Christmas is around the corner and many are planning where to be, what to eat and what to do during this wonderful holiday. If you are traveling to Europe, you should know that every country has their own Christmas traditions, especially when it comes to food. But there is one thing that all European countries have in common; friends and family get together and eat great food and enjoy each others company. Here we will introduce some of our destinations favorite food traditions and share with you their recipes. It’s the season to eat and be jolly!
Christmas, or Jul, is the main family event of the year and in Sweden, people travel all around the country to be with their loved ones. Over the last decades, Swedish Christmas traditions have been changing and become somewhat more modern, they have taken up foreign traditions and blended them in with old traditions.
A typical Swedish Christmas table is usually a gathering of; bread, potatoes, ham, meatballs, salmon, and herring. What makes their Christmas table different from others is their amazing Gravad Lax. This delicious raw salmon is a Nordic dish and it is cured in salt, sugar, dill and different spices. It is usually served as an appetizer and is accompanied by gravlaxsås (a dill, mustard sauce) on top of a bread or with boiled potatoes. Here is a recipe for Gravad Lax and the sauce:
The Fish (for 6):
Start by scaling the salmon and remove the small bones, but leave the skin on. Make a few cuts in the skin so the marinade will penetrate from below. Mix salt, sugar, and pepper and sprinkle it beneath and on top of the salmon filet along with plenty of dill. Place a weighted cutting board on top of the salmon filet and let it marinate at room temperature for 2–4 hours. Then refrigerate for 24−48 hours, turning the salmon filet a few times. Rinse the salmon in cold water. Cut into thin slices without getting too close to the skin, so the dark salmon is included.
Gravlax sauce is served alongside the dill-cured salmon. Mix the mustard, sugar and vinegar and season with salt and fresh-ground pepper. Stir vigorously, while pouring on the oil in a steady, thin stream. When the sauce has attained a mayonnaise-like consistency, stir in the chopped dill.
Just like in Sweden, many of their Austrian traditions have been influenced by the countries the countries around them, especially those they have borders with. Vienna is well-known for their beautiful Christmas markets and you will find so many great Christmas decorations being sold, yummy food and candy stalls and so much more. But, there is one thing that you must try, and it will be sold in so many stalls all around, and that is Glühwein. Although Glühwein is originally from Germany, it has really made its name in Austria and you will not be disappointed!
To get the drink right you need the right mixture of wine, cinnamon, sugar and spices and it is sold in Christmas markets all over Europe. We will give you a great recipe for Glühwein but remember that the recipes differ depending on family traditions and countries. Try this one out and add or take out ingredients depending on your taste-buds.
Glühwein (10 servings):
Put all ingredients in a pot and bring it close to boil. For additional taste, cut 2 oranges into bite-size pieces and add to the wine. Let simmer but not boil. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks before serving it into lightly pre-warmed glasses. Decorate glasses with an orange slice.
Enjoy and remember to drink responsibly!
Hungarians love food, they love to eat, and Christmas is just the season to do that. Their Christmas tables are decorated with green fir twigs, Christmas confectionery, oranges, and red apples. The red apples represent culture, health, and love. Although there are many dishes on the Christmas table there is one in particular that will NOT be absent on Hungarian tables; Halászlé. Halászlé, or Fisherman's soup, is a traditional Hungarian fish soup that was originally prepared by fishermen along the river of Danube and Tisza. However, every region in Hungary have their own fish soup recipe but the soup, in general, consists of a good amount of hot paprika and mixed river fish.
Halászlé (Serves 4):
Cut fish into 3 cm pieces and refrigerate. Heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-low heat, add fish heads and bones and cook, turning once, for 2 minutes. Add 3 litres cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve lined with muslin, discarding solids.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and capsicum, and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 5 minutes. Add paprika and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant, then return strained stock to the pan. Simmer for 40 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Add fish pieces and simmer for 10 minutes or until just cooked. Season again.
We recommend topping the soup with sour cream and parsley. Enjoy!
If you get a change to try these recipies, we would love to get your feedback on them. Were they tasty?
Czech Republic has a long history of beer making and it is still, to this day, making some of the best brands in the world. It is a fact that the people of Czech Republic consume more beer per capita than any other country in the world. Some of the most famous brewing cities were Budweis (where the American Budweiser brand took its name from), Plzen (where Pilsner was first made) and Prague. Beer brewing in Prague, at the beginning of the first millenium, was mostly being done by monasteries. Today there are many small breweries in Prague, but it is also home to a very well-known brand and the second biggest brewery in the country, Staropramen. The story of beer in the Czech Republic is exciting, but trying it is even better, so we will give you some suggestions on where you can enjoy beer when visiting Prague.
