Carmen Pelaez, 41, filmmaker, and Ana Sofia Pelaez, 37, food writer
Time to burn: 1–2 weeks
“Our family is from Havana, so that’s why we’re drawn to big, historic cities. They always have the best art and the coolest people. I love traveling with Ana Sofia because she does awesome food research. Plus we tend to notice different things—when I travel alone, I know I’m seeing everything in 2-D, and I don’t laugh nearly as much.”
Go here: Oslo, Norway
Why now: Renzo Piano’s glimmering wood-and-glass Astrup Fearnley Museet opened just last month along the Scandinavian city’s starchitect-studded waterfront, while Vulkan, an artier development in the bohemian neighborhood of Grünerløkka, is now home to two new hotels, a performing-arts theater, and a gorgeous food market.
What to do: Grünerløkka’s DogA and the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture (free; Hausmanns 16; 472-329-2870), and the Mathallen market (Maridalsveien 17; 472-240-4000) in the ever-evolving Vulkan are not to be missed; the latter’s offerings include farm goods from the Oppland and Valdres regions, a Spanish tapas bar, and Norway’s first pie shop, Hello Good Pie. Undoubtedly the star of the waterfront show, Astrup Fearnley’s permanent collection, packed with works by Sherman, Koons, and Hirst, is also worth a browse ($18; Strandpromenaden 2; 472-293-6060).
Where to stay: Dark and modern waterfront newcomer the Thief (from $353; thethief.com) opens in January with art-stuffed rooms, its own curator, and Julian Opie work in the elevators. Back at Vulkan, check in to one of two new design hotels: the comfortably hip Scandic Vulkan (from $112; scandichotels.com) or the decidedly more DIY PS:hotell (from $190; pshotell.no).
What to eat: Food Story (Thorvald Meyers gt 61; 472-237-9937), an ecofriendly market and café, remains the foodie epicenter of Oslo’s hip Grünerløkka, shilling seasonal treats like juniper-smoked salmon, bio-cloudberry preserves, and gjetost (goat cheese) ice cream. And while Norway doesn’t have the gourmet clout its Danish neighbor does, the ten-course tasting menu—including chicken heart with burned-onion vinaigrette, elderflower, and wheat grass—at the Michelin-starred Maaemo (from $279; Schweigaardsgate 15b; en.maaemo.no) is well worth the splurge.
Buy this: The gift shop at DogA is an aesthete’s paradise, filled with fun items like handmade Flensted mobiles ($67).
Also consider: Graz, Austria, which UNESCO named a City of Design after its edgy, alienlike Kunsthaus Graz art museum bowed in 2003. Eating plays a big role here, too, thanks to heritage foods like smoked landjäger and fruity Styrian whites. Discover them while tooling around on a complimentary scooter from mod Hotel Daniel (from $77; hoteldaniel.com).