West of Kristiansand lies a sparsely inhabited region, where the rough uplands and long valleys of the interior bounce down to a shoreline pierced by a string of inlets and fjords. The highlight is undoubtedly Mandal, a fetching seaside resort with probably the best sandy beach in the whole of Norway, but thereafter it’s a struggle to find much inspiration. The best you’ll do is the old harbour town of Flekkefjord, though frankly there’s not much reason to pause anywhere between Mandal and Stavanger.
The E39 weaves its way west for 240km from Kristiansand to Stavanger, staying a few kilometres inland for the most part and offering only the odd sight of the coast. The train line follows pretty much the same route – though it does, unlike the E39, bypass Flekkefjord – until it reaches Egersund, where it returns to the coast for the final 80km, slicing across long flat plains with the sea on one side and distant hills away to the east.Read More
Pint-sized MANDAL, just 40km from Kristiansand along the E39, is Norway’s southernmost town. This old timber port had its salad days in the eighteenth century, when pines and oaks from the surrounding countryside were much sought after by the Dutch to support their canal houses and build their trading fleet. The timber boom fizzled out decades ago, but Mandal has preserved its quaint old centre, a narrow strip of white clapboard buildings spread along the north bank of the Mandalselva River just before it rolls into the sea, and it also possesses an enjoyable museum.