A good place
Architecture that makes you feel great
There are some places you come to …
… where you just want to stay forever.
Places where you can connect to the earth and mother nature …
… sharpen your senses and connect you with others.
Places where you want to stop and take a break …
… and where you can get a new perspective on things.
“Is it a building? Is it a landscape? Is it a sculpture?”
Jenny B. Osuldsen, Professor of Landscape Architecture
Or is it simply the community spirit?
Is it the drive to be human, to engage all our senses, and construct shelter in raw and remote, impossible places?
Or in urban epicentres.
Can one convert something exclusive and traditionally elitist, like an Opera house, into a free, beloved, public space?
Sometimes you visit a place, a building, a small community, or even a city neighbourhood, and it feels very good to just be there. But what is it that makes a place give you that feeling, and where in Norway can you find these amazing locations?
What makes a place a good place?
Architecture, design and human inventiveness can be powerful means to change a place or a specific space. And influence our minds and the way we feel. A former ghost town and abandoned fishing village can be turned into a creative and artistic hub. A human shelter can be located on a remote cliff, in the forest, or outside a busy urban hospital.
A building can provide room not only for your body, but also for thoughts and new perspectives.
But how can architecture, design and human creativity transform a place? How can it enhance the good qualities, the opportunities, the innovative spirit of a place, making both visitors and locals feel comfortable, at ease, and energised?
Why is this a good place? Why do people feel comfortable here?
Opera for the people
“It's not just the building. It's always the site and the context, and it can also be the people that are there. It could be almost anything,” says Jenny B. Osuldsen, Professor of Landscape Architecture and partner at Snøhetta, considered one of the most innovative architecture firms in the world.
“If we manage to create a building that provides that little extra something … Then that's really how we like architecture. To actually move us as people,” she continues.
Snøhetta designed one of Norway's most successful structures in modern times, the Opera House in Oslo. You always find a lot of people walking all over its roof, enjoying a date, chatting, climbing, and running. Or just listening to music, watching the glittering Oslofjord. You can also swim at the adjoining Opera beach or dive off a sauna boat, before putting on your high heels and heading over to see a revamped staging of Elektra.
A place with a twist
But this is not the only place that brings art to the people.
“I remember the first time I arrived here. I parked my car, and thought that I was in the wrong place. How can there be an art museum out here?” says Kate Smith, curator at the Kistefos Museum, an art centre that has become one of Europe's most impressive and unique art venues.
Once a rundown wood pulp mill far out in the woods, an hour's drive outside Oslo, the huge, beautiful museum and sculptural park at Kistefos in Hadeland has been filled with some of the world's best contemporary art, inspiring people from all over the world to flock there.
Art for everyone
Here, playful kids and grannies, nature lovers and art lovers alike, can all experience many of the world's most famous contemporary artists, like Yayoi Kusama, Olafur Eliasson, Bjarne Melgaard, Tony Cragg, Elmgreen & Dragset, Fernando Botero and Jeppe Hein, to name a few.
“People are moving more freely in the space here, and there is much more informal interaction with the art. Whereas other art galleries can be a bit imposing, here at Kistefos people can be out in the nature, taking a stroll in the forest, and then suddenly come across wonderful international level works of art,” says Kate Smith.
The most striking building, the one that really put the place on the world's art map, is the The Twist art gallery, which also acts as a bridge and viewpoint, designed by Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG). Or is it a huge sculpture in itself?
How do you revive a rundown wood pulp mill far out in the woods?
Fill it with some of the world's best contemporary art!
The Opera House and Kistefos are just two examples of Norway's good places. We have plenty more buildings, houses, and small and big communities, that offer something extra and that make people happy, relaxed and creative.
Watch our short (10 min) documentary where we ask What Makes a Good Place? Join our journey to find the answer, from the Kistefos Museum, mentioned above, and a modern wooden school that changed the pupils' behaviour and happiness levels drastically, to a cosy cabin that gives seriously ill children and their families a breathing space, right next to the hospital. Visit a luxury hotel that blends into nature and the fishing village that simply refused to die and instead transformed itself into something surprisingly urban.
Check out the list below for a range of good places and unique constructions all over the country.
1. A good place to stay
A whole cutting edge hotel dream carefully built into the surrounding landscape!
There is a good reason why the family owned Øyna Cultural Landscape Hotel, just an hour’s drive from Trondheim Airport, was featured on the Fodor's Travel list of “The 101 Most Incredible Hotels in the World” in 2022.
The views of the Trondhjemsfjord and Fosen Alps from the 18 Scandinavian style rooms on a hilltop give you the sensation of floating in the air, right in the middle of culinary heaven. Hop on a bike and explore the many farm shops, bakeries, and galleries along the Golden Road in Inderøy.
You can experience many good places to stay in Norway, where the hotel is the destination. Check in to the award winning Juvet landscape Hotel, Manshausen, or, not at least, our lovely historic wooden hotels, including Dalen Hotel, Hotel Union Øye, Walaker Hotel, and Utne Hotel.
