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Kristiansand – where cozy meets cool

A sunny maritime metropolis with a koselig centre, urban beaches, street art, and first-rate seafood.

Close to the southern tip of Norway, Kristiansand is one of the country’s sunniest cities and the country’s fifth largest. It’s an economic hub whose center has retained a small-town charm famed for festivals, art, and Bystranda (its sandy city beach). Throw in the sunshine and it’s no wonder so many of us Norwegians move here!

Come snowy winter, a traditional Norwegian Christmas market dishes up storytelling and plates of pinnekjøtt, a lamb dish that we Norwegians love to eat on Christmas Eve.

A short history of Kristiansand, Norway

A window into Kristiansand’s ancient past was uncovered by a beachcomber in 1994 when he unearthed the skull of a woman in Søgne, just west of the city. Carbon-dating revealed she had lived some 8,600 years ago, making it the oldest Stone Age skeleton found in Norway.

The remains of settlements and pre-Christian burial sites give other glimpses into the area’s early history, but it wasn’t until 1641 that King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway put it on the map and named it after himself. The ‘sand’ is in reference to the town’s naturally occurring beach.

One of the few areas to have oak trees, the area became a major center for ship building. Relentless attacks from the British during the Napoleonic Wars halted trade and Kristiansand idled away in obscurity until building resumed in the nineteenth century. From then, industry continued to blossom, particularly during World War I.

Industry spans out from the town center like a giant spiderweb, but the city at the center preserves its original charm and grid-pattern streets. Norwegians love to staycation here and the influx of wealth has been invested into entertaining them, from summertime festivals and art galleries to a glut of good restaurants and bars, and sightseeing boat trips to the popular island of Bragdøya.

5 things to do in Kristiansand

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1. A walking tour

The compact heart of Kristiansand is wonderful to wander on foot and sprinkled with street art. Begin in Posebyen, the old town characterized by white wooden houses, then onto Markens, the main pedestrian street, and the independent boutiques and bakeries of Skippergata. After a visit to Kristiansand Cathedral, one of Norway's largest, finish up in Fiskebrygga (Fish Market) for superlative seafood.

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2. Kunstsilo

Just across the water from the cruise terminal, a former grain silo turned architectural landmark houses the world’s largest collection of Nordic modern art. Opened in 2024, the pared-back interior of the building - carved from 30 silos - is just as worth seeing as the 5,500 artworks that fill it.

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3. Odderøya peninsula

A former naval base-turned-arts quarter, the rocky, tree-clad Odderøya peninsula is only a 20-minute stroll away, laced with hiking trails and studded with artist workshops, cafés, and the Kilden Performing Arts Center.

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4. Cozy drinking dens

If the weather is blustery, there are numerous retreats worth hunkering down in. Tollbodgata, or ‘bar street’, forms the backbone, but veer off to find Bakgården, a cozy nook billed as one of the best cocktail bars in Scandinavia, Brygghuset, a craft-beer micro-brewery, and Club 21 on the top floor of the Radisson Blu Caledonien Hotel for panoramic city views. For a first-rate caffeine fix, try Camillo Bastrup.

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5. Kristiansand Kunsthall

Found on the city center’s main square, this free-to-enter progressive art gallery is a light, bright space whose rotating exhibitions are a thought-provoking and calm way to spend a few hours.

What is the weather like in Kristiansand?

JanFebMarAprMayJuneJulAugSeptOctNovDec

Max temp (day)

35°F

35°F

41°F

48°F

57°F

62°F

66°F

64°F

59°F

50°F

42°F

37°F

Min temp (night)

30°F

28°F

32°F

37°F

44°F

50°F

55°F

55°F

50°F

42°F

37°F

32°F

Temperate Kristiansand is touted as one of the sunniest cities in Norway and in summer locals flock to its palm tree-lined, sandy beach to sunbathe, celebrate with festivals, and sail around its sheltered coastline. From May onwards there’s a noticeable spike in warmth, with both air and sea temperatures leaping into the double digits and peaking around 68°F.

From October, the weather starts to switch, daylight hours dwindle to around six hours, and fronts of cloud and rain sweep across the exposed peninsula. The cold is nowhere near as penetrating compared to that experienced further north, but snow is still common. In December, there are around 6 hours 30 mins of daylight.

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Visit Kristiansand with Hurtigruten

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SOUTHBOUND ON THE NORTH CAPE LINE

In port: 4 hours

We stop at Kristiansand on the southbound leg of the North Cape Line, our premium, all-inclusive Signature voyage that sails from Oslo to the top of Europe and back.

Getting to Kristiansand from your ship

Navigating past a bank of shipping containers, you’ll pass the distinctive modern wedge of the Kilden Performing Arts Center on the right and, after ten minutes on foot, into the lively Fiskebrygga (Fish Market) and its smorgasbord of seafood counters and restaurants housed in traditional red and yellow wharf houses.

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Excursions in Kristiansand

You can explore Kristiansand on a variety of excursions.

Neighboring ports of call

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Oslo

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