Now you'll have yet another good reason for visiting Southern Norway: Having dinner at five metres below sea level. "Under" in Lindesnes is Europe's first and the world's largest underwater restaurant. "We'll attract tourists from all over the world. That is our goal," says Gaute Ubostad, one of the founders of this very special restaurant project.
The underwater restaurant "Under" will definitively put Southern Norway on the dining map, both in Norway and throughout the world. And there might be stiff competition for a seat in the restaurant.
"We aim to become a spearhead in order to have success in the international market. I believe it'll be an attraction that makes that more people consider it exciting to come to Norway and combine a visit here with other things," says Ubostad.
The restaurant "Under" is built out in the sometimes-harsh waters at Spangereid in Lindesnes municipality, Norway's southern tip. The underwater restaurant and tourist attraction opened in March 2019.
Here, the way of thinking is innovative, big and original:
The building itself is an architectural gem. It is reminiscent of a rock formation that is rising out of the sea; almost like a kind of art installation. The award-winning architect firm, Snøhetta, has designed the spectacular building.
Half-sunken into the sea, the building’s 34-meter long monolithic form breaks the surface of the water to rest directly on the seabed five meters below. The structure is designed to fully integrate into its marine environment over time, as the roughness of the concrete shell will function as an artificial reef, welcoming limpets and kelp to inhabit it. With the thick concrete walls lying against the craggy shoreline, the structure is built to withstand pressure and shock from the rugged sea conditions. Like a sunken periscope, the restaurant’s massive window offers a view of the seabed as it changes throughout the seasons and varying weather conditions.
When you step into the restaurant, your unique undersea journey begins. Here you can descend all the way to a depth of five metres without a diving suit. Just walk down the stairs. At the mesanin there is a bar with a relax area where guest can sit before and after the meal.
Down in the restaurant, the notion of an "ocean view" takes on a whole new meaning. There, a huge glass wall will give you an unique insight into the bustling life in the sea (Skagerrak) outside.
You will get to watch all sorts of fish species swim by, depending on the time of year. Normal fish species in this area is pollack and cod, colourful wrasses, urchins, crabs, lobsters in gladiator battles, spiny dogfish (i.e. mini sharks) and distinctive seaweed and kelp in the changing seasons... And you can see a live performance of the roaring, stormy sea when nature is in turmoil.
Seals have also been observed outside the window, but marine researcher Trond Rafoss hope it will not visit very often, as it scares the other fishes away.
This is where the research aspect of the project comes into play. The restaurant is going to "cheat" a little to ensure entertainment from the sea for its guests.
The researchers are working to "train" the fish as well as the small animals eaten by the fish. Artificial lighting is used to attract plankton, which in turn lures other species and fish to the area. And then there will be an ongoing feast to the delight of the viewing audience. "One of our main criteria is that our guests will get to experience something unique in the sea," emphasises Gaute Ubostad.
Of course, the restaurant experience is not just about the fish that swim by outside. The fish and seafood that is served on your plate is a very important ingredient. Naturally, there will be an excellent selection of seafood at Under. But you also have the option of tasting seabirds and wild sheep that have grazed in the archipelago nearby.
The head chef at Under is named Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen, and that means that the food is something to look forward to. Pedersen was formerly the head chef at the acclaimed gourmet restaurant "Måltid" in Kristiansand city centre, and he has also worked at the Michelin-starred restaurant Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark.
The underwater restaurant, Under, will be worth the trip in and of itself. However, you can experience a lot of other things in the Lindesnes region.
Vigeland, the municipal centre of Lindesnes, is a 15-minute drive from Mandal. From there, the road leads to Spangereid where sights include the famous Spangereid Canal, said to have been used by vikings and reopened in 2007.
Gaute Ubostad would like to make it as convenient as possible for guests who are coming from afar to experience Under. It is a comfortable walking distance from the restaurant to first-rate accommodation at Lindesnes Havhotell.
If you stay on the road Spangereidveien until it ends, you will arrive at another major tourist attraction in Southern Norway. Lindesnes Lighthouse is Norway's oldest, and it can be an excellent place for those of you who like stormy conditions.
"Under" in Lindesnes is Europe's first and the world's largest underwater restaurant.
The restaurant opened in March 2019.
The award-winning architect firm, Snøhetta, designed the spectacular building.
Sign up on their newsletter for information and book your table: www.under.no
Lindesnes is located in the southernmost part of Norway.
"Under" is within walking distance to the Lindesnes Havhotell (Sea Hotel).
The Sprangereid canal is located right by the hotel, and the area is suitable for kayaking.
Lindesnes lighthouse, Norway's oldest lighthouse, is located a short drive from the hotel and the restaurant.
All photos: Under