2. The road to good architecture
Let the journey be the destination!
Embark on a road trip through landscapes with unique natural qualities, along coasts and fjords, mountains and waterfalls, and experience how art, design and architecture can elevate the dramatic scenery surrounding you and bring you even closer to nature.
Head to one of the 18 selected drives called Norwegian Scenic Routes, which have been transformed into architectural wonders. Discover surprising art, beautiful walks, spectacular viewpoints, and not at least: The world's most beautiful (and expensive) toilets!
3. An urban fishing village
Fishing boats, art, gourmet food, and a state-of-the-art recording studio!
Learn how the dozens or so inhabitants of the quirky fishing village of Nyksund, in Vesterålen, turned an empty, spooky, rundown fishing village on the edge of the North Sea to one of the most surprising and delightful destinations in Northern Norway, with several restaurants, galleries and quaint hotels.
Nyksund is only one of several small and cosy fishing villages, called fiskevær, that dot the Norwegian coast. They are often found in remote places, surrounded by stunning nature. They have sheltered fishermen and their families for hundreds and hundreds of years, and still have a very authentic and homey feel.
4. A shelter with a view
We all need shelter. Especially when the wind and the weather get rough, not an uncommon occurrence in Norway …
You then need a cosy and beautiful place to slip inside. The Norwegian architects in Biotope combine the field of architecture with a deep passion for nature. They have designed some of the world's most beautiful and award-winning nature shelters, birdwatching and photography hides, and day cabins, all over Norway that are open for everyone.
Enjoy the silence, the changing light, and the views, such as from the Øksfjord mountain day cabin in Northern Norway. Don't forget to bring your binoculars!
5. A (st)roll among the treetops
A good place must be accessible for all. An excellent example of this is the Tretoppveien board walk, located among the treetops in Fyresdal in Telemark. Roll or stroll the 2.5-km-long wheelchair accessible route to the circular viewpoint at Hamaren Activity Park. Bring your own lunch and enjoy a picnic at one of the rest areas with stunning lake views.
You should also check out the picturesque and wheel-friendly Stovnertårnet tower walk, which takes you among the treetops in Stovner in the northeastern part of Oslo.
Entry is free for both.
6. A cosy retreat
A good place is like a warm embrace, providing an instant sense of being both inside and outside at the same time.
For more than a thousand years, Norwegians have built cabins to shelter us from the cold winter nights. This is where we come to relax and unwind, to gather in front of the fireplace, read books, play family games, and have quality time with our friends and loved ones.
Almost all cabins are made of wood, from cosy, traditional, old fashioned log cabins, to modern chalets with huge windows that let the nature and light flow inside. Some cabins are even found among the treetops!
What's your favourite: modern or traditional?
7. The harbour promenade
Traffic. Heavy industry. Noise. Just a few years ago, the harbour in Oslo was definitely not a good place to be.
Today, the oceanfront in Oslo has opened up towards the beautiful Oslofjord, and the former roads and industrial areas have been transformed into vibrant new neighbourhoods filled with museums, restaurants, cool architecture, and a lot of floating saunas and sun decks.
The whole coastline is now also accessible for everyone, making the Havnepromenaden harbour promenade one of the most exciting waterside paths in the world. The entire route is 9 kilometres long, but you can of course choose to cover only parts of it, or rent a city bike!
8. Wooden wonders
From ancient Viking long houses, traditional stave churches, and cosy log cabins to the white, traditional wooden villages of Southern Norway and cutting edge, sustainable buildings.
Norwegian wood architecture has roots going back more than a thousand years, and tells the story of our country. Timber has always been the building material of choice, a living and breathing thing that can resist both storms, rain, and snow, and remain strong and healthy through generations, when maintained properly.
These days, Norwegian architects are taking wooden buildings to a new level, and are constructing high rise towers and modern office spaces in this magical material. These are places that make us feel so good, so at home.
9. Historic farms
Authentic, cosy and full of history.
Many Norwegian farms have been in the same family for many generations, and have recently opened their doors to visitors. Some even have roots in the Middle Ages, while a visit to others is like travelling back in time to the 19th century. In several places, old traditions are combined with modern features, creating an interesting and dynamic atmosphere.
Stay in rural luxury and eat excellent locally sourced food from the farm, or enjoy cosy and rustic lodgings in smaller, operative farms. Bring the whole family for a holiday that's close to nature, where the little ones can cuddle sweet farm animals and try their hand at farm activities.
10. Living libraries
Do you need an electric bike? A guitar? Or a nice place to study or work?
Norwegian libraries offer so much more than just books on shelves. Many are prime examples of groundbreaking architecture and a social hub, buzzing with lively debate and hosting intriguing talks. They can even be a place you go to play the guitar, or to repair a pair of trousers.
Several of our libraries are considered some of the most beautiful in the world! Check out the stunning Deichman Bjørvika in Oslo, named the world’s best new public library, the library in Vennesla, and even more stunning Norwegian libraries.
What is a good place for you?
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