Stavanger Norway is a city that is close to the mountains along the southwestern coast of Norway in the Rogaland fylke. Stavanger is a place where it is easy to go hiking and to explore its famous fjords of Norway – which are long, narrow inlets with steep sides created by glaciers. In this article, I show you some of my favorite things to do in Stavanger, Norway as well as famous attractions to visit. I am also sharing some recommendations on hotels and how to get to the gorgeous little town of Stavanger, 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. The water from Breiavatnet comes from the Kannikbekken stream, which runs through Stavanger Norway from Lake Mosvatnet. With flowing fountains and situated in the middle of a gorgeous park, Stavanger Norway is a city that truly has it all. It’s a beautiful town surrounded by stunning fjords and mountains. It has a lively atmosphere, flowers everywhere in the summer, well-preserved architecture, and an intriguing art scene all wrapped up in Norwegian culture.
12 Fun Things to do in Stavanger, Norway
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’s Oldest 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. It was perfectly located! It seems that everything here is so perfectly manicured! This church ended up being the Stavanger Cathedral also known in Norwegian as “Stavanger domkirke” which dates back to the city’s 12th-century founding in 1125.
This pretty Romanesque/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. An extensive renovation occurred in the 19th century, which includes the whole church as you see it today.
#2 Take a 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.
#3 Visit Øvre-Holmegate – A Colorful Part of Stavanger
Øvre-Holmegate is a really colorful street in the center of town that takes you down to the Stavanger Waterfront. The locals call it Street Fargegata or “the street of colors”. 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. 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 Øvre-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. During the summertime, Øvre Holmegate is the hotspot of Stavanger Norway with cafes and restaurants full of locals and visitors.
#4 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!
#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 Visit the Stavanger Canning Museum
The city is rich in cultural experiences, having been the European Capital of Culture in the past. “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 (Gamle Stavanger) there are 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 Enjoy the Street Art in Stavanger
The annual Nuart Street Art Festival occurs during August and September in Stavanger, so if you are a fan of street art, be sure and go during this time. During the festival days, street artists from all over the world come to Stavanger Norway, to paint on walls donated by the locals business people. During these days, there is a guided walking tour, called “Nuart’s Street Art Walking Tour”, where the street artists paint pieces of art in the downtown area.
#8 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 to! You can also take a cruise in the Lsyefjord (Fjord of Light in English) and see Pulpit Rock from a boat. Lysefjord is one of the most gorgeous fjords in Norway and is a great highlight of the Stavanger Norway area. You can experience the famous Pulpit Rock from a cruise through 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.
A Lysefjord Cruise will take you to the heart of this 22-mile long fjord, fully packed with interesting places such as Pulpit Rock, Vagabond’s Cave, and the Hengjanefossen waterfall where you can enjoy a glass of crystal clear water straight from the waterfall!
#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.
#11 Visit Sola Beach
Sola Beach was once named one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by the Sunday Times! Solastranden, also known as “Sola Beach” is a 1 and a half-mile long beach that is close to the airport. It is one of the most popular beaches in the Stavanger region. It is primarily used for watersports, windsurfing, and sunbathing. If you walk the beach, you can find traces of war structures at the southern end of the beach.
#12 Visit Valbergtårnet
Visit the old Valberg Tower, also known as Valbergtårnet. It is the old watchtower that was constructed in the 1850s at the top of the hill behind the colorful waterfront sea houses. They also have a watchmen’s museum. From the top of the tower, there is a lovely view over the water. In 1853 the tower was the highest point in the town. The tower was the lodging of the watchmen in Stavanger Norway. They were there to alert the town’s people when there was a fire. The last guard was Tobias Sandstøl, who was a watchman for 18 years until 1922!
Museums in Stavanger
- Flyhistorisk Museum
- Jernaldergården or “Iron age farm”
- Ledaal – Stavanger Norway’s first brick house
- Museum of Archaeology
- Norwegian Canning Museum
- Norwegian Children’s Museum
- Norwegian Petroleum Museum
- Roots of the Vikings
- Stavanger Maritime museum
- Stavanger Museum
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.
Just to let you know, if you use the links on the blog to book any item for your trip, I will receive a small commission. YOU WON’T PAY A PENNY EXTRA, but you will be helping the blog a lot – thanks for that!
Want more recommendations on things to do in Stavanger, Norway? Leave a comment below!
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.