In the capital of the Czech Republic you can enjoy a good glass of beer anywhere in the city and also very cheap. A glass of beer in Prague often costs less than a bottle of water! Some of the most popular and traditional versions are Urquell, Kozel, Staropramen, Budweiser Budwar and Gambrinus. How many have you tried?
The best places for a local beer
T-Anker is a bar that serves local beers and the best part about it; the rooftop bar! A perfect spot for tasting new beers and enjoying Prague’s skyline at sunset. Another interesting place for beer lovers is Prague Beer Museum Gastropub. It is not a museum (there is also a beer museum in Prague), but it has around 30 taps with beer from small brewers from all around the country. The staff is very knowledgeable and the atmosphere amazing!
Want to have a drink right next to the river? Then Lod Pivovar is the right place to go. It combines its own brewery, a restaurant with traditional Czech cuisine and a wonderful view, all on a ship on the riverside, which once used to be a disco dancing ship. At U Medvidku, a brewery housed in a historic brewery building of the 15th century, you can try their brewed beer on the ground level. Very cozy place, with a good cold beer; a great way to unwind after a day in Prague.
A modern craft beer experience in Prague Once you've tried some of the local and traditional pilsners then be sure to head over to one of the many incredible newer craft beer bars around Prague. Bad Flash has an amazing corner-bar in Karlin where they also serve some of the best and most recognised newer beer brands from around the world. Get your Danish Mikkeller, Belgian Cantillon, their own BadFlash editions and much much more.
If you want to try something away from the tourist-hotspots then stop by ALE Bar in Prague 5. Small local place with 8 taps - and never afraid to try something different.
One of the most popular newer bars in The Golden City is the BeerGeek Bar. They have an absolutely incredible selection and they change it quite frequently. You will not regret it!
Other Beer experiences
And if that is not enough beer for you, Prague also has beer festivals to offer! Beer festivals in Czech Republic are called pivni slavnosti and take place mostly on weekends. Most of them are rock festivals organized by breweries, which means that only the beers of these particular breweries are available, but there are also some festivals where multiple breweries are invited and show off their wares. One of the biggest festivals in Prague is Český pivní festival, which has a duration of two weeks and a lot of brewed beer to try out. Another beer festival in Prague is Žižkovské Pivobraní. The aim is not high consumption but rather tasting, with 30 different breweries exhibiting each time.
One of the most visited beer attractions in Chezh Republic is the Urquell Plzen brewery and museum - around 1.5 hours from Prague. This museum takes you through all the steps of making beer in beautiful visual installations so that everyone has a chance to taste, see, smell and touch. Great experience for all beer enthusiasts!
Another local-favourite experience during summer are the beer gardens at Riegrovy Sady-park - incredible view of the city, cheap beer and a lot of happy people.
On the same track, here is also a list of the best beer halls in Prague - check it out!
Finally, if you are up for an alternative beer experience. In Prague you can experience beer in other ways, one of which is beer baths. Yes, that’s right! In Czech Republic you can go to specialized spas and bathe in beer. Beer baths started as a concept in the West Bohemia area of the country by the Chodovar brewery, but today there are also some situated in Prague, the most well-known being the Original Beer Spa.
The Czechs love their beer! Visiting Prague it is easy to understand why. You can experience new tastes, enjoy a good glass of beer anywhere in the city, and even sink in a bathtub full of lager and have a relaxing time in the Czech capital.
At first you may not think of Sweden as a vegan paradise, but it is. Around 10% of the Swedish population identify themselves as being vegan or vegetarian and the number of fantastic restaurants and supermarket products that have popped up because of this new-found identity and lifestyle are fantastic. Even if you eat at a restaurant that serves meat or fish, you’ll be surprised at the number of plant-based options that are available for you. In fact, meat in some ways seems less and less prominent on menus across the country as the locals opt for a more sustainable and cruelty free lifestyle. For those who still think of vegan food as stodgy vegetable mush, you’ll be thrilled to find out that modern vegan cuisine in Sweden is a far cry from this. It is delicious, with popping flavour combinations, incredible tastes and surprising ingredients that you may not have heard of before!
