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SOUTHERN NORWAY

A summer paradise

Scroll down for inspiration or go directly to our plan your trip page

The summer paradise Bragdøya in Kristiansand .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet
The summer paradise Bragdøya in Kristiansand .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet

The secret is out!

Southern Norway is the Norwegian’s own summer paradise.

The glittering sea. The big, blue sky. The smooth and warm rocks lazy sunbathers love.

No wonder the area is known as “the smiling south”.

The summer paradise Bragdøya in Kristiansand .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet
The summer paradise Bragdøya in Kristiansand .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet

Stroll through narrow streets between white wooden houses, in small towns that are dotted along the coastline like a string of pearls.

The book town of Tvedestrand is a great place to start, before you continue south to the charming villages Arendal, Grimstad, Lillesand and Mandal …

Farsund .
Photo: Hanne Feyling / Visit Sørlandet
Farsund .
Photo: Hanne Feyling / Visit Sørlandet

… and set aside time to visit the artisans in Risør. The many unique niche stores, like Embla Design or Galleri Villvin, make it a heaven for those who love handmade jewellery and other handicrafts.

Arts and crafts in Risør .
Photo: Christine Baglo
Arts and crafts in Risør .
Photo: Christine Baglo

The main city and port of the region is Kristiansand, one of the most popular cities in Norway in the summer.

The fish quay in Kristiansand .
Photo: Victoria Nevland / Visit Sørlandet
The fish quay in Kristiansand .
Photo: Victoria Nevland / Visit Sørlandet

A great city beach, a booming cultural scene, and music festivals like Palmesus, that attract an audience of 60,000 people, are some of the reasons.

Palmesus music festival in Kristiansand .
Photo: Palmesus
Palmesus music festival in Kristiansand .
Photo: Palmesus

It’s not difficult to understand why Norwegians dream of owning a summer house in Southern Norway.

You probably share that dream too, right? Luckily there are many holiday homes for rent in this beautiful archipelago with thousands of islands and small fishing villages, like Ny-Hellesund …

Ny-Hellesund .
Photo: Morten Teinum / Visit Sørlandet
Ny-Hellesund .
Photo: Morten Teinum / Visit Sørlandet

… or the car-free outport of Lyngør that spans over several small islands. You can get here by ferry – or call a local taxi and wait for a boat to turn up!

You won’t need a taxi boat back for days though, because this is where you enjoy the slow life. A place you go to relax. Eat. Play. Sleep.

Lyngør beach .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet
Lyngør beach .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet

Or maybe waking up in a lighthouse is on your bucket list? This beauty at Norway’s southernmost tip, Lindesnes, has been guiding ships through the dark for hundreds of years.

Now, it’s a magical place to spend the night …

… and to get a refreshing close up with the forces of nature. Just as fascinating on a stormy winter day as it is in the heat of summer.

Lindesnes lighthouse .
Photo: Anders Martinsen / Visit Sørlandet AS
Lindesnes lighthouse .
Photo: Anders Martinsen / Visit Sørlandet AS

Another totally unforgettable bucket list experience nearby is the 18-course menu at Under, the first underwater restaurant in Northern Europe.

5,5 metres below sea level you can enjoy the wonders of the sea through this already iconic window (no, it’s not an aquarium) and on your plate. Book well in advance!

“A heavenly experience below the sea.”
Leading Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

The underwater restaurant Under in Lindesnes .
Photo: MIR / Snohetta / Under
The underwater restaurant Under in Lindesnes .
Photo: MIR / Snohetta / Under

The region’s natural wonders also include these horizontal potholes at Brufjell, created some 20,000 years ago during the Ice Age, when the sea level was higher.

Brufjell .
Photo: Peder Austrud / Visit Sørlandet
Brufjell .
Photo: Peder Austrud / Visit Sørlandet

You should also stop by Flekkefjord, where cool street art (pictured) add a quirky contrast to the traditional white wooden houses.

In Kristiansand, the street art project Coolart has converted the city into a giant outdoor gallery.

Street art in Flekkefjord .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet
Street art in Flekkefjord .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet

And don’t be surprised if old school American cars pass you on the road, especially if you explore Lista and Farsund. This area is a little piece of America in Norway, and many locals drive around in shiny Buicks, Cadillacs, or Pontiacs.

Ever since the vast emigration in the 19th century, when more than 80,000 people left Southern Norway for the US, the area has had a strong connection to American culture. This is celebrated in the yearly American festival.

American festival in Farsund .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet
American festival in Farsund .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet

This is also the place to be if you long to hear someone yell: “Surf’s up!”

The white beaches of Lista are just some of the many beautiful beaches along the southern coast.

A beach in Lista .
Photo: Johan Wildhagen
A beach in Lista .
Photo: Johan Wildhagen

Or how about enjoying the archipelago from a SUP board?

Stand up paddleboarding in Southern Norway .
Photo: Magnus Furset / drone: Vi Duc Trong / film: Karl Erik Brøndbo
Stand up paddleboarding in Southern Norway .
Photo: Magnus Furset /drone: Vi Duc Trong / film: Karl Erik Brøndbo

For more quirky holiday memories (and to get back to that heavenly lazy mood), spend a night in the tree houses in the forest inland of Gjerstad (pictured) or Fiddan.

You might even spot a moose, the king of the forest (to be treated with respect, of course). To ensure a safe and unforgettable close-up, you should look for the tame, sweet moose at Elgtun.

Tree house in Gjerstad .
Photo: Frame & Work
Tree house in Gjerstad .
Photo: Frame & Work

Dyreparken zoo and amusement park in Kristiansand offers exciting encounters with both Norwegian wildlife and the kings of the African savanna, as well as adrenaline-filled rides and themed areas based on well-known children’s books.

You can also spend hours in their large water park, assuring children (of all ages) a splashing dream day.

Huckybucky forest in Kristiansand zoo and amusement park .
Photo: Frame & Work
Huckybucky forest in Kristiansand zoo and amusement park .
Photo: Frame & Work

Splashing is also guaranteed if you go rafting (or join other cool activities) with TrollAktiv in Setesdal.

Rafting in Setesdal .
Photo: TrollAktiv
Rafting in Setesdal .
Photo: TrollAktiv

If you prefer to stay on dry land, a rail biking tour at the Flekkefjord railway line is a fun option.

Here, a nature experience is mixed with fascinating architectural insight into the making of this seventeen-kilometre railway track (now closed for trains).

Flekkefjordbanen in Southern Norway .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet
Flekkefjordbanen in Southern Norway .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet

No matter how you choose to explore Southern Norway, we are pretty sure that you will leave with a smile on your face.

So why wait? Plan your trip today!

Merdø island .
Photo: Peder Austrud / Visit Sørlandet
Bragdøya .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet
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