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The calm fjords, the busy capital, or the barren Arctic – which Norway do you prefer?

Text: Mikael Lunde

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Longyearbyen, the largest town on the Svalbard archipelago, has a gourmet restaurant and one of Europe’s best wine cellars. Sound urban, does it? Well, think again – this place lies at the very outskirts of civilization, halfway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole. Its kindergarten employees are armed to protect the kids from polar bears.

It’s a place of striking contrasts. And so, indeed, is Norway as a whole – a country that is larger and more diverse than most people probably realize.

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Solstrand hotel & bad
Solstrand hotel & bad.
Photo: Solstrand Hotel & Bad / De historiske

Solstrand: a quiet gem

“A large establishment, with large, magnificent hallways, comfortable stairways, a spacious vestibule with a fireplace, an elegant salon, large rooms with wide beds and verandas outside (…) with all windows facing out towards Bjørnefjorden and the glittering ice desert of Folgefonna.”

In 1903, that’s what the engineer and writer Ole Wilhelm Fasting found at Solstrand hotel & bad – sitting on the water’s edge at the entrance to the western fjords.

The establishment was built a decade earlier by the ship owner and future Norwegian prime minister Christian Michelsen. “It was, for the wealthy of the time, an escape from the stresses of daily life in nearby Bergen”, says its modern day proprietor Pernille Schau-Larsen.

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In a series of round trips by De historiske, you can stay at several of their hotels in one all-inclusive package. Ultimate Norway covers the fjords, the capital city, and the Arctic. Kicked off, if you wish, with a taste of the seasonal menu at Solstrand.

“We have a great shielded location by the fjord, with huge windows letting in the sound of birds and the scent of the sea”, says Schau-Larsen. “Our kitchen is closely tied to the coastal culture. We use fresh root vegetables, fruits and berries, and fish and shellfish, depending on the season. In addition, Bergen has always been a city of trade, so we’ve always had international impulses here.”

Solstrand hotel & bad
Solstrand hotel & bad.
Photo: Ingar Holm

Oslo: Small metropolis

Across the mountains, it’s a rather different world. When Kristian Gahre first came to Oslo several decades ago, he encountered a busy seafront filled with heavy traffic and industry. Coming from tiny Mandal, the capital seemed huge and overwhelming.

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The hotel Camillas hus where Gahre works occupies one of the city’s oldest wooden Swiss style villas, centrally located right behind the royal castle. It is named after Camilla Collett, the Norwegian author who once lived there – in what was then pretty much the city’s first suburb. “When it was built in 1845, this was practically the countryside”, says the hotel host Mario Rego.

At the turn of the century, this is where the successful car dealer Bertel O. Steen established his business. The hotel restaurant next door, Ni & Tyve (meaning “twenty-nine,” after the street address), was his private residence and still retains the atmosphere of a private house and garden. It serves Mediterranean food with a Nordic twist.

Urban meditation

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“I believe Oslo may be the only city in the world that has a metro system made to transport passengers out of the city,” says Flemming Nilsen, the general manager at luxurious Lysebu in the forest close to the Holmenkollen ski jump. A ten minute walk from the hotel there is, indeed, a metro station (above ground), where city people exit with their skis or mountain bikes.

“It’s a stark contrast to the higher tempo of the city. When you come to the hotel, we want you to leave behind your stress and problems”, Nilsen says.

Apart from its location and history, Lysebu is best known for its award-winning restaurant and the world-class wine cellar. Many of their ingredients are from their own garden, and they have a seasonal menu. “Sensory experiences are a large part of what De historiske is about: the atmosphere, the architecture – and the food.”

A taste of the Arctic

If Oslo represents Norway’s urbanity, then Svalbard lies at the opposite extreme. The archipelago ranges from 74° to 81° north latitude – or, in simpler terms, considerably further north than most people will ever go.

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For him, Svalbard is first and foremost a place full of surprises. Actually, the first surprise is the fact that the settlement exists at all. “Many are startled by the fact that Longyearbyen is such a thriving community”, says Heio. The town has more than 2,000 inhabitants and even sports a gourmet restaurant.

The restaurant is called Huset, meaning “the house”. And at Svalbard, it really is The House, serving as the town’s natural gathering place since its construction in 1951.

