In the bay of Arendal, Merdøy Island is like a time capsule. Virtually intact architecturally from its days as a prosperous 19th-century town, the island's clapboard-sided houses retain their allure today.
There are no restaurants, only a small cafe, and there's a lovely bathing beach nearby where you can picnic.
The Merdøgaård Museum (tel. 37-07-35-00) on the island is run by the Aust-Agder Museum . The museum is the perfectly preserved early-19th-century house of a long-departed sea captain, with the furnishings still intact. A guardian lives on the premises and will show you around. It's open June 23 to August 12 daily from noon to 4pm. Admission is NOK20 ($4/£2) adults, NOK10 ($2/£1) children.
To reach the island, take a ferry departing for Pollen at Arendal's harborfront. Departures are every 30 minutes from 9am to 6pm mid-June to mid-August, and the boat makes stops at two or three other islands before reaching Merdøy. The ferry costs NOK45 ($9/£4.50) each way, and the trip takes 20 minutes. For schedules and more information, contact the tourist office.
Lying 20km (12 miles) west of the center of Arendal is Grimstad, site of the Grimstad Bymuseum-Ibsenhuset, Henrik Ibsen Gate 14 (tel. 37-04-04-90), in the center of town. Henrik Ibsen worked in this town at a pharmacy while pursuing the pharmacist's daughter. Ibsen also wrote his first play, Catalina, here. The Grimstad museum includes the old pharmacy and Ibsen's house. Admission is NOK50 ($10/£5) for adults, NOK20 ($4/£2) for children. Open May 23 to September 14 Monday to Saturday 11am to 5pm, Sunday noon to 5pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.