It’s not just the restaurants that cater for a plant-based palate. Most cafes and fika hot spots will have tasty vegan morsels on offer (try Husaren in Gothenburg, Bageri Leve in Malmö or Mahalo Hälsocafet in Stockholm) and all good cafes will happily switch in Oatly’s incredible and industry-changing iKaffe oat milk in your latte (we can’t go past Condeco’s Beet Me Ginger latte). If you’re in a rush and don’t feel like sitting down to eat, don’t ignore the korv (sausage) stands dotted around the city either: Pretty much every street corned korv and burger stand will also serve a delicious vegan option for a quick bite to sustain you as you explore the city! Equally, if you’re after Swedish fast food, do pop by Max’s, a burger chain that has a fantastic menu full of ‘green’ options, including their incredible vegan BBQ burger made from Pulled Oumph! (a Swedish vegan soy product that is taking the world by storm).
So, get ready to go on a taste adventure around Sweden and tuck in to the fantastically delicious and perfectly sustainable menu options at some of our favourite restaurants. Here we present to you our top five vegan (or at least vegan-heavy but vegetarian) restaurants in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö that we guarantee even non-vegans will adore!
The capital of Sweden is certainly embracing the plant-based lifestyle and in Stockholm you’ll find lots of options to captivate your tastebuds. STHLM RAW’s ‘Unbakery’ is a must-try for those of us with a sweet-tooth, and beautiful treats awaits you at this raw patisserie. Their café will also delight and offers up raw dishes which are truly awesome. If you feel like having a delicious Chinese meal, look no further than Lao Wai, a Chinese restaurant (with a emphasis on Tiawanese and Sichuan dishes) that is completely vegetarian (and heavy on the vegan options). We love their fresh ingredients and especially their variety of mushrooms. If you’re in the mood for a Middle Eastern flavour, look no further than Falafelbaren, which, according to the word on the street, serves up Stockholm’s best falafel. With everything vegetarian, and mostly vegan, you won’t be disappointed with the range of combinations you can choose here. The Plant is a fully vegan restaurant with all their produce being organic as well. Do not miss out on their incredible burgers, which ooze tastiness and satisfaction. We also love Mahalo, a haven for budget-friendly travelers in the mood for some seriously vibrant vegan dishes, smoothies or desserts. We highly recommend their Knivsöder glass noodle salad packed with peanut sauce, avocado, broccoli, mango salsa and a whole bunch of other tasty morsels!
The vegan food scene in Gothenburg is just awesome. So many and varied options, each as good as the last. A top pick is definitely Jinx Food Truck. This little van (which happens to be located in the hippest square in Gothenburg, surrounded by top-notch Scandi-design stores), only has three menu choices, one is vegan and it is mouthwatering. It's a panko coated deep fried piece of spongy tofu in a bao bun accompanied by spicy vegan mayo, with lashings of fresh coriander, cucumber and pickled carrots. En Deli in Haga has an amazing variety of mouthwatering dishes to choose from in a pseudo-buffet style. You can get their Lyx Deli plate which means you can try a little bit of everything and even come back for seconds – just make sure to ask for the vegan selection as some things contain dairy. Their stuffed vine leaves are a particular favourite. Andrum is one of the oldest vegetarian restaurants (with lots of vegan options) in Gothenburg and still does a roaring trade, especially at lunch where you will get a wonderful midday meal that will keep you full and warm. We recommend a bowl of their daal soup in particular. For dinner you can’t go past Blackbird or Folk. Blackbird is a fully vegan restaurant and everything on their menu is sure to impress. For us, we can’t go past their mushroom tortellini which is just a big bowl of happiness. Folk is a restaurant that is hard not to absolutely love. Occupying the lobby of Gothenburg’s Folkteatern, Folk is truly adventurous restaurant that we think deserves a Michelin Star. While it used to be fully vegetarian/vegan, now seafood is also on the menu. However usually over half the menu is still vegetarian and many dishes can be made vegan. Nothing is what you expect and the diversity and exotic flavour combinations will delight and astound. You can’t go past their tasting menu where you get to sample 3 of their dishes, with which you can even get a wine pairing menu.
