During the summer of 2021, together with my girlfriend Gabrielle, we sailed from Oslo and down the Norwegian “Sørlandskysten” Southern coast to Kristiansand. Along the way we discovered some really nice coastal towns. I’m going to cover four of them here on the blog: Kragerø, Risør, Grimstad and in this article I’ll write about Nevlunghavn.
Nevlunghavn is just a two hour drive south of Oslo following the E18 highway, and driving onto National road RV302 or RV301 after you pass by the town of Larvik.
Combined harbor for private yachts and fishing boats in Nevlunghavn
What first strikes you about Nevlunghavn is the authenticity of the place. This town has not been developed into a big tourist attraction, and still has much of the old fishing harbor intact. The marina is small, actually so small that those who arrive with boat often have to moor right behind or in front of one of the many fishing boats. They head out in the early morning, and arrive later in the day with fresh seafood sold in the local fish store. Crab, mackerel, cod, pollock, mussels, shrimp and more.
Many idyllic white houses with gardens full of flowers
To stroll around in Nevlunghavn is like taking a step back in time. The old white houses, many built as far back as the 1600s, are still intact and well maintained. They sit on the lee side of the “harbor mountain”, well protected against the weather from the Skagerrak strait just next to them. The beauty and design of the houses shows that this was a wealthy community back in the days, harvesting the riches of the sea. Nevlunghavn is actually put on the UNESCO list of well preserved villages.
Nevlunghavn was also known for it’s many pilot boats, and was officially a pilot station. The men working as pilots would sit and observe the sea, waiting for boats coming in that potentially would need piloting as they approached more shallow waters. Nevlunghavn was well known for its brave men, and the pilot job was a profession that would be inherited from father to son.
Gerhard Munthe (1849 – 1929) A view over Nevlunghavn
Many artists and other celebrities have spent time in Nevlunghavn. According to the locals Greta Garbo came here to swim and Sonia Henie came to play tennis. Famous painters such as Gerhard Munthe, Adolph Tiedemann, Hans Gude and Fritz Thaulow came here to paint.
Eating in Nevlunghavn
Fish and Chips at Nevlunghavn Guesthouse
Nevlunghavn is a great place to come for good food, and especially fresh seafood brought in every day by the local fishermen. There are many options, whether you’d like to go to a restaurant, or just pick up some picnic items from the local fish store. We did both. We bought some pickled herring from the store, and enjoyed a nice meal at Nevlunghavn Gjestgiveri. A creamy fish soup and a very tasty fish and chips made with cod caught that same day.
Another food place to check out is the Nevlunghavn Bakery. Sitting on the edge of town, this little bakery makes some wonderful fresh pastries, cakes, bread and large (shrimp) sandwiches. A good place for getting some breakfast or lunch, and there are seats so that you can enjoy it all with a hot coffee. Personally I’m a big fan of what we in Norwegian call “skolebrød”, school bread”. It’s like a wheat bun, but with egg cream in the middle and sprinkled with coco and powdered sugar glace. I think this one I had here is one of the best I’ve ever had. So fresh, and must have come straight from the oven.
We really enjoyed our stay in Nevlunghavn, and especially strolling around looking at all the cute houses, smelling the flowers and looking at the wooden boats down at the harbor. It’s a great place to spend a day, or make it even a couple of days to have time to take inn some of the surroundings. If the weather is nice there are great beaches nearby, and the town of Stavern (another cute coastal town) is not far away. And as the locals would say: Kom som en gjest, reis som en venn (come as a guest, leave as a friend) – The motto of Nevlunghavn seen written on many benches.
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Nevlunghavn, and I’ll post more photos in the gallery below.
Thanks for reading, Pål.
→ Also check out the articles about Grimstad, Kragerø & Risør