On September 11, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:Norway’s history is so rich and interesting that even kids will be fascinated by it, especially in its capital, Oslo. Here are our favorite things to do with kids in the family-friendly city:
1. The International Museum of Children’s Art. This unique museum devoted entirely to children’s art contains drawings, paintings, textiles and sculptures from more than 180 countries. Check for activities like art classes, African drumming workshops and storytelling hours.
2. Norsk Folk Museum. Kids find Oslo’s remarkable folk museum equal parts fun and educational. At this open-air museum, wander through more than 150 different buildings depicting life in Norway over the past centuries. Staff welcomes you in period costume, and admission is free for children under six.
3. Take a ride on the Oslo Fjord. Children love this hop-on, hop-off cruise in a traditional wooden sailboat (and kids under 4 ride for free). In addition to the pleasure of a ride on the shimmering Oslo Fjord, this is a great way to see medieval castle Akershus, the city’s distinctive Opera House (with an impressive downward-slopping roof) and the museums along the Bygdøy peninsula.
4. Frogner Park. Kids get a kick out of the park’s famous sculptures, many inspired by children at play. The park also features a great playground with sandboxes, jungle gyms and swings. If the weather is warm, visit adjacent Frognerbadet, a swimming complex with children’s pools, diving boards and water slides.
5. Get in on winter activities. Summer in Oslo is beautiful but fleeting. During winter visits, children love the festively lit Christmas market outside of Oslo’s City Hall, where they can drink hot chocolate and sample risengrynsgrøt, warm rice pudding seasoned with butter, cinnamon and sugar. There are ice skating rinks close to the National Theatre and Frogner Stadium, and another winter favorite in Oslo is tobogganing in a spot like Korketrekkeren, which means “the corkscrew.” Take the local metro to the top of the 1.2-mile long hill and sled down (helmet and sled rentals are available).
On September 11, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:From lush forests and parks to world-renowned museums to cutting-edge restaurants, Oslo offers a wide range of activities for all budgets and seasons. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Oslo:
1. Frogner Park. Oslo’s largest park is a scenic spot with lush gardens, fountains, streams and ponds. Most magnificent, however, is the Vigeland Sculpture Park that lies within. Over the course of 20 years, local sculptor Gustav Vigeland produced more than 200 bronze and granite sculptures for the park. The larger-than-life structures reveal intimate human experiences: Lovers share a tender moment, a rotund mother nurtures her brood, a baby screams mid-tantrum and a wrinkled elderly couple chats side by side. The park is particularly stunning at sunset, when the sculptures take on a soft glow.
2. The Viking Ship Museum. For a glimpse of Norway’s storied past, visit Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum, where you are dwarfed by sleek, massive ships dating back to the 9th century. The well-preserved Oseberg ship has an intricately carved oak hull and a curling prow that casts spiraled shadows around the museum walls. Thought to have been a burial tomb for a queen, the ship contained jewelry, furniture, sleighs, carriages, tapestries, along with the skeletons of the two women and many animals at excavation.
3. The National Gallery. Oslo’s National Gallery houses art by El Greco, Picasso, Cézanne, Modigliani and Gauguin. The highlight, however, is the work of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. One version of his most famous piece, The Scream, hangs in this museum. Visits are best concluded with a stop in the Gallery’s café, where you can sip café au lait while admiring plaster copies of Louvre sculptures donated by France in 1923. Admission is free on Sundays, and a one-day ticket grants access to affiliated art museums throughout the city. To see more work by Munch, visit the Munch Museum in Tøyen.
4. Norsk Folk Museum. Oslo’s extraordinary open-air folk museum is filled with more than 150 original buildings, restored and relocated, depicting life in Norway over the past hundreds of years. Top attractions include a cottage interior covered in beautifully intricate rosemaling, a style of decorative painting with flourishes and flowers, and a medieval stave church built around 1200 A.D.
5. Enjoy a ride on the Oslo Fjord. If the weather is decent, consider a hop-on, hop-off cruise on the glittering waters of the Oslo Fjord. This is a great way to visit several city attractions, like the modern opera house with its innovative marble exterior and a roof that slopes to ground level. The cruise continues to the museums along the Bygdøy peninsula.