Malmö has a vast selection of Vegan food and it’s fast becoming a hot spot for vegan travelers. So it’s probably unsurprising that we find it hard to make a top five! Sustainable eating has taken Malmö by storm and there are lots of options. In fact, the word on the street is that Malmö is fast becoming one of Europe’s vegan hot spots. If your after a quick lunch that is packed full of awesome flavour, head to Pink Head Noodle Bar. With fantastic vegan options and noodles that are made in front of you, this place is a win-win. Another must is The Vegan Bar, which probably has the best vegan burger in town, accompanied by the best chips. If you’re hungry, we highly recommend you try their ‘Wasted’ burger, which comes with mouthwatering avocado chili fries! If you’re after a pairing of plant-based food and wine, you can’t go past Mineral. This wine bar and restaurant does salad and soup for lunch and their recipes change regularly but from our experience it’s always delicious (think parsnip soup spiced up with forest chanterelle mushrooms and flakes of crisped Jerusalem artichoke…heavenly). Mineral also has live music events in the evening and for brunch so you can enjoy fantastic wine, food and music all at once. Mutantur is also right up there on our list. It is not exclusively a vegan restaurant but the head chef (who represented Sweden in the Bocuse d’Or!) clearly loves to put together dynamic dishes that cater to the vegan palate as much as he does to the traditional. Indeed, over a quarter of the menu is vegan and you’ll be delighted by every option (but make sure to leave room for their bergamot sorbet served with aquafaba meringue, rose and basil). Last but definitely not least is Sájvva, which is definitely the place to check out if you’re after vegan cocktails to accompany your spectacular meal. The food at Sájvva is jam-packed with flavour and takes inspiration from food around the world. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but at the moment probably the Autumn Garden Pho or the Korean Street Bowl, which will not fail to impress, even the pickiest customers.
Sweden is really truly a great choice for the vegan foodie traveller. You will easily be able to find something delicious on your adventures around this incredible country and your taste buds will not miss out on the joy of traveling! So, bon appétit, or as the Swedes say: Smaklig Måltid!
The Akershus Fortress (or Akershus Festning in Norwegian) is a medieval castle and it is believed that its construction dates to the turn of the 14th century, during the reign of King Håkon V. The Fortress is one of Oslo’s top attractions as it is considered a national symbol owing to its role as the seat of the king and of government. The Fortress was also the backdrop to many important historical events that helped shape its history.
The History of the Akershus Fortress
King Håkon V used the castle as his residence. The castle was also home to many other royals, some of them significant figures in Scandinavian history. The popularity of the castle as a royal residence eventually lead to the capital being moved from Bergen to Oslo.
In 1624 there was a great fire in Oslo and King Christian IV decided to rebuild the city closer to Akershus Fortress, such was its importance. The Fortress was at that point remodeled into a renaissance castle and the castle functioned as a palace until the turn of the 19th century.
During the 17th and 18th century the fortress was also used as a prison. Many of Norways rebels, criminals and some well-known individuals were imprisoned there including the author Gjest Baardsen (1791-1849) and norwegian socialists.
World War II
Even though the Fortress was never successfully besieged (it survived numerous sieges over the centuries and was never captured in active battle), it was however surrendered to Nazi Germany in 1940 when the Norwegian government evacuated Oslo. The Nazi’s used the fortress as a military camp, prison and a place to execute their prisoners and captives. Up to 40 members of a Norwegian resistance group, that led acts of sabotage against the Nazi’s, were amongst those who were executed there.
In 1945, the Germans handed over the Fortress to the Norwegian resistance movement and once the war was over, eight Norwegian traitors were executed at the fortress.
Akershus Fortress today
Today, the fortress is a popular place to host major events such as concerts, public holiday celebrations and ceremonies. The grounds of the fortress are free and open to all, and this is where you will find some of the best views of Oslo’s Fjord.
Within the Fortress you will find the Armed Forces Museum and if you visit the castle’s buildings you will find the final resting place of many of Norway’s kings and queens. The castle will take you on a journey through the history of Norway from the 1300s until this day... but be careful because there have reportedly been a few ghostly sightings over the years!
On our 3 hour walking tours, you will get a change to visit the famous fortress and be briefed on its history. You can book here! For further information regarding opening hours and upcoming events: https://www.visitoslo.com/en/product/?TLp=14900#product-info1
Christmas in Sweden is a truly magical time. Lights twinkle along the city streets, and it seems like every single household fondly embraces the tradition of lighting candles and hanging stars in their windows, to help guide travellers home after a long journey in the evening darkness. Everyone will make sure they enjoy a Lucia concert, and sprigs of pine will scent the frosty air. Saffranbullar (saffron buns) and Glögg (mulled wine) become standard in bakeries and street stalls, and every weekend from mid November until January you can find a Christmas market (julmarknad) to enjoy, and there are some markets that you can visit every day throughout the festive season. The Swedish Christmas Markets have a different vibe to, say, the famous German markets. There is less of a focus on tree decorations and typical ’Christmas fare’, and more of a focus on the wares and products of local producers. Think pots of jams and honey rather than decorated gingerbread cookies, and knitted mittens and beautiful candle holders rather than hand-blown glass ornaments. You’ll get to quickly recognise the fantastic Swedish traditions, and you should definitely buy yourself a straw Christmas goat or a beautiful fir wreath.
