Norwegians call it the "Summer City" or the "Norwegian Riviera" — a reference to Kristiansand's emergence as a popular warm-weather retreat for Scandinavians. This is a Norwegian stop for many of the larger cruise lines, and the area's fjords and forests are the main attraction, with a mosaic of nature that swirls around the ancient seaport.
What We Love
Kilden Performing Arts Center: Opened in 2012, the striking modern building has a stunning curved wood wall that wraps around four theaters staging a wide variety of plays, concerts, dance, and other live events.
Odderøya: Kristiansand's two harbors are separated by this rocky, wooded peninsula, a former naval base and quarantine station that is now where you'll find hiking trails, panoramic viewpoints, and pocket beaches.
Best Known For
Dyreparken: This eclectic, Norwegian-flavored theme park about 6 miles from Kristiansand includes such varied attractions as a pirate ship, African village, storybook land, and zoo that specializes in Eurasian wildlife.
Fiskebrygga: The old fish market neighborhood is where local fishermen still land their catches straight into waterfront restaurants like Bølgen & Moi and Værtshuset Pieder Ro.
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Who It's Best For
Nature Lovers: Between the Ravnedalen Valley, Odderøya peninsula, and Baneheia park, there are plenty of places in and around Kristiansand to explore the Norwegian woods (and hum the song if you feel so inclined).
World War II Buffs: A huge German base during the war, Kristiansand's sights include the world's second-largest cannon, old gestapo headquarters, and the heavily fortified Movik Fort.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
"Riviera" Is a Term of Endearment: It doesn't get that warm here. Norwegians may find the local seawater downright steamy during the summer months, but with temperatures hovering just above 60 degrees F (at best), this certainly isn't the Mediterranean.
Price Tags Are High: Norway's high cost of living means you should expect to pay 30 to 60 percent more for meals, drinks, taxis, souvenirs, etc.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.