On July 15, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:Melbourne boasts some of the world’s finest cultural events in fashion, art, literature and film. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best cultural events in town:
1. Melbourne Fashion Festival. Held at the end of February each year, this stylish affair showcases the work of Australia’s top designers, including Lisa Gorman, Alex Perry and Alice McCall as well as rising stars like Dion Lee and Magdalena Velevska. Look for runway shows, beauty workshops, cultural exhibits and industry forums.
2. Next Wave Festival. Perhaps the city’s most innovative festival, this multidisciplinary event presents the work of artists ages 16 to 30 in literature, new media, performance, dance, theater and visual arts. Each festival is shaped around a conceptual theme like “no risk too great” or “the space between us wants to sing.” Buy a day pass and use it as an excuse to explore the city while traveling to events all over town. It comes every two years during May.
3. St. Kilda Film Festival. Head to St. Kilda in May for Australia’s longest-running short film festival, where you can check out movies by emerging Aussie directors as well as work from around the world.
4. Melbourne Writers Festival. Held each year at the end of August, this impressive literary festival has drawn big names like Dave Eggers, J.M. Coetzee, Annie Proulx, Isabel Allende, Roddy Doyle, Zadie Smith, Bill Bryson and Margaret Atwood. Join in for readings, workshops and panels across the city.
5. Melbourne Fringe Festival. This independent arts festival at the end of September is known for its quirky productions of theater, comedy, performance art, digital art, cabaret and circus. Venues range from formals spots like the Melbourne Museum to tiny bars, theaters and even subway stations.
6. Melbourne Stencil Festival. Melbourne is often cited as the world’s best city for stencil and street art, so it’s only fitting that there should be a festival to honor this edgy, often political art form. Check out work from around the world at gallery venues and take a graffiti tour of the laneways in Fitzroy.
On July 15, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:For a unique and beautiful souvenir to bring home from Melbourne, consider purchasing a piece of Aboriginal art. In the city, you’ll find artistic styles from all over Australia, both contemporary and traditional. Travel home with a canvas covered in thousands of colorful dots, swirling motifs, serpents, lizards and kangaroos. Look for galleries and shops like Art Yarramunua, City Gallery, Craft Victoria, Dacou Gallery, Flinders Lane Gallery and the Koorie Connections Altair at the Queen Victoria Market, all certified by local government to sell these works in an ethical manner.
If you’re not in the market for an original piece, consider posters, tea towels, tablecloths or art books. Well-crafted options are available for sale at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the Melbourne Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria. These, too, are certified as ethical vendors.
Another good souvenir to pick is a bottle of wine. Australia has been building a reputation around its shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Check out wine shops in Melbourne or tour the nearby Yarra Valley wine country and buy some bottles after your tastings.
On July 15, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:To appreciate the full Melbourne experience, don’t leave town without trying several dishes. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ top picks for must-try Melbourne food experiences:
1. Vegemite. This mysterious dark paste is the classic Australian comfort food. Originally created from brewer’s yeast by Melbourne’s Fred Walker Company, Vegemite was promoted Down Under as an excellent source of vitamin B. Try it thinly spread on a buttered piece of toast.
2. Coffee. Melbourne has a strong café culture, with frothy, delectable coffee drinks to please even the pickiest lot. Baristas receive extensive training and the city standard is one of the highest worldwide. Try a “flat white,” similar to a latte but with slightly less foam, a “short black” (espresso) or a “long black” (double shot of espresso over hot water). For the city’s best, head to Atomica in Fitzroy, The Auction Rooms in North Melbourne or A Minor Place in Brunswick.
3. Tim Tams. Australia’s signature biscuit is just as popular in Melbourne as it is throughout the country. Something like an Australian Oreo, Tim Tams are composed of two chocolate cookies joined by a chocolate cream filling. For a quintessential Aussie kid experience, try the Tim Tam Slam, in which both ends of the cookie are bitten off and a hot beverage is sipped through the soft center.
