Oslo, Norway

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Cruising to Oslo

A truly Nordic city

When most people think of capital cities, the first images that tend to spring to mind usually involve urban sprawl and gritty lifestyles that lack any sort of connection to nature. Up in Scandinavia, however, that's just not how they roll, with the great outdoors forming an integral part of the culture and philosophy. So, instead of building cities as a means of conquering nature, the Nordic people have designed theirs to blend in with it, and the Norwegian capital is the perfect example of this.

Set on the banks of the Oslofjord (which is in fact a lake, not a fjord), Oslo is one of the sparsest capital cities in Europe, despite being one of the largest in terms of size. This provides lots of space for nature to thrive in the very heart of the metropolis, and it's this element of Nordic design that permeates all aspects of the local culture.

Outdoor activities like kayaking, skiing, hiking and cycling are just as popular within the capital as they are in the countryside, and the stylish simplicity of modern Norwegian art and architecture also seem to mirror this love of an uncluttered way of life.

Yet that's not to say that Oslo is all rugged and unrefined, with the city being home to a wonderful collection of sophisticated art galleries and fascinating museums. The National Gallery, for example, contains an array of works by leading Norwegian artists, including Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream. There's also the Viking Ship Museum, where visitors can learn all about how one of the world's most mythologised civilisation lived, while the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum provides an exciting look at the way skiing has influences Norwegian life.

The popularity of Scandinavian cuisine is also at an all-time high these days, and Oslo is home to no fewer than three Michelin-starred restaurants. Among them is Maaemo, which uses only organic local ingredients to create traditional regional dishes, and is the only restaurant in Scandinavia to hold two Michelin stars.

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