I love Norway. I fell in love with this Nordic country over 10 years ago when I first visited it. I’ve been back a couple of times since then and I would go back a hundred times over.
Last summer I spent a long weekend in the Stavanger region of Rogaland. It’s a beautiful town surrounded by jaw-dropping fjords and mountains. Despite is reputation as the oil capital of Norway, Stavanger has a lot to offer tourists. From iconic hikes and fjords to a stroll around the charming harbour, there are so many things to do in Stavanger, and I feel as I’ve only scratched the surface.
Here are the best things to do in Stavanger and beyond.
I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic photo of a boulder wedged between a cliff. That’s the Kjeragbolten and it’s not for the fainthearted. Just getting to Kjeragbolten is an adventure on its own. It’s a very scenic drive from Sandnes (that’s a small town near Stavanger where we stayed).
You can read more about my hike to Kjeragbolten here, but for now, here are some facts.
– The best time to visit is from mid-June to mid-September
– You can either hire a car and drive or take a coach from Stavanger city centre
– The hike will take roughly 5-6 hours depending on your fitness level
– Bring a good sunscreen, a water bottle, packed lunch and snacks
My favourite part of exploring Stavanger was by walking through what the local’s call Gamle Stavanger, which means ‘Old Stavanger’. This is a historic area of the city with cobblestone streets lined up with rows of white wooden houses. In total, there are more than 170 wooden homes dating back to the 18th century.
While you’re in Gamle Stavanger area, check out the Norwegian Canning Museum. It is a very popular tourist attraction in Stavanger. I’m not going to lie, I was in and out in about 10 mins – but if you’re into these type of quirky museums you can spend some quality time there, and learn some interesting facts.
The city centre of Stavanger is quite compact, which makes it easy to reach most attractions on foot. Stavanger Cathedral (Stavanger Domkirke) is the oldest cathedral in Norway, built in the year 1125. Therefore, it’s one of the must-see Stavanger attractions and a truly stunning work of architecture.
If you’re a fan of street art, Stavanger is the place to be. There are lots of street art dotted around the city and you could easily spend a day checking them out – it’s very Instagram friendly 🙂
Yearly Nuart Festival happening in Stavanger always guarantees more street art showcases too.
Øvre Holmegate – is Norway’s answer to London’s Notting Hill. Located in the centre, just east of the Stavanger harbour, Øvre Holmegate is possibly the most colourful street in Norway, packed with shops and restaurants.
You can’t visit Norway and not learn about the Vikings. Stavanger’s Museum of Archaeology is where you can get your Viking fix.
Sverd i fjell (Swords in rock) is three tall swords planted in the rocky ground to commemorate the Battle of Hafrsfjord in the year 872. The three unique crowns topping each sword represent the three districts of Norway that were united under the crown of Harald Hårfagre.
The Stavanger area has lovely beaches. There are long sandy beaches, cosy pebble beaches, beaches with calm water for bathing and others with surf waves. We visited Ogna beach, which is a nice sandy beach to relax and take in some ocean breeze.
Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock), the most famous tourist attraction in Ryfylke, towers an impressive 604 metres over the Lysefjord. I cannot wait to hike it next time I’m in Norway!
If you don’t like climbing, you can take Lysefjord cruise from Stavanger harbour in the city centre and enjoy spectacular scenery and see the Pulpit Rock from below. This 3-hour cruise costs about £40.
I came across this cruise late in the afternoon and due to my flight leaving in a few hours, I didn’t have enough time to do it. Next time!
If you’re planning to explore Norway sometime soon, here are a few of the best travel guides to Scandinavia and Norway: