Relaxing in Risør

Risør marina

Happy August! I am writing from Risør, a small city along the southern coast of Norway with a long, proud history of building wooden boats. Maritime culture is a big part of life in Risør and this week, thousands of boat enthusiasts from around the world flock to the harbour for the annual Wooden Boat Festival (Trebåtfestivalen). There, they find a myriad of traditional wooden boats, concerts, and activities. Even the King and the Prime Minister of Norway join in the festivities.

Wooden boat festival in Risør

Wooden boat festival in Risør

Wooden boat festival in Risør

The King of Norway's ship

The King of Norway’s ship

After a fire ravaged through the city in 1861 and left just 85 houses and a church from 1647, much of the city was rebuilt and improved upon, resulting in today’s Risør of white wooden houses and picturesque views of the archipelago. The best scenic viewpoint is atop Risørflekken, a whitewashed stone hill top which very old beacon ships could use to guide themselves into the harbour in poor visibility.

The view from Risørflekken

In the summer, there are guided tours of the city departing from the marina at 8 PM every Wednesday.

Our tour guide, Tomas, dressed as a traditional guard

Our tour guide, Tomas, dressed as a traditional guard

If you are curious about how it was to grow up in Risør, take the tour for a little information about the fire and a lot of anecdotes from Tomas’s childhood.

Enjoying ice cream in Risør

Visit Risør if you would like a taste of how it is to live in a small coastal town in Norway. The small boutiques here are full of local trinkets that can serve as reminders of your visit. Check the weather beforehand to make sure that the Norwegian summer does not spoil your plans 😉


Norway’s Royal Palace

The Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway

The Royal Palace (Det kongelige slott) sits atop Karl Johans gate in Oslo and has been the primary residence of the royal family of Norway since its completion in 1849. It is also where foreign heads of state stay when they visit Oslo for official business. In front of the Palace is a statue of Karl Johan, who reigned as King of Sweden and Norway from 1818 until his death in 1844.

Four different flags fly over the Royal Palace

The building is in neo-classical style and is relatively small and simple for European standards. During the summer, guided tours of several important state rooms are offered to the public. This includes the Bird Room (where visitors wait to be received by the King), Mirror Hall (where Queen Maud once played piano for her friends), and the Banqueting Hall (where the royal family holds grand festivities).

If you are planning on visiting Oslo in July and August, going on a guided tour of the Royal Palace is definitely worthwhile because it will let you see how different Norway’s royals are from their European counterparts. Make sure you book ahead of time on Ticketmaster as few tickets are available on-site. I also recommend coming at 1:30 PM for the changing of the guards and setting aside some time after the tour to venture around the surrounding Royal Palace Park, which features small lakes, sculptures, and a picturesque view of Karl Johans gate.

The changing of the guards at the Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway

Have a nice week ahead! 🙂