4. Street sushi. Melbourne is home to some of the world’s finest Japanese restaurants, but sushi rolls are widely available as street food as well, especially around the Central Business District. Rolls are left uncut, allowing pedestrians to eat them on the spot or carry them along to nibble while walking. This inexpensive snack is one of the city’s tastiest (and healthiest) street eats.
5. Wine. Australia has gained fame in recent years as one of the world’s best wine producers, particularly for its coveted shiraz and cabernet sauvignon varieties. Visit wine shops throughout Melbourne for tastings, chat with knowledgeable sommeliers in the city’s finer restaurants or take a vineyard tour of the nearby Yarra Valley.
On July 15, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:Drinking is certainly a favorite pastime in Melbourne, and the city offers a wide range of nightlife options, from casual pubs to swanky lounge bars. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ top picks for the best nightlife in Melbourne:
1. Rooftop Bar. As the name suggests, the main draw at Rooftop is its excellent view, made even better by the great beer selection and frequent outdoor movie screenings. An added perk: Barhopping is easy here, as popular drinking spots Cookie and Toff in Town are located in the same building.
2. Belgian Beer Café Bluestone. This St. Kilda bar is located in a historic bluestone building with an attractive rustic interior. On sunny days, its beer garden is the ideal spot to enjoy moules frites and Belgian brews like Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Kriek.
3. Section 8. Housed in a converted shipping container, this quirky Chinatown bar is popular for its laid-back and artsy vibe, weekend DJs and simple, quality drink list.
4. The Esplanade. Known by its endearing nickname “The Espy,” this gracefully crumbling hotel is a great place to hear live rock music.
5. Borsch, Vodka & Tears. It’s all in the name at this old-school Polish establishment, which carries more than 100 varieties of vodka.
6. Melbourne Supper Club. Favored for its comfortable leather lounges, wine “encyclopedia,” and stunning view of Parliament House at night, the Melbourne Supper Club is a classic that won’t disappoint.
On July 15, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:The best way to see Melbourne in one day starts with a hot jam doughnut at the Queen Victoria Market. Take your time wandering the market stalls to chat with vendors and sample unusual treats. Once you’re through, head to the Central Business District to explore the laneways and admire the city’s street art, stopping at boutiques and galleries along the way.
When you’re ready to eat, head to Japanese canteen Yu-u for a delicious prix fixe lunch tray of miso soup, fresh fish and pickled veggies. Walk on to Federation Square, where you can check out the futuristic architecture of its buildings, get a free tour of the square (available Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m.) or peek inside museums like The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia (dedicated to Aussie art) and National Design Centre (focused on local design).
Go for dinner and wine at much-loved tapas restaurant MoVida before heading to the Rooftop Bar on Swanston Street for an outdoor movie screening. Finish the night with cocktails at trendy bar Cookie located in the same building.
On July 15, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:Melbourne citizens are no doubt a fashionable lot, and the city is home to many talented local designers and therefore lots of shopping. To admire their work, visit boutiques like Arabella Ramsay, Gorman, Vixen and Willow. Vintage clothing is also hugely popular, and one of the best places to find it is Hunter Gatherer in St. Kilda. The shop also features its own vintage-inspired brand, and all profits go to local charities.
For the department store experience, head to Melbourne original Myer, the largest of its kind nationwide, or check out David Jones, another Australian classic.
If you’re looking for reading material for the plane ride home, Metropolis Bookshop is an excellent source for rare books on art and design. Readings in Carlton is another great find. This well-stocked bookstore carries an impressive collection of Australian fiction and often hosts in-store events with authors and musicians.
On July 15, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:Bring the family along for this vacation — Melbourne is full things to do with kids. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ top picks for kid-friendly Melbourne must-sees:
1. Visit four-legged friends at the Collingwood Children’s Farm. Nestled in the green meadows overlooking the Yarra River, this scenic farm allows children the chance to interact with animals of all kinds and participate in the chores of country life. Kids jump at the chance to bottle-feed baby lambs, search for fresh eggs, milk cows and ride ponies. Check the schedule for special activities like hay rides and bonfires. The farm is open in all weather, every day of the year.
