We spend two nights in a longhouse in Lista before taking the ferry in Kristiansand. From Lista, we visit the mining village of Knaben and the coastal town of Flekkefjord. Both places are not large on the map, but they have a rich history, in which even the Dutch appear. We are curious about the stories and will spend a day exploring with Ole, who can tell us a lot about the region we are visiting.

Knaben, a small mining village with a rich history

It feels like we're spending a day with our grandfather when we give a firm handshake to the friendly 76-year-old Ole and he warmly greets us. We are going to spend the day together, and our first destination is the mining village of Knaben. Knaben is located 100 kilometers from Lista. It is again a beautiful and special road to drive along the mountain sides with huge icicles, the partly frozen river, and snowy trees all around us. However, we are glad that we have arranged to meet Ole halfway in Kvinesdal to continue driving on the snow-polished slippery road in his 4-wheel drive. Along the way, Ole tells us in English almost non-stop about the history of Knaben. He grew up in the area and has many fun anecdotes to share. Knaben is a small village, but the mine made it a very important place during World War II, which the Germans defended with large fortifications. Nevertheless, the mine was bombed twice by the Allies. Molybdenum was extracted from the mine, a mineral used as a steel enhancer, mainly used in the weapons industry.

vinterlandskap på Knaben

Discoveries at the mine and the Gruvemuseum

The mine itself can still be visited with a guide. During the summer, there are fixed opening days and times; outside these times, contact can be made in advance with the organization, and if you are lucky, a guide will be available. When we visit during the Christmas holidays, it has snowed heavily for several days, and when we stand in front of the mine door, it unfortunately does not open due to the snow that has fallen behind it.

The hidden treasures of the Gruvemuseum

Near the mine, there is also a small museum to visit. The Gruvemuseum is located in a building where more about the mine and its history can be seen on the ground floor. Ole shows us, among other things, a model of the area and the different ways molybdenum was extracted from the mine. This must have been hard work, judging by the simple tools the workers had at their disposal. Then, the administrative staff in the office had it easier. The office of the workers and the manager remains exactly as it was when work was being done. An ink pad and typewriter could be used again as soon as the Christmas holidays are over.

On the upper floor of the museum, you can see how the manager of the mine and his wife lived. Here, too, it is as if time has stood still, and the inhabitants might walk in at any moment.

The museum is open for several hours daily during the summer. Outside opening hours, you can contact the organization in advance via the website.

tre stykker som ser på en plansje

A collector of history

Ole tells us in the car that he is a collector. Especially items related to the history of the Knaben area interest him. Ole keeps his now extensive collection not at home but in a special room that is part of the camping building in Knaben. It is not an official museum, but Ole is always willing to receive visitors. Give him a call in advance if you are in the area and try to arrange a meeting. He will passionately share his stories and knowledge. Ole can be reached at: 0047 900 46 460.

tre stykker inne på butikk

Flekkefjord, a piece of Holland in Southern Norway

From Knaben, we drive back to the coast with Ole. Our second destination is the coastal town of Flekkefjord. We arrive just before it gets dark. The days in Southern Norway are short in winter; it really gets light around 10 AM and starts to get dark around 4 PM. Keep this in mind when you want to visit places during daylight.

hvit trehusbebyggelse i Flekkefjord

Hollanderbyen, a step back in time

Upon entering the center of Flekkefjord, all three of us are immediately thrilled. It's a charming center with narrow streets and white-painted cottages. It feels like we're walking on a movie set, but it's real. We're in the Dutch quarter "Hollanderbyen," and Jeff Olsen, who works at the Flekkefjord Museum, has joined us. He enthusiastically tells us about how Dutch ships sailed here in the 15th and 16th centuries, and sailors stayed in the city for a few days while their ship was unloaded and loaded again. Hollanderbyen, which is partly the current center of the city, was a bustling sailors' neighborhood. The streets are narrow; people only stayed here for a few days, so wide streets were not necessary. There was no sewage system here; an open sewer ran along the houses towards the sea. We can well imagine how it must have smelled at that time. It's incredibly fun to walk through the streets and hear fascinating stories from a guide. Contact the Flekkefjord Museum to find out if a guide is available.

