Choose Language
Toggling to another language will take you to the matching page or nearest matching page within that selection.
Search
or search all of Southern Norway

The white towns of Southern Norway
— like pearls on a string

Risør harbour from viewpoint Risørflekken .
Photo: Adam Read, Visit Sørlandet
Risør harbour from viewpoint Risørflekken .
Photo: Adam Read, Visit Sørlandet

Few things characterise Southern Norway more than the charming white-painted towns that decorate the coastline from Risør to Flekkefjord like pearls on a string.

This is a dream holiday for many Norwegians and an undiscovered treasure for foreigners. Wooden houses painted white, draped with picket fences and dog roses. It exudes sun and summer!

Brekkestø in Blindleia outside of Lillesand .
Photo: Elisabeth Høibo / Visit Sørlandet
Brekkestø in Blindleia outside of Lillesand .
Photo: Elisabeth Høibo / Visit Sørlandet

Picturesque white-painted southern villages are pure idyll. Here, meals are enjoyed at a restaurant on the pier with sparkling views of boats on the water and the beaches are never far away.

Here is a brief overview of the towns on Southern Norway’s coast, from east to west:

Hollenderbyen, Flekkefjord .
Photo: Hildegunn Skage Teinum©Visit Sørlandet
Hollenderbyen, Flekkefjord .
Photo: Hildegunn Skage Teinum©Visit Sørlandet

Risør is one of the best-preserved wooden house towns in Northern Europe and is also known for its many art galleries and actively working artists. A relaxed atmosphere rests over the town.

Trehusbyen Risør .
Photo: Gjermund Glesnes / Visit Sørlandet
Trehusbyen Risør .
Photo: Gjermund Glesnes / Visit Sørlandet

The harbour in Risør goes all the way to the quaint town square and is truly a sight during the annual Wooden Boat Festival.

Old wooden boats in Risør .
Photo: Adam Read @ Visit Sørlandet
Old wooden boats in Risør .
Photo: Adam Read @ Visit Sørlandet

Tvedestrand is known for its many second-hand bookshops. The city has a building environment of cultural-historical interest, with cobblestone streets, cosy lanes and white-painted houses.

Tvedestrand havn .
Photo: Camilla Høy
Tvedestrand havn .
Photo: Camilla Høy

Tvedestrand is also next door to historic Lyngør harbour. This is the very incarnation of Southern Norway’s idyll to many people.

Lyngør .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet
Lyngør .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet

In the 19th century, Arendal was Norway's largest maritime town, as evidenced by the many stately wooden buildings. Visit the charming old town of Tyholmen and take a walk in the lively Pollen harbour where the nightlife pulsates.

Sightseeing at Tyholmen in Arendal .
Photo: Peder Austrud, Visit Sørlandet
Sightseeing at Tyholmen in Arendal .
Photo: Peder Austrud, Visit Sørlandet

The entrance to Arendal has been called "the country's finest", and it is easy to see why.

Panorama of Arendal archipelago .
Photo: Peder Austrud, Visit Sørlandet
Panorama of Arendal archipelago .
Photo: Peder Austrud, Visit Sørlandet

Grimstad is the city of poets. In the small guardroom in the pharmacy where he worked (which is now a museum), the world-famous Norwegian author Henrik Ibsen wrote his first play. In Grimstad you will find cobblestone streets and idyllic backyards.

Ibsen Museum, Grimstad .
Photo: Hanne Feyling©Visit Sørlandet
Ibsen Museum, Grimstad .
Photo: Hanne Feyling©Visit Sørlandet

Grimstad is also a cycling town. In addition to cosy walks in the cobblestoned city centre, you will find the professional cyclists Thor Hushovd and Dag Otto Lauritzen's own bike trails.

Biking in Grimstad Norway .
Photo: Hanne Feyling/Visit Sørlandet
Biking in Grimstad Norway .
Photo: Hanne Feyling/Visit Sørlandet

Read more about art and culture in Southern Norway

In Lillesand you can stroll between white-painted wooden houses and visit the historic Lillesand Hotel Norge, where the famous author Knut Hamsun was a regular guest in the 1930s.