At this unlikely place – where you’re not to walk outside without an armed escort, and where any temperatures above zero degrees Celsius usually means “summer” – this is a place where Huset’s cellar keeps upwards of 20,000 bottles of wine. It is one of the finest collections in Northern Europe.

After a long day spent hiking, taking a boat trip along the coast, or visiting the nearby Russian mining town (!), it’ll probably taste extra good.

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Huset, Svalbard
Huset, Svalbard.
Photo: Svalbard Adventure Group


Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, midway between the mainland and the North Pole. Almost two thirds of the 61,000 square kilometre archipelago is covered in massive glaciers. The islands are large indeed – include them in Norway’s total land area, and the country will be larger than Germany.

Longyearbyen is the largest settlement, but there are others – including the Ny-Ålesund research station, the Norwegian mine at Sveagruva, and the Russian mining community of Barentsburg.

The Svalbard Islands are known for their incredible nature and wildlife, the mines and research facilities, and the much-publicized Global Seed Vault. And, of course, Huset’s wine cellar.

Historic Hotels & Restaurants in Norway

The city, fjords and Arctic round trip
Beautiful hotel located in the heart of fjord Norway only 30 kilometers from Bergen and the airport. High standard, great views and spa facilities. Read more
Solstrand Hotel & Bad
First-class boutique hotel with seven unique guest rooms in a house from 1845. Camillas Hus is located in an quiet area behind the Royal Palace,… Read more
Camillas Hus
Hotel at the top of Holmenkollen with 85 guest rooms, a restaurant and banquet and meeting facilities. Hiking trails, ski tracks and a ski resort are… Read more
We opened the doors to the newest department at Svalbard Hotell & Lodge in February 2015. With 31 brand new rooms, newer and better facilities, we… Read more
Svalbard Hotel | Polfareren
Huset Restaurant is regarded as one of Norway's best restaurants, with its focus on Nordic techniques, local raw materials and critically acclaimed… Read more
Huset Restaurant
Rallarvegen “the navvie’s road” tour
Cycle Rallarvegen and stay at the Historic Hotels Finse 1222 and Fretheim in Flåm.
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Finse1222 is the hotel which is located on the highest point of the Bergen Railway, 1222 meters above the sea level. Finse is only reachable by train… Read more
Finse 1222
Rallarvegen, the old works road alongside the Bergen Railway and the Flåm Railway (Haugastøl – Finse - Myrdal - Flåm) is Norway's most popular… Read more
Rallarvegen - The Navvies’ Road
Each year, several hundred thousand visitors arrive in Flåm to ride the Flåmsbana Railway, cycle Rallarvegen, or go hiking in the dramatic… Read more
With our history as a source for inspiration, Fretheim Hotel can offer close encounters with the best of the Sognefjord culture, local tastes and… Read more
Fretheim Hotel
Ægir is our very own brewery, which opened in 2007 and is one of the best craft breweries in Norway. The building is inspired by Norse mythology… Read more
Ægir BrewPub
Historic hotels
Det Lille Hotel offers 17 comfortable "maritime suites". The suites are unique and are tastefully furnished to reflect the town's rich seafaring… Read more
Det Lille Hotel Maritime Suites Risør
In the old village Sogndalstrand - around 1,5 hours drive from Stavanger - you will find Sogndalstrand kulturhotell. In its newly restored wooded… Read more
Sogndalstrand kulturhotell
We offer comfortable rooms and apartments of hotel standard. TV and Wi-Fi in all rooms. Dining facilities with a first class à la carte… Read more
Vertshuset Røros, Rooms and apartments
Beautiful small hotel close to the University, railway station and walking distance to city center. Read more
Hotel Park
Hotel at the top of Holmenkollen with 85 guest rooms, a restaurant and banquet and meeting facilities. Hiking trails, ski tracks and a ski resort are… Read more
Grand Terminus is centrally located in the city center opposite the railway station and bus station. Charming hotel with an elegant, classic style. Read more
Grand Terminus
Høyevarde lighthouse is an exclusive and unique cultural heritage. When you arrive at the location, either with boat or car, you will feel… Read more
Høyevarde - Lighthouse hotel
Enter the new oasis of Grand Hotel Egersund! We have recently expanded our hotel to 101 rooms with a total accommodation capacity of 200 guests. We… Read more
