But the oil boom has boosted its profile – and its bank balance. Furthermore, Norway is the world’s third-largest exporter of oil (behind Russia and Saudi Arabia). This explains why the capital city, Oslo, can afford to have heated pavements. Also, why it’s in the process of building a host of must-see sights. These include the harbour-front “ship-proof” opera house, which is protected by an underwater barrier from runaway ships (Norwegians are nothing if not thorough).
Younger visitors will appreciate The Museum of Children’s Art, which offers a “pleasant – and warm – afternoon”, says The Observer.
The Engø Gård hotel is the perfect base from which to explore the city. It “manages to be both luxurious and quaint” and its restaurant, which “uses local seafood to great effect”, boasts the Royal Family among its regulars. And when you want to see more of the country you don’t have to go far. Just head to the Vippentangen port, a 20-minute walk south of the city centre. The 93 ferry travels into the inner Oslo fjord and “within seconds you feel miles from anywhere”, says Benji Lanyado in The Guardian.
For a more active trip, ski fans will love the uncrowded slopes of Hemsedal, 130 miles from Oslo, Norway.
Despite Scandinavia’s cross-country ski-ing reputation, Hemsedal offers plenty to keep downhill-only types amused, says Jeremy Wright in the Sunday Express. The “modern, yet sympathetically developed resort” has 22 lifts and 48 slopes. Furthermore, its compact size makes it ideal for a family ski holiday.
Parents can easily keep an eye on younger children, while thrillseeking teenagers are entertained by the “distinctly scarylooking off-piste options”. If you tire of the slopes, Hemsedal Huskies will take you on a dog-sledding safari. Or you can turn your hand to snow-mobiling. And when you’re ready to eat, the Skarsnuten Hotel restaurant is not to be missed, thanks to its “breathtaking panorama of the mountains and exquisite food”, says Wright