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Kjetil Nordhus

Nordhus’ tips for cultural experiences in Kristiansand

Good vibes: Many visitors notice Kristiansand’s special energy. Maybe because it’s just the right size for artists and cultural workers to find each other and create this energy together.

From black hole to music mecca: Kristiansand used to be called “a black hole on the Norwegian music map”. The locals were keen to do something about this, and their hard work paid off. About ten years ago, the press started talking about the “Kristiansand wave”. The Palmesus music festival has established itself as one of the best in the country. But it is during the rest of the year you can see just how much the local music scene has improved. Kristiansand’s music venues, from the tiny Vaktbua through Kick and Teateret to the large Kilden, host a variety of local, regional, national, and international artists all year round.

Art: The city’s art scene has grown massively recently. Two museums not to be missed are Sørlandets Kunstmuseum and Kristiansand Kunsthall, one of Norway’s most progressive art galleries. Nearby you will also find the great little art gallery and shop Agder Kunstsenter. Many local artists work on Odderøya, a cultural island just south of the city centre. This former naval base is now a recreational area. Apart from beautiful views in all directions, this is also where you find Kilden Performing Arts Centre, concert venues, and a climbing park.

Coffee break: Cuba Life is a real gem, and Camillo Bastrup has been serving top-notch coffee for years.

Bar round: In relation to its population, Kristiansand has the most nightclubs in the country. Bakgården Bar is one of the best cocktail bars in Scandinavia, while the smaller Vaktbua has lots of hipster cred. Many bars show football. At Telfords Pub, you can please your tastebuds with a craft beer from Qvart Ølkompani in Lund. If you’re lucky, you get to enjoy your pint to the sound of the locals singing along to traditional songs.

Mina Bondevik

Bondevik’s tips for a Saturday with the locals in Kristiansand

Norwegian-style summer: Summer in Kristiansand is synonymous with islets and sun, and the city is full of friendly people. Spend your days chilling out on a boat or sunbathing on the beautiful rocky beaches. Some of the city’s best seafood restaurants are lined up along Fiskebrygga (the fish quay), so head over there when it’s time for lunch or dinner. Blend in with the locals by ordering a dish with freshly caught shrimp.

Ice cream in the sun: I also recommend one of the city’s many ice cream bars. Look out for ice cream from Hennig Olsen, a local producer who has been making their divine flavours in since 1924.

Christmas town: In December, Kristiansand is transformed into a Christmas town. Throughout the month you’ll find a traditional market, a public ice rink, and performances by the shopping area Torvet. Christmas lights and pine trees (and with a bit of luck, a thick layer of snow) ensure there’s a festive atmosphere.

City walk: I recommend a trip to the white wooden houses in Posebyen, Kristiansand’s oldest district. You can also hop on the sightseeing “City train” that takes you through the streets of Kristiansand in 30 minutes. Fun for both adults and kids.

See and be seen: The main street Markens is the best place to see and be seen, both during the day and in the evening. Markens is lined with shops and restaurants all the way from the shopping centre Slottet and down to the sea. Just be sure to explore the charming side streets too.

Shopping spree: There are around 400 shops in the centre, but the most unusual boutiques, bakeries, and cafés are located in Skippergata. When you need a break, you can always stop for a drink or something to eat in places like Geheb, Innom or Dampbageriet.

Boat trip: If you visit Kristiansand in the summer, you simply MUST go on a boat trip. With MS Bragdøya, also known as “Badebåten” (the bathing boat), you can go island hopping. Get off at any of the islands, spend the day in the sun, and take the boat back to the mainland in the afternoon.

Badebyen: On the central city beach you can play beach volleyball, swim in the sea, or just chill out with a good book. Odderøya island is located five minutes from the city beach and offers idyllic hiking trails, ruins from World War II, secluded beaches surrounded by rocks, and a fantastic view of the sea.

Bad weather? Stay warm at the Aquarama water park and spa, or spend the day at the shopping centre Sørlandssenteret.