Grand Hotel Egersund
Welcome to Røros Hotell! One of the largest hotels in the area, with 157 comfortable rooms in different sizes. We are a family-friendly hotel,… Read more
Røros Hotell
Nermo Hotel is a small, family run hotel dating back to 1877. At Nermo, you will find warm hospitality, friendly staff, first-class food and a… Read more
Nermo Hotell
Fru Haugans Hotel in Mosjøen is North Norway's oldest hotel, and has been in operation since 1794. The hotel is located in the charming Sjøgata, along… Read more
Fru Haugans Hotel
With our history as a source for inspiration, Fretheim Hotel can offer close encounters with the best of the Sognefjord culture, local tastes and… Read more
Fretheim Hotel
Hotel, meeting facilities and banquet rooms on an island in Drøbaksundet, 35 kilometres south of Oslo. Oscarsborg also has galleries,… Read more
Oscarsborg Hotel & Resort
Bergen's oldest family-run hotel with a fine combination of modern, prize-winning interiors and traditional style. Centrally located in Bergen city… Read more
Augustin Hotel
Throughout the year, guests can find peace and tranquillity at Engø Gård, a well-preserved idyll where the memories of yesteryear that give the place… Read more
Engø Gård Hotel & Restaurant
Squeezed in between the Hegge Fjord and Jotunheimen, Norway’s highest mountain range, in the Norwegian province of Valdres, one can find the… Read more
Herangtunet Boutique Hotel Norway
A.D. 1600 - 48 rooms Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri is located on one of the beautiful islands in Austevoll municipality, south of Bergen, with the sea and… Read more
Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri
Lillesand Hotel Norway is a full service hotel located in the middle of Lillesand city center, just a stone's throw from the pier and the skerries. Read more
Lillesand Hotel Norge
Rederiet Hotel, located in the town centre, is a natural choice for accommodation, small courses and conferences in Farsund. Read more
Rederiet Hotell
Sola Strand Hotel is located by the sand dunes at Sola beach, outside Stavanger on the west coast of Norway. Read more
Sola Strand Hotel
A small hotel in the center of Røros, right next to the church. The building dates from the 1600s and is marked by the same atmosphere as the other… Read more
Refsnes Gods has a lovely location, with a large garden sloping pleasantly down to the Oslo Fjord. Read more
Hotell Refsnes Gods
Finse1222 is the hotel which is located on the highest point of the Bergen Railway, 1222 meters above the sea level. Finse is only reachable by train… Read more
Finse 1222
One of Norway's oldest hotels, with a unique combination of modern comfort and venerable traditions dating back to medieval times. Sundvolden is… Read more
Sundvolden Hotel
In Balestrand, beautifully located beside the Sognefjord, lies Kviknes Hotel. The Kvikne family have been the hosts here since 1877. The… Read more
Kviknes Hotel
The hotel enjoys a beautiful southern view that comprises Suldalsvatnet lake and the village of Nesflaten. The hosts and staff do their utmost so that… Read more
A 5-minute drive from Sandnes city centre, Kronen Gaard Hotel offers elegant, traditional accommodation in quiet surroundings. Each of the modern… Read more
Kronen Gaard Hotell
Røisheim Hotel, in the beautiful Bøverdalen Valley, consists of 14 preserved buildings, mostly from the eighteenth century. All the buildings have… Read more
Røisheim | Hotel
Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel is a small hotel with 15 rooms and several large living rooms. The hotel is situated next to the fjord and has panorama view… Read more
Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel
In the heart of Sandnes city center, a one-minute walk from the train station and right on the cozy pedestrian street called Langgata, lies one of… Read more
GamlaVærket Hotell & Restaurant
In the village of Øye by the Norangsfjord you will find one of the most distinct hotels in all of Europe. It has been a place where visitors come to… Read more
Hotel Union Øye
Hotel Ullensvang is a first class hotel, owned by the same family in 5 generations throughout more than 160 years. Located in beautiful surroundings… Read more
Hotel Ullensvang
Do you like good atmosphere, good food and autentic coastal culture? If so, Knutholmen and the fishing village of Kalvåg is a place you will enjoy.… Read more
