concert hall in Kristiansand

An introduction to the most popular towns of southern Norway

Southern Norway, also known as “the Norwegian Riviera”, is a hot holiday spot for Norwegians. The quaint region along the Skagerrak coast is home to many cute little villages and towns that each have their own distinct flavor. Here’s an introduction to some of the most popular towns in Southern Norway.


Girls eating strawberries in Tvedestrand
Photo: Adam Read

Built into a steep slope, the town of Tvedestrand offers up both charm and beauty in spades. Lovers of literature take note – it’s hard to find a street corner that doesn’t house a bookshop here. In fact, since 2003, this town’s been lauded as an international book town, with book shops offering antique, used and new books. 

In the summer, the best way to cool off is by visiting the Tvedestrand aquapark, which is the country’s largest outdoor water park. For those preferring to stay dry on land, there’s the Arendal & Omegn Golf Club, which is nestled between several forests.


Family on boat trip in Grimstad
Photo: Hanne Feyling

This town is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Located on an archipelago made up of islands and islets, Grimstad is a great spot to be water-bound. To name a few just a few, Store and Lille Hampholmen are two of the tiny islands that boast secluded bays and beaches, while Teistholmen has a pothole at the centre of the island. 

Auesøya is home to a conservation area, which in springtime is famous for its massive display of daffodils. 

If you fancy a white sandy beach Fevik Beach will satisfy your craving. This beach will almost make you feel like you are in the Caribbean. The only thing that will remind you that you’re not, is the water temperature… 


Charming houses in Arendal
Photo: Peder Austrud

This town is a prime destination for water sport enthusiasts. There’s the option of dipping into the ocean, or dipping into a floating pool, located in the marina. Canvas Hove offers plenty of unique ways to experience the outdoors, whether it’s a paddle on the sea in a canoe with a transparent hull or an underwater safari adventure on an electric underwater scooter. 

If you’re looking for something delicious and bite-sized, Arenda is also home to Heimdal Chokolade, the country’s smallest chocolate factory. Looking to escape to a place without cars? Be sure to visit Merdø, a car-free island just outside the town.


Lillesand harbor with charming white houses
Photo: Heidi Sørvig

Known for its cute white wooden houses and sailing ships, this little town is home to the Lillesand Hotel Norge, a hotel converted from a tannery in 1870. In the 1930, famed Norwegian author Knut Hamsun was a regular visitor there. A memorable way to explore the archipelagos is on the M/B Øya, one of the few remaining ferry boats that’s regularly operating during the summer. 

Aboard this small ship, which seats 61 passengers, you can experience the archipelagos between Lillesand and neighbouring Kristiansand. Also along the coast of these two islands is the holiday center Skottevik Feriesenter, which is considered to be the sunniest part of Norway.

Lindesnes and Mandal

Mandal harbor in Southern Norway
Photo: Elgar Vigeland

If you’ve made it here, you’ve made it to Norway’s southernmost point. Here you’ll find unforgettable attractions, like the Lindesnes Lighthouse, the country’s oldest lighthouse that dates back to 1656! 

Alongside this historic attraction is a cinema, cafe, restaurant and gallery, along with remnants of a WWII German fort. In this region you’ll also find Under, a restaurant that’s unlike any other in the world. That’s because it’s built underwater, so you’re dining under the sea. Mandal is also home to the annual seafood festival, so there’s several options to get an immersive seafood experience.

Farsund and Lista

Boat festival in Farsund
Photo: Adam Read

Fans of pirates have come to the right place, as Farsund has a rich history dating back to the 1800s. That’s when people in the area contended invading British ships during the Napoleonic wars. This region is also a perfect spot for birdwatchers. 

At Lista Lighthouse, not only will you find stunning sea views but also the chance to spot a plethora of different feathered, flying friends. Lista is considered Norway’s main migration stopover. From eagles to puffins to owls – there are 341 known bird species in the area. 

American visitors in the region might feel a sense of home, as there’s a present tribute to Americana in the area, with American cars, diners and even a road called Route 8. There’s even an American festival every year to celebrate the Norways’ bond with the USA and the 4.5 million people with Norwegians ancestry who now call it home.


Birds eye view of Flekkefjord
Photo: Visit Sørlandet

There are plenty of unique activities to try out in this picturesque town. Take the family on a rail bike through 17 trails that snake through stunning vistas and architectural wonders. Be sure to pay a visit to the Dutch Quarters, a part of the town that commemorates the trade relations with the Netherlands from the 1500 to the 1600s. Here you’ll find those signature white painted houses, juxtaposed with street art from local and international artists.