14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Stavanger
Situated on the southwestern coast of Norway, bustling Stavanger is the country's third largest city. It's also one of the oldest communities in Norway, tracing its roots as far back as the 12th Century. Well sheltered by offshore islands, it's been a vibrant commercial center for centuries and is well known as a popular recreation area, boasting several nearby lakes and a mild maritime climate. The city is also an extremely vibrant cultural hub, hosting popular events such as the MaiJazz Festival each May, and the International Chamber Music Festival in August.
See also: Where to Stay in Stavanger
1 Prekestolen ("Preacher's Pulpit")
Undoubtedly the most striking feature and most popular tourist attraction in the Stavanger fjord is the Prekestol ("Preacher's Pulpit"), a flat-topped crag some 1,960 ft above the water. It can be reached from Stavanger by road and ferry, and involves a two-hour trek. It's a sheer drop, so definitely not for the faint of heart. However, for those who venture out here, the views are spectacular.
2 Stavanger Cathedral
Located in the city center, Stavanger Cathedral was built in the 12th Century by Englishman Reginald of Worcester (later known as Bishop Reinald) as a three-aisle Romanesque basilica. The choir was rebuilt in Gothic style after a fire in 1272, and the whole church was renovated in the 19th Century. Notable interior features include the richly carved Baroque pulpit (1658), a stone font of the Gothic period, and the stained glass in the east window depicting New Testament scenes.
Address: Domkirkeplassen, 4001 Stavanger
The area around the former Bishop's Palace, the Kongsgård, is well worth checking out. Located on the northern shore of the Breiavatn - the small lake at the centre of the city - the site is now home to the Kongsgård Skole, an attractive grammar school built on the palace's foundations. The nearby Bispekapellet, or Bishop's Chapel, dates back to the early 1300s and has been carefully restored.
Address: Haakon VIIs gate 4, 4005 Stavanger
4 Market Square
Northwest of Stavanger's Cathedral, extending to the harbor inlet (Vågen), the Market Square is a lively place to spend some time shopping and soaking up some local culture on weekdays. The market has open-air stalls, making it a particularly pleasant experience on nice days.
Another of Stavanger's well preserved older buildings, Valbergtårn, can be found to the north of Market Square between Vågen and Østre Havn (East Harbor). Located in the Holmen peninsula, the oldest part of the town, Valbergtårn is a watchtower built in 1853 on the highest point in the city and offers great views along with displays of arts and crafts.
Address: Valberget, 4001 Stavanger
6 Old Stavanger
One of the most picturesque areas of the city is referred to by locals as Gamle Stavanger… literally, "Old Stavanger". This historic area consists of a collection of quaint older homes nestled along meandering cobblestone streets, and is in fact the largest surviving wooden house settlement in northern Europe. Its streets are well worth exploring, as are its galleries and museums. Two of the best are the Maritime Museum on Nedre Strandgate with its unique glimpse into the town's seafaring past, and the Norwegian Fish Canning Museum, offering a fascinating look at the history of the country's still important fishing industry.
Address: Valberget, 4001 Stavanger
7 Museum of Archaeology
No visit to Norway would be complete without learning at least a little about the Vikings. The Museum of Archaeology in Stavanger is a great place to get your Viking fix, and includes replica vessels and costumes, as well as historic weapons and artifacts.
Address: Peder Klows Gate 30 A, 4010 Stavanger
8 Stavanger Art Museum
Stavanger Art Museum, located in a beautiful park surrounding Lake Mosvannet just two miles from the city centre, is home to one of the country's finest collections of Norwegian and international art. Of particular interest is the unique collection of paintings by Lars Hertervig (1830-1902) whose romantic and highly personal landscapes continue to resonate with visitors.
Address: Henrik Ibsensgate 55, 4021 Stavanger
9 Ledaal House
Built as a summer residence for the Kielland family in 1799, Ledaal House is a perfectly preserved example of how Norway's elite lived in the early 19th Century. The richly furnished mansion still functions as a royal residence as well as a museum, and the entire property is owned by the state in trust.
10 Flyhistorisk Museum Sola
With its focus on aircraft used at the Sola military base and Stavanger Airport, the Flyhistorisk Museum Sola collection includes a variety of completely restored aircraft as well as aircraft parts from WW2 to the modern day.
Address: Flyplassveien 129, 4055 Sola
11 Museum Stavanger
The Stavanger Museum is much more than a single museum: the building houses exhibitions of natural and cultural history, along with the Children's Museum. It's a great one-stop-shop providing a useful background of the city's cultural roots, its flora and fauna, as well as the fascinating story of how the sea has shaped the community over the centuries.
Address: Muségt. 16, N-4010 Stavanger
The best views of Stavanger and the surrounding area are to be had from Vålandshaug (280ft). Located in a park to the south of the town, it can be reached by way of Hornklovesgate. Another great viewpoint is Bjergsted Park to the northwest of Stavanger.
Address: Bjergsted Park, Stavanger
13 Klosterøy - Utstein Abbey
To the north of Stavanger are numerous islands and islets, one of the most popular being tiny Klosterøy. Linked to the larger island of Mosterøy by bridge, Klosterøy is famous for its Augustinian abbey, Utstein. First mentioned in the 13th Century, this well-preserved monastic house can be reached from Stavanger by boat.
Address: Klosterøy, Rennesøy
To the east of Stavanger and a pleasant trip by boat lies Lysefjord, a dramatic cleft in the mountains 23 miles long, up to 1.25 miles wide, revealing stunning bright green water. Topping it all are the sheer walls of rock rising 3,300 ft above the fjord. This breathtaking landscape is one of the best sightseeing trips in the area.
Where to Stay in Stavanger for Sightseeing
If you're visiting Stavanger for the first time, the best place to stay is in the city center. Many of the top attractions are within walking distance of each other here, including Stavanger Cathedral, the old town, and several museums. Here are some highly-rated hotels in this convenient location:
- Luxury Hotels: True luxury hotels are rare in Stavanger, but the pet-friendly Clarion Hotel Stavanger, a short stroll from the cathedral and old town, offers comfortable, contemporary rooms, as well as a top-floor Jacuzzi and sauna with city views. Right nearby, the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel has plush rooms with pillow menus, a spa, fitness center, and the city's only child-friendly hotel pool. A stone's throw from Stavanger train station and handy to the cathedral, the pet-friendly Scandic Stavanger Park, with a fitness center and summer activities for children, is known for its spacious rooms with sitting areas. Breakfast is included in all these hotels.
- Mid-Range Hotels: In a fabulous location, a five-minute walk from the old town and cathedral, the hip and funky Comfort Hotel Square features bold, in-your-face art; cozy lounge areas; a gym; and a panoramic roof-top terrace. In a lovely lakeside setting, Thon Hotel Maritim, offers sleek, dark-hued rooms and free breakfast, a two-minute walk from Stavanger Cathedral and the city center. A few blocks away, the Myhregaarden Hotel, in a red-brick 19th-century building, offers a touch of elegance, with chandeliers and sumptuous fabrics in some of the rooms.
- Budget Hotels: Budget hotels are also short in number in Stavanger, but you can walk to town in about 10 minutes from the Stavanger lille Hotel, and the basic rooms have TVs, mini-fridges, and shared or private bathrooms. A short drive from the city's top attractions, the Hotel Alstor and Park Inn by Radisson Stavanger Hotel compensate for their location outside the city center with more affordable rates.