37 Best Sights in Southern Norway, Norway

Dyreparken i Kristiansand

Fodor's choice

One of Norway's most popular attractions, Dyreparken Kristiansand is actually five separate parks, including a water park (bring bathing suits and towels), a forested park, an entertainment park, a theme park, and a zoo, which contains an enclosure for Scandinavian animals such as wolves, snow foxes, lynxes, and elks. The theme park, Kardemomme By (Cardamom Town), is named for a book by the Norwegian illustrator and writer Thorbjørn Egner. In the zoo, the "My Africa" exhibition allows you to move along a bridge observing native savanna animals such as giraffes and lions. The park is 11 km (6 miles) east of town.

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Gamle Stavanger

Fodor's choice

The charm of the city's past is on view in Old Stavanger, northern Europe's largest and best-preserved wooden house settlement. The 150 houses here were built in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Wind down the narrow cobblestone streets past small white houses and craft shops with many-paned windows and terra-cotta roof tiles.

Gimle Gård

Fodor's choice
A wealthy merchant-shipowner built handsome Gimle Manor around 1800 in the Empire style. Inside are furnishings from that period, along with moody portraits, glittering chandeliers, and hand-printed wallpaper. It is said to be the most beautiful manor house in the region, and if you enjoy picturesque buildings with a history, you'll enjoy visiting Gimle.

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Jomfruland Nasjonalpark

Fodor's choice
Easily reached by ferry from Kragerø, Jomfruland National Park is a great way to see the archipelago and the animals that inhabit the area. Established in 2016, the 117-square-km (45-square-mile) protected area includes the islands of Jomfruland and Stråholmen. About 98% of the park area is ocean. Watch where you step, as tiny creatures inhabit the sand dunes.

Kuben Arendal

Fodor's choice

Established in 1832, this museum displays a fascinating array of artifacts pertaining to coastal life, from toys to farm tools. Find out about the 1767 slave ship Fredensborg and learn more about the region’s folk art traditions.

Lindesnes Fyr

Fodor's choice
Norway’s first lighthouse was illuminated in 1656 on this spot near the country's southernmost point. It was closed the same year by the Danish king because its light was not considered strong enough, and it didn’t reopen for 69 years. Many lighting methods have been used since, including coal in the early 1800s. An exhibition in the museum traces the changing methods.

Nordvegen Historiesenter

Fodor's choice

Outside of Haugesund, Avaldsnes is the seat of Norway's first kings and thus considered the "birthplace of Norway," an important status for the city. For a rich overview—from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages—of this historically significant region, the Norwegian History Center is a must. In the center, Norway's story is laid out through timelines, life-size costumed figures, and multimedia exhibits. The grounds include a fascinating outdoor Viking farm re-creating life in the 7th and 8th centuries, and 13th-century St. Olav's church, the last vestige of the kings' royal manor.


Fodor's choice

A huge cube with a vertical drop of 2,000 feet, Pulpit Rock is not a good destination if you suffer from vertigo—it has a heart-stopping view. The clifflike rock sits on the banks of the finger-shape Lysefjord. You can join a boat tour from Stavanger to see the rock from below, or you can hike for about two hours to the top on a marked trail. The track goes from Preikestolhytta, where there is a big parking lot.

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Fodor's choice

Sola's beach has 2⅓ km (1½ mile) of sandy beach ideal for windsurfing and beach volleyball. Other prime beach spots, with sandy beaches, some that are even longer, just go farther south. You will find Bore, Hellestø, Refsnes, Orre, Ogna, and several more. They are all called Jærstrendene, named after the region. For families, Ølberg, Vigdel, Vaulen, Godalen, and Viste Stranden in the region are great spots. But you will need a car to most of these beaches, as public transport isn't that good. On the plus side, to Ogna and Brusand you can take the train from Stavanger. Highly recommended. The distance from Stavanger to Ogna is about 60 km (37 miles).

Utstein Kloster

Fodor's choice

Founded in the late 1200s, Utstein is the best preserved medieval monastery in Norway. Public transport to the abbey isn't that good, so it's best to rent a car. By bus or car it's about a half-hour trip north of Stavanger on a coastal highway. If you rent a car to get to Utstein, you can also take in the medieval ruins and Stone Age rock carvings on nearby Åmøy Island as well as Fjøløy Fyr, a lighthouse.

Mosterøyveien 801, Stavanger, 4156, Norway
Sights Details
Rate Includes: NKr 100, Closed Nov.--Feb. Closed Mon.--Sat. Sept., Oct., Mar., and Apr.

Agder Naturmuseum og Botanisk Hage

The area's natural history from the Ice Age to the present is on display at this museum, starting with the coast and moving on to the mountains. There's a rainbow of minerals on display, as well as a rose garden with varieties from 1850. There's even the country's largest collection of cacti. The main building was slated to reopen in late 2023 after renovations. 

Gimleveien 23, Kristiansand, 4630, Norway
Sights Details
Rate Includes: NKr 80, Closed Mon. mid-Aug.–mid-June

Arkeologisk Museum i Stavanger

Designed to help children understand the prehistoric past, the Museum of Archaeology has changing exhibits, instructive models, and movies designed to make learning history fun. Children can research their ancestors with computer games, go on treasure hunts, and look through stones in search of fossils and other signs of life. There are also old-fashioned games and toys, which have become popular attractions.
Peder Klows gt. 30A, Stavanger, 4010, Norway
Sights Details
Rate Includes: NKr 100, Closed Mon. Sept.--Apr.

