Kristiansund — not to be confused with Kristiansand in southern Norway — is a quaint town in western Norway where small ships nestle into an intimate harbor. From there, it's just a short walk into the city center, where you'll find Nordic heritage around every corner. If you make the trip with a small ocean line, such as Hurtigruten, make sure you're out on deck when the ship arrives — the scenery is breathtaking.
What We Love
Striking Architecture: Though most of the town was heavily bombed during World War II, Innlandet — the smallest of Kristiansund's four islands — sustained the least damage. It's here you can see the most traditional coastal architecture, especially around the port where colorful buildings gently rise above the waterline.
Natural Landscape: Encircled by rolling greenery and majestic snow-capped mountains in the distance, Kristiansund is naturally stunning for its sheer seclusion. To see its beauty, take the local ferry (sundbaten) that makes stops between the islands of the town; round-trips take about 20 minutes.
Best Known For
Atlantic Ocean Road: Often called the world's best (and most dangerous) road trip, this uniquely winding route bridges a scenic archipelago. It's no wonder the twisting road has been the setting for numerous car commercials.
Kirkelandet Church: Built in 1964, the wildly modern parish is an eye-catching juxtaposition to the traditional buildings elsewhere along the waterfront.
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Who It's Best For
Auto Aficionados: A half-day tour along the Atlantic Ocean Road lets cruise passengers experience the exhilarating drive, usually paired with a stop at the beautiful Kvernes Stave Church.
Opera Lovers: Home to Norway’s oldest opera (established in 1928), Kristiansund hosts an annual opera festival in February that includes free performances at cafés and restaurants.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It’s Cold: Located on the western coast of Norway, the port can be a bit chilly. After all, it falls along the same latitude line as Denali State Park in Alaska. Expect an average high of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in July.
No Mega Ship Access: Large cruise ship lovers who want to visit Kristiansund are out of luck — the port dock dimensions max out beyond medium-sized vessels.
Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for Travel Channel and Porthole.