If you are planning to visit Stavanger, you’ll know that this Norwegian city has lots to offer, including day trips, cute streets, shopping, and other popular attractions. There are many things to do in Stavanger, and during my trips there I have been lucky enough to cross most of them off my list.
In this post, I aim to outline some of the best things to do in Stavanger for anyone heading that way, and I hope you’ll find it helpful! With so many fun Stavanger attractions to chose from, you’re bound to find something for you in this list.
For those who are wondering, Stavanger is a city in South-West Norway. There is some debate as to whether it is more South or more West, but that isn’t really relevant to this post (personally, I’d say it’s in South Norway, as I’m from the West myself, but my friend from Kristiansand in South Norway is adamant that Stavanger is in the West, haha). The city is Norway’s fourth largest, and a popular tourist destination, mainly due to its proximity to the Lysefjord (and thus several available Stavanger tours to the fjord), and the many things to see in Stavanger.
As you know, I am a sucker for these huge posts on what do to in Norway (you may have read my guide to Oslo if you’re planning a trip to the capital), and this one will be no exception. In this post
Scroll to the bottom of the post for a map of all the activities/locations in Stavanger I have mentioned!
Things to do in Stavanger
If you are wondering what to do in Stavanger, look no further! This post covers everything you need to add to your list for your trip and includes most Stavanger attractions for you to consider. I absolutely love Stavanger, especially in the summer, and know you’ll enjoy the city too.
#1 Visit Fargegata – The colorful street in Stavanger
Number one on the list is one of the top things to add to your Stavanger sightseeing list. Fargegata literally means ‘the colour street’, and it’s one of the most popular places to visit in Stavanger.
This street boasts classic wooden houses painted in various bright colours, and it makes for the perfect Instagram spot. In addition to this, it’s a popular hangout amongst visitors and locals alike, thanks to the many pubs, cafés and restaurants along the street. It’s definitely worth a visit!
The name ‘Fargegata’ is just a nickname, and the actual street address for the colorful street is Øvre Holmegate (Ovre Holmegate in your Google Maps). You’ll find it right in the city center, and I know you’ll love it!
#2 Go on a Lysefjorden fjord cruise
As mentioned, Stavanger is conveniently located close to one of the most popular fjords in Norway; the Lysefjord. This beautiful and small fjord stretches all the way to Lysebotn, and going on a fjord cruise in Lysefjorden is a must if you are visiting Stavanger!
The Lysefjord is one of the best fjords in Norway, find out the rest here!
There are several companies that plan tours from Stavanger to Lysefjorden, and who will ensure you find the right Stavanger ferry for your needs. Most people want to make sure they see the famous Pulpit Rock and Kjerag (Kjeragbolten is that floating rock you see in all the photos) but be aware; if you want to catch a ferry to Pulpit Rock in order to hike it, you shouldn’t catch the Lysefjord ferry. But more on getting to Pulpit Rock from Stavanger below (#10 on the list, to be precise).
If you want to go on a cruise through Lysefjorden, you can either book your own ferry tickets here, and make your way to Lauvvik (the ferry stop closest to Stavanger) yourself. Lauvvik is approximately 1 hour by bus or car from Stavanger. As mentioned, you can also go on a tour starting in Stavanger, connecting you by bus to the ferry on Lysefjorden without having to figure it out yourself.
#3 Catch the sunset
Of all the things to see in Stavanger, this one isn’t technically Stavanger specific. I mean, there are sunsets all over the world, right? Stavanger sunsets are absolutely stunning, and I have seen some of the best sunsets in Norway during trips to Stavanger.
There are several Stavanger restaurants and cafés where you can catch sunset while enjoying your meal, and I highly recommend doing this during your visit to Stavanger. Further down in this post you’ll find an overview of some great Stavanger restaurants to choose from!
#4 Catch the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
Did you even know they had one of these in Stavanger? They sure do, and you can play the tourist by getting a proper tour of the city and all its sights in a short amount of time.
I actually really enjoy going on one of these tours when I am visiting a city for the first time, as I find that they are a great way to get an overview of were things are, as well as a sense of direction. I often go on one of these Hop-on Hop-Off tours on my first days in a new destination. That way, I can make a mental note of any places of interested I wasn’t aware of and want to revisit.
Please note that the Hop-on Hop-off bus in Stavanger only runs in the high season (June-August). Find more information and book your tickets here!
#5 Visit the Stavanger Cathedral
The Stavanger Cathedral is the oldest standing Cathedral in Norway, which alone makes it worth a visit. It was built in the first half of the 12th Century, and is the only Cathedral in Norway that has been in use continuously since the 14th Century.
The Stavanger Cathedral is open daily, albeit on Sundays only in coordination with the service. On their Facebook Page, you can check for updated news and opening hours, as they update it regularly.
Surrounding the Cathedral is a park called Byparken, which deserves its own number on this list.
#6 Go on a stroll through Byparken
The park surrounding Stavanger Cathedral is called Byparken, which literally translates to ‘The City Park’. As the city seems to be built around the Cathedral, Byparken is located in the center of Stavanger, close to everything you might need.