Streets of Lillesand .
Photo: Jorunn Jensen (c) Visit Sørlandet AS
Streets of Lillesand .
Photo: Jorunn Jensen (c) Visit Sørlandet AS

Close to the hotel you will find the harbour, with cosy restaurants and a wonderful atmosphere. Lillesand is located in the middle of Blindleia, the typical Southern Norwegian coast.

Lillesand harbour in Southern Norway .
Photo: Visit Sørlandet
Lillesand harbour in Southern Norway .
Photo: Visit Sørlandet

After the town fire in 1892, only the northeastern part of Kristiansand has preserved its original wooden houses. These districts are known as Posebyen. Unlike many other towns of Southern Norway, the well-preserved, low wooden houses are strictly arranged into districts.

Posebyen old town in Kristiansand, Southern Norway .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet
Posebyen old town in Kristiansand, Southern Norway .
Photo: Adam Read / Visit Sørlandet

Mandal, Norway's southernmost town, is located at the mouth of the Mandal River and has an abundance of narrow alleys and beautiful small houses and shops. Kleven harbour, formerly one of the large sailing ship ports, is worth a visit.

Beautiful Mandal .
Photo: Fotograf Iselinn Andersen
Beautiful Mandal .
Photo: Fotograf Iselinn Andersen

Sjøsanden, one of Norway's finest beaches, is located just outside the city centre.

Sjøsanden beach in Mandal .
Photo: Elisabeth Høibo©Visit Sørlandet
Sjøsanden beach in Mandal .
Photo: Elisabeth Høibo©Visit Sørlandet

Farsund, an old maritime town with beautiful architecture and Norway's cosiest guest harbour. Farsund is also known as the pirate town, because of the government authorised piracy that took place here during the Napoleonic era. South of Farsund you will find Loshavn, with beautifully preserved wooden houses.

Farsund Gjestehavn .
Photo: Anders Martinsen©Visit Sørlandet
Farsund Gjestehavn .
Photo: Anders Martinsen©Visit Sørlandet

The sandy beaches on Lista in Farsund are a favourite for hiking, surfing and kiting.

Leif Eric Arneson windsurfing på Havika, Lista 2019 .
Photo: Leif Eric Arneson
Leif Eric Arneson windsurfing på Havika, Lista 2019 .
Photo: Leif Eric Arneson

In Flekkefjord, a portion of the city centre is still called Hollenderbyen, a historic reminder of the close connection with the Netherlands during the glory days of shipping. The town has charming niche shops and cosy cafes.

Flekkefjord has also embraced street art, so there may be a surprise around every corner!

Hollenderbyen .
Photo: Adam Read, Visit Sørlandet
Hollenderbyen .
Photo: Adam Read, Visit Sørlandet

Furthest out toward the sea is the distinctive island of Hidra, with its unique cultural landscape and buildings.

Kirkehamn, Hidra .
Photo: Adam Read©Visit Sørlandet
Kirkehamn, Hidra .
Photo: Adam Read©Visit Sørlandet

Read more about the historical outports of Southern Norway

Why are the towns white painted? Originally, the houses were yellow ocher, red, brown and green. But when white came into vogue on the continent and in England during the 19th century, white became the standard. However, white paint was expensive and even today, only the street-facing facade of many of the houses are painted white. The backyards are still red, yellow and green.

Sørlandshus i Grimstad .
Photo: Elisabeth Høibo
Sørlandshus i Grimstad .
Photo: Elisabeth Høibo

The best thing about Southern Norway is the lovely climate, the archipelago with many activities and the beautiful beaches.

Strand i Blindleia, Lillesand .
Photo: Magnus Furset©Visit Sørlandet
Strand i Blindleia, Lillesand .
Photo: Magnus Furset©Visit Sørlandet

Read more about what you can experience in Southern Norway!

Your Recently Viewed Pages