Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 7: Norway hiding all brooms on Christmas Eve

It’s Day 7 of our Advent Calendar and today we are headed to Norway to find out why it is important to do your Christmas cleaning on time. Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here!



In Norway you’ll want to do your Christmas cleaning long before the Christmas Eve because on the night of the Christmas every smart  (or superstitious, depending on who you ask) Norwegian will hide all the brooms in the house. December is the darkest time of the year and in Norway it’s a long-held belief that mischievous spirits and witches roam the lands during the period. This is of course bad news for all the broom-owners, because the witches will be lurking about looking to steal a broom for their traditional Christmas night-ride.

Even if you are not in Norway, it may be a good idea to put the cleaning aside for the night, hide the brooms and just enjoy the time of the year with your family and loved ones. After all, Christmas witches exist in other parts of the world as well, remember la Befana?

Buy the Oslo Marco Polo Pocket Guide.

Oslo Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Oslo

Looking at Oslo from the water, you can see how the city cosily nestles between green hills. Its skyline is a real mixture of all sorts with a container port on one side and a marina on the other. In between are the new opera house sparkling in the sun, massive Akershus Fortress standing proud, the square towers of the red brick city hall and the promenade Aker Brygge. The whole dynamism of the Norwegian capital is spread out in front of you: industry and leisure, culture and history, politics and pleasure. 

Let Marco Polo show you the unique experiences to be had in the Norwegian capital:

Oslo Marco Polo Guide

The Holmenkollen ski jump curves elegantly away from the slope and forms the focal point of a magnificent ski arena which is both a major landmark and the heart of Norway’s national sport. For an unbeatable view, take the high-speed lift to the top of the tower – it’s almost as quick as the skiers speeding down the jump!

Along with the Icelanders, the Norwegians have the greatest appetite for literature of any nation in the world and Oslo is proud of having a proper literature building, the Litteraturhuset, where readings and cultural debates are held. There is also a literature café where many guests nowadays sit with iPads in front of them.

Apart from a large number of regular guests, inquisitive and hungry tourists also find their way to this pinnacle of perfection – Mat & Vinhus – and are rewarded with excellent Norwegian delicacies such as reindeer and herring specialities.

Join the locals in Frogner Park and party the ‘white night’ through ’til dawn in the middle of the city to the sound of the chink of glasses and strumming of guitars. People crowd around the Monolith in Vigeland Sculpture Park to catch a glimpse of the sunset.

Child-friendly Oslo even has a Museum for International Children’s Art with a wide variety of shapes and colours depicting how children see the world. And children can join in everything too – while adults are only allowed to watch.

Oslo is a bastion of jazz and the jazz club Herr Nilsen is at its very heart. Here you can listen to traditional jazz played live almost every evening. During the breaks, many pints are downed… along with memories.

Buy the Oslo Marco Polo Pocket Guide.

Oslo Marco Polo Guide

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marco polo pinterest oslo

Low Budget Oslo

Want to visit Oslo on a budget? Norway is notoriously expensive but here are Marco Polo’s top tips to explore this fantastic city without spending a fortune:

 Oslo Marco Polo Guide



Evergreen Inn has Oslo’s cheapest beer – just 30 kroner (NOK) before 9pm. It’s still affordable later on too. Pilestredet 39 | In the university complex

There are many free pop, rock and folk concerts held on the square outside the city hall. Details from:

Matinées and concerts are held regularly in and around the opera house. Free entrance. There’s something on every day – that’s what the director of the opera house promised! So keep your eyes peeled.



Small, simple cabins can be rented on Bogstad Campingplatz to the west of Holmenkollen (from £43). The bus stops right outside the campsite. Ankerveien 117 | Tel. 22 51 08 00 | | Bus 32: Bogstad Camping

Budget Hotel: The top address in Oslo for backpackers! Small, clean, functional rooms at cheap rates.  Between the opera house and Karl Johans gate. If you book early, you only pay around £24 a night. 54 rooms | Prinsens gate 6 | Tel. 21 01 40 55 | | All bus, tram and T-bane lines, near Oslo S

Cochs Pensjonat: Modern but simply furnished rooms in a hotel near the palace. Not all 88 rooms are en-suite. Breakfast is not included in the price. However, overnight guests are given a discount for the breakfast buffet in the studenty café next door. Parkveien 25 | Tel. 23 33 24 00 | | Tram 12: Welhavens gate

Perminalen: A classic among Oslo’s cheaper hotels. From the end of the 1960s this rather shabby building was used by soldiers on service or on their weekend breaks. Now it’s a meeting place for backpackers from around the world. 1–6 bed rooms, better youth hostel standard. Perfect location between Stortinget and Akershus Fortress. 55 rooms | Øvre Slottsgate 2 | Tel. 24 00 55 00 | | Bus 30, 31, 32, 54: Kongensgate



The second-hand chain Fretex, run by the Salvation Army, sells everything from sports articles to evening dresses and with a bit of luck, you may be able to pick up a Norwegian jumper or some other typically Norwegian items. Markveien 5 | (Website in Norwegian.) | Tram 11, 12, 13: Birkelunden.

