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What to see and do in Stavanger, Norway? our complete guide

visit stavanger in norway

Wondering what to see and do in Stavanger on your Norwegian getaway? What are the must-see places around Stavanger? We asked ourselves the same questions when planning our stay.

Stavanger, with its colorful streets and welcoming harbor, is a city to discover. Whether to stroll through the historic center, admire the impressive sculptures of Sverd I Fjell (Swords in the Rock), or take up the challenge of a hike to the Preikestolen. To make the most of your stay, it’s a good idea to plan your itinerary in advance.

To guide you, we’re sharing our tips for exploring Stavanger, so you don’t miss out on any of its treasures, as well as our recommendations for savoring the local cuisine and choosing the best accommodations.

Our opinion on Stavanger

A colorful city

When we were planning our vacation in Norway, it was easy to imagine grandiose landscapes, majestic fjords and mountains as far as the eye could see. However, we weren’t expecting much from Norwegian cities.

Finally, as soon as we arrived in Stavanger, we were seduced by the colorful streets of the historic center. Of course, there’s the unmissable Øvre Holmegate street, which looks like something out of a painting, with its facades painted in a palette of bright colors.

The small port of Stavanger is another favorite. There’s a soothing, almost timeless atmosphere as you watch the boats gently rocking on the water. It can also be very lively if a cruise ship is parked there.

And then there’s the street art! Stavanger has a surprising number of urban artworks adorning many of its walls, adding a touch of pizzazz to the city’s historic ambience.

Nature at your fingertips

We loved our stay in Stavanger, especially for its proximity to nature. The town is the perfect starting point for cruising the Lysefjord or embarking on breathtaking hikes such as the Preikestolen.

This hike, in particular, was an experience we loved: the view from Pulpit Rock, a granite boulder that falls sheer into the waters of Lyselfjord, is breathtaking.

Clement weather

Last but not least, Stavanger, despite its geographical position, enjoys a surprisingly mild climate, a gift from the Gulf Stream. This warm ocean current moderates temperatures, giving Stavanger milder winters and pleasant summers, defying the usual Nordic expectations (thanks Jamie).

During our stay at the beginning of June, the terraces around the port were packed, and the atmosphere was really nice. We passed, as a pint in Norway is around €10 for a first-price beer…

Finally, we had the opportunity to visit several cities during our stay, such as Bergen and Oslo, and were pleasantly surprised.

How long can I stay in Stavanger?

Half a day is more than enough time to visit the small center of Stavanger. We recommend staying 2 days to explore the surrounding area.

  • D1 visit to stavanger in the morning and 3h30 cruise on the Lysefjord in the afternoon (weather permitting). We recommend booking your cruise online in advance (approx. €70 per person).
  • D2 hike to the mythical Preikestoen, an accessible hike offering incredible panoramic views.

We advise you to opt for accommodation right in the city center, and to book it in advance and online as soon as possible to have the widest choice.

What to see and do in Stavanger: our must-sees on our map

1. Gamle Stavanger: the historic center

Strolling through Gamle Stavanger, located to the west of the harbor, is like stepping back in time. This historic district, with its white wooden houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, is really quite cute.

These carefully preserved houses bring a warm atmosphere to the town (which we hadn’t anticipated!). It’s a calm, flower-filled district (much more so than the port area) that we loved discovering.

2. The most photogenic street

Stavanger’s most photogenic street, Øvre Holmegate, lies to the east of the harbor. Each house here is painted in a different color, creating a truly photogenic visual kaleidoscope.

3. Port of Stavanger

Obviously the meeting place, as is often the case in Norwegian cities that face the ocean, is the port of Stavanger. This place, full of life and activity, is the beating heart of the city.

Here, of course, we advise you to observe boats of all sizes, from small sailboats to large cruisers (which take up a little too much space for our liking). We were a little frustrated to have them in most of our city and fjord photos, but in the end we had to get used to them, as we came across them throughout our stay in Norway…

The quayside is lined with cafés and restaurants where you can sample local specialties (budget permitting) while admiring the view of the port.

