The fretted shoreline that stretches the 200km southwest from Tønsberg to Lillesand is home to a series of small resorts that are particularly popular with weekenders from Oslo. The most interesting is Grimstad, with its Ibsen connections, the liveliest is Arendal, and the prettiest are Lillesand and Risør. All four have decent places to stay, but only a fifth resort, pint-sized Kragerø, has an HI hostel. Many of the resorts, including Lillesand, Kragerø and Arendal, offer boat trips out to the myriad islets that dot this coast, with trippers bent on a spot of swimming and beach – or at least rock – combing. The islands were once owned by local farmers, but many are now in public ownership and zealously protected from any development. Most of the resorts also offer longer cruises along the coast during the summer, the prettiest being the delightful three-hour trip from Lillesand to Kristiansand.

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