A few Scandinavian Traveler tips for places where you’ll enjoy a dreamlike old fashioned Christmas.
Along with the perfect, white setting, the people of Tromsø offer plenty of warmth and fun at Christmas. First and foremost, you should check out the city restaurants. In recent years, the city has gained a couple of really good restaurants, Smak at Skippergata 16 b, and Mathallen, that's run by Gunnar Jensen, Captain of the Norwegian Young Chef Team 2020. If you fancy testing your limits, but in a good way, you can actually jump in the sea on a trip with the spa boat, Vulkana. It's an old fishing smack converted into a sauna boat that offers trip to sea, where you can enjoy a glass of something good. And when you feel ready, you can take a dip in the sea.
Every year, they build a gingerbread city with an incredible 2,000 buildings made of gingerbread dough and decorations in Bergen. You find it in KODE Lysverket, up to 31 December 2019. Would you like to see the famous fjords in the area around Bergen between Christmas and New Year? You can take a guided fjord tour to Nærøyfjorden, Flåm and Stegastein, from 26 – 30 December. The wild fjords with small houses clinging to the steep sides are an amazing sight.
Røros was founded as long ago as 1646, a couple of years after copper ore was discovered in the area. The Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage began conservation work as early as 1922 and the spectacular mix of continental and local architecture led to Røros being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. The commercial and culture fair, Rørosmartnan, is widely known, but Christmas is also a good time to visit Røros. There's a delightful Christmas market here in the run up to Christmas. It's an opportunity to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, make decorations, take in a concert and plenty more. There are also plenty of great places to stay at here. Røros Hotel is one of many hotels that are open over Christmas and they serve a substantial Christmas dinner with ribs, lute fish and mutton.
Many people love creating angels in crisp snow and testing new skis and sledges on slopes. In Sälen in Sweden, you’ll find an area with an incredible 157 slopes, 157 lifts and 350km of cross country ski trails spread over seven centers. The days may not be that long but you can look forward to golden winter light as the cold bites you on the cheeks. Many places offer a magnificent Christmas buffet. Sälens högfjällshotel is one of them. Here, you can either book for Christmas itself with fantastic food and fun on the slopes outside, or check in between Christmas and Twelfth Night.
They love Christmas in Gothenburg. The first Christmas market opens as early as late November. You can buy pretty much everything at the markets, from slippers for dad to art, while you perhaps munch on a toffee apple or something else sweet and fattening from a cabin. While we're on the subject of food: The Christmas buffets in Gothenburg are packed to the proverbial gunwales. You can book a traditional Christmas buffet at Villa Belparc or maybe you fancy trying any of the four restaurants with Michelin stars in the city. No trip to Gothenburg is complete without a visit to Liseberg Amusement Park. Thousands of Christmas lights are lit here in December. Beer is part of Christmas and in Gothenburg you can genuinely taste plenty of new brews. There are many exciting breweries in the city that you can visit to taste what's brewing, such as the Vega Brewery that offers tours with tastings.
The county town of the Baltic island of Gotland, east of Stockholm, is a very lively place in the run up to Christmas. That people actually find time to go to work, is a miracle. The first Christmas Market opens as early as the weekend before Advent Sunday. That's followed by other markets, concerts and fun activities. Visby was founded in the 12th Century and between 1250-88, a 12-meter high wall was built around the city. With such historic roots, it's little wonder the people of Visby love to show that the city is a Medieval treasure, ideally by creating a party atmosphere. They organize a Medieval Christmas every year, with archery, music and Medieval food. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a generous Christmas buffet. Many hotels here offer Christmas package deals with accommodation, Christmas buffet, many of them also include spa facilities and other attractions.
That the Danes are the gold medalists in hygge, is clear to see judging from the number of books on hygge that have been published in recent years. Århus dines very well in this respect. In the outdoor museum Den gamle by, with building from 75 locations, you can take a historic journey through Christmas traditions. How did they celebrate Christmas in the old cottages? You can also do some Christmas shopping on the cobblestone streets in the beautiful Latin quarter. In Denmark, they eat delicious pork or goose stuffed with apples and plums at Christmas, both guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Gæstgivergården serves old fashioned Christmas dishes.
Ribe was founded in 700 CE and is considered to be the oldest town in the Nordic countries. The Vikings were the first settlers here, but the narrow streets with half-timbered houses from the Medieval era are what will catch your eye. Either way, with Christmas lights and decorations and the scent of baking and roasting pork drifting into the air from the restaurants, only a Scrooge would not be happy at Christmas. On the city square, you’ll find a delightfully nostalgic market with tombola, mulled wine and wonderful Christmas presents to take home for someone you love. You can also go skating on the excellent ice rink. Ribe is just 62km from Billund Airport. If you’re really nostalgic, you can check into the oldest hotel in Denmark, the Dagmar, for Christmas and New Year's Eve and the days in between.
The Christmas Market in Helsingør is held in the castle that was built between 1574 and 1585 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The annual market has around 80 cabins that sell fantastic products. Plus dancing round the Christmas tree and other fun and games. To get your trip off to a truly nostalgic start, you can take the Christmas steam locomotive train from Copenhagen Main Station. You can enjoy a brilliant Christmas lunch at Den røde Cottage, that’s been awarded one plate in the Guide Michelin. Helsingør is also close to Louisiana Art Museum, where after admiring the exceptional artworks, you can do some Christmas shopping in the museum store, for people who like presents with plenty of thought behind them.
Text by Inga Ragnhild Holst
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