This article is about the city in Norway. For people named Grimstad, see Grimstad (surname).

Vestregate Grimstad
Coordinates: 58°21′7″N 8°32′40″E / 58.35194°N 8.54444°E / 58.35194; 8.54444
  City 303.52 km2 (117.19 sq mi)
  Land 272.61 km2 (105.26 sq mi)
  Water 30.91 km2 (11.93 sq mi)
Area rank 275
Population (2015)
  City 12,172
  Rank 50
  Density 75.2/km2 (195/sq mi)
  Rural 22,098
Grimstad kirke

Grimstad ( listen ) is a town and municipality in Aust-Agder county, Norway. It belongs to the geographical region of Sørlandet. The administrative center of the municipality is the town of Grimstad. Other notable places in Grimstad include Eide, Fevik, Fjære, Landvik, Prestegårdskogen, Reddal, and Roresanden.

It is a little maritime town set among many small islands (Skjærgård). There is a harbor, a long pedestrian shopping street, a small market square, a church, and a museum dedicated to the early life of Henrik Ibsen, who served as an apprentice to Grimstad’s local pharmacist Reimann, from 1844 to 1847, before leaving Grimstad in 1850. Ibsen's intimate knowledge of the local people and surroundings can be seen in his poem Terje Vigen.[1]

General information

The town of Grimstad was established as a municipality on 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). On 1 January 1878, part of the neighboring municipality of Fjære (population: 948) was transferred to Grimstad. Again, on 1 January 1960, another part of Fjære (pop: 344) was transferred to Grimstad. Finally, on 1 January 1971, the rural municipalities of Fjære (pop: 6,189) and Landvik (pop: 2,781) were merged into the town of Grimstad (pop: 2,794) to form a significantly larger municipality with a total population of 11,764 at the time of the merger.[2]


The city's name was originally Grømstad, when Norway belonged to the Danish kingdom. The name was misunderstood and became Grimstad during the registration of Norwegian cities and small places. The site of the town was originally the port (Old Norse: stoð) of the old Grøm farm. The exact meaning of the name Grøm is uncertain, but it is derived from a river name Gró or Gróa which means "the growing one".


The coat-of-arms were granted in 1899 and were based upon a seal of the city dating back to 1847. The arms show a brig as a symbol for the importance of shipping to the city.


Grimstad lies within the boundaries of the ancient parish of Fjære. It is reportedly first mentioned as a harbor in the 16th century. Eight years after he was deposed, Christian II of Denmark–Norway (1513–1523) attempted to recover his kingdoms. A tempest scattered his fleet off the Norwegian coast, and on 24 October 1531, they took refuge at Grimstad. On 1 July 1532, he surrendered to his rival, King Frederick I of Denmark, in exchange for a promise of safe conduct. King Frederick failed to honor his promise and imprisoned Christian until he died.[3]

An inn is recorded at Grimstad as early as 1607. In 1622, Grimstad became a recognized harbor. By 1747, Grimstad was identified as a sailing community and a recognized haunt of smugglers.

During the Napoleonic Wars, England blockaded Norway. In 1811, an English brig entered the harbor to capture blockade runners, but was vigorously repulsed and did not return.

John Frederik Classen, who owned the Frolands Værk (an ironworks), obtained concessions to export and import through Grimstad and bypass Arendal with its customs dues. Grimstad was awarded market town status in 1816.


Grimstad is home to Drottningborg, a private Lutheran boarding preparatory school. It is also the location of the Bibelskolen in Grimstad (BiG), a private Lutheran bible school. The University of Agder has its faculty of engineering seated here. A student dorm called "Grøm" is also in Grimstad.


Grimstad is a coastal municipality in Aust-Agder county bordering on the Skagerrak. The municipality is bordered by Arendal in the east, Froland and Birkenes in the north, and Lillesand in the west. The lakes Syndle and Rore are found in the northern part of the municipality. Landviksvannet and Reddalsvannet lakes are found in the southern part of the municipality, near Reddal.

Panorama of Grimstad harbour.
Panorama of Grimstad from Binabben look-out point.


The Maritime Museum (accessible by boat trip), the comprehensive City Museum and the Norwegian Horticultural Museum, are all popular among tourists, as are the wealth of exhibitions and concerts that the town hosts. The town is also a popular destination for summer vacationers, and supports a robust shopping milieu during the Christmas season.

During summer, Grimstad plays host to the Norwegian Short Film Festival, which attracts film enthusiasts from far and near. Another popular attraction is the Agder Teater at Fjæreheia, an open-air stage located in a disused stone quarry.[4] Shopping is also available in Oddensenteret along the harbour. (The view from Oddensenteret is seen in the panorama photo above.)

The Homborsund lighthouse station is located within the municipality. Grimstad is also home to the Nøgne Ø brewery.


The 1997 World Orienteering Championships were held in Grimstad.

Notable residents

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

The following cities are twinned with Grimstad:[5]


  1. Welle-Strand, Erling (1996). Adventure Roads in Norway. Nortrabooks. ISBN 82-90103-71-9.
  2. Jukvam, Dag (1999). "Historisk oversikt over endringer i kommune- og fylkesinndelingen" (PDF) (in Norwegian). Statistisk sentralbyrå.
  3. Taylor-Wilkie, Doreen, ed. (1996). Norway. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-81912-1.
  4. Stagg, Frank Noel (1958). South Norway. George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.
  5. "Vennskapskommuner" (in Norwegian). Foreningen Norden. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
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