Mastering the Art of a Healthy Holiday

When travelling, it can be hard to stay healthy. It takes extra effort to schedule regular exercise, and with so many new foods to try, self restraint tends to go out of the window. But when I spent a fortnight in Norway this summer, I was determined to make the trip a healthy one. It was not the sunniest of summer vacations, but the beautiful fjords and mountains more than made up for the Icelandic drizzle. To get a proper taste of the country, I traveled between four locations: Oslo, Bergen, Ålesund and Flåm. Here are my tips for making each stop a happy and healthy one!

Oslo

Where to Eat:

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My top recommendation is Elias Mat & Sant, a small restaurant with a cosy cafe feel. Specialising in organically sourced produce, their philosophy is that food should taste good and be good for the environment. The organic menu certainly has some delicious dishes to choose from. For something especially Norwegian, try the reindeer stew, served with mashed potatoes and Norwegian brown cheese. But the corn and chickpea vegan burger makes a tasty meat-free option.

Where to Exercise:
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Take a break from the city bustle and head to the Vigeland Sculpture Park. Open all year round, it features over 200 of Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures. The artworks depict men, women and children in tender, humorous and sometimes violent poses. Each is so different, that you will find yourself racing down the avenue to discover the next one. Rainy days are best for avoiding tourists!

 

Bergen

Where to Eat:

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This waterside town is the second largest in Norway. It is ideally located for deep sea fishing, so trying the salmon is a must. I think I had about every possible variation, including salmon sushi, which actually originated in Norway! My favourite salmon dish, and the healthiest, was an open smoked salmon sandwich served simply on rye bread. The perfect light lunch.

 Where to Exercise:

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Like most Norwegian cities, Bergen is surrounded by mountains as well as the water. This means there are lots of hikes to be enjoyed. Fløyen is the most popular mountain, with some spectacular views of the city and the surrounding fjords. If the walk to the summit is too daunting, take the Fløibanen funicular up the mountainside and save your energy for exploring the forest at the top.

 

Ålesund

Where to Eat:

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Søstrene Fryd is a must visit for Ålesund. The light and airy interior feels homey yet spacious, and all of the food is beautifully presented. Søstrene Fryd has lots of vegan and gluten free options, and the healthy spins they put on well-known dishes means that you can even have a burger and chips guilt free. Top recommendations are the comforting bowls of quinoa, served with a choice of chicken or mushroom.

 Where to Exercise:

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Climb the 418 steps up to the Fjellstua Viewpoint. This is a great photo spot, and there are lots of picnic benches to relax and recover on after the climb. There are also benches on the way up, providing plenty of opportunities to catch your breath and take in the scenery.

 

Flåm

Where to Eat:

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Nestled between mountains and waterfalls, Flåm has been popular with British tourists since the 1800s when wealthy Lords would visit the Sognefjord on hunting and fishing trips. It is the perfect location to eat outdoors, so take a picnic and venture into the countryside. Make sure to buy some local delicacies. Norwegian smoked fish makes a particularly good healthy snack for when you’re halfway up a mountain.

 

Where to Exercise:

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 A kayaking tour down the fjord provides a fun workout, and the surroundings make it well worth your while. You can paddle over the wreck of the HMS Begonia, which was sunk by the Norwegian resistance during the second world war; get up close with seals and their pups; watch the goats grazing on the mountain side; and listen to your guide regale the histories of the farms on the mountainside.

 

With its coastline larger than Canada, a geographical landmass is larger than the UK, but a population less than London, this beautiful country stole my heart. Making a holiday a healthy one may require some extra research, but you will get so much more out of your trip, and be able to enjoy a guilt free vacation!

 

Images courtesy of the author.

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