Kristiansand Travel Guide
As one of the most southern cities in Norway, Kristiansand is a popular holiday destination for Norwegians. While its amusement parks and outdoor attractions will amuse, there is a lot of war history here as well.
Come check out our Kristiansand travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Kristiansand, Norway.
Upon arrival in Kristiansand, take some time to get settled. Once you’re ready, learn how life was for previous generations by visiting the Vest-Agder Museum. This institution consists of one main building with displays, and a collection of 40 structures sourced from the area. The oldest dates from the 17th century, granting visitors an accurate picture of the past. From farmhouses to schoolhouses, stabburs (granaries) to saunas, this museum leaves no stone unturned.
In particular, its re-creation of a town centre from the 1890s, and a collection of refugee cabins are interesting. The latter attraction is where those on the run from the Gestapo took refuge. That is until Norway itself got occupied. To make the most of your time here, go on the guided tour. The interpreters will fill in gaps with knowledge you wouldn’t know yourself, so try to go on one.
When Germany made its move on Norway, Kristiansand is where they invaded first. To shore up their newly gotten gains, they furnished the coast with some serious firepower. Check out one of the biggest naval guns in history at the Kristiansand Kanonmuseum.
Weighing 337 tons, this 380mm Krupp gun could fire at ships up to 55 kilometres away. After the war, its colours faded, but recently, local preservation groups restored its look, circa 1943. That isn’t all there to see, either. In bunker 55, you’ll see where the Germans stored 38mm grenades and ignition charges.
If you have time, take a ride on the ammunition train. As the name suggests, this workhorse carried ammo for this site’s naval guns from centres of production. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you can hike trails in the area as well!
After taking the Kristiansand area, the Nazis solidified their hold on the city by establishing a Gestapo post. Called Gestapos Hovedkvarter, it was where the Germans held resistance leaders and detainees. Today, most exhibits detail the exploits of the Norwegian Resistance movement.
While the exhibits are impressive enough on their own, we recommend taking a guided tour. The stories these trained employees tell will lend gravity to the trying days of WWII. With their accounts, you’ll leave this place with a full appreciation of the sacrifices they made.
Fans of beautiful churches won’t want to leave town without checking out Kristiansand Domkirke. Standing for Kristiansand Cathedral in English, this Lutheran church will astound you with its presence. Its constructors completed it in the 19th century – to this day, it remains one of the biggest in Norway.
During the German invasion, though, it came close to destruction. As artillery shells rained down, one lodged itself in the roof of the cathedral. Thankfully, the damage was quickly repaired, and so, the original church continues to exist today.
If you love culture AND the outdoors, spend part of your day on Odderoya. This island formerly served as a quarantine station and as a naval base up until the 1990s. After the military decommissioned the place, it came into the possession of the city of Kristiansand.
Presently, its trails, beaches, and outdoor spaces make it a hub for active people. However, local artists have adopted many of its buildings. As such, there is much to do for visitors of all interests.
Both geologists and botanists will enjoy time spent at the Agder Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden. This attraction combines a brilliant museum space with a gorgeous garden. How the land developed from the Ice Age to the present is this institution’s primary focus.
Outside, the botanical garden’s rose collection will impress, as will its cacti. However, you’ll find specimens from all over the world, so take time to explore this place slowly!
If you are travelling as a family, spend a day at the Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park. It is among the most popular family attractions in Norway – as such, it gets busy in summer. As the name lets on, it isn’t just a zoo – it’s also a theme park, with several themed sections.
The zoo has an excellent collection of Scandinavian wildlife, but people laud its Africa section also. Are you visiting between Easter to October? Bring your swim gear – there is also a water park on-site.
Unwind after a long day of sightseeing in the Kristiansand region by kicking back at Ravnedalen Naturpark. With cliffs and waterfalls, this place is no typical city park. After seeing climbers clambering up rock faces, you’ll quickly come to that conclusion!