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Kristiansand,

Nicknamed "Sommerbyen" ("Summer City"), Norway's fifth-largest city has 78,000 inhabitants. Norwegians come here for its sun-soaked beaches and beautiful harbor. Kristiansand has also become known internationally for the outdoor Quart Festival, which hosts local and international rock bands every July. According to legend, in 1641 King Christian IV marked the four corners of Kristiansand with his walking stick, and within that framework the grid of wide streets was laid down. The center of town, called the Kvadraturen, still retains the grid, even after numerous fires. In the northeast corner is Posebyen, one of northern Europe's largest collections of low, connected wooden house settlements, and there's a market here every Saturday in summer. Kristiansand's Fisketorvet (fish market) is near the south corner of the town's grid, right on the sea.

Cruise Sights

Agder naturmuseum og botaniske hage (Agder Nature Museum and Botanical Gardens). This museum takes on Sørlandet's natural history from the Ice Age to the present, examining the coast and moving on to the high 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.

 

Christiansholm Festning. This fortress sits on a promontory opposite Festningsgata. Completed in 1674, the circular building with 16-foot-thick walls has played more a decorative role than a defensive one; it was used once, in 1807 during the Napoleonic Wars, to defend the city against British invasion. Now it contains art exhibits.

Gimle Gård. A wealthy merchant-shipowner built Gimle Manor around 1800 in the Empire style. Inside are furnishings from that period, including paintings, silver, and hand-printed wallpaper. To get there from the city center, head north across the Otra River on Bus 22 or drive to Route E18 and cross the bridge over the Otra to Parkveien. Turn left onto Ryttergangen and drive to Gimleveien; take a right.

Kristiansand Domkirke. The Gothic Revival cathedral dating from 1885 is the third-largest church in Norway. It often hosts summer concerts in addition to the weeklong International Church Music Festival in August. Organ, chamber, and gospel music are on the bill.

Kristiansand Dyreparken. One of Norway's most popular attractions 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, (Cardamom Town), is named for a book by 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 zebras. The park is 11 km (6 mi) east of town.

Kristiansand Kanonmuseum (Cannon Museum). Here, you can see the cannon that the occupying Germans rigged up during World War II. With calibers 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.

Oddernes Kirke. The striking rune stone in the cemetery of this church tells that Øyvind, godson of Saint Olav, built it in 1040 on property he inherited from his father. One of the oldest churches in Norway, it has a baroque pulpit from 1704 and is dedicated to Saint Ola.

Ravnedalen. A favorite with hikers and strolling nannies, the Raven Valley is a lush park that's filled with flowers in springtime. Wear comfortable shoes to hike the narrow, winding paths up the hills and climb the 200 steps up to a 304-foot lookout. There is a café on-site, and open-air concerts in summer.

A favorite with hikers and strolling nannies, the Raven Valley is a lush park that's filled with flowers in springtime. Wear comfortable shoes to hike the narrow, winding paths up the hills and climb the 200 steps up to a 304-foot lookout. There is a café on-site, and open-air concerts in summer. Northwest of Kristiansand.

Vest-Agder Fylkesmuseum (County 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 —farm buildings traditionally set in clusters around a common area—which suited the 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 mi) east of Kristiansand on Route E18.

Cruise Shopping

There are many shops next to Dyreparken in Kristiansand.

Kvadraturen has 300 stores and eating spots.

Sørlandssenteret is one of the region's larger shopping centers, with 100 stores, a pharmacy, and a post office.

Cruise Activities

Adventure Sports. (Setesdal Rafting og Aktivitetssenter, Rte. 9, Evje 4735), about one hour's drive from Kristiansand, organizes many activities. Be it mountain climbing, sailing, biking, rafting, paintball, or even beaver or deer safaris, this is the place for outdoorsy types.

Troll Mountain (Setesdal Rafting og Aktivitetssenter, Rte. 9, Evje 4735), about one hour's drive from Kristiansand, organizes many activities. Be it mountain climbing, sailing, biking, rafting, paintball, or even beaver or deer safaris, this is the place for outdoorsy types.

Biking. Kristiansand has 70 km (42 mi) of bike trails around the city. The tourist office can recommend routes and rentals.

Kristiansand has 70 km (42 mi) of bike trails around the city. The tourist office can recommend routes and rentals.

Fishing. Just north of Kristiansand there's excellent trout, perch, and eel fishing at Lillesand's lake. You can get a permit at any sports store or at the

Just north of Kristiansand there's excellent trout, perch, and eel fishing at Lillesand's lake.

Hiking. In addition to the gardens and steep hills of Ravnedalen, the (Baneheia Forest) is full of evergreens, small lakes, and paths that are ideal for a lazy walk or a challenging run. It's just a 15-minute walk north from the city center.

In addition to the gardens and steep hills of Ravnedalen, the Baneheia Skog (Baneheia Forest) is full of evergreens, small lakes, and paths that are ideal for a lazy walk or a challenging run. It's just a 15-minute walk north from the city center.

Port Photo: Laila R-berg/iStockphoto

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Kristiansand,