You’ll find old, wooden houses and cobbled streets along one side of the park, giving you the impression of being transported back in time. Just a stone’s throw away you’ll also find Fargegaten, the area that’s considered the centre of Stavanger, as well as Vågen, Stavanger’s charming bay and dock area. Along one side of the
Byparken is not a huge park, but it’s worth spending a little time walking around the pond (Breiavatnet) while hugging a hot coffee to go. As you may know, this is one of my top budget tips for Norway; enjoying the scenery without spending a dime (if you don’t count the coffee)!
Fun fact: Seen from a bird’s perspective, the pond in the park (Breiavatnet) takes the shape of a heart!
#7 Hang out along Vågen
Vågen is Stavanger’s dock area, and a popular spot to hang out for both tourists and locals. Along the docks you’ll not only find restaurants and bars, but also the Stavanger Tourist Information and the start of the Old Town (more on that below). What’s extra fascinating is that Vågen actually seems to separate the Old Town (which used to be the center of Stavanger) and the new city centre!
Along Vågen you’ll, in addition to restaurants and hangouts, find several protected buildings that are worth noticing, such as Tollboden and Gamle Tollbod. Both are buildings used to tax ships coming into Stavanger through the years, as Stavanger has always been important for maritime transportation and import.
#8 Go on a fjord safari
Here’s another popular activity on the list of things to do in Stavanger; going on a fjord safari! They offer this activity in several places across Norway, and it is basically a fast rib-boat that will take you out onto the ocean (or fjord, depending on your location).
The fjord safari can take you to the Lysefjord, where you’ll get to see Pulpit Rock and the 4444 steps of Flørli. You can have a look at the different fjord safari tours on offer on this link. It’s also possible to book a private boat for a larger party, and get a customised tour!
#9 Get a guided tour from a local
This is such a great activity if you are planning to visit Stavanger, as it is completely tailored to what you want to see and do in the city! Out of all the things to do in Stavanger, this might just be my favourite.
Join a Stavanger local on a guided tour through the city, where you can specify your preferred sights and interests. The tour is available in several languages, and can take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours, depending on the length you prefer. How genius is this?
On this Stavanger tour, a local guide will share their best-kept secrets, tips and tricks of the city, and you’ll get to discover Stavanger in a way like no other.
#10 Hike Pulpit Rock
Out of all the best places to visit and things to do in Stavanger, the most famous one isn’t actually in Stavanger. This famous hike is one of the most well-known hikes in Norway, and on many a traveller’s list. If you are looking for what to do in Stavanger, you’ll find that Pulpit Rock is people’s #1 recommendation. Pulpit Rock is by some called Preacher’s Pulpit, and in Norwegian it’s called Preikestolen.
Fun fact: Pulpit Rock was used in the filming of Mission Impossible: Fallout, and they actually closed down the hiking trail and access to the area for several days. Can you imagine arriving in Norway, all excited about this bucket list hike only to be told that you can’t because Tom Cruise is there?
Pulpit Rock towers 604 metres above the Lysefjord, offering you breathtaking views of the fjord below. Like most of Norway, the mountain was shaped by ice thousands of years ago, and has an impressive flat, squared shape. The hike itself takes 4-5 hours, and you’ll find that you will ascend and descend on two different paths, in order to keep the busy ‘traffic flow’ of the trail going. I would recommend that you are in general good shape to do the hike.
As mentioned above, Pulpit Rock isn’t actually in the city centre, so keep reading if you want to know how to get to Pulpit Rock from Stavanger.
How to get to Pulpit Rock from Stavanger
Pulpit Rock is along the Lysefjord, but you can’t actually get there from the fjord directly (that would be quite a climb). The hike starts from the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge parking area, and if you are travelling to Pulpit Rock by car, please note that there are some parking fees to leave your car there.
Getting from Stavanger to Pulpit Rock by car requires that you catch the car ferry from Stavanger centre to Tau, and from there it is an approximate half hour drive. Alternatively, you can catch the car ferry from Lauvvik to Oanes and drive from there. This route takes a little longer, as Lauvvik is an hour drive from Stavanger. The drive from Oanes to Pulpit Rock takes about 20 minutes.
If you want to get to Pulpit Rock from Stavanger with public transport, there are two websites that will be helpful when booking this. All options will be bus (or private car) and ferry (can’t get around them when visiting the fjords). These are Tide and Pulpit Rock Tours.
#11 Visit the Stavanger Maritime Museum
As mentioned, Stavanger is a city with a vast history in the maritime sector. The Maritime Museum is a fun place to visit in Stavanger, and a must if you have some time to spend! The Museum opened in 1926, and has been at its current location since 1985.
You’ll find interesting exhibitions relating to the Stavanger docks, fishing and shipping in the area through the years. You’ll be able to explore Stavanger’s maritime history ‘from herring to oil’, and visit the offices of an old shipping company. The Museum is well worth a visit, and a great thing to do in Stavanger!
#12 Go on a stroll through Stavanger Old Town
Across Vågen from the current city centre you’ll find Stavanger Old Town. This old city centre is filled with beautiful wooden houses, crooked corners and cobbled streets. This area of the city is actually considered Northern Europe’s most well-kept wooden settlement, which is quite fun!
