Whether you are new to Norway or know a lot about it, it is no secret that it is one of the most beautiful countries. Diverse and unique, from giant fjords to calm harbors and picturesque villages, Norway is undoubtedly a must if you are seeking to visit a Scandinavian country. In this post, we will talk about one of Norway’s biggest treasure: Southern Norway. Let’s not waste any more time and check out the best things to do and activities in Southern Norway.
Best things to do in Southern Norway in Summer
Summer can make a huge difference in what to do and see even if it is in the same place. Southern Norway, for most locals, it is much better in summer. You may be thinking: But how could it better if it is a Scandinavian country? It rains everywhere and it is quite cold the majority of the time. Well, that is certainly true, but it also isn’t, as the climate in Southern Norway in summer is very different from other cities and regions of the country.
Temperatures in the ‘Norwegian Riviera’ (how locals call it) can range from 25ºC to 30 ºC (77Fº to 86Fº) during summer, so you can picture yourself wearing sandals, a swimming suit and a duck floatie.
Our first stop is Arendal
Located in southeastern Norway, this magical city is the best place to start your Southern Norway road trip. Blissful on its own, Arendal is full of surprises, no wonder it was the inspiration for one of the most famous Disney movies ‘Frozen’. The city was the kingdom where the queens Elsa and Ana lived and it was named ‘Arendelle’.
What to do in Arendal, our recommendations
Lille and Store Torungen are two lighthouses that give this place a unique touch. Arendal is known as the city with two lighthouses, so you cannot miss them.
Located at Arendal’s pier you will find the science center where you and your kids will be able to do fun experiments and play with the interactive structures. During summer, they do a special event where you can travel into space in 3D, everyone loves it!
If you are staying a couple of days, and are interested in history, I suggest you visit the center for cultural history which offers a wide variety of archives, items, books, maps, and photos that will help you enrich and increase your knowledge about Southern Norway.
The interior harbor in Arendal is a very enchanting place to go for a little walk, grab a coffee, and relax on a bench to enjoy the outstanding seaside and its boats. Lastly, what a better way to end your day than having a delightful dinner in any of the nearby restaurants.
To wrap things up in Arendal, Merdø is a little island that can easily be reached by ferry, from Arendal. This place has a really beautiful feature: it is car-free! You might see some visitors or locals on their bikes, but you will see no cars, which makes it pretty unique. During summer, the ferries go back and forth every 30 minutes, and the ride is about 25 minutes long.
The National Tourist Routes are one of the most important things you have to do if you want to get the most out of the country you are visiting. There are 18 Scenic Routes in Norway and today we will talk about Norway’s southernmost Scenic Route: Jæren
From Ogna to Bore, with 41 kilometers (25.5 miles) this is probably the most different Scenic routes of all Norway, as the road is shared with every kind of transportation, from farmers with their tractors, to bikers enjoying the seaside, you will have to be patient and careful and enjoy the real experience of it. Not only that, here you will forget about fjords and mountains, as the landscape offers long white sand beaches, farms and fields, and the eternal ocean that will never bore you. It is said that: ‘you haven’t seen the whole of Norway if you haven’t seen Jæren’ so make sure to include this route in your itinerary.
The fifth-largest city in Norway is also Norway’s southernmost one. Whether you are from Norway or from other countries and you want to spend the perfect typical summer, Kristiansand is where you should bring your sandals to.
From waterparks to white sand beaches and music festivals, the capital of the south offers many things to do, and activities that will make you want to spend another summer here.
Bystranda is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in southern Norway. The white sand and palm trees give you a warm welcome to an unforgettable holiday. Roughly 5 minutes away from the city center, and you will be right at the beach, enjoying the good temperatures during summer. It has a swimming dock and sun deck making this unique beach even more fun, especially for kids.
Bystranda is also home to the Annual festival Palmesus, which is the biggest beach party in all Scandinavia. Of course, due to the current situation, this festival did not take place this year, however, the party has been confirmed for next year.
Dyreparken Zoo and Amusement park in Kristiansand
This is possibly the best place to head to if you are looking for an entertaining day. 11 km (6 miles) away from Kristiansand, you’ll find the Dyrepark, which is both an amusement park and a zoo. What I really love about this zoo, is that the animals have plenty of space to play around, almost like they were free, which is quite different from many other zoos around Europe.
You will find Scandinavian animals such as wolves and elks. Of course, there are exotic animals like tigers, lions, orangutans, monkeys, and even camels.
There is also a water park that you should not miss, and if you feel like taking a break from the beach, you could book one or two nights at the hotels within the same park.
Top things to do in Southern Norway in Winter
Although southern Norway is mostly visited during summer (for very good reasons) winter is still what predominates in Norway, and there are many points of interest, so visiting this area in winter is absolutely worth it and it is also cheaper.
You probably thought that I was done talking about Kristiansand, but I wasn’t.
Ravnedalen natural park, only a 30-minutes walk from the city center, and you will be in one of the most magical places that your eyes will witness. Surrounded by flowers and trees, this little park with little lakes is the perfect place to spend a very peaceful evening. You could even have a really good dinner at the local café, which has one of the best homemade burgers. I have added Ravnedalen to this list since it is open all year and you can also enjoy it in winter, with a different landscape of course.
The ski runs in this place are suitable for everyone, from entry-level to experts. With 15 kilometers (9 miles) of trails, you will have plenty of space to ski or do some snowboard. It is also good to mention that this is the southernmost ski center in Norway and it is located in Åseral
If adventure is your thing, you have landed at the right place. Sirdal offers many options to hike, climb, ski, and more. You will be surrounded by mountains, and mountains mean fun activities.
One of my favorites places here is the Sirdal Husky Farm. If you love dogs, I am sure this one is for you. From hikes with the huskies and dog sledding, the experience you will have with them will be unforgettable.
The water park in Lyngdal that is open all year round, is the perfect place to enrich your winter. What a better way to kill these long winter days than spending them in a water park and have fun at the many installations such as the diving tower, plunge pool, sports pool, sauna, etc.
Water makes you hungry, but worry not! ørlandsbadet’s café has everything you need for your cravings.
Things to do and activities in Southern Norway
As you can see, there are a lot more things to see and do during summer in this region, but that is because the area allows it: The beaches, good average temperatures, idyllic towns, and parks, make the perfect conditions to have an incredible summer. But worry not, if you are visiting only during winter, there are still plenty of activities and things to do in Southern Norway, and every in-door activity you’ve seen in this post, can indeed be done during winter. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your map, pack up, get your RV ready, and start planning an unforgettable trip to Southern Norway, you and your loved ones will fall in love with it.