Up to 30 market traders set up their stalls every day on Oslo’s Red Square – where the Social Democrats and Unions have their offices. You can find anything here from Norwegian CDs to locally produced honey and military memorabilia – often at low prices. Youngstorget | Tram 11, 12, 13, 17: Brugata


Eating Out

You don’t have to be a student to eat for 50 NOK in the student canteen, Frederikke Mathus, in Blindern. Mon–Thu 10am–7pm, Fri 10am–6pm | Problemveien 11 | T-bane 3, 4, 5: Blindern

Asylet: The building from around 1730 was once a children’s home. Simple dishes such as smørebrød (sandwiches) and grilled salmon are served with beer in this dark historical restaurant and in the pretty courtyard at the back. Grønland 28 | Tel. 22 17 09 39 | T-bane 1–6: Grønland

Lorry: Classic pub with more than 100 different types of beer, plain Norwegian food à la carte and a set lunch. Lively atmosphere and a meeting place for artists. Parkveien 12 | Tel. 22 69 69 04 | Tram 11, 17, 18: Welhavens gate

Olympen mat og vinhus: Generous helpings of reindeer, boiled cod and sursild (sour herring) are served here. Grønlandsleiret 15 | Tel. 24 10 19 99 | T-bane 1–6: Grønland


Sightseeing & Transport

A day ticket for Oslo’s public transport system costs 75 NOK and is valid for 24 hours. You can travel on all underground trains and trams as well as passenger ships that leave from Vippetangen for the nearby islands. Tickets can be bought at all stations and at Narvesen, 7-Eleven, Mix and Deli-de-Luca convenience stores.

One of the most beautiful views in Oslo comes free of charge. The breathtaking journey in the glass lift up to 34 Skybar on the 34th floor of the Plaza Hotel is only for those with a head for heights. Sonja Henie Plass 3, Oslo

If you buy a ticket for the National Gallery (50 NOK) and have enough stamina, you can also visit the three other national museums on the same day! Museum of Architecture, Contemporary Art and Decorative Arts and Design | | Or simply go there on Sundays when admission is free.


Buy the Oslo Marco Polo Pocket Guide.

Oslo Marco Polo Guide

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Top 10 Family Beaches

Off on holiday with the kids? Here are Marco Polo’s Top 10 Family Beaches from all around the world! From Brussels to Crete, and from Italy to the USA – we’ve done the hard work for you – so you don’t have to! 


1. Dominican Republic, Samana, Las Terrenas

The water is like a bath, the sand perfect for playing in and, where the waves gently lap the shore, squeals of delight can be heard each time a wave comes in. The Caribbean is a paradise under palms for families. When the children are a bit bigger, whale-watching is an unforgettable experience – the best time to visit is in February.

Caribbean Marco Polo Map


2.  Greece, Crete, Bálos Beach

Turquoise, more turquoise, Bálos. The lagoon in the northwest of Greece’s largest island gives you that South Seas’ feeling – but without the palms. The beach of white shell and coral sand around the lagoon and the shallow water – up to a child-friendly depth of 50cm (less than 2ft) – are ideal for a relaxing family trip.

Crete Marco Polo Guide


3. USA, Sanibel Island, Bowman’s Beach

Buttercup Lucine, Florida Cone… the sandcastles on Sanibel Island are richly decorated, the island an eldorado for shell collectors. Gentle waves and no sudden drops are an open invitation for small children to paddle safely. For souvenirs head for ‘She Sells Sea Shells’.

Florida Marco Polo Spiral Guide


4. Italy, Caorle, Spiaggia di Levante

Spiaggia di Levante, with its sunbeds and shades, stretches out beyond the old fishermen’s church. Kids love the climbing frame on the sandy beach. Don’t forget a walk along the promenade with the children who can clamber around the artistic stone sculptures to their heart’s content.

Italy Marco Polo Guide


5. Western Australia, Monkey Mia

Anyone who has experienced this will dream about it for the rest of their lives. Swimming with dolphins is just pure bliss. On Monkey Mia beach Flipper’s relatives in the wild come right up to the beach. What does a dolphin’s skin feel like? Like a shelled hard-boiled egg under water!

Australia Marco Polo Guide


6. Belgium, Blankenberge

Building sand castles on the beach here has moved to a completely new level! Every year, children and adults can marvel at the work of professionals during the sand sculpture festival when the most incredible creations imaginable are conjured up in Blankenberge. For the rest of the year the little ones can try to make a work of art of their own, or simply enjoy paddling in the water.

Belgium / Luxembourg Marco Polo Map


7. France, Cabourg, La Plage des Romantiques

Villas along the promenade conjure up pictures of the elegant spas of old. The beach has been given the ‘Famille Plus – Mer’ seal of approval by the Ministry of Tourism and is considered particularly family friendly with lots of activities for young visitors available throughout the year.

France Marco Polo Atlas


8. France, Île de Ré, Le Bois-Plage-en-Ré

The beaches slope gently into the sea and the temperature of the water is perfect thanks to the Gulf Stream – the beaches in the south of the Île de Ré, off the French Atlantic coast, are ideal for the whole family. And don’t forget to buy a packet of the finest salt – known as fleur de del – from the salt pans here to take back home with you.

French Atlantic Coast Marco Polo Guide


9. USA, New Jersey, Cape May

This brightly-coloured resort with its oversized ‘dolls’ houses on the southern tip of the Garden State looks as if it is made of icing. There’s plenty of room on the long beach on the Atlantic for building sand castles and the waves are perfect for boogie boarding too. Cape May is perfect for all ages.

USA Marco Polo Map


10. Norway, Stavanger, Solastranden

A long, fine sandy beach, blue skies with a few cotton-wool clouds just here and there… Who doesn’t think of Norway’s beaches straight away? Solastranden near Stavanger is a popular place for families in the summer months.

Norway Marco Polo Guide


Content taken from the Marco Polo World Map with 100 Dream Beaches.

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