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Destination: sleep in a lighthouse and eat on the ocean floor; the south of Norway

As a young boy, we rarely ventured abroad for vacations. There was that one time to northern France, a campsite in Belgium and another time with my grandma to one of the Canary Islands. I believe that's where my fascination with maps began. I would often flip through my atlas, studying all the unique place names, especially those in faraway lands. North Russia, Canada, and of course, Scandinavia, particularly intrigued me. I would daydream about distant places as I traced the Norwegian coastline and imagine all the magnificent places I would come across. And now, I do that in reality.

Let me take you on a rather grand recommendation. In its entirety, the south of Norway is a fantastic area to spend a week. However, this recommendation focuses on the region between Kristiansand and Stavanger. I won't describe the entire area because you should experience it for yourself. But I do have a few recommendations for you, places where you absolutely must pull over your car.

I've already covered Kristiansand previously, so I suggest you read my article on that or enter "Kristiansand" in the search bar above. We'll move a bit further southwest. First off, the beaches in Mandal. If the weather is lovely and you're a fan of beaches, this is one of the best spots along the entire Norwegian southern coast.

There's a large beach, but if you're willing to walk a bit further, you'll find a few smaller coves. It's incredibly beautiful and somewhat reminded me of Ibiza when I first visited. The water is crystal clear, and the adjacent pine forests possess an enchanting kind of magic. I visited years ago with my loved one. That memory has firmly anchored itself in my visual recollections.

A lighthouse on the Norwegian Coast

A bit beyond Mandal lies a remarkable place. Despite people living here since the Iron Age, Lindesnes never truly grew into a place of significant importance. Yet, Lindesnes is now known to a very specific audience. These are architecture enthusiasts and those who adore exceptional seafood. You might have come across it already: restaurant Under. Words genuinely fall short when describing this restaurant. In short, you're dining at the bottom of the sea. From your table, you'll watch the fish swim by. I must honestly admit that, although I've been there once, I've never eaten there. Due to dedicating the last 4 years to traveling to and from the Netherlands for family-related matters, indulgences like these sadly aren't a financial priority. However, as soon as I can, I'll provide an extensive account. Friends were, in any case, extremely enthusiastic about the whole experience. Keep in mind that there are waiting lists. So, if you want to enjoy the most incredible seafood next summer, it's best to make your reservation now.

Now that you find yourself back above sea level again, tired and content after numerous courses and good wine, it's time for accommodation. You can sleep in a lighthouse in Lindesnes because the former lighthouse keeper's house is available for rent. It's incredibly romantic to sit by the fireplace as the waves crash against the rocks. If you prefer a bit more luxury and comfort, book a night at Lindesnes Havhotel. Comfy beds, a sea view, and a hot tub for those who love it.

The following day, you'll get in your car and head towards the start of the most southern national tourist route that begins in Flekkefjord (put Helleren i Jøssingfjord as a waypoint in your navigation). This tourist route goes from Flekkefjord almost all the way to Stavanger and is characterized by a relatively flat landscape with numerous beaches, beautiful coastlines, and, of course, several points of interest marked with large brown signs. For example, Orrestranda is the country's longest sandy beach and provides a spectacular sight, especially when clouds roll by and the wind picks up. Due to my love for sailing, I get quite excited when the wind blows a bit.

During the drive along the Jæren National Tourist Route, there are a few stops you should make that aren't on the map. Starting with Köhler-Paviljongen. It's a beautiful old building steeped in history. Moreover, you can buy the best rhubarb juice in Norway here.

As a Dutchman, I'm occasionally jestingly referred to as a 'cheesehead.' I generally don't take offense, partly because it might be true. I do indeed have a fondness for good cheese. And Norway produces a considerable amount of excellent cheese. Hence, my recommendation for a brief stop at the Ystepikene (or cheese girls). It sounds all rather cute, but they take their profession very seriously. In fact, they win awards for their cheese. And you'll witness that firsthand as you look directly into the cheese-making facility from the shop's large window. In this area you will truly find the best of Southern Norway.

Undoubtedly, I may incur the ire of many by not enumerating a multitude of other stops along the route that are more than worthy of mention. However, the charm of travelling lies in relinquishing a portion to serendipity. After all, must every hour be meticulously scheduled?

**Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at either Kristiansand or Stavanger. From there public transport isn't really an option to properly explore or the secluded locations I just suggested. So it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.


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