4. Street art

A last but not least point to know about Stavanger is the presence of street art, which is quite rare in Norway. The walls of the city center serve as a canvas for street artists of local and international renown.

Don’t expect large-scale frescoes like on the walls of Angoulême, but rather small, slightly camouflaged touches here and there. We hope you enjoy your treasure hunt!

5. Oil Museum

If you want to learn more about the role of oil in Norway, this is the museum for you. Located in the heart of Stavanger, this modern museum is dedicated to theoil industry, a crucial sector for the Norwegian economy. Through interactive and educational exhibits, the museum tells the story ofoil production in the North Sea.

The really interesting part of the museum is the exploration of models of oil rigs, equipped like those located on the high seas, to understand the drilling and production processes. Part of the museum is devoted to the environmental and technological challenges facing this industry. We chose not to visit this museum, as our daughter was only 3 years old. We prefer to save it for a future trip. It’s a good excuse to come back to Stavanger! We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from other travelers. Don’t hesitate to give us your opinion in the comments section!

6. Canning Museum

The Canning Museum, a place dedicated to thehistory of the canning industry in Stavanger. If the weather doesn’t cooperate during your stay, this is a great indoor activity option, even if it’s not a must-see place in Stavanger!

Housed in a former canning factory, this museum offers a window on an industry that has played an important role in Stavanger’s history. Canning sardines was a major economic activity for the town. The museum displays period equipment, exhibits on production methods and gives an insight into the life of the workers.

What to do around Stavanger

If Stavanger is a very pleasant city to explore, its surroundings are a real paradise for nature and adventure lovers. The region offers a multitude of activities, not least the spectacular hike to the Preikestolen site and excursions into the fjords– it’s the thing to see in Norway!

1. Lysefjord cruise

In Norway, of course, we recommend a fjord cruise. These tours take you into the heart of the fjords, giving you a close-up view of sheer cliffs and waterfalls inaccessible by road. It’s a great way to discover Norway’s natural splendor.

Favourite ❤️: We recommend that you join Rødne Fjord Cruise , a company with an excellent reputation, for a panoramic cruise on Lysefjord & Discovery of the Preikestolen, departing from the port of Stavanger. You’ll set off on a silent electric boat along the tranquil waters of the fjord, offering breathtaking views of the Preikestolen and other natural wonders of the region. For 3h30, you’ll be surrounded by impressive cliffs and breathtaking scenery.

➡️ A word of advice: don’t forget to book your tickets online in advance (around €70 per person), especially during the tourist season, as these excursions are very popular and space is limited. A final word of advice: try to arrive at least 30 minutes early so that you can choose your seat.

2. Preikestolen hike

This is one ofour favorite hikes in Norway. Located about two hours’ drive from Stavanger, this 8km round-trip trail leads to Pulpit Rock and its breathtaking views over the Lysefjorden fjord.

➡️ We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to our hike to the Preikestolen, to ensure you have the best possible experience, and we’ve given you all the tips you need to avoid the crowds and enjoy the summit to the full.

3. Sverd I Fjell: Immersion in Legend

One of the most iconic attractions is undoubtedly the Sverd I Fjell, or “Swords in the Rock“. This monument, located on the outskirts of Stavanger, 6km from the center, is a powerful representation of Norway’s Viking history and legends.

The three huge swords, set in rocky soil, commemorate the historic Battle of Hafrsfjord in 872. The swords, with their blades pointing skywards and their handles sunk into the earth, symbolize peace, unity and freedom.

We recommend a quick stopover here, and note that the site is located next to a small beach, which is ideal for children and aperitifs!

To get to Sverd I Fjell from the center of Stavanger, there are several options: by bus (20 to 30 minutes’ journey), by car (a large parking lot is located right next door) or by bike.

Where to stay in Stavanger?

In Stavanger, as in the rest of Norway, the cost of accommodation can be surprising. It should be noted that the cost of living in Norway is around 30% higher than in France.

