Arendal is a small town on the south coast of Norway. After the geographical boundaries were extended to include four surrounding communities in 1992, the town now is the tenth largest in Norway in terms of populations, but still contains only about 40.000 inhabitants in total.
It was originally called the Venice of Scandinavia because the town is built on seven islands, with a network of canals surrounding it. Most of these have later been filled in, but plans are afoot to reopen some again.
The most glorious period of Arendal history was during the sailing ships era, in the 18th and 19th century. It was at one time one of the largest and most important towns in Norway. Its wealth was based on shipping, with the surrounding iron ore mining, iron works and timber providing the most important trade. It had connections to all important trading centres of the world, and had better contact with Europe than with the country's capital of Christiania (or Oslo, as it was later to be called).
The introduction of steam ships gradually reduced the town's importance, but the old traditions have been retained, for example in the atmosphere of the Tyholmen area, where the collection of wooden buildings is reckoned to be among the most picturesque and best preserved of its kind, and in 1992 was awarded the much coveted Europa-Nostra prize.
Arendal has a number of tourist attractions to offer. Apart from the town itself, which is well worth a leisurely guided walk, the main attraction in summer is the sea and the skerries landscape. The harbour area "Pollen" teems with boats and life in the summer, and idyllic swimming beaches or skerry rocks are within easy access.
The inland area with forests, mountains, rivers and lakes offers its own attractions.
There are museums, art galleries, historical buildings and landmarks, metal and mineral mines, old iron works and a number of other attractions to visit. There is even a golf course only about 20 km (13 miles) away, for those who are thus inclined. Sailing, riding, canoeing, fishing and other sports are also available in Arendal. The famous Norwegian writers Ibsen and Hamsun both had strong connections to the nearby area.