Stavanger is a city that is close to the fjords and mountains along the southwestern coast of Norway. It is a place where it is easy to go hiking and to explore the famous fjords of Norway. I honestly was not expecting such a pleasant little city when I rode the Oslo to Stavanger train. Stepping outside of the train station, one of the first things I noticed was a huge lake right in the middle of town called Breiavatnet Lake. It had flowing fountains and was situated in the middle of a park. It was fabulous and the day was perfect!
How to Get To Stavanger, Norway
Oslo to Stavanger Train
If you want to relax and enjoy the ride, you can ride the train along Norway’s coastal cities. I rode the train from Oslo to Stavanger, but just so you know, it does take about eight hours to get here so be ready to sit tight. But if you add in all the waiting time at the airport, you will probably just about break even on time spent, so take the time to have a scenic trip and try to enjoy it. The one-way ticket is typically cheaper than airfare and you can book it on Rail Europe. They even have night trains, so that could be an option, too.
Things to do in Stavanger Norway
#1 Visit Stavanger Cathedral
Across the Lake, I could see a charming old church, with the most beautiful vivid pink flowers that lined the back of the church. They were perfect! Everything here is so perfectly manicured! This church ended up being the Stavanger Cathedral that dates back to the city’s 12th-century founding. This pretty Gothic building is famous for being the oldest cathedral in all of Norway. If you get a chance, go inside and take a look at the pulpit, which was carved with hundreds of figures and painted in bright colors.
#2 Take a Quick Stop at the Tourism Office
I headed to the tourist office and actually had to stop along the way to just enjoy the scene: kids were playing in the park, a man was feeding the birds, the stunning flowers were growing everywhere. There were pots of flowers every few feet. I am convinced that Norwegians plant amazing amounts of flowers because they fully appreciate the springtime.
I eventually found my way to the tourist office, where the wonderful guide Carmen took me on a tour through the streets of Stavanger. The tourist office had a list of things we could do while visiting this quaint little city.
#3 Visit the Norwegian Petroleum Museum
The Norwegian Petroleum Museum shows off the oil industry with interesting architectural buildings and quite a few interesting things to see. This is perhaps more interesting for those who love engineering. The museum provides an interactive setting for experiencing how oil and gas were created millions of years ago. The museum won the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2017 for the quality, quantity, and recency of reviews submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period, so without a doubt, it is very popular!
#4 Visit Olre Holmegate – A Colorful Part of Stavanger
Olre Holmegate is a really colorful street in the center of town that takes you down to the Stavanger Waterfront. All the buildings here have been painted in bright colors. (I think the guide must have taken me there on purpose, as maybe she secretly knows I love to photograph colored buildings!)
It has to be the most colorful street in all of Norway and is also known by locals as Fargegaten (which translates as the Colored Street.) While you are there you can visit a place called Boker og Borst, which is a literary cafe and beer place that is super cool. Also, there is a place called Sjokoladepiken, which makes the BEST chocolate!
Some say Olre Holmegate is akin to “Notting Hill” in London, which was a run-down area until the 1980s. Notting Hill, Great Britain now has a contemporary reputation as an affluent and fashionable area; known for attractive terraces of Victorian townhouses, and high-end shopping and restaurants. Stavanger experienced its’ renaissance in 2005 when hairdresser Tom Kjørsvik envisioned doing something totally unique with his shop and was able to get the neighbors to play along.
All the houses along the street were painted in different hues of bright colors, in accordance with a color scheme suggested by the artist Craig Flannagan, a prominent Stavanger artist.
#5 Visit Stavanger Harbor
Stavanger is the shortcut to the Norwegian fjords, as nothing is too far away. The Stavanger Harbor is where the cruise ships dock in Old Stavanger that also has a cool maritime vibe. The landscape in the region varies between fjords, beaches, and steep mountains.
#6 Old Stavanger & Canning Museum
The city is rich in cultural experiences, having been the European Capital of Culture in 2008. Old Stavanger was a picturesque historic area with 173 white wooden cottages dating back to the early 18th century. Each one is adorned with beautiful flower boxes and blue doors along the narrow cobblestoned streets. It is in this area that a lot of the traditional wooden houses in town have been preserved. This is also where the Canning Museum, a former sardine factory is located. It has exhibits detailing Stavanger’s main industry from the 1890s to the 1960s.
#7 Visit Swords in Rock or the Sverd i fjell
Swords in Roc is a monument that consists of three swords (Sverd i fjell) that are fixed into the ground. They symbolize peace, unity, and freedom. This exact location was where Harald Fairhair gathered Norway into one kingdom in 872 AD! The hilts of the Viking swords were taken from swords found in different parts of the country and are beautifully displayed. The monument is made by Fritz Røed and was unveiled by Norway’s King Olav in 1983.
#8 Visit the Stavanger Museum
Stavanger Museum chronicles the city’s history and displays preserved wildlife.
#9 Take Cruise Through the Lysefjord
You don’t even have to hike to the peak of Pulpit Rock if you don’t want too! You can also take a cruise in the Lsyefjord and see Pulpit Rock from a boat. You can experience the famous Pulpit Rock from the fjords. The Lysefjord offers waterfalls, islands, and nature where you can get a taste of the fresh mountain air and experience the Hengjane waterfall. They have departures all year round and most of the boats are modern with a sun deck.
#10 Take a Hike to Pulpit Rock While in Stavanger
It is true if you come to Stavanger, Norway, you will not be disappointed, as it is a wonderful little city right on the water. It is also the gateway to hike Preikestolen (the famous Pulpit Rock). The Lysefjord and the iconic Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock) are just an hour’s boat trip away from the city, but you can also visit those places by bus. This is a must for every traveler who goes to Norway. You can read all about my experience hiking Pulpit Rock and more detailed information on how to get there at the link above.
Where to stay in Stavanger
The Myhregaarden Hotel is in a great location in the heart of the city’s shopping area and close to everything.
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel
The Radisson Blu Royal Hotel is a very nice and comfortable hotel within walking distance to the city center and 10 minutes from the train station, it is well located. The rooms were spacious and clean.
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Disclosure: My trip to Norway was courtesy of Visit Norway USA and the guide was furnished by RegionStavanger, however, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. There are affiliate links on this page.