The third most expensive city in the world, Oslo continues to set opulent, modernist architecture against its lush landscape—particularly in seaside neighborhood Tjuvholmen, a former execution site also known as Thieves’ Island. Check into the granite-and-glass boutique hotel the Thief (from $360; thethief.com), a year-old property that just debuted a marine-centric spa. Check out the Warhols at Renzo Piano’s ship-shaped Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, which opened in 2012. For dinner, sit on the wraparound balcony and sample the raw bar at Tjuvholmen Sjømagasin, or get a taste of fjordic cuisine at Fru K, which features dishes like spawning cod from the Arctic Circle paired with bleak roe, oysters, and cracklings.
No amount of new oil wealth can alter the core of Norway’s pride and joy: the salty inlets, slivered between staggering mountain slopes, known as fjords. Take a roughly four-and-a-half-hour drive or train ride from Oslo, past cascading valleys, to Flåm. There is plenty to explore in this tiny village (so small that there are no addresses). Drop your bags at Fretheim Fjordhytter, where three-bedroom waterfront cottages sit on a centuries-old farm (from $1,234 per week; fretheimhytter.com), or the refurbished waterfront Fretheim Hotel (from $265; fretheimhotel.no/en), which originally dates back to the 1870s. Hop on the 50-minute Flåm Railway, a famously steep, scenic ride between Flåm and Myrdal (a tiny railway station tucked in the mountains). From Myrdal, rent a bike and zigzag down the verdant Flåmsdalen Valley, which overlaps with Rallarvegen, a 50-mile gravel road that’s become an iconic European bike route. Reward yourself at the Ægir Brewery, which is connected to Flåm’s Flåmsbrygga Hotel; its India Pale Ale won Norway’s Beer of the Year in 2013. If you’re still hankering to explore the fjords the way the Vikings did—riding along the crystalline channels themselves—hop on the two-hour ferry to Gudvangen ($63 per round-trip), which winds and twists through the narrow Nærøyfjord, with rock walls that soar upwards of 5,000 feet.