So which Christmas markets are best and where should you go to see the best Swedish Christmas Traditions? That’s a hard question! It’s so difficult to decide on a ‘favourite’ Christmas Market. They all offer something special and the wide range of artisans exhibiting at each means that all the markets are unique and special in their own right. Regardless of which you end up choosing to visit, what we can guarantee is that you’ll have a magical time in the cosy atmosphere that is typical of Swedish Christmas markets. But to help you make a choice, here are our top julmarknad picks in Sweden’s three largest cities. One thing to note is that you should always check which markets will be open during the days you’re visiting. Only a very few markets are open even day throughout the Christmas season, and most are only open for a weekend or over several weekends.
Our top Christmas Market picks in Sweden’s 3 largest cities!
To find out more about Christmas in Stockholm and the dates and times for all the markets, visit: https://www.visitstockholm.com/guides/christmas-in-stockholm/
Enjoying reading all about Gothenburg, the Christmas City here: https://www.goteborg.com/en/christmascity/
If you want more info on things to do and markets to visit in Malmö, visit https://www.malmocity.se/en/christmas-malmo-city/
´Tis is the season to be jolly! There is nothing better than the smell of Glühwein, roasted chestnuts and Christmas carols to get one in the Christmas spirit. These, and so much more, can be found in our favorite Christmas markets in our destinations across Europe. Here, we have gathered some of our favorites and we hope that you‘ll be able to enjoy them as much as we do.
The city of Vienna is well known for its christmas markets andIt’s no wonder!. The christmas markets are an old tradition that can be traced all the way back to the year 1298!! Unsuprisingly, these markets have really changed since then (although still have a traditional vibe!) and nowadays you can find over 20 christmas markets in the city. Our favorite market is The Viennese Dream Christmas Market in front of the City Hall. Inside the City Hall you will find an area dedicated to children, where they can learn how to bake christmas cookies and make candles. Another great market is the Christmas Village in the Former General Hospital. This market is smaller and has a very traditional Viennese atmosphere to it and this is where you will find amazing Glühwein.
For more information on opening hours and markets: https://www.austria.info/uk/things-to-do/skiing-and-winter/christmas-markets/christmas-markets-in-vienna
In Prague, Christmas markets can be found almost everywhere across the city, from the famous Old Town Square to Náměstí Republiky. The biggest and the most popular market is by far the Old Town Square. There you will find daily carols being sung, stalls selling traditional Czech crafts and of course a huge Christmas tree. If you are a foodie and want to try Prague‘s festive food we recommend that you check out the market at Náměstí Republiky. Remember to try Becherovka, a herbal liqueur that is usually mixed with coffee, and Pražská Šunka, prague‘s famous Christmas ham.
For more information on opening hours and markets: http://www.myczechrepublic.com/prague/christmas-markets.html
This beautiful city transforms into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. Our favorite Christmas market is The Basilica Christmas Market which is located on the square in front of St. Stephen‘s Basilica. You will find more than 150 stalls with beautiful hand-made products, especially those made by the skillful members of the Hungarioan Folk Artists. You will have to try a Hungarian delicacy called the Chimney Cake in English, which is sold in many of the stalls in the market and is wonderful to eat while you stroll through the market! Right in the middle of the market there is an ice-skating rink that is wonderful for the children to try and is free for those under the age of 14.
For more information on the opening hours and markets: http://budapestchristmas.com/budapest-basilica-christmas-market
If you are visiting Copenhagen in November or December you must visit Copenhagen‘s famous Tivoli Gardens. The theme park transforms into a winter wonderland and inside you will find a Chrismas market, incredible Christmas lights displays, trees covered in snow, Glühwein sold on every corner and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a reindeer or two! The market itself has over 60 stalls that sell gifts, decorations, arts and crafts and yummy snacks that will get you into the Christmas spirit. This year, the Nutcracker will be shown in the Tivoli Concert Hall and it is a show that is not to be missed.
For more information on opening hours, prices and events: https://www.tivoligardens.com/en/saesoner/jul
Budapest is a great city to explore by bike! The number of cycle lanes and cyclists have really grown in the last couple of years. Biking has become a fashionable and sustainable way to get around the city.
