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Listen to the sound of the waves and let the sun paint freckles on your nose as you stroll along the harbour.
It’s time to explore the laidback vibes of Risør. The town, famous not only for its white-painted wooden houses but also for its contagious creative passion, is located a mere hour and a half from Kristiansand in Southern Norway.
A familiar sound as you approach the guest harbour.
You can live in your boat in the marina, or you can rent a quaint summer house in one of the alleys that overlook the archipelago. Just remember to book well in advance.
You’ll want to go back to the marina eventually, though – because the white-painted houses are not the only wooden handicraft Risør is known for. They’re pretty good at boat building, too.
They even host an annual wooden boat festival: Risør trebåtfestival.
Old and new vessels lined up next to each other, the freshest seafood out there, and a sailing regatta – this is what maritime dreams are made of!
The creative vibes lie thick over Risør. Go on an artistic journey through Galleri Villvin, which displays and sells handicraft from more than one hundred Scandinavian artists.
At the annual Villvinmarkedet festival in July, you can get your hands on even more handicraft products.
The people of Risør are passionate about their music as well. At The Risør Chamber Music Festival in the last week of June, some of the best musicians in the world perform in about 30 concerts in different venues – some even in private people’s homes.
While you’re there, you must try the chefs’ special in the gourmet restaurant at Stangholmen lighthouse – the Stangholmen bouillabaisse!
The idyllic island is also the perfect base if you want to go kayaking through the Risør archipelago.
And you’ll have no trouble finding that perfect, secluded bathing spot.
Or do you want to go for a swim in this little saltwater pool?
The potholes at Sild definitely provides a unique seawater dip.
The best way to explore the archipelago is undeniably by boat, but you don’t need your own.
Go old-school! The family-friendly Lille Danmark beach at Risøya is just a short trip from Risør with M/F Øisang, the oldest wooden car ferry in Norway that is still in operation.
The ferry was built at the local boatyard Moen, which is also home to Risør coastal heritage centre. Here, you can learn more about boat building, and let your kids build their own boat or just fish for tiny crabs from the pier.
And speaking of shellfish …
… it should come as no surprise that the seafood here is super fresh. At the popular outdoor restaurant Risør fiskemottak, they don’t even have a set menu – they serve the catch of the day!
They have a shop as well, so you can bring home a snack for supper or Sunday brunch. Can’t say no to that, can you?
The cafés have got your dessert sorted. Perhaps the locals’ favourite “melkekake” (milk cake) from Stavelin will be your new craving, too?
After a day packed with fun, the ocean breeze will have made you tired. At the award-winning and historic Det lille hotel, you’ll find just what you need to recharge.
But that is not the only charming place to spend a night in Risør – the tree houses in Gjerstad are bucket-list worthy! And if you have kids, those little monkeys will love it.
And if you’re dreaming of a charming small-town Christmas, you should stay in Risør until December.
Christmas lights twinkling in the narrow streets, traditional decorations, and activities for the whole family – it’s magical!
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