Kristiansand Travel guide - Activities and Attractions

Named after its founder King Christian IV and the sandy high land area that the city is built on, Kristiansand is also the fifth-largest city in Norway after Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger. Known by its name’s many spellings, the city's name was initially spelled Cristiansand, thanks to Danish-Norwegian mapmaker Erik Pontopiddan, the city was known by most as Cristianssand (with a double SS) until 1877.

In an attempt to make the city name sound more Norwegian, the spelling was changed to Kristianssand in 1877 and again in 1889 when an 'S' was removed from its name. As the fastest-growing region in the country, it is the administrative, business and cultural hub of Southern Norway.

Kristiansand has become a well-connected shipping port city with a growing number of exports of processed goods, mainly oil and gas, coming in from all over the world. Its proximity to the North and Baltic Seas has made the city an important meeting point on the Southernmost edge of Norway.

Most of the popular destinations in Kristiansand are less than a kilometre away from the city center. Aside from the many interesting art and culture events happening in Kristiansand throughout the year, there are also plenty of attractions and activities to choose from. With a variety of family friend activities and attractions to choose from, Kristiansand is a much-beloved summer destination among Norwegians for a fun family weekend.

Travel Guide to Kristiansand in Norway

Here are the best things to do in Kristiansand:

1. Spend a day in Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park

If you've got kids, or if the inner kid in you is still alive and well it's also worth it to spend a day in the Zoo and amusement park near Kristiansand. You can take a trip to Kristiansand Dyrepark, Norway’s largest Zoo and Amusement Park or you can visit Mineral Park and see over 1,000 sparking minerals from across the planet.

It's one of the largest and nicest in Norway and has both a Zoo, an amusement park and a water-park all integrated in one and all accessible with a single ticket.

2. Northern Lights in Odderøya

We can't talk about typical activities in Norway without mentioning one of the most evocative phenomena of this country, the Northern Lights. If you come here between late September and late March, Norway is dark from early afternoon until late morning, and the Northern Lights frequently soar across the sky.

On a very basic level, the phenomenon is created from a collision between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the atmosphere of the earth. The lights, which are also called aurora borealis, show up at night when the sky is dark. It’s like a celestial ballet of light dancing across the night sky, with a color palette of green, blue, pink, and violet.

Although there have been sightings of the Northern Lights as south as Kristiansand (at the same latitude as the northern parts of Scotland and Latvia), going north of the Arctic Circle is the only safe bet to see them. Sure is that this part of Norway, with its multiple islands, deep fjords and steep mountains, is among the most beautiful and interesting places to see the Northern Lights.

But even though you can’t take the lights for granted, you are still guaranteed to experience magical light in Norway all through the polar night. On clear days, you can see beautiful sunset colors in the south while the sky to the north is a deep midnight blue. In "the blue hour" at twilight, the landscape is bathed in a glassy deep blue color.

3. Visit Kristiansand Cannon Museum

For those who wish to venture a little further outside of the city center, you can visit historic museums like the Kristiansand Cannon Museum, which tell the riveting story of Kristiansand during the second world war, or you can venture to the Agder Nature Museum, the city’s natural history museum and botanical garden run by the University of Agder.

As a result of the industrial expansion in the Kristiansand region and the establishment of the University of Agder, Kristiansand has become a popular destination in Southern Norway not only for being a lively mountain city, surrounded by lush forests and lakes but also its memorable architecture.

While the old city of Kristiansand pays tribute to Northern Europe's architecture back in the 18th and 19th centuries, the newer part of the center is now booming with modern and trendy stores, cafés, restaurants, art galleries and museums.

Where to stay in Kristiansand

The best place to stay while visiting Kristiansand is definitely the city center. It is accessible from the airport and the port, and it is within walking distance of the bus, ferry, and railway stations. The downtown area offers a variety of cuisine and shopping options, and recreational activities, whether you are visiting the city for business or leisure.

Although there are several hotels to choose from in the downtown area, the Radisson Blu Caledonien Hotel, Kristiansand is a stylish and comfortable destination. This central abode is surrounded by picturesque scenery with snow-covered mountains on one side and the North Sea coast on the other.

This hotel is a much-sought-after venue in the city to host events as it features a rooftop deck with incredible views of the city, a large conference space with high ceilings and a stage area.

How to get to Kristiansand

Because of its location, you can easily reach Kristiansand - whether you are traveling by land, water or air. Kristiansand Airport is the sole airport in Southern Norway and it is approximately 16 kilometres South of the city. Here, you can rent a car if you wish to explore Norway on-the-road. Alternatively, you can hop onto the airport coach that will transport you directly to Kristiansand’s center and other nearby towns.
Kalyan Panja