If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know that I’ve just been on a trip around the North Sea. One of the places I visited was the city of Stavanger, Norway’s third largest. As I was on a cruise, the visit was quite short. But based on my previous research, I already knew what to do in Stavanger, so I could enjoy every minute there.
The city is quite compact, very walkable and painfully charming. Despite its size, there’s quite a few interesting things to see in Stavanger.
The city port is one of the most popular places to visit in Stavanger. Here you’ll find many cafes and restaurants and be able to watch life go by on both sides of the harbour. On the one side, there is Gamle Stavanger (old Stavanger, or simply Old Town), a bunch of white washed wooden houses with triangular shaped roofs, all very similar to each other. It’s basically a residential area. Especially seen from the top deck of my ship, the Old Town resembled a doll-house town.
On the other side is the “modern” part of the city. See that I used inverted commas, for this part doesn’t seem that modern at all – which is a good thing.
This is where I spent most of my time, strolling along the cobbled streets and taking pictures of the well-preserved wooden buildings. The area abounds with bars and restaurants, and you can choose between Scandinavian cuisine and the odd Thai or Indian restaurant. Not to mention the number of Irish pubs!
Something that really caught my eyes was the number of street arts you can find around here. You can find many colourful and creative graffitis everywhere. Some are quite discreet, while others are big, in your face, so to speak. And the colours… The city is bathed in paint, whether on its buildings, on its walls or even on some weird playground by the water.
If you have to visit only one place, it has to be Øvre Holmegate street. Here you’ll find many vintage shops and some of the best cafes in the whole of Stavanger, as well as the most beautiful wooden houses in town, all painted in very bright colours. Whilst Old Stavanger resembles a bunch of doll houses, this street looks like a cartoon background.
6 TIPS ON WHAT TO DO IN STAVANGER – A SUMMARY
1- Visit the Port of Stavanger. The harbour area, in a U-shape, is extremely pleasant and walkable – just like the rest of the city. Here you can sit at an outdoor cafe or restaurant and watch the cruise ships and small boats come and go. Bear in mind that, while the city itself is not cheap, the harbour area is much more expensive. But for the location, I think it’s worth to spend a few extra kroners.
2- The Norwegian Petroleum Museum is a place where you’ll learn the history of the “black gold” in Norway. The mineral is responsible for much of the country’s wealth and one of the reasons it voted twice not to enter the European Union. If you arrive in Stavanger by cruise ship, you’ll even spot some oil platforms just a few minutes out of town. Price: 120NOK (adults), 60NOK (children) for opening hours, please see their website.
3- Get lost on the streets of the small Old Town! This residential area is full of white wooden houses, all very well preserved.
4- Visiting Stavanger Cathedral is a must. It’s Stavanger’s oldest building, finished in 1125, also considered the year the city was founded. The cathedral standing today is a reconstruction from the 13th century, after the original one was destroyed by a fire.
5- Hike the incredible Pulpit Rock, a giant square rock overlooking the fjords. That was my number one thing to do there but, unfortunately, it didn’t materialise. Many boats departing Stavanger will take you nearby and you’ll have hike to get to the top. As you can see from the picture above, it’s really worth the effort, don’t you think? 🙂
6- Have a coffee and take many pictures on the colourful Øvre Holmegate street. It’s a popular tourist area and not cheap, but when in Norway… 🙂
Do you know Stavanger or other parts of Norway? What’s your must-do tip?