Eat well: You can find everything from Spanish to Syrian dishes in Kristiansand, as well as exciting local specialities. At Bønder i Byen, the inspiration and ingredients come directly from farm life and traditional recipes. You’ll also find local and natural produce at Tilstede Mat Og Mer, which is located in the middle of Markens street.

Fish & game: Get your hands on some fresh fish, seafood, and game at Reinhartsen. This combined restaurant, shop, and deli is one of many excellent seafood places at Fiskebrygga.

Bars: Tollbodgata has more bars than any other street in Kristiansand. Harvey’s Sportsbar is the place to go to play shuffleboard or beer pong, ride a mechanical bull, or watch sports matches on a big screen. Close by you’ll find Bakgården, a cosy and slightly quieter place known for the best cocktails in the city.

Skybar: Club 21, located at the top of the Radisson Blu Caledonien Hotel, is within walking distance of Tollbodgata. Enjoy your drink with the best views of the city.

Craft beer: Get Kristiansand’s most local beer at Brygghuset, a pub where you can see into the brewery.

Janne Johnsen

Johnsen’s tips for urban Sunday walks

Odderøya: The hiking area close to the city has a lighthouse, sheltered bays with sandy beaches surrounded by rocks, and many cultural and war monuments. Enjoy the fabulous view from the top of the island and then pop into the café Søndre Batteri on the southern side (only open on Sundays). Odderøya Museumshavn (“museum harbour”) in Nodeviga focuses on the history of plastic boats and how boating as a leisure activity became popular in Norway after World War II. They also offer fun maritime activities for kids. Round off your visit with a waffle in the museum café Kabyssen.

Ravnedalen: A wonderful park and starting point for hikes in the recreational area Baneheia. Walk up the stairs to Ravneheia and enjoy the view, or continue on to Hellestønuten if you want a longer trip. You can also walk from Ravneheia down to Bånetjønn. Back in Ravnedalen, you have probably worked up an appetite. Pop in at Cafe Generalen, where you’ll find the best burgers in town.

Beach promenade: Kristiansand has a fantastic three-kilometre long beach promenade, so you can go for a pleasant stroll by the sea. Start at Fiskebrygga and go east along the water. There’s plenty to see on the way: The beach, the Tangen pier, the fountains in Nupenparken, and Christiansholm Fortress. Stop for lunch or a drink at one of the many restaurants or cafés.

Lille Preikestolen: Another idea is to walk around the lake Fiskåvannet just west of the city centre. Check out Lille Preikestolen, a rock formation that resembles the mighty Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) in Stavanger. The walk is around six kilometres long and a good starting point is Slettheia.

The timber trail: It is worth travelling half an hour to Vennesla, where you can experience one of the most epic hiking excursions in the country: the trail along the timber channel from Steinsfossen to Kringsjå. This spectacular hike goes through tunnels and over high-hanging bridges. The route is close to the Setesdalsbanen railway museum and its preserved narrow-gauge railway line. When the museum is open, you may get to see an old steam locomotive in action! You also pass an abandoned power station and the old farm Paulen Gård. The timber trail is protected, so treat the area with care and make sure you leave it as you would like to find it. And do remember that you follow the trail at your own risk.

Worth a visit: Another top tip is to visit the Kristiansand Canon Museum at Møvig, the open-air museum at Kongsgård, or the Bragdøya Coast Culture Centre, where you can go on a boat trip every week Monday to Friday. Check the relevant websites for opening hours before you head off.

Other ideas: Paddling is a popular activity in Kristiansand. You can also go climbing on the island of Odderøya or in the climbing park Høyt & Lavt. You’ll find lots of charming summer cafés on the islands outside of Kristiansand, for example on Østre Randøya, Dvergsøya, and Helleviga. Get there on MS Bragdøya, the so-called “bathing boat”.

Winter activities: On a winter trip to Kristiansand, you can go skiing in lit cross-country trails, try skating, or have fun in several toboggan runs around the city.

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