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Stavanger, an Unknown yet Beautiful City

By Edited Jun 6, 2015 6 14

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.

fountain stavanger

Travel Guides for Stavanger

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Norway
Amazon Price: $35.21 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 6, 2015)
A beautiful travel guide about Norway. An important part is dedicated to Oslo but it does contain some information about Stavanger.
Norway (Insight Guides)
Amazon Price: $22.99 $13.25 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 6, 2015)
Has a bit more information about Stavanger than the previous item but is a bit older.

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...

harbour stavanger

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 [1] 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.

Girls in Norwegian outfit

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.

Flybuss Stavanger

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.

toy airplane

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 dish Stavanger(101536)

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

Lyse fjord 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.

Preikestolen Norge

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.

Kjerag bolten

Other than that, sea is omnipresent in Stavanger. You can find beautiful lakes too. Below, a photo taken from a beach in Sola.

Sea Stavanger

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.

Stavanger Cathedral

The colorful street is also popular.

Colorful street

 Up the hill, you can find the Valberg tower ("tårnet") and its cannons.

Valberg tower Stavanger


Valberg tower canons

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.

tourist shop 1

Near the  Valberg Tower, still in Kirkegata, you will find a shop based on souvenirs:

tourist shop 2

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.

Oleana Stavanger


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, ...).

Norwegian Petroleum museum

A modest but also quite popular museum is the Norwegian canning museum.

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.

street art 1

Street art 3

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.

Original house


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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Norwegian Pocket Dictionary (Berlitz Pocket Dictionary) (English and Norwegian Edition)
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(price as of Jun 6, 2015)
Most Norwegian people speak English but a dictionary can still be handy!


Jun 11, 2012 1:48pm
Looks like a beautiful place -- the Preikestolen looks amazing, and the city seems interesting. And a jazz festival in May... hmmmm - that's when I would go! Thumbs up.
Jun 11, 2012 2:27pm
Thanks for the comment and for the thumbs!
Jun 11, 2012 1:55pm
These remote places with special attributes are fascinating. Brilliant imagery. A thumb.
Jun 11, 2012 2:27pm
Thanks for the comment and for the thumb. I am glad you liked the photos.
Jun 23, 2012 6:25pm
What a lovely place and with a jazz festival too!
Jun 24, 2012 2:35am
Thanks! Yes, when the weather is nice, it is definitively a lovely place.
Jul 4, 2012 4:22am
Very nice and interesting article. Just 2 notes:

1. Stavanger has been european capital of culture in 2008
2. Cannot believe same people say that Santa Claus does not exists.
Jul 4, 2012 4:25am
Thanks for your comment!
1. Yes, thanks for mentioning it
2. Well, you know, people do say crazy things
Sep 5, 2012 5:27pm
Great article--I regret that I have never traveled Europe--all my trips have been to Asia and Austtraliaand that way on the map from the U.S.--So thanks for taking to such an interesting and quaint place. 2 big thumbs up
Sep 10, 2012 7:16am
Thanks for your comment and for the thumbs! I am glad you liked this article.
Sep 5, 2012 6:01pm
I will always have a special place in my heart for Scandinavia ever since I lived in Copenhagen for a short while. This article makes me want to go back and explore the little known places there. Beautiful pictures too. A thumb.
Sep 10, 2012 7:18am
I have been to Copenhagen several times but never lived there. Wouldn't mind moving there, though. Thanks for your comment and for the thumb.
Mar 17, 2014 4:05pm
You make me want to visit Stavanger.... Thumbs up!
Mar 17, 2014 5:22pm
Thanks for the comment. It is a beautiful place. I have moved to another city now and I do miss it. During winter time, there isn't much to do there but summer can be very nice (if rain isn't pouring too much).
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  1. "Norwegian Consitution Day." Wikipedia. 24/06/2013 <Web >

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