• Photo: VICTOR TORRES / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Horia Bogdan / Shutterstock


On three islands and between two brilliant blue fjords lies Ålesund, one of Norway's largest harbors for exporting dried and fresh fish. About two-thirds of its 1,040 wooden houses were destroyed by a fire in 1904. In the rush to shelter 10,000 people, Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II, who often vacationed here, led a swift rebuilding that married Art Nouveau design with Viking flourishes. Winding streets are crammed with buildings topped with turrets, spires, gables, dragon heads, and curlicues. Today it's considered one of the few Art Nouveau cities in the world. Inquire at the tourism office for one of the insightful walking tours.


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