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There is no need to wait for long summer days to visit Scandinavian capitals. The shorter winter days do not put a city like Oslo to sleep. In fact, it takes on a different persona with scenery dominated by a palette of icy blue and layers of white, like something straight out of a fairytale.
It is true that winter holidays require a bit more wardrobe planning, you will need to layer up with heavy wools. But you will not regret it, especially if you are there to take in the winter sports culture of the Norwegians. Holmenkollen, popular local weekend haunt for cross country skiing and other snow sports is only a short ride on the metro from the city centre. And when it is time to heat up, step inside the popular chalet Frognerseteren that rooms a restaurant and café and enjoy its breathtaking views.
If you don’t wish explore too much outside the city centre you have enough for spectacular strolls within the city. Make sure to make time for the cultural walk through The Vigeland Park a park filled with over 200 bronze and granite sculptures. Another new and more modern landmark is the award winning Oslo Opera House—its architecture is a piece of art in itself. Located at the head of Oslofjorden, it is the perfect spot to take in the city also while there to enjoy performances from the The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet.
There is a rumour that Scandinavians hibernate all winter but in the bustling city of Oslo, this cannot be further away from the truth. The city is awash with chic cafés and restaurants that are usually packed with coffee-thirsty or hungry Scandinavians. In the beautiful and upscale area of the city called Frogner you find the lovely restaurant Kolonihagen hidden in a cobblestone courtyard. In this rustic environment you can enjoy organic meals both for lunch and dinner. With Kolonihagen’s sustainable philosophy, everything on the menu is made with local products and from scratch. The result is meals made with love and goodness. A dash of their pumpkin soup will warm up your soul and body, perfect for a cold winter afternoon in Oslo. Needless to say the pumpkins come from the local farm and the side of bread, from the restaurant’s own bakery. One more fact that you will find heartening—and against popular belief that Scandinavians are cold and indifferent—are the smiling faces that welcome you in the shops, cafés or restaurants.
To really take your taste buds to a level of gastronomic excellence and get top-of-the- shelf local produce, make sure to make a reservation at the two Michelin starred restaurant Maaemo. Everything on the menu is biodynamic, organic or grown wild. But it’s not just the food coma that Maaemo induces that make it a memorable restaurant experience, because not only does the menu change with the seasons, the restaurant also has a rotating art exhibition.

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A necessary step back in time when in Oslo is the city’s most sophisticated meeting place for over 100 years, Theatercaféen. The cafés Viennese- style interior will take you back to the 1900s as you sip your drink in the bar. It does not come as a surprise that New York Magazine listed this opulent café under the world’s ten most famous cafés. And to add more glamour, the walls of this stylish café are covered with its celebrity patrons—Norwegian actors, writers and painters.
As the streets get covered with snow, nothing can beat hiding away, glass of wine in hand, and recharging with a spa treatment at one of Norway’s best Spas, Artesia Spa. I recommend their signature treatment, the Artesia facial. Using products from high-end beauty brands like Carita, Decléor, Rodial and Murad, the treatments are tailored to your wishes and needs. Whilst enjoying your well deserved me time, the stylish interiors keep reminding you that you are in the Northern hemisphere with tasteful hints of the Norwegian forest in the spa surroundings. Make sure to heat up in the pool, jacuzzi, steam and saunas before returning outdoors.
It is essential to stock up on Scandinavian labels when in Oslo. Brands such as Acne, Filippa K and By Malene Birger all have stand-alone stores here with endless options from their newest collections. The Scandinavians are well known for their chic layering of basics making their effortless style perfect for the colder seasons. You will therefore find a lot of wardrobe staples and classic finds in the local multi-label stores such as Høyer Luxury, Den Dama and Ferner Jacobsen.  If you are looking to start collecting a winter wardrobe, Oslo is definitely the place to do it.

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After you’ve explored the cotton-covered woods, taken your taste buds through a world class gastronomical journey, embraced all the cultural experiences as well as the chic fashion scene it is time to slip your feet into custom-designed wool slippers at the most luxurious hotel in Oslo, The Thief. It is situated on the best spot of Oslo’s new waterfront and It district of Tjuvholmen. As if the spectacular location and the hotel’s breathtaking architecture is not good enough, the cost of building each room at The Thief is said to have been the highest in all of Scandinavia. And the effort shows, as every little detail in the room is perfection at its very best.

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Timeless elegance wafts through the chic interior with pieces sourced from international and local designers as well as handpicked art pieces for all of the 119 rooms by the hotel’s own curator. You can choose to relax under your room’s rainfall shower or snuggle up with a designer wool blanket on the balcony with breathtaking views of the Oslo fjord. The monumental glass facade covering each room is perfect for the winter season in this part of the hemisphere as it guarantees your maximum dose of daylight—one of the most precious assets in Norway during the winter season.
Make sure to set some time for their roof top bar.Nothing compares to the experience of sipping your cocktail in this lush roof top garden to the sound of splashing waves. Although luxurious, the very Scandinavian sense of sustainability is also present in this luxury hotel with clever energy efficient solutions and an artificial reef to improve marine life in the fjord surrounding the hotel. Their commitment to the environment is also evident in their cuisine, notably The Thief’s own restaurant Fru K. If you want to have a taste of the Norwegian’s proudest food tradition, this is the place to taste seafood at its very best.
Next-door to the hotel is the newly opened Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art housing an incredible collection of works by artists including Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Matthew Barney. With the central location of the hotel, the very best of the Norwegian capital—the ocean, art, as well as the city’s best restaurants and nightlife haunts are just a stone’s throw away. ■