Bergen Børs Hotel is located right in the heart of the city. The old stock exchange is now an exquisite hotel with a delicate classic / modern style. Read more
Bergen Børs Hotel
Fredriksten Hotel is situated on the historical ground of Fredriksten Fortress. Through centuries major battles and tough negotiations has been played… Read more
Fredriksten Hotell
Have you seen the TV series "The heavy water war"? You now have the opportunity to stay in this historic villa that was used as the home of the Hydro… Read more
Rjukan Admini Hotel
Historic hotel in the centre of Drøbak, a small town by the Oslo Fjord 35 kilometres south of Oslo. Reenskaug is a modern hotel with all types… Read more
Reenskaug Hotel
Are you looking for a unique place packed with activities to spend your holiday? Look no further. The innermost part of the mighty Sognefjord offers… Read more
Walaker Hotel
Hotel, conference facilities and banquet rooms in historic surroundings at Kongsvinger Fortress, 95 kilometres from Oslo. The fortress was built… Read more
Festningen Hotel & Resort
Dalen Hotel is a beautiful fairytale hotel build in 1894 in grand romantic style with dragon heads, towers, pinnacles and balconies. Read more
Dalen Hotel
Beautiful hotel located in the heart of fjord Norway only 30 kilometers from Bergen and the airport. High standard, great views and spa facilities. Read more
Solstrand Hotel & Bad
An oasis for the good life. Savour the flavours of a bygone era in the restaurant, wake up to the smell of newly-baked bread fresh from… Read more
Haaheim Gaard
The outer walls of Hotel Brosundet extends directly into the waters of Brosundet, Ålesund’s true town centre. Hotel Brosundet offers a… Read more
Hotel Brosundet
The hotel has a spectacular location on top of the Stalheimskleiva - overlooking the Nærøydalen valley. Lounge which is adorned with an… Read more
Stalheim Hotel
Utne Hotel is one Norway's oldest hotel in continual operation, licensed since 1722. It was founded in 1722 by Sergeant Børsem, who was granted… Read more
Utne Hotel
Losby Gods is set in an area of natural beauty offering a broad variety of outdoor pursuits and recreation. The manor's main attraction is the… Read more
Losby Gods
Historic restaurants
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Oslo's oldest venue for artistic and cultural events offers personalised hospitality and rich experiences in a setting of historic atmosphere and… Read more
Gamle Logen meeting and concert venue
Private dining facilities in a lighthouse right outside the Bygdøy peninsula, where it has welcomed guests to the harbour of Oslo since 1874. Dyna Fyr… Read more
Dyna Fyr
Værtshuset ("The Inn") is a classic and timeless place. Our "Norwegian-inspired Kitchen" has mainly Norwegian food on the menu. Read more
Værtshuset Bærums Verk
In the inner parts of Fredriksten fortress we find Restaurant Curtisen, with a fantastic kitchen on historic ground. Read more
Restaurant Curtisen
Bergen's oldest known tavern, the Altona, dates back to approx. the 17th century. Read more
Altona Vinbar
Bryggen Tracteursted serves traditional food based on solid craftsmanship a modern cuisine inspired by Norwegian and Hanseatic traditions. Read more
Bryggen Tracteursted
Røros' oldest café in the middle of Kjerkgata. Home-made food, tasty and varied daily fare. Sandwiches – cakes – light meals… Read more
Statholdergaarden is Bernt Stiansen's gourmet restaurant. In 1993 Stiansen became Norway's first culinary arts world champion. The restaurant, with… Read more
Historic restaurant in the city's original city hall from 1641 Read more
Gamle Raadhus Restaurant
Elegant brasserie at Akershus Fortress with views of City Hall Square and Aker Brygge. Read more
Festningen Restaurant
Gourmet restaurant in a functionalist-style building with stunning views of the city Read more
Summer restaurant in a historic building considered to be one of the main works of Norwegian functionalist architecture. Here you can come straight… Read more
Ingierstrand Restaurant
Fløien Folkerestaurant from 1925 is one of Bergen's most distinguished restaurants, situated on Mount Fløyen, with a spectacular view over Bergen. Read more
Fløien Folkerestaurant
Huset Restaurant is regarded as one of Norway's best restaurants, with its focus on Nordic techniques, local raw materials and critically acclaimed… Read more
Huset Restaurant
A restaurant for memorable culinary experiences and a cosy atmosphere, both in- and outdoor. The bar features an open hearth and a modern café.… Read more
Lothes Mat & Vinhus
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