Things to do in Stavanger

Must-see Stavanger sights

Offering impressive fjords, picturesque harbours and picturesque buildings, the southern Norwegian city of Stavanger is jam-packed with museums and cultural delights. It’s a popular destination for domestic and international travellers alike, and it’s not hard to see why, what with its impressive range of activities, sights and experiences on offer. Whether you want to chill out in a pub, wander through the white-housed Gamle Stavanger or take a hike up to one of the most impressive vistas in the country (if not the world), Stavanger is a city that will leave you breathless.

  1. Gamle Stavanger
  2. Norwegian Petroleum Museum
  3. Norwegian Canning Museum
  4. Swords in Rock
  5. Ovre Holmegate
  6. Pulpit Rock
  7. Stavanger Museum

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1. Gamle Stavanger

‘Old Stavanger’ consists of 173 white-wooden buildings that date back to the early 1800s, although many have since been restored to accommodate some of the locals who choose to reside in one of the most scenic spots in the city – and lucky them. This aesthetically-pleasing spot also offers a glimpse down over the harbourside, but make sure you savour your time in Gamle Stavanger! As you stroll through the pedestrian roads, stop off at some of the small art galleries and boutiques that make up part of the business here.

Best for: Picturesque Stavanger.

While you’re there: It’s a perfect picture spot, with well-attended colourful gardens complementing the dinky cottages.

2. Norwegian Petroleum Museum

It might not sound overly exciting, but the national Petroleum Museum is quirky, insightful and one of the more interesting things to do in Stavanger. The museum explains how oil and gas are created, what they’re used for, the influence on Norwegian society… but it’s all pretty riveting stuff as you can understand its local impact. Amongst the exhibits are original models, 3D movies, pioneer-diving displays and plenty more. There are also activity sheets for kids, too, to keep them on their toes!

Best for: Learning about an important part of Norway’s economy.

While you’re there: Check out the museum shop and cafe, which serves light meals with a seaview.

3. Norwegian Canning Museum

You won’t be stuck wondering what to do in Stavanger with such a range of quirky museums to choose from. And theNorwegian Canning Museum is no exception. Situated in the charming Gamle Stavanger, this museum tells the story of how the canning industry was the city’s most important trade from the late 19th century right up until 1960. Wind your way around the exhibition and take in the complete process inside a canning factory, from when fresh fish arrive through to the finished canned product.

Best for: Hands-on experiences.

While you’re there: The factory is still partly in use; a couple of days a week, visitors can taste freshly smoked fish.

4. Swords in Rock

The Swords in Rock (Sverd i fjell) is an intimidating monument of three colossus (Viking) swords whose tips are wedged into the ground. They symbolize the point where Norway became one kingdom in 872, in Hafrsfjord, with the swords’ hilts based on swords found across the country. This imposing monument really drives home the Viking origins of Norway, and how it shapes and is embraced by the country today.

Best for: Year-round recreational areas.

While you’re there: Hafrsfjord is a popular area for hiking and bathing.

5. Ovre Holmegate

Not only is Ovre Holmegate the most colourful place in the city, but it also makes one of the best things to do in Stavanger, too. The houses are painted in vibrant colours – greens, yellows, reds, blues – and the area is easy enough just to stroll through, with all its lively accolades. That said, there are plenty of unique shops, spacious pubs and welcoming cafes to take a respite in.

Best for: All the colours.

While you’re there: You’re not far from the harbourside, where many cruises come into port.

6. Pulpit Rock

Hiking to the top of Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) is something of a rite of passage in Norway; so whatever Stavanger holiday packages you’re looking at, make sure you don’t miss this. For stunning coastal and wildlife scenery – arguably one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in the world – take the 2hr hike up this natural rock formation, which overlooks the pretty Lysefjord below.

Best for: Ultimate Stavanger.

While you’re there: Wear suitable footwear, drink plenty of water and keep safe distance at the top – especially for a well-deserved selfie!

7. Stavanger Museum

The Stavanger Museum is a fascinating way to learn the ins and outs of this southern Norwegian city. The building itself dates back to the late 19th century, and the museum focuses on natural and cultural histories, which really piece together the biological diversity of the region as well as a general history of the city. The site is also home to two other museums: the Norwegian Children’s Museum and Norway’s Bird Ringing Centre.

Best for: Past and present.

While you’re there: The Norwegian Children’s Museum has an outdoor play park which has a decent range of historical-themed games.

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