Holiday in Arendal – the idyllic appeal of Sørland and culture among coastal rock slopes
Thanks to the timber trade, Arendal appeared on Dutch naval charts as early as the 1500s, and over the next couple of hundred years the town developed into an important seaport in the region, becoming the largest seafaring port in Norway from 1880 onwards. Traces of the many different functions the town has played over time can be observed in the many museums Arendal offers.
The Eydehavn Museum is situated in a former industrial area and shows how a worker's home would have been furnished in the 1920s, while the Kløckers hus in its imperial style shows how a middle class family lived around 1900. This is also home to Norway's largest collection of ships in bottles. At the Aust-Agder Cultural and History Centre you will find regional archives and various exhibitions of local historical significance, while the Bomuldsfabriken Art Hall presents exhibitions of contemporary art, so there is much here to choose from.
The Merdøgaard Museum is furnished to reflect how a skipper’s family lived 200 years ago. All of Merdø is car-free, and a popular spot for walks and bathing. Here you will have a view towards the two lighthouses Store and Lille Torungen, built in 1844. Ferries operate throughout the summer from Pollen Harbour, where you will also find a wide selection of places to dine. Many of the town's outdoor areas can also be found here, offering a pleasant atmosphere for evening socialising.
If taking a weekend trip to Arendal, you can enjoy a bicycle outing on Hisøy or Hove on Tromøy Island, where you will discover typical Sørland charm with wonderful beaches and rocky slopes. The latter is located in a protected natural area where kids can explore the climbing park.
A popular place for younger family members is the Sørland Science Centre, with its interactive exhibitions. If you are visiting during the winter months, the Arendal Winter Festival takes place in the early part of the year, offering winter activities and cultural experiences for all ages. If, on the other hand, you travel here in July, you will have the chance to enjoy the Canal Street Jazz and Blues Festival, which attracts both Norwegian and international artists.
Arendal has good train and bus connections to the rest of the country, and if you are travelling from afar, the nearest large airport is in Kristiansand. When you see the tower on the Trefoldighetskirken, you will know that you will soon be arriving in the pearl of the Sørland region.