2. Learn about Aboriginal cultures at the Melbourne Museum. For something that will interest parents and children, head to Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, a permanent exhibit on Aboriginal cultures at the Melbourne Museum. Walk the Milarri Garden Trail, an outdoor area filled with indigenous plants, and learn about their traditional uses for Aboriginal Australians. Throughout the rest of the exhibit, children learn about Aboriginal history and cultures as they exist today. Be sure to check out other displays for children — like Sam the koala — while at the Melbourne Museum.
3. Get the adrenaline pumping at Luna Park. This campy amusement park dating back to 1912 is a treasured Melbourne institution. Enter through the mouth of the iconic Mr. Moon to enjoy the Scenic Railway ride or take a spin on the park’s Magical Carousel. For those seeking greater thrills, newer attractions like wild kamikaze-style ride Pharaoh’s Curse should do the trick. To complete the experience, treat the kids to some “fairy floss,” the Australian term for cotton candy.
4. Wander through the Children’s Garden at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. This magical spot in the city’s stunning botanic gardens is devoted entirely to little ones, with a wetland area, bamboo forest, plant tunnel, gorge and ruin garden. The Kitchen Garden, filled with edible plants, occasionally holds interactive storytelling events ending with food plucked from its plot. Kids are encouraged to touch, dig, hide, and explore.
5. Nurture the artist within at ArtPlay and the National Gallery. Creative Melbourne is filled with great opportunities for budding artists. Located in a converted railway building in Birrarung Marr, ArtPlay offers a vast range of art workshops for children, in addition shadow plays, storytelling, drumming and more. The National Gallery of Victoria also provides art workshops for children along with kid-friendly scavenger hunts and gallery tours.
On July 15, 2012Kate Newman answered the question:Melbourne is packed with enough things to see and do to satisfy nature lovers, artists, sports fans and foodies. Here’s Forbes Travel Guide’s round-up the five best activities in Melbourne:
1. Visit Federation Square. It makes sense to start your trip in the city’s hub, not least because the nice-sized visitors’ center is housed there. But the 41,000-square-foot square itself is an attraction. Grab a flat white — espresso topped with steamed, foamy milk — and take in the futuristic architecture, watch groups performing tai chi or get a free 50-minute tour (Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m.) of the square.
2. Check out local laneway art. Many Melburnians will tell you that the top restaurants, bars, boutiques and galleries are hidden in the laneways, the alleys that run behind the city streets. Yet the laneways are best known as a giant canvas for public art, their walls covered with elaborate murals and stenciling. In recent years, respected street artists Banksy and Logan Hicks have added their work to the mix. To see some art, walk down Hosier Lane, Caledonian Lane and Centre Way.
3. Shop at the Queen Victoria Market. A stop at this iconic market is a must on any Melbourne itinerary. Dating back to 1878, Queen Victoria Market is home to nearly 1,000 vendors selling every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable, along with meat, fish, clothing and handicrafts. Among the more exotic offerings are giant squid and kangaroo meat. A hot jam doughnut from the market’s food truck is an essential part of the experience. Tours and cooking classes are widely available, and the Wednesday-night market features live music and dance performances.
4. Go for a game of Australian Rules Football. In Melbourne, it won’t be long before you hear talk of “the footy,” Australian Rules football. This fast-paced, aggressive blend of rugby, Irish Gaelic football and the Aboriginal game marngrook is a passion of many Australians, but it’s most popular in Melbourne, where the sport originated and most of its teams are still based. Take in a match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground or Telstra Stadium, where the tickets are cheap, the meat pies are hot, and the crowds are loud and good-natured.
5. Explore the Royal Botanic Gardens. Home to more than 50,000 plants from Australia and beyond, these magnificent gardens on the south bank of the Yarra River are among the best of their kind worldwide. Wander through rainforest, herb gardens, cacti and succulents, and admire the rare collections of roses and orchids. This is a lovely spot to relax with a book or a picnic. Look for Moonlight Cinema and theater performances during the summer months.