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The Old Town in Kristiansand | Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand
The Old Town in Kristiansand | Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

Why You Should Visit Kristiansand at Least Once

Picture of Danai Christopoulou
Updated: 28 November 2017

Norway’s fifth largest city has been around since 400 AD (although it was formally founded in 1641). Thanks to its location in the south of the country, Kristiansand is a favourite holiday destination for Norwegians – it has a beautiful beach, tons of activities to do with your kids, and is just a ferry ride from Denmark. But even if you’re not a local, there are plenty of reasons for you to take a  stroll through Kristiansand’s picturesque Old Town and explore its surroundings. We’ve listed down just a few to get you started.

You can go for fish and chill

Every proper port city has a vibrant fish market down by the docks, and Kristiansand is no exception. At Fiskebrygga, you can taste delectable shrimp and mussels just as they’re being taken out of the boat, buy various kinds of fresh fish, or dine at one of the restaurants. When the weather is nice, you can also visit the docks just to chill with some ice cream, or enjoy one of the many open-air concerts that frequently take place here.

Fiskebrygga, Gravane 6, Kristiansand, Norway, +47 38 07 50 00

You can find your flock

Dyreparken is Norway’s largest zoo and amusement park. Situated just 11 km outside Kristiansand, this gigantic entertainment area comprises several different parks, a zoo (where you can observe Nordic animals in their natural habitats and also endangered animals from Africa and Asia freely roaming about), theme parks inspired by characters from children’s books or cartoons, and even an impressive water park. You don’t really have to be a kid to see the appeal in all this, just be a kid at heart!

Dyreparken, Kardemomme By 4609, Kristiansand, Norway, +47 970 59 700

You can share a cup with your favorite pup

In Fants Favoritt, every dog has its day – and its daily treat. Kristiansand’s one and only dog cafe serves gluten-free, fresh-out-the-oven muffins and other baked delicacies that cater to both humans and canines and will have you and your furry friend coming back for seconds. Don’t have a dog? Come for the made-for-humans menu, and sip your coffee while fawning over adorable pups. Now, who’s a good boy?

Fants Favoritt, Skippergada 38, Kristiansand Sør, Norway +47 969 09 421

A muffin eating a muffin | Courtesy of Fants Favoritt

A muffin eating a muffin | Courtesy of Fants Favoritt

You can park here for a while

You may have noticed this by now: Kristiansand’s parks are so much more than just parks – they’re destinations on their own. The same applies to Ravnedalen. In this nature park, you can spend some quiet time by the lakes, have a cup of coffee at Cafe Generalen, enjoy an ongoing concert or festival, or climb one of the cliffs (after all, Ravnedalen has about 70 established climbing routes). It’s safe to say you’ll be here for a while…

Ravnedalen park, Artillerivollen 63A, Kristiansand, Norway +47 38 09 07 91

Ravnedalen | Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

Ravnedalen | Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

You can aim to learn from the past

Built by the Germans during World War II, the Kristiansand Kanonmuseum features the world’s second largest land-based cannon and the only remaining 380mm Krupp gun in the world. But perhaps the most interesting thing to recognise is how something built for war (using war prisoners for labour) is now being used for educational purposes: to encourage people to learn from the past, not repeat it. Oh, you can also take a ride on the old ammunition railway train – this is Kristiansand, after all.

Cannon Museum, Krooddveien, Kristiansand, Norway, +47 38 08 50 90

The Cannon Museum | Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

The Cannon Museum | Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

Especially when the past is all around you

But the Cannon Museum is hardly Kristiansand’s only historical offering – in fact, part of the Vest-Agder museum complex (which contains 11 museums and tourist destinations in the area) is also the open-air Kristiansand Museum. Here, you can visit traditional houses and farmsteads dating back to 1585, or walk around a miniature city to see how Kristiansand used to look in the olden days.

Kristiansand Museum, Vigeveien 22B, Kristiansand, Norway, +47 38 10 26 80

You can dive into the blue of a Blue Flag beach

The Blue Flag signifies a clean beach with crystal clear waters, so when you see this sign at Bystranda you know you’re in good hands (or sands). Kristiansand’s southern location means the weather here is warmer than other parts of the country, so depending on when you visit you can go for a swim, attend the Palmesus beach festival or just relax at the spa and baths of the Aquarama.

Bystranda, Kristiansand, Norway

Bystranda | Jorunn Jensen © visit sørlandet, Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

Bystranda | Jorunn Jensen © visit sørlandet, Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

You can visit one of the largest cathedrals in the country

The neo-Gothic cathedral (consecrated in 1885) that dominates the city square is a sight to behold. Open all year long, it is also a place where the wounds of World War II are evident: when the Nazis attacked Kristiansand, the cathedral’s 70-metre tower was hit by an artillery shell. But aside from the somber history lesson, you’ll also feel awe and joy in here, especially if you come during the summer for one of the free organ concerts.

Gyldenløves gate 9, Kirkegata, Kristiansand, Norway, +47 38 19 68 00

 

Kristiansand Cathedral | Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

Kristiansand Cathedral | Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

You can play house in an 1800s Manor

Want to travel back in time? Step into the Gimle Gård Manor House, just a 20-minute walk from the city centre (and also a part of the Vest-Adger museum complex). Gimle was built as a summer estate around 1800 for a merchant and is now a place to marvel at paintings, periodic furniture and precious china. So take a stroll by the rose garden and pretend you’re in Downton Abbey – the Norwegian version of it, at least.

Gimleveien 23, Kristiansand, Norway,+47 38 10 26 80

The Manor House | © Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

The Manor House | © Courtesy of Visit Kristiansand

You can be a Viking for a day

Speaking of traveling back in time: in Lillesand, less than an hour away from Kristiansand, you can explore a reconstructed settlement from the Viking Bronze Age. At Bronseplassen, you can try your hand at archery, shop at the Viking market, and step into a fertility labyrinth. Moreover, there’s even a classroom for young students who want to learn the Viking ways. And of course, you’ll feast on a roast leg of lamb, just like the Vikings.

Bronseplassen, 4770 Høvåg, Norway

Woman in traditional clothing | Courtesy of Bronseplassen, Høvåg

Woman in traditional clothing | Courtesy of Bronseplassen, Høvåg