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‘Out of this world’: Norwegian beach named ‘best in Europe’

Haukland Beach on the island of Vestvågøy in Lofoten, in the north of the country, has been named best beach in Europe by travel publication Lonely Planet.

'Out of this world': Norwegian beach named 'best in Europe'
Photo by Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash

Haukland Beach on the island of Vestvågøy in Lofoten, in the north of the country, has been named best beach in Europe by travel publication Lonely Planet.

The beach beat out stiff competition from the likes of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Denmark to bag first place.

 
 
 
 
 
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Despite summer temperatures in Lofoten only averaging the mid-teens and the water at its warmest only ever reaching a spine tingling 15° Lonely Planet were smitten with the beach.

“Haukland Beach is out of this world, with spiky granite peaks thrusting above creaming sands and sapphire seas. The water is chilly, but you’ll be itching to jump in all the same,” the article said.

 
 
 
 
 
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READ MORE: Could ‘health passports’ kickstart travel around Europe?

Such high praise is nothing new to Huakland beach as it has previously been named Norway’s finest beach and also the world’s most beautiful.

Deputy mayor of Vestvågøy municipality, Anne Sand, is not surprised that the beauty spot has received the accolade.

 
 
 
 
 
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“It is about the contrasts in nature, the high mountains and the green mountain sides. Then you have the beautiful beach among all this, it could not be nicer,” she told state broadcaster NRK.

When asked what makes the beach stand out from its competition, she said that it was the unique location.

“Many of them are similar, but Haukland stands out and becomes something special- precisely because you find it in the arctic circle,” she said

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TRAVEL

Explore Austria: Mauer, a charming wine-hiking spot on Vienna’s outskirts

Catch the very tail-end of the wine season and autumn foliage in one of the lesser-explored corners of the Austrian capital: Mauer.

Explore Austria: Mauer, a charming wine-hiking spot on Vienna’s outskirts
Beautiful views and cosy taverns await you on the edge of Vienna. Photo: Catherine Edwards

Wine-hiking is an autumn must-do in Austria, and although the official Wine Hiking Day (Weinwandertag) that usually draws crowds has been cancelled two years in a row during the pandemic, it’s possible to follow the routes through beautiful scenery and wine taverns on your own.

Mauer in the southwest of Vienna is one of the routes that is mostly frequented by locals.


The footpath takes you through scenic vineyards. Photo: Catherine Edwards

You can reach this part of the 23rd district using Vienna’s public transport, and you have a few options. From the Hietzing station on the U4 line, you can take the tramline 60 or bus 56A. The former will take you either to Mauer’s central square or you can get off earlier at Franz-Asenbauer-Gasse to start the hike. If it’s too early in the day for wine just yet, you could start your day at the small and charming Designo cafe (Geßlgasse 6).

Otherwise, the residential area itself doesn’t have much to see, but keep an eye out as you wander between the taverns later — there are some beautiful buildings.

To start the hike, head west along Franz-Asenbauer Gasse, which will take you up into the vineyards, growing some red wine and Vienna’s specialty Gemischter Satz or ‘field blend’, which as the name suggests is a mixture of different types of grapes.

Photo: Catherine Edwards

The paved road takes a left turn, but the hiking route follows a smaller path further upwards. Here you’ll have magnificent views over the whole of Vienna.

If you stick to the official hiking route (see a map from Weinwandern here) you can keep the whole route under 5 kilometres. But more adventurous types don’t need to feel limited.

You can also follow the Stadtwanderweg 6 route (see a map here) either in full, which will add on a hefty 13 kilometres, or just in part, and venture further into the Mauerwald. If you do this, one spot to aim for is the Schießstätte, a former hunting lodge offering hearty Austrian meals.

EXPLORE AUSTRIA

In any case, you should definitely take a small detour to see the Wotrubakirche, an example of brutalist architecture from the mid-1970s built on a site that was used as a barracks during the Second World War.

Not far from the church is the Pappelteich, a small pond that is not only an important habitat for local flora and fauna, but a popular picnic spot for hikers. Its only water supply is from the rain, and due to climate change the pond has almost dried out in recent years, prompting the city to take action to boost its water supply by adding a permanent pipe.


The church is made up of over 150 concrete blocks. Photo: Catherine Edwards

What you really come to Mauer for, though, are the Heuriger or Viennese wine taverns. 

The most well-known is Edlmoser (Maurer Lange Gasse 123) which has previously been named as the best in Vienna. Note that it’s not open all year so check the website, but in 2021 it should be open between November 5th and 21st, and is also serving the goose that is a popular feature on Viennese menus this time of year.

Tip for translating Heuriger opening times: look for the word ausg’steckt, which is used by those taverns which aren’t open year round. They will also often show that they’re open by attaching a bunch of green twigs to the sign or front door.


Buschenschank Grausenburger. Photo: Catherine Edwards

Also worth visiting are cosy Buschenschank Grausenburger (Maurer Lange Gasse 101a), Heuriger Wiltschko (Wittgensteinstrasse 143 — located near the start of the hiking route, this is a good place to begin your tour) and Heuriger Fuchs-Steinklammer (Jesuitensteig 28).

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