Berg – Kragerø Museum

This charming manor house in Louis XVI style was built by the Homann family in 1803, and it was used by them until 1943. Here you can learn about the history of the family and the "cabin life" that has become so popular in Norway. It also has an interesting exhibit on artist Edvard Munch, who spent time in Kragerø. Also open some days off-season with concerts and guided tours, and possible for groups and individuals to see the house off-season.


An unusual gallery space, the restored Bomuldsfabriken (Cotton Factory) operated from 1898 to 1960, producing cotton flannel clothing. Today it has frequently changing art exhibits and a permanent collection of 35 works by some of Norway’s foremost painters.


With a perfectly preserved interior, this 19th-century manor house feels as if the owner has only momentarily slipped away. The building is an outstanding example of what the Norwegians call “Swiss-style” architecture, and also has some elements of the Norwegian National Romantic style. It was built in 1882 by the Norwegian merchant and shipowner Lars Berentsen.


Europe's only floating church, the little chapel of Bryggekapellet invites you in to light a candle or just contemplate the sound of the waves below. Open six weeks each summer. 

Christiansholm Festning

This circular fortress with 16-foot-thick walls, on a promontory opposite Festningsgata, was completed in 1672. Its role has been much more decorative than defensive; it was used once, in 1807, during the Napoleonic Wars, to defend the city against British invasion. You can only visit around the grounds. For the moment the fortress is not available for the public. 

Østre Strandgate 52B, Kristiansand, 4610, Norway
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Closed mid-Sept.--mid-May


Surrounded by graceful plumes of water, this handsome sculpture by Knut Steen has become a symbol of Sandefjord. The monument itself rotates continuously, which is quite impressive.


The only museum of its kind in Europe, this gem specializes in the history of whaling and whales. The main attraction----one that the kids will find fascinating---is a life-size model of a blue whale. The building itself has a long history, dating back to 1917.

Høvåg Kirke

Dating from AD 1000, the 33-foot-long Høvåg Church was expanded in 1768 and again in 1828. Construction wasn’t completed until 1966, when the beautiful stone structure finally looked as it does today.

Iddis Norsk Grafisk Museum og Norsk Hermetikkmuseum

From the 1890s to the 1960s, canning sardines and other fish products was Stavanger’s main industry. This fascinating museum, in a former canning factory located in scenic Gamle Stavanger, recounts what it was like to live here during that period. Occasionally the public can take part in the production process, sometimes tasting newly smoked brisling. After extensive renovations, they also changed the name and included the Norwegian Printing Museum. 


Although it’s a reconstruction of an Iron Age farm, Jernaldergården feels like the real thing because the newly built structures have been positioned on the original foundations. Relics such as a Bronze Age gravestone have been discovered here, and more research is underway. Taste some mead, the Vikings’ favorite drink, or have breakfast or lunch on wooden benches in front of roaring fireplaces.


Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen grew up in Kragerø, and his childhood home is now a museum. He is most famous for illustrating many children's stories and fairy tales, and most Norwegians have fond memories of his art.

Kristiansand Kanonmuseum

At the Kristiansand Cannon Museum you can see the cannon that the occupying Germans rigged up during World War II. With a caliber of 15 inches, the cannon was said to be capable of shooting a projectile halfway to Denmark. In the bunkers, related military materials are on display. Kids love running around the grounds, but keep an eye on them, since there aren't railings everywhere.

Kristiansand Museum

The region's largest cultural museum has more than 40 old buildings on display. The structures, transported from other locations in the area, include two tun farm buildings traditionally set in clusters around a common area, which were intended for extended families. If you have children with you, check out the old-fashioned toys, which can still be played with. The museum is 4 km (2½ miles) east of Kristiansand on E18.

Lillesand By og Sjøfartsmuseum

In an Empire-style building from 1827, the Lillesand Town and Maritime Museum is a window into the region's seafaring past. You can see how sailmakers worked and the city’s first fire pump. 


A very popular attraction in Stavanger, the breathtaking Lysefjorden is best seen by boat. Along the way you can take in famous sights, like the sheer cliffs of Pulpit's Rock and the balancing act of the Kjerag Boulder. 

Mandal Kirke

Built in 1821, this is Norway's largest Empire-style wooden church.

Merdøgaard Skjærgårdsmuseum

A little off the beaten path, this museum is a 30-minute boat ride from Arendal. The early-18th-century sea captain’s home now has exhibits exploring life in the region. After visiting, enjoy a swim on the beach or a walk around the island.

Norsk Oljemuseum

Resembling a shiny offshore oil platform, the dynamic Norsk Oljemuseum is an absolute must-see. In 1969, oil was discovered off the coast of Norway. The museum explains how oil forms, how it's found and produced, its many uses, and its impact on Norway. Interactive multimedia exhibits accompany original artifacts, models, and films. A reconstructed offshore platform includes oil workers' living quarters—as well as the sound of drilling and the smell of oil. The highly recommended museum café, by restaurateurs Bølgen og Moi, serves dinners as well as lighter fare.