There are over 250 km of bike paths crisscrossing the city and bike-friendly areas are becoming increasingly common. Bike paths are usually detached from the sidewalks with markings or poles, and they are often separated from car traffic.
Where to bike
If you are going to rent a bike on your own, we recommend biking along the Danube, which is part of the EuroVelo route, stoping for a nice cup of coffee in one of the bike friendly cafés along the way. However, the Danube does split into two; Pest, fairly hilly trails in the west and Buda, a flatter terrain in the east. Pest is where you are more likely to find popular tourist sites, yummy cafés, and restaurants.
Some of our other favorite places to bike are Margaret Island (cars are banned from the island which makes biking a dream) and the City Park. Margret Island is a beautiful little green island where you can really enjoy the open space and escape from it all. We recommend that you take your lunch with you and enjoy a picnic.
If you want to bike away from the busy city we can recommend two paths to take. One of them goes along Szilas Creek and it will lead you to Lake Naplás, a stunning place which is home to a variety of flora and fauna, especially birds. Lake Lupa is another great spot to visit and you should absolutely take the ferry to Lupa Island. There you will find a quiet white sand beach, palm trees, parasols and cocktails.
If you are really into biking, you should follow the EuroVelo route even further and visit all of the 10 countries the route goes through…. just an idea :)
Nova Fairy Tales bike tours
Although beer biking has become increasingly popular across Eurpoe (who doesn’t like the combination of two such popular hobbies?!), but most districts in Budapest have now banned beer bikes). So we recommend that you try and keep beer and biking separate, for now, and join our bike tours! With us you can explore this fantastic city and at the end of your 3 hour adventure with us we can recommend some great bars to enjoy a beer or two…... or five! We always say: bike responsibly! Leave the beers till last!
On our 3-hour bike tour you will get to see many of Budapest’s main attractions that are difficult to discover on foot in one day. If you are not very comfortable about stepping on a bike in the city, not to worry! You guide will go over the bike rules and help you pick the right bike for you. It is a great way to enjoy the lovely city of Budapest. The tour starts off by riding along the Andrássy Avenue where you’ll find some amazing Hungarian architecture, at the end of the avenue you will reach Heroes Square and the City Park. You will also get a chance to see the Parliament of Hungary, the Opera House and the House of Terror museum. You will also get a chance to ride along the beautiful Danube riverside where you can admire and take pictures of the beautiful bridges and the thousand years history of the city. As well as the main sights of Budapest, our tours will also help you find some hidden gems that you might not otherwise stumble across.
Our bike tours will let you explore the best of Budapest in a fun (and fast) way!
The Finns drink an awful lot of coffee. It is undoubtedly the national drink of choice, and in fact it’s such a popular beverage that the Finns drink more coffee per capita than anyone other nation in the world – 12kg per person per year to be precise! Coffee is such a way of life for most people in Finland that scheduled coffee breaks during work hours are the absolute norm. Coffee breaks are often called aamukahvi, and these are frequently social affairs where many people get together and enjoy a warm cup.Just as the English have afternoon tea, the Finns also have a coffee table for special events.The coffee table is almost exactly the same as an English afternoon tea (sandwiches, cakes, sweet treats), except of course that coffee instead of tea is the main attraction.
The Finns like their coffee quite lightly roasted (especially when compared to neighbouring to Sweden, where a much darker roast is preferred); while you can get darker roasts, the lighter are much more common. The traditional way of brewing coffee in Finland is very similar to that of Turkish coffee.
With coffee being such a popular and ingrained aspect of Finnish life, it stands to reason that when you travel to Helsinki you can find a pretty decent cup of coffee! In fact, in the last decade the Finnish coffee culture has bounded right into the wonderful world of unique, artisanal, and independent cafes, and that means you’re never too far away from a great cup of coffee. So here are some very nice places you can go in Helsinki and enjoy a relaxing coffee time.
Kaffecentralen is a small chain of three cafes in Helsinki and their coffee is always made lovingly by top-notch baristas who really care about the quality of their coffee. Centrally located, you get not only well-priced coffee but also the chance to buy a great range of coffee accessories. Moko is a fabulous concept store/coffee shop fusion, and here you can get a great coffee as well as browse their fantastic range of homewares, fashion and bits and bobs from around the world. At Cafetoria you can get locally roasted, award-winning coffee from a small company that really knows their stuff. Here you will find lots of different origins and varieties of coffee to choose from, as well as lots of accessories.