To find suitable accommodation in Stavanger, you’ll generally need to budget around €150 per night. We advise you to opt for accommodation in the city center, ideally an apartment. You’ll also be able to cook your own meals, a considerable economic advantage in a country where the cost of living is high. We recommend Booking. com, which offers the best rates in Norway.

  • Our favorite: the Frogner House – Pedersgata , which offers an elegant and comfortable living environment, with fully-equipped apartments that are just perfect. Conveniently located in the city center, it offers easy access to the city’s main attractions, as well as appreciable peace and quiet.
  • A hotel with breakfast: if you prefer to stay in a hotel, we recommend the Thon Hotel Maritim, located close to the port, city center and train station. It is located in a very quiet environment, next to Lake Breiavatnet, offering a peaceful and picturesque stay experience. This hotel is renowned for its comfortable, well-appointed rooms. And the breakfast buffet is copious and excellent!
  • Good value for money € : Havly Hotell (approx. €90): also ideally located in the heart of the city. The facilities and rooms are simple and practical.

Where to eat and enjoy local cuisine?

Here are two places where you can eat without breaking the bank, even if in Norway, as we knew, we found the restaurants expensive and the food not very tasty…

  • Good bread Sølvberget: an excellent bakery with sweet and savory organic products. It’s a (small) Norwegian chain with stores only in city centers, and we’ve also been there in Bergen and Tromheim.

    It’s a great alternative for eating at lower cost and with good produce right in the center of town. You can also buy their focaccia to make your own sandwiches. We also recommend Kanelboller or cinnamon rolls, or those with cream (I have a slight preference for the latter).
  • Fisketorget, located in the heart of Stavanger harbor, this restaurant specializes in seafood and offers a wide selection of fresh fish and shellfish. And above all, with a breathtaking view of the port.

How to get to Stavanger

Plane, car, ferry and bus

  • By plane:Stavanger’s airport, Sola, serves many international and domestic destinations. Located around 14 km from the city center, the airport is well connected by public transport and cab services. Regular shuttle buses run between the airport and the city center, making access quick and easy.
    If you have rented a car, the pick-up point is usuallyStavanger airport.
  • By car: If you like the freedom of the open road, renting a car is an excellent option. Norwegian roads are well maintained and offer spectacular views. It also gives you the flexibility to explore Stavanger’s surroundings at your own pace.
  • By bus: Long-distance bus services link Stavanger to other major Norwegian cities such as Bergen, Oslo… with Nor-Way Bussekspress.
  • By ferry: to save you many kilometers of winding roads, there are ferries between Stavanger – Oslo and Stavanger – Bergen. You can compare prices on the Direct Ferries website.

From Oslo to Stavanger: A Train Escape

Stavanger railway station is located in the heart of the city, with direct connections from Oslo.

A priori, the journey takes 8 hours andis an adventure in itself, as it is renowned for its breathtaking scenery.

On board, comfort is the order of the day. Norwegian trains are renowned for their cleanliness, comfort and punctuality. You can choose between different classes, even economy class. What’s more, free Wi-Fi is available, so you can share your experiences in real time or simply stay connected during the journey. Information on the following site:

We hope this article will help you plan your visit and take full advantage of all that Stavanger has to offer. And who knows, maybe, like us, you’ll be captivated by the unique charm of this Norwegian city.

We really enjoyed writing this article. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below. We spent 2 months in Norway, so check out our other articles about this incredible country.

Don’t hesitate to leave us a note or 5 stars below, to let us know if you’re planning this trip, to ask any questions you may have, below we’ll answer you with great pleasure. Vous pouvez consulter nos stories sur Instagram de notre voyage en Norvège, pour vous donner un avant gout de ce qui vous attend !

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Je m'appelle Floriane, aventurière et passionnée de voyages depuis mon plus jeune âge. J'aime plus que tout partager nos récits et astuces de voyage avec vous. Nous aimons les escapades courtes ainsi que les voyages longs. Ce blog est né après notre Tour du Monde en sac à dos. Nous avons également réalisé un tour d'Europe en famille.

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