The main town along Norway’s southern coast, Kristiansand is a popular destination with young families but also attracts those enticed by its mild climate and beautiful shoreline, says Norway-based writer Marie Peyre.
0700-0900. Start the day in Posebyen, Kristiansand’s oldest district, in the northeastern corner of ‘Kvadraturen’. Today it is a much sought-after residential area, with tree-lined streets and picturesque white wooden houses. A century ago, it was a working class neighbourhood home to a myriad of workshops and a fair few domestic animals – the census of 1900 registered as many as 400 pigs and 178 cows living in Posebyen’s cramped back gardens. After your stroll, pop into Drømmeplassen (Skippergata 26, 3804 7100), Kristiansand’s cutest bakery, grab a seat at one of the outside rickety tables, and enjoy breakfast while watching the town stir to life.
0900-1100. Time for a spot of shopping. A few metres further down the street from Drømmeplassen, try Elin (Skippergata 43, 9650 8167), a boutique with low ceiling and timber walls selling women’s clothes and accessories by local designers and exclusive labels. Or check out trendy Moods of Norway (Markensgate 34, 4542 8420) on the main pedestrian street, for funky and colourful men and womenswear. From humble beginnings in the little mountain village of Stryn in western Norway, this clothing brand company, started by three friends back in 2003, now has global ambitions, and stores in a number of cities in Norway and abroad. Their motto, ‘happy clothes for happy people’, seems to have struck a chord with many fashion-conscious shoppers.
1100-1300. SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum (Skippergata 24B, 3807 4900), the main arts centre in southern Kristiansand, houses a permanent collection featuring local artists as well as a number of excellent temporary exhibitions – the place to go for a quick culture fix. A retrospective of the work of Norwegian tapestry pioneer Else Marie Jakobsen and an exhibition by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama are on show until the end of the summer. Follow this by lunch alfresco at one of Kristiansand’s many restaurant terraces – Sjøhuset (Østre Strandgate 12A, 3802 6260), an old salt storehouse, is popular for its seafood and its location right on the water – or choose from one of the many restaurants at nearby Fiskebrygga. Bølgen & Moi (Sjølystveien 1A, 3817 8300) and Værtshuset Pieder Ro (Gravane 10, 3810 0788) are both good choices; if seafood is not your thing, try Benny’s Texas style BBQ (Gravane 26, 4000 1841).
1300-1500. After lunch the options are many. If you are travelling with children (or are still a kid at heart), head to Dyreparken (Kardemomme By, 9705 9700), Norway’s only zoo and one of the country’s most popular attractions. Some 140 animal species as well as a waterpark await in this well-kept, spacious themed park. Or sign up for a boat trip along Kristiansand’s jagged coastline. The M/B Øya (9593 5855) sails past hundreds of islets and travels through scenic Blindleia on its way to Lillesand. The trip takes three hours, with daily departures at 2pm from mid-June to the end of August (return by bus, allow 25 minutes).
1500-1700. On the way back, stop at the Vest Agder Open Air Museum (Vigeveien 22B, 3810 2680), a great place to learn about local history. The museum, one of the oldest of its kind in Norway, is home to some 40 buildings, all open to the public. These date for the most part from the late 19th century and come from all over the region. Yet more impressive is the Setesdaltunet, which is home to one Norway’s oldest buildings, dating back to 1585, and gives a good overview of what life would have been like for Norwegian farmers in the 1700s. Guided tours in English are included in the ticket price. Alternatively make for Bjaavann Golfklubb (Østre Ålefjærvei 195, 3811 8411), 15 kilometres north of Kristiansand, for a round of golf at this 18-hole Robert Trent-designed club, one of Norway’s very best. You will need to book ahead.
1700-1900. Back in town, it’s time to relax after a busy day. Laze in the late afternoon sun on Bystranda, a blue-flag sandy beach right in the heart of Kristiansand, or sip an aperitif on the terrace of the newly opened Scandic Kristiansand Bystranda hotel (Østre Strandgate 74, 2161 5000). Alternatively, escape the crowds and find your own secluded cove on nearby Odderøya Island for a late afternoon dip. The island is linked to the mainland by a bridge and is only a short walk away from the centre of town.
1900-2100. Why not take in a concert or show at Kilden (Sjølystveien 2, 9058 1111), Kristiansand’s new performing arts centre, in the evening? The imposing building, designed by Finnish firm ALA, opened in January 2013, and made headlines for its daring architecture. It is most impressive at sunset, when its oak and glass facade are bathed in a golden glow. Just round the corner, Fiskebrygga offers a good choice of venues for dinner, but for a real gourmet experience book a table at Måltid (Tollbodgata 2B, 4783 3000), widely acknowledged as the best restaurant in Kristiansand. The seasonal menu here changes monthly but always features top quality local ingredients, expertly prepared by Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen.
After 2100. End the day at Christianssand Brygghus (Tollbodgata 9, 4172 6000) and sample the microbrewery’s tasting selection (six beers brewed on the premises, served in miniature glasses), or pop into Bakgården next door (Tollbodgata 5, 3802 1211) for great cocktails and Kristiansand’s best selection of aquavit. If you want music, try the lobby bar at Clarion Hotel Ernst (Rådhusgate 2, 3812 8600), which often features guest DJs, or hit the dancefloor at KICK (Dronningensgate 8, 3802 8330).