If you want a visual as well as taste sensation, you can’t go past Andante, a coffee shop and flower shop all in one, where the coffee is as fantastic as the flowers are beautiful. There are also a whole host of beautiful accoutrements you might want to buy for the coffee lover in your life!
If you want a truly special meal to go with your coffee, Cargo is an absolute must! This vegetarian coffee shop and restaurant uses seasonal produce, and not only does a great coffee, but also fresh juices, sweet treats and offers breakfast and lunch.
If you’re after a coffee shop with a completely different vibes, Helsinki has lots of those too! Café Regatta is a truly fantastic experience. A little red cottage over-looking the sea, Café Regatta is opened year round, and offers guest a special atmosphere and delicious traditional treats to accompany your coffee. You can grill your own sausages year-round and in the summer you can enjoy a relaxing day by the water, even hiring a variety of boats to make the most of your time by the seaside. IhanaKavila is another unique experience, being a coffee shop inside an old shipping container. The surrounding area is set for future redevelopment, but in the mean time is home to an urban streetscape, with graffiti fences, communal gardens, street art and skateboarding parks, along with lots of outdoor events in the summer. It’s a great atmosphere and a completely different experience from a city corner café. For yet another completely different vibe, head on over to Café Vanille, a beautiful and very traditional coffee shop with a range of homemade treats, which is set in a little wooden cottage in the old Russian Quarter on the islands of Suomenlinna.
The perfect accompaniment to a fantastic cup of coffee is a fantastic sweet treat. Finland certainly doesn’t disappoint in this department, and you should make the most of finding the best cup of coffee by also finding your favourite Finnish treat! Like other countries in the region, Finland does a roaring trade in buns. Korvapuusti (cinnamon/cardamom buns) and mustikkapulla (blueberry buns) are a quintessentiallyScandinavian delicacy that no travel adventure would be complete without. Likewise, don’t forget to tuck into another regionalfavourite, fruit pie, particularly lingonberry, blueberry or apple (they’re even better if you’re lucky enough to try one which has been homemade).
For those partial to pancakes, it’s well worth trying out two local favourites, which you may find are a bit different to what you are used to at home. A pannukakku is a fat pancake baked in an oven and served with berry coulis. Similar to a crepe, a sultsina is made of rye flour and served with copious quantities of fresh cream and cinnamon sugar. Also delicious is omenalörtsy, donut-like parcels filled with sweet apple filling.
If you’re after something really decadent and typically Finnish, you can’t go past a lakkakakku (a cloudberry cake with slatherings of whipped cream) or a täytekakku (layers of sponge cake soaked in sweet liquid, usually milk or juice, alternating between layers of fresh fruit and mounds of fresh cream. Also a traditional dish, and something distinctly Finnish is vispipuuro, made from lingonberries and semolina, or Hanna-tädinpikkuleivät, little biscuits made with potato flour. If you are lucky enough to be in this wonderful northern country around Christmas time, be sure to try not only the local gingerbread biscuits, piparkakku, but also joulutorttu, pinwheeled tarts filled with prune jam.
Wherever you go for coffee, and whichever treat you choose to make your coffee that extra bit special, we know you’ll find the perfect place when you visit Helsinki to relax, and enjoy the local coffee scene and Finnish culture!
Many of Oslo‘s restaurants rely on typical Norwegian flavours, ingredients and culinary traditions when it comes to their food. Here we will introduce you to some of the traditional Norwegian food and dishes as well as recommend some of the best restaurants in Oslo.
Traditional Norwegian food
Norway‘s traditional cuisine is based mostly on fish, meat and fresh seasonal vegetables. According to local history, Norwegian cuisine originates from the time of the Vikings, about 1000 years ago. To some, these dishes might seem familiar, whilst to others they might appear wierd and wonderful. As far as we’re concerned, just dig in and enjoy the experience!
If you are interested in trying some of these traditional dishes we recommend Kaffistova ($$-$$$), Sofie‘s Mat og Vinhus ($), and Restaurant Schrøder ($$-$$$). Dovrehallen ($$-$$$) has food at a good price and the Frognerseteren Café and Restaurant ($$-$$$) has a great view over the city and itself mimics a cute Norwegian cabin.
Modern food & beer
Maaemo ($$$$$) is probably the most famous restaurant in Oslo. It has three Michelin stars and they only use norwegian ingredients in their cuisine.
