modern furniture from emerging and established designers. Mannerheimintie 6, 358/(0) 9-612-9440
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For a primer on Finnish style, head to Helsinki’s Design District and take this three-stop tour.

The Design Forum Finland Shop showcases the best of national design, from mid-century wooden sauna stools to stacking vessels by Finnish-German...

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Paasivuorigatan 5 B, 00530 Helsingfors, Finland
The Scandic Paasi hotel opened this summer on a handsome waterfront boulevard north of downtown. One building’s white-tile exterior is strikingly futuristic. Inside, some rooms draw inspiration from the circus, with zebra-stripe upholstery and...
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00101 Helsinki, Finland
In Paris, we're spoiled with bakeries on every corner, reeling us in with the sweet perfume of butter and sugar that wafts onto the street as we pass. In Helsinki, locals should feel fortunate to have Kauppatori, the city's market square where a...
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Hämeentie 63, 00550 Helsinki, Finland
Dating from the early 1950s, Hermanni has deliberately retained mid-century-modern look and offers two wood-paneeld and tiled sauna rooms: one accomodating about 30 men, the other approximately 20 women. You can order soft drinks and snack plates...
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Karlsgatan 15, 00510 Helsingfors, Finland
Founded in 1929 and located in the bohemian Kallio section of Helsinki, Arla offers drinks, snacks, and the traditional Finnish healing technique knowing as "cupping." The tiled sauna rooms feel far more traditional than fancy, with casual and...
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Lönnrotinkatu 29, 00180 Helsinki, Finland
Guests at the new GLO Hotel Art in Helsinki’s Design District can borrow a guitar or painting supplies to unwind before bed. From $173. Lönnrotinkatu 29, 358/(0) 10-344-4100
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Unionsgatan 29, 00170 Helsingfors, Finland
The last day of my 25-day trip ended at the Christmas market by the Cathedral of Helsinki. Truly magical as the vendors are all lined up perfectly looking down from the footsteps of the Cathedral.
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Aleksanterinkatu 36, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
After a few minutes in Minna Parikka's Helsinki boutique, it's clear that the Finnish designer is talented far beyond her years. Her skill at experimental shoe design has caught the attention of top celebrities like Lady Gaga. and Fergie who have...
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Aleksanterinkatu 52, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Christmas windows come alive with creative displays at the Stockmann Departmental store in Helsinki.
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Unlike many other cities like New York, London and Berlin, graffiti artists in Helsinki stick to the rules and only spray where they are allowed, which is this case is a single wall in the Suvilahti area. While this may lesson street credibility...
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Kallio, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
If you are looking for where the bohemians roam free, your best bet is to head straight to Kallio. Located in the east of Helsinki, this district primarily caters to a low-budget student, artist and immigrant population. The general vibe is that...
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Tiilimäki 20, 00330 Helsinki, Finland
Munkkiniemi is a neighborhood thirty minutes away from Helsinki with the tram; it's very exclusive, sophisticated and very green. Once densely populated by pine trees, the pines were replaced by leafy greens as the neighborhood developed. Lots of...
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Sköldungagatan 2, 114 27 Stockholm, Sweden
Twelve distinctive rooms in a restored 1910 brick town-house mix sophisticated touches (marble bathtubs) with comforts such as sheep-skin throws and Scandinavian antiques. Guests have all-hours access to a kitchen with a fridge full of cheeses,...
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Götgatan 49-51, 102 66 Stockholm, Sweden
When I got into Stockholm to meet my friends, they were staying at Hotel Scandic Malmen and it served as a central location for our crazy times and my first visit to Sweden. This hotel was a great home-away-from-home with a funky lobby to top it...
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111 28 Stockholm, Sweden
Permanently docked at Riddarholmen in Stockholm’s harbor with gorgeous views of Gamla stan (Old town), Mälardrottningen Yacht Hotel offers up a taste of the city’s maritime flair. Built in 1924 and converted into a floating boat hotel (“botel”),...
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Mariatorget 3, 118 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Vibrantly decorated with art deco, avant-garde black-and-white portraits, bold Andy Warhol–style artwork, and all the trimmings of a boutique hotel, Rival is a modern hotel owned by founding ABBA member Benny Andersson. Located on Södermalm, the...
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Norrmalmstorg 2-4, 111 86 Stockholm, Sweden
Location, Location, Location. The Nobis Hotel is in an excellent spot for exploring all that Stockholm has to offer. Gorgeous design, fab breakfast, and friendly staff. Free Wi-Fi and water. Do be aware that the standard room is very small.
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Strandvägen 7C, 114 56 Stockholm, Sweden
From Hotel Diplomat, you get stunning waterfront views of Nybroviken, where ferries and steamboats regularly shuttle out to the archipelago. Built in 1914 and located on Stockholm’s most expensive boulevard, Strandvägen, Hotel Diplomat is housed...
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Sveavägen 167, 113 46 Stockholm, Sweden
When it comes to overall value for your money, it’s very hard to beat the chain of 20+ Scandic hotels that dot the city. Find fantastic breakfast buffet spreads with both cold and warm options, free high-speed wireless Internet in all rooms, and...
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Vasaplan 7, 111 20 Stockholm, Sweden
Essentially Scandinavian in terms of modern décor and futuristic ambience, this trendy hotel, located a mere walking distance from Stockholm Central Station, is a living art installation with light shows and other sophisticated effects projected...
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Mauerstraße 81-82, 10117 Berlin, Germany
One of the best things about GatRooms hotels is the premium locations. (The chain has hotels in Lisbon, Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin.) In Berlin the location is just around the corner from Checkpoint Charlie. From there, it is walking distance to...
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Stralauer Allee 3, 10245 Berlin, Germany
Nhow Hotel Berlin is nicknamed the Music and Lifestyle Hotel, mostly because it is the only hotel in Europe that offers two professional music studios, well equipped with recording booth, mixing, and pre- and post-production options. So, among the...
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Warschauer Str. 39-40, 10243 Berlin, Germany
Berlin can make even the hippest Brooklyn hipster feel self-conscious. The city and its residents have an effortlessly edgy style. Staying at the Michelberger is one way to feel like you fit in and mix with the cool kids. Housed in an old factory...