The southcoast of Norway is often referred to as the rivièra of the North, because of the mild climate. This part of Norway has to most sun hours, golden sandy beaches and high temperature of sea water (up to 28 degrees!). So Norwegians love to go on holiday to their southcoast, also to sail along the many islands there.
We enjoyed this part of Norway as well and had a summer vacation feeling!
These are the places we would recommend:
1. Stavern and Larvik
The first stop we did along the south coast, was Stavern. And that cityname brought a smile to our face, because our catamaran was in a Dutch harbour called Stavoren in 2019 and 2020! So quite a similar name and also a similar atmosphere: both are small towns, picturesque with traditional houses. A famous area in the Norwegian Stavern is a former shipyard where the buildings are now restaurants and shops. Very atmospheric. We have an e-bike and e-step on board, so we cycled from Stavern to the city of Larvik, 10 kilometers further inland. Here was the childhoodhouse of famous Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002). He was an anthropologist who did spectacular expeditions by boat to prove that ancient cultures have met much earlier than we think (for instance Inca’s from Peru sailed to Polynesia). Thor Heyerdahl made the movie ‘Kon-Tiki’ about his adventurous sailtrip on the Pacific Ocean, which won an Oscar and Golden Globe award. Highly recommended to watch (version 2012)!
This town was recommended to us by Toon, an Eindhoven engineer we met in Norway. Langesund has a peninsula in front, so that gives a cosy atmosphere when you look out of your boat and being surrounded by trees on land. In this harbour we met Ingrid and Tom, being on holiday with their Bavaria 46. They are going to sail the world as well in a couple of yours and are exploring ships. We invited them to our catamaran and had a great evening talking with them. They are both in healthcare, Ingrid is a doctor (General Practitioner) and the corona period made her do many consults online from her home. She wants to continue giving online health consults when sailing the world. It was very inspiring to meet fellow Digital Sea Nomads, turning their work to online with high quality standards!
Kragerø is an idyllic place! It is a town consisting of little islands, connected by bridges, so you see people walking up and down these bridges to do shopping, swimming, go hiking. We went up the main island of Kragerø, because there was a lookout point over all islands, a stunning view!
Lyngør has the same set up as Kragerø, only this time the islands are further apart from each other. So no bridges, but the way of transportation is by boats. Many houses have a little (wooden) boat, like we park cars in front of our houses. A little bit Venetian style to make your way around Lyngør!
Arendal is one of the larger cities at the southcoast and it’s a welcome change after the little fishertowns to be in a big city. In the summertime many Norwegian towns have music festivals, often at the harbour, so we were lucky to hear live music coming from the restaurants and on stages in the harbour of Arendal.
Lillesand is often called ‘the town of the white houses’. And indeed, almost 90% of this old fishertown has wooden houses painted white. This gives a very nice and clean look. We were lucky to be in Lillesand on the day that the finale of Sup&Stup was held: an extreme sportsevent where 30 young people held a competition of diving off a 12 meter high cliff. The goal was to make original figures in the air and make a big splash at the end. Around 300 small boats with over 1500 spectators, including us in our dinghy, were at the foot of the cliff cheering the jumpers. The event took 3 hours, much beer and laughter and we had a great time being part of the Norwegian fans.
We were looking forward to sail into the harbour of Kristiansand. Although it is city nr 5 in Norway (80.000 habitants) the city center is very cosy with small shops and many restaurants. We stayed in Kristiansand for 3 days, doing our grocery shopping and do sight seeing, like cycling through a beautiful city park surrounded by high cliffs and admiring the many walls with streetart. Also after 3 months of sailing, it was time to go to the hairdresser! Gilles ended up in a very cool barbershop called ‘The Man Cave’ including a motorcycle in the middle of the shop! The hairdresser knew the Rotterdam barbershop ‘Schorem’ and their famous product ‘reuzel’ (even pronounced properly in Dutch by this Norwegian hairdresser!). The Rotterdam barbers were an inspiration to their shop in Krisitansand, and the Dutch guys even visited this shop once. We were happy to have found this friendly Man Cave, Gilles got a very cool haircut.
We would very much recommend Mandal if you are interested in beach life. There are 9 kilometers of golden beaches to visit, to everyone’s taste: family oriented, young people playing volleyball on the beach, couples sunbathing, romantic beaches surrounded by trees. The water is 28 degrees this time of year and the water is as clear as drinkingwater.
The last town we visited on the southcoast of Norway, is located on the westside, Egersund. It’s a small town and so is the harbour, but the position of this harbour is very favorable as a starting point to visit Magma UNESCO Global Geopark. This park is 2300 km2 in size and consists of waterfalls, forests and large volumes of magma crystallized to rocks. We spend an afternoon hiking in the park and taking pictures of odd shapes of rocks.