Flekkefjord Museum, interactive and educational for the whole family

In the city center is the lovely Flekkefjord Museum, where you can learn more about the history of Flekkefjord. During a winter vacation in Southern Norway, indoor activities are nice to warm up now and then, and according to our Jeff, it also rains a lot in Flekkefjord. So, the weather is just like in Holland. Nice to have somewhere indoors to do something fun with the whole family. The Flekkefjord Museum is the ideal place for that. It's an interactive museum where you can read and hear information in English via touchscreens and headphones. It's great that, for once, you're allowed to touch things in a museum. However, some things are only for brave kids because you have to walk on a glass floor to touch the touchscreens, giving you a view of the water and the boat lying under the museum. If you walk around the outside, you can also view the boat from other sides.

trehus i flekkefjord

Besides looking and listening to various things, you can also get hands-on together. Workshops for small children, as well as teenagers, are offered in the museum's workshop. Parents are welcome to stay and help or make something themselves. For example, Fleur could try "rosemaling," decorative flower painting. This painting technique involves decoratively painting various wooden objects such as napkin rings, boxes, cups, and furniture. This art form originated in Norway. We visit the museum after closing time and can no longer paint a wooden bird, but we are allowed to choose a beautiful one to take home. The museum is open daily during the summer months, except on Sundays. Workshops are held on Saturdays. However, there is also the possibility to visit the museum outside regular opening hours. Contact the Flekkefjord Museum in advance for possibilities.


In Flekkefjord, you can bike on the tracks!

Finally, we visit the Flekkefjordbanen museum. A small museum where the former train station is rebuilt as a miniature and where children can lay their own railway tracks on the play table. But that's not all there is to see and do. The most fun part is that the museum is the starting point for a bike ride on the old railway tracks! At two different start times per day, you can get on a bike and ride from Flekkefjord station to Sira station. Two parents or older children can ride bikes. Small children can sit in the seat in between. This seems like a lot of fun to do and to see some of the surroundings in a different way. Unfortunately, we are here only when it's already dark, and we leave the next day for home, but otherwise, we would definitely have done it with our teenager. More information about the opening hours and biking opportunities can be found on the website of Flekkefjordbanen. Contact the museum for possibilities outside regular opening hours.


Dining in a Grand Hotel with fish & chips or a hamburger

We conclude this interesting day in style at the well-known Grand Hotel Flekkefjord. The beautiful hotel/restaurant stands out immediately in the narrow street. Painted white, like the rest of the houses around it, but larger in size and with a turret at the corner of the building, the beautiful building is not to be missed. The interior is also beautifully decorated, as you would expect in a grand hotel. Yet, you can certainly dine there with your family. There are also a hamburger and fish & chips on the menu, and there is a children's menu. For us, it's a delightful conclusion to a pleasant day out with Ole and also the last dinner of our winter vacation in Southern Norway.

grand hotell i flekkefjord by night

Staying overnight by the sea in a longhouse

The last two nights of our journey through Southern Norway, just like the start, we end on the coast. We have now left the snow-covered mountains behind. We sleep in a unique location, directly by the sea, in a longhouse named The Longhouse Lista. The construction of this accommodation is based on how houses in the region were built 2000 years ago. They often consist of a living area and barn, where the livestock in the barn provided extra warmth in the living area during winter. Moreover, economically, it was better to build two houses together than to keep them separated. We find it to be a cool accommodation in a beautiful place. It's very cool to see large (cruise) ships passing by while we're having breakfast. We love to sleep in at least one special or extra beautiful location during our travels. This is definitely one on the south Norwegian coast! The apartment includes a kitchen and has six sleeping places upstairs. Half of the beds are accessible by a ladder and have a window with a sea view. When we are there, there's a strong, cold wind, but we lie comfortably warm under the duvet and sleep wonderfully. This apartment is our base from which we visit Knaben, Flekkefjord, the Sirdal Husky Farm, and Lindesnes, the southernmost point of Norway. It's a beautiful base and, with only 100 km to Kristiansand, a good starting or ending point for your trip when you come off or go on the ferry there.

lista longhouse

rom med køyeseng

Not to be missed: Lindesnes, the southernmost point of Norway

I have a thing for lighthouses; somehow, they attract me and I find them photogenic. The last stop we make before driving to the ferry in Kristiansand is Lindesnes lighthouse. This is the southernmost place in Norway. We definitely had to visit it during our winter journey in Southern Norway. Since we need to be on time for the ferry, it's a quick visit. From the parking lot, it's a few snowy and slippery steps up, while the wind howls around our ears. The lighthouse is open and from the top, you have a beautiful 360° view over the sea and the snowy landscape we drove through. We're glad we made the detour. Afterwards, we also drive a beautiful route directly along the sea before turning onto the highway towards Kristiansand. It's a particularly beautiful end to our winter vacation through Southern Norway.

lindesnes fyr