The Old Town in Stavanger totals 173 wooden houses from the 17- and 18-hundreds. The houses are protected, and the very definition of ‘cosy’, in my opinion! You’ll find homes, shops and galleries amongst the houses, and also the Norwegian Canning Museum (yes, it’s a thing!).
Fun fact: The Old Town is not only popular amongst tourists visiting Stavanger, it is also a very sought-after place to live in for locals!
#13 Visit the Norwegian Canning Museum
I couldn’t not include this on the list. Stavanger is, after all, named the Canning Capital of Norway. The Museum is a part of the Stavanger Museums (together with the Maritime Museum), and is a great place to visit!
Located in an authentic sardin cannery (which was in operation until 1958!), you’ll learn a thing or two about the history of canned fish and metal cans in general. They have different exhibitions, which include one about the marketing of canned goods through the decades. There are also guided tours through the Canning Museum, and you can find the exact schedules by visiting their website.
#14 Stay in a kick-ass hotel
This might be a silly thing to include on a list of things to do in Stavanger, but personally, I think the accommodation can make a trip. Make sure you stay somewhere amazing by ensuring you get a good deal on a hotel. Norway can be expensive (trust me, I know), and so I’m always looking for the best deals and offers on hotels when I travel! Use the little graph below to see what you can find!
Stavanger Hotel Deals Finder:
Which restaurant in Stavanger should you choose?
For some reason, I have gotten so many question about Stavanger restaurants and where people should go to eat in Stavanger. There are many great restaurants in Stavanger, so if you are currently planning a trip there, you can find one on the list below! I’m sure quite a few of you have found this post by Googling ‘restaurant Stavanger’, haha!
I have personally eaten at a several of these, and have friends who have recommended some. Either way, you are bound to find a Stavanger restaurant you love, and I hope you’ll leave a comment below if you have any I should add to the list!
Not all have websites, in which case I have tried to link to their Facebook page or Google Maps page so you can easily find them.
List of great Stavanger restaurants:
- Noodle Noodle (sushi & Asian)
- The Shack (Burgers & American)
- Gådjå (Ethiopian)
- Bølgen og Moi (this Norwegian restaurant has become a staple in several cities, and serve great food!)
- Tango (International)
- [:vju] (worth a visit for the city views alone, based on the 21st floor of the tallest building in Stavanger)
- Villa 22 (Italian)
- Cucina Italia (Italian)
- Café Bacchus, Det Lille Hjørnet, Bøker og Børst & Hanekam (these are all to be found in Fargegata mentioned first on this list of things to do in Stavanger. All are cafés more than restaurant, but worth a visit if you are in Fargegata for their lovely interior and great coffee!)
- Skagen Restaurant (Scandinavian)
- 26 North (Scandinavian)
- Thai Nong Khai (Thai)
- Bluebird (another coffee house, but worth a mention as they have previously been said to have the best coffee in Stavanger by a national newspaper)
- Big Horn (Steakhouse)
- Fish & Cow (Steakhouse, seafood)
- Amici (Italian)
- Kitchen & Table (International)
- Mogul India (Indian)
How to travel from Oslo to Stavanger (and from Stavanger to Oslo)
Getting to Stavanger may seem a little tricky, but you’ll be surprised at how easy it is! First of all, let me mention that Stavanger has an airport, so you can easily fly from Oslo to Stavanger. Several airlines fly between Norway’s cities, with the main ones being SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe (domestic only). The airport in Stavanger is named Sola.
You can also travel from Stavanger to Oslo or back by train, and you’ll be glad to know that there are direct trains from Oslo to Stavanger that’ll get you where you need to be in about 8 hours. For train schedules and tickets, head this way!
If you want to go from Oslo to Stavanger by bus, you can book it and find the schedules here. You’ll get to spend 9 whole hours relaxing and watching Norway fly by outside the bus. If you want to drive from Oslo to Stavanger yourself it will take you about 7 hours.
How to travel from Bergen to Stavanger (and from Stavanger to Bergen)
As mentioned above, there are several airlines operating at Sola airport, and so you can easily fly from Bergen to Stavanger. It is a short flight, and you’ll be back down on the ground before you know it.
If you are looking for a Bergen to Stavanger bus, you’ll be happy to hear that you can find it by heading this way. They have several departures daily (practically one every hour), and the trip doesn’t take longer than 4-5 hours.
The most exciting way to get between Stavanger and Bergen is by boat. These two cities are both found on the Norwegian coast, and so it is only natural that one of your options is the Bergen to Stavanger ferry! The company operating this ferry is called FjordLine, and they offer daily departures from both Bergen and Stavanger at quite a low price. The journey takes 5,5 hours. Do bear in mind that you need to arrive in time for ‘boarding’ as if you were travelling abroad, so keep a note of the boarding time you are given when booking your ferry ticket.
Things to do in Stavanger MAP
There you have some of the best things to do in Stavanger, and I hope you have found the post helpful! I threw in the Stavanger restaurant list after realising it was something people wanted to know, and hope I wasn’t wrong!
If anything is missing, or you have any Stavanger activities that should be on the list, leave a comment below!