This travel piece focuses on the southern part of Norway, called Sørlandet, or Southern Norway, including the option to extend your holiday and experience some highlights in Fjord Norway, too!
We have set Kristiansand, the capital of the region, as the starting point for all the round trips. It is a city with palm trees on the beach, fun activities, excellent hotels, numerous cultural highlights, and delicious restaurants. For families, one of the biggest draws is Kristiansand Dyrepark (Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park) and the adjoining aqua park.
Most journeys in Southern Norway are by bus, train, and ferry. Make sure to add in plenty of extra stops – this part of Norway offers more hours of sunshine per year than anywhere else in the country!
Since the routes and timetables are subject to change, and some routes only are available in summer or during the school year, we recommend that you always use the Norwegian app and travel planner Entur to help plan your trip. Remember to enter your exact dates!
Kristiansand is the main transportation hub in Southern Norway with extensive train, bus, ferry and plane connections to the rest of Norway and beyond. You can easily travel to Kristiansand from Hirtshals in Denmark, and from Eemshaven in the Netherlands by ferry. There is also a ferry connection from Hirtshals to Stavanger.
Note: time estimates for the trips below are based on the shortest possible connection. Some trips may take longer.
This route runs west from Kristiansand to Stavanger. The first stop is beautiful Mandal, which you can reach by bus (45 mins). Here, you can stroll in the cosy, narrow streets and get a dose of culture at Buen kulturhus culture centre. Mandal also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the area.
If you go a bit west of Mandal, you can see the famous Lindesnes Lighthouse on the southernmost tip of mainland Norway. Lindesnes is also home to the restaurant Under – the world’s biggest underwater restaurant. Book a table well in advance to experience gourmet food in unique surroundings under the sea. Although there are some bus connections, it is easier to hire a car to get there. You can also combine it with accommodation at Lindesnes Havhotell, with a magnificent location at the pier.
From Mandal, you can take the bus to Lyngdal (30 mins), where you can spend the night at Rosfjord Strandhotel, a hotel that's right by the beach and the fjord, and enjoy Sørlandsbadet, both an indoor and outdoor water park.
You can also take a bus to Farsund and Lista Lighthouse (1 hr 10 mins, with some walking). Take a moment to admire the spectacular Light of Lista cabin and white beaches at Lista. The area also has unique bird life and is popular with surfers.
Next, take the bus on to the cosy little town of Flekkefjord (45 mins), the westernmost town in Southern Norway. Enjoy exciting street art and shopping in niche shops. A must-try activity in Flekkefjord is a rail cycling tour on seventeen kilometres of train tracks that formerly served the Flekkefjordbanen railway line. The activity is suitable for the whole family.
Afterwards, take a ferry out to visit the scenic island of Hidra off Flekkefjord. The trip across the sea only takes 7 minutes. Spend a relaxing time kayaking, swimming or fishing among islets and historic harbours. There are also many great hiking opportunities here.
Complete the roundtrip back to Kristiansand by bus from Flekkefjord (1 hr 45 mins), or go on by train ...
Take a short local bus ride to Sira station on the Sørlandet Line. A 45-minute train ride then takes you further west to the charming town of Egersund. Egersund has it all: coast, town, forest, and mountains!
While in the area, you should hike to the spectacular rock formation Trollpikken, located just outside town. Egersund Taxi offers a fixed-rate service from the train station to the car park by the start of the Trollpikken trail.
Switch trains in Egersund to the Jærbanen branch line, which heads to Stavanger. We highly recommend hopping off at Ogna or Brusand, to visit the long and beautiful Jærstrendene beaches. It's only a 10-15 minute stroll from the train station before you can plunge into the waves.
One hour and ten minutes by train from Egersund, you will arrive at the end station Stavanger, where seaside landscapes, colourful streets, cutting-edge restaurants, and vibrant cultural life await.
In the Stavanger region, you can experience some of Norway's most powerful nature experiences. Are you a fan of heights and want to go on one of Norway's most famous mountain hikes? The iconic Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) towers 604 metres above the Lysefjord and has been named the world’s most breathtaking viewpoint by Lonely Planet!
Take the Sørlandet Line back to Kristiansand (approx. 3hrs). To reach Denmark, you can take the ferry directly from Stavanger to Hirtshals (overnight 11 hrs 30 mins), or from Kristiansand to Hirtshals (2hrs 15 mins).
Use our flight map to find direct flights to Norway.
The travel planner Entur has suggested routes in Norway by bus, train, metro, boat, and plane. Check when the next bus is leaving for your destination, or plan a trip from Oslo to Vesterålen, for example. You can also buy tickets for most trips with Entur (easiest with the app).
It's easy to find a ferry in Norway:
Find routes, check departure times, and get traffic reports, all in one place, on the website of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen).
Some terminals also have webcams that show if there are any queues.
From Kristiansand, you can visit the cradle of Norwegian folk traditions, Setesdal. The 210-kilometre-long, beautiful Setesdalen valley is centrally located in Southern Norway and can be reached by public bus. Stunning views and new activities await around every bend!
Take the 170 bus route to Evje (1 hr), where you can experience nature's treasury. Evje og Hornnes is known as a municipality with a lot of minerals and stones, and Mineralparken (the Mineral Park) contains a spectacular collection of over 1,200 types. Nearby, you will find the Evje Mineral Trail, a 2.5 km nature trail connecting 5 mines. Hornnes Camping is a popular camping ground with a beautiful beach.
Want more action? Just north of Evje, TrollAktiv offers activities including rafting, mountain biking, climbing, and more. It's also possible to spend the night there.
Travel tip: Hire an electric bike to explore the Setesdalen valley. You can hire them at as many as 7 locations in Setesdal.
Disembark and enjoy a boat trip in an old steamer or continue on bus 170 along the beautiful Byglandsfjord lake to Valle (1 hr 30 mins), which is home to the restaurant Sølvgarden. Indulge in some delicious local flavours before heading off for some exciting activities. Valle has a Via ferrata, and even offers mountain yoga! Don't miss the unique Setesdal Museum in Rysstad, showcasing authentic Norwegian traditions and folklore.
Take the bus on to Hovden (1 hr), a paradise for outdoors enthusiasts, whether you come in winter with groomed ski trails or in spring, summer or autumn with fantastic hiking opportunities. Hovden Fjellstoge offers accommodation in stunning surroundings. Enjoy an atypical taco in a geodome at The Village Hovden.
The next and final stop on bus route 170 is Haukeli (30 mins), a popular area for fishing, hunting, hiking, and skiing, and an important transportation hub. You have now reached the far end of the Setesdalen Valley.
Option 1: Want to experience some highlights in Fjord Norway too? The Haukeliekspressen bus can take you over the mountain (3hrs 30 mins) to Haugesund, the Viking city, which is located between Stavanger and Bergen. The region is known for its festivals, mount Himakånå – Trolltunga’s little sister, the Viking farm at Avaldsnes, and the Langfoss waterfall, which has been named one of the ten most beautiful waterfalls in the world by CNN.
If you are travelling by public transport between Haugesund and Stavanger, then the bus is ideal. Kystekspressen takes you there in 2 hours and 10 minutes, while you relax and enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery. Take a detour to Karmøy. A definite reason to go in the summer is Åkrasanden beach, which has been voted Norway's finest beach by the Norwegian media! Don't miss the historic maritime harbour Skudeneshavn before continuing on to Stavanger.
Take the Sørlandet Line back to Kristiansand (approx. 3hrs) or combine your trip with our round trip suggestions from route no. 1. To reach Denmark, you can take the ferry directly from Stavanger to Hirtshals (overnight 11 hrs 30 mins), or from Kristiansand to Hirtshals (2hrs 15 mins).
Option two: You can also easily continue by bus from Haukeli to Odda (1 hr 50 min and one change of buses), the gateway to the famous rock formation Trolltunga, which many people dream of ticking off their bucket list! Odda is sandwiched between Hardangervidda and Folgefonna national parks, and is the perfect starting point for exploring the wild and beautiful Hardangerfjord.
Option three: Haukeli also has direct bus connections to Oslo (4.5-5 hrs) and Bergen (5 hrs).
This trip is a cosy town bonanza! Are you ready to start your sightseeing trip by boat? Experience idyllic Blindleia on board the summer ferry M/B Øya from Kristiansand to Lillesand (3 hrs). Here, you can see the south coast at its most beautiful! You can also take a bus if you prefer (38 mins).
In Lillesand, you can spend the night in the Mystery House, where you can solve a mystery based on real life events. Eat fresh seafood by the harbour or take a swim at one of the many lovely bathing spots.
From Lillesand, you can take the bus on to Grimstad (10-15 mins), the hometown of famous author and playwright Henrik Ibsen. Visit the Ibsen Museum and other fascinating museums, and go shopping in exciting niche stores. Smag & Behag is known for its culinary dishes, and Apotekergaarden offers delicious food and concerts in its beer garden.
Hop on the bus to Arendal (20 mins). Ride the glass lift to the top of Fløyheia to enjoy breathtaking views. Visit the museum KUBEN, eat and drink at one of the inviting outdoor cafés in the Pollen harbour, and take the boat out to beautiful Merdø, a charming, car-free island just outside town.
From Arendal, the journey continues by bus to Tvedestrand (40 mins), often called "the book town", as you can find a lot of second hand book shops here. Tvedestrand is also a beautiful summer town with some of north Europe's oldest wooden houses. Stroll through the charming streets, take a dip in the outdoor aqua park, or hitch a ride with the boat out to the idyllic island of Sandøya. If you like aquatic fun, Kote Null offers activities such as sea rafting, free diving, SUP boarding, and kayaking.
The final destination is Risør, 50 minutes by bus. Known as a hub for artists and artisans, white wooden houses and several exciting restaurants characterise this city. There are lots of events happening, including Risør Trebåtfestival, an annual wooden boat festival.
From Risør (and the other cities) you can easily return to Kristiansand by bus (2 hrs), or go on to Oslo (4 hrs) by bus or train.
Travel tip: Experience idyllic Southern Norwegian nature from the window of a train with The Sørlandet Line, which runs from Oslo in Eastern Norway to Stavanger in Fjord Norway. The line runs close to several of the destinations mentioned above.
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