Unless you are Norwegian or are working for the oil business, chances are that you have never heard about Stavanger. It is a nice little city in Norway, the country with smoked salmon, Northern lights, Santa Claus (well, this is debatable, some say Finland, some the North Pole, some even say he does not exist) and beautiful Nature. Stavanger is especially interesting for this last point.
Travel Guides for Stavanger
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When to Visit Stavanger?
As Stavanger is mostly about Nature, the perfect answer would be: "when the weather is nice". Unfortunately, it is not so easy to know in advance when the weather will be nice. In the same month, you can have snow and 25 degrees days...
However, your best option is probably to visit Stavanger between May and September. May is interesting because of the Jazz festival ("Mai jazz"), and because of the famous "17 mai", the day Norway is celebrating its constitution  with traditional outfits, parades, ... In the end of July, there is also a quite important food festival ("gladmat festival"). For people wondering, the beach volley tournament is unfortunately no longer happening in Stavanger.
December, even though not a good time to enjoy Nature could be enjoyable on a culinary perspective because of the traditional Norwegian Christmas food, generally served from early December to Christmas ("pinnekjøtt", "ribbe" and other delicacies).
How to Get to Stavanger?
Stavanger is mainly accessible by airplanes. Trains and boats are available, from some parts of Norway (if you are coming from Bergen, you could even take the bus) but from other countries, air transport is the only option.
The airport is located in Sola (small city next to Stavanger) and is called Sola airport (how practical). From the airport, to go to Stavanger, you can use the regular bus (green, line number 9) but a better alternative is the white Flybuss with the SAS logo (you don't need to be a SAS passenger to take it). It stops at hotels, has more space for luggage and runs more often. It costs about 100 NOK for a single ticket (you should buy a return ticket if you intend to use it both ways). If you don't mind the price, you can of course take a taxi. The journey should take about 30 minutes.
There are 3 main airline companies flying from and to Sola: KLM (generally best for service on board and customer service), SAS (Europe's most punctual airline) and Norwegian.no (first in Europe to offer free wifi onboard and most innovative in general). Lufthansa also proposes some flights, though generally in alliance with SAS. Finally, Airbaltic is an option (just be careful about time zone if you fly through Riga).
There are several possible transit cities, among which:
- Oslo airport called Gardermoen which is best to avoid in the direction abroad to Stavanger because you would need to take your checked-in luggage(s), leave the international zone, checked the luggage(s) again and go through the security check again
- Frankfurt may not the best either because of long walk between the arrival gate and the departure gate (seems not to be optimised for passengers to or from Stavanger)
- Amsterdam and Copenhagen are nice transit airports. Depending on where you are coming from, Amsterdam may offer a museum, a casino, a playground for kids, a forest-like resting space... Copenhagen has a "Joe and the drink" bar/café where you can enjoy fresh fruit juices/shakes with sexy names.
About Sola airport itself: it is a nice airport which has been renovated recently and is still being renovated. If you have small children and long waiting time, you should go to the domestic departure area where there is a small airplane to play with.
Where to Eat in Stavanger?
Stavanger is unfortunately an expensive city. Norwegian.no even said in an official statement that this was the reason they had so few direct routes to Stavanger. If you are on budget, Pedersgata is a good street to check as it has many cheap and take-away restaurants (Thai, sushi, Indian, Chinese, Turkish).
Fish Trio served in XO bar, a bar/restaurant in Stavanger
Otherwise, Stavanger offers a wide choice of restaurants in city center. If you want to eat something typical Norwegian, you should try the Komler in the XO bar in city center.
Main Attractions Around Stavanger
As said in the introduction, Nature is the strong point of Stavanger and the most touristic place is the pulpit rock, or "Preikestolen" which is a massive flat cliff about 600 metres (2000 feet) above the Lysefjord, a beautiful fjord. By the way, ever wondered what a fjord is? Without entering into geological details, it is the result of rock erosion by the sea inside a mountain. Kind of a sea-river inside the mountains.
Kjerag is also very popular even though it is a bit more difficult to reach. It is a rock that seems suspended between two cliffs. If you go there, make sure you take a photo of yourself on the top of that rock.
Other than that, sea is omnipresent in Stavanger. You can find beautiful lakes too. Below, a photo taken from a beach in Sola.
The City Itself
The city itself has also some touristic places. Some of them appeared earlier in this article: the small lake with the fountain (first photo of this article) and the harbour (second photo of this blog).
Stavanger also has a cathedral and some churches. Here is the cathedral.
The colorful street is also popular.
Up the hill, you can find the Valberg tower ("tårnet") and its cannons.
Finally, the old Stavanger area located uphill from the harbor (on the other side compared to the pubs/bars/restaurants) is worth visiting because of its beautiful old houses. From wikipedia: "This area has what is considered North Europe’s best kept wood houses, from both the 19th and 20th century".
Where to Buy Souvenirs in Stavanger?
There is actually not so many tourist shops in Stavanger and not so many things tourists can buy as souvenirs.
Stavanger Husflidsforening, in Kirkegata, not far from the tourist information sells a lot of things, mainly produced in Norway but not necessarily tourist oriented.
Near the Valberg Tower, still in Kirkegata, you will find a shop based on souvenirs:
Finally, on the other side of this shop, you will find Oleana. This is not a souvenirs/tourist shop but they sell beautiful things made in Norway.
Museums in Stavanger
What to do in Stavanger during a raining day? Visit a museum!
The biggest museum in Stavanger is without doubt the Norwegian Petroleum museum. This musem is quite nice to both adults who can learn more about oil and oil business and to children who can enjoy the nice play ground or the 3d movie. Some parts of the museum really immerse you in the oil world (emergency capsule, dark room, ...).
A modest but also quite popular museum is the Norwegian canning museum.
Other museums include the Stavanger Museum of Natural History, the Stavanger Maritime Museum (quite popular too), the Norwegian Children's Museum (beware it has moved and is now in Musegata 16, not in the library as mentioned in old tourist guides) and the Stavanger Art Museum located next to a beautiful lake.
2 other buildings to visit are Ledaal, the royal residence and Breidablikk, a shipowner's residence from 1881. Here are the opening hours.
Street Art in Stavanger
Recently, street art has grown in Stavanger, especially in Pedersgata.
At the end of the Pedersgata street (towards the sea, not towards the city center), you have also the house/office of an architect/design company which is quite original.
There are many things to do in Stavanger and even though this city is less known than Oslo or Bergen, it is a must-go place if you want to experience Norwegian Nature as its best.
Have a pleasant visit to Norway!
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