If Maaemo isn‘t within your price-range there are many great restaurants, eateries, foodhalls and bakeries to look to on almost every corner. For vegan/vegetarian options there is the Kasbah ($$-$$$) and if you want to have some great Italian pizzas with a Scandinavian touch we recommend Den Gode ($). The options are endless and it is hard to get dissapointed with Oslo’s food offerings.
If you like food markets, we can recommend Fisketorget ($$-$$$) for some great Nordic seafood dishes. Mathallen Oslo ($$-$$$) is where you will find gourmet restaurants and shops, whilst Vippa Mathall ($) offers great eats from all over the world.
For those who are interested in local breweries, here are some of the best places to try Noway’s beer: Oslo Mikrobryggeri ($$-$$$), Amundsen Bryggeri & Spiseri ($$-$$$), Grunerløkka Brygghus ($$-$$$) and Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri ($$-$$$), which is one of Oslo‘s favorite place to party.
Videocredit: Bleed / True stories / Visitnorway.com
Copenhagen is one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. This is understandable as the city is super flat, making biking very easy. Copenhagen is also covered with around 350 km of designated bike lanes, which are raised from the road and are very safe to ride on.
Even though Copenhageners love to complain about the weather, that doesn’t stop them from riding their bikes every day, no matter how bad the weather is (below zero, rain, snow, and wind). Copenhageners just love their bikes!
A third of the population commutes to work every day by bike. The bike culture is so strong that bikes have not only outnumbered cars in Copenhagen, but also people! There are 40,000 more bikes than people in central Copenhagen. So what better way to explore this wonderful city than by bike? Let’s see what is important to know when biking in Copenhagen for the first time.
Find a bike in Copenhagen
The first thing to do is to find a bike! There are many options for renting a bike in Copenhagen such as bike shops and online rentals. If you are staying in Copenhagen for longer than two weeks even buying a second hand bike wouldn’t be a bad idea!Rent a bike in Copenhagen The average cost is around 90kr for a day’s bike rental in Copenhagen and 350kr for a week. Always have a test drive before leaving the bike shop to make sure it’s working properly!
Here are some bike rental options to check out:
Biking rules in Copenhagen
It’s very important to be aware of cycling rules when biking in Copenhagen if you want to stay safe, not get a fine, and don’t want to hear any curses from the locals!
#1 You must keep on the right side of the lane
#2 Before you stop, you first have to raise your hand to warn cyclists behind you
#3 Give hand signals to the left or right before turning
#4 Watch over your left shoulder before overtaking cyclists
#5 Always overtake other cyclists on the left
#6 Do not ride against the traffic flow or on sidewalks/pavements, pedestrian crossings or pedestrian streets
#7 Cycling is not allowed in parks in central Copenhagen
#8 To turn left at an intersection you must first cross to the opposite right corner of the intersection where you stop and wait for the traffic light to change before continuing
#9 A short ring on the bell is often a signal that a cyclist wants to pass – so please keep to the right
#10 From dusk to dawn, bicycles must be equipped with both front and rear bicycle lights
#11 It is prohibited to ride more than one person on a bicycle unless it is a cargo bike or a bicycle with a child seat or a bicycle trailer
#12 Watch out for the bus stops. Always stop when people are about to disembark from the bus!
#13 Use of phones while biking is not allowed. Same goes for headphones.
Wearing a helmet is not compulsory in Denmark. If you would like one though, you can rent them at all bike shops. It is also very important to lock the bike at all times! There are more bike thieves than you would expect in a city where there are more bikes than people!
Bringing a bike on the metro or train in Copenhagen
On the s-train bikes are always allowed free of charge. The only exception is Nørreport Station, where cyclists are not allowed to take their bikes on or off the train during rush hour.
On the metro, cyclists have to buy a ticket (13kr) for their bike. Also, during rush hour, bikes are not allowed in any metro station.
Taking the bike on the buses also allowed. However, there is only space for two bikes on each bus, but you need to also be aware of prams,and rush hour , as buses are usually very crowded. A bike ticket (13kr) is needed, but you can only buy this in the train or metro stations.
Cargo bikes are not allowed on any means of public transportation.
Rush hour is Monday-Friday 07:00-09:00 and 15:30-17:30.
So now that you know everything about biking in Copenhagen, grab a bike and explore all Copenhagen’s attractions on two wheels!
Wondering what to do in Copenhagen? If you would like to have a bike tour and get to know the city through the eyes of a local, Nova Fairy Tales offers one of the best bike tours available in Copenhagen!
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