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Stavanger Travel Guide

About Stavanger

Stavanger's modern-day wealth was founded on oil but you certainly wouldn't know this to look at it: cobbled streets, a pretty harbour and some of the most beautiful scenery in Norway belie its petroleum pedigree.

Only the high prices and the Norwegian Petroleum Museum betray the city's now declining reliance on the oil sector, but they're not why tourists visit.

What Stavanger does best is nature, and the mighty Månafossen Falls and iconic Pulpit Rock (a towering hunk of granite overlooking the stunning Lysefjord) are just a short drive away. While most prefer to climb Pulpit themselves, there's a bus available for those who would rather spare their legs the effort.

As dramatic as the surrounding landscape is, there's much to be found in the city itself. Arranged around the harbour, the quaint city centre is an oasis of traditional stave churches, higgledy-piggledy houses and some seriously upmarket boutiques. Dominating the scene is the magnificent 13th-century Stavanger Cathedral whose towering spires are the city's main landmark.

There's no shortage of museums and galleries either. The Petroleum Museum, while sounding deeply dull, is actually rather interesting thanks to a series of interactive displays that get to the heart of what oil is and why it only exists in certain areas. Then there's the Canning Museum which, along with an impressively large collection of vintage tins, whisks you through the history of the city's sardine fishing industry. It too is more fascinating than it sounds.

Of course, thanks to oil, sardines barely get a look in anymore, apart from on toast or slow cooked in butter at one of the city's many excellent restaurants. That doesn't mean, however, you won't see fishermen hauling them in on one of the beautiful golden sand beaches dotted in and around the city. But that's Stavanger for you: part urban, part natural, all beautiful.

Key facts

118000 (2010)
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Featured Hotels


Thon Hotel Maritim

Overlooking lake Breivannet, this large, medium-range, tower-block hotel has over 200 modern rooms plus a gym, sauna and solarium. The city's shopping and cultural venues are just a few minutes' walk away.

Skagen Brygge Hotell

With its perfect location down by the harbour, this delightful modern Stavanager hotel was built in the style of an old warehouse to blend in with its surroundings. The rooms are tastefully decorated and the buffet breakfast excellent. The hotel has a Turkish steam bath, sauna, sun beds and a fitness room. There is also a nice coffee corner selling hot drinks and international newspapers.

Skansen Hotel

A moderately priced hotel down by the main harbour, this unassuming place has about 30 en suite guest rooms decorated in a neat and trim modern style with comfortable beds, TVs and private bathrooms. The hotel bar can be a fun place to socialise, as it has become something of a meeting place for locals and hotel guests alike.

Stavanger Bed & Breakfast

Located in a residential area just five minutes' walk from the railway station this friendly hostel-style B&B has around 20 frugal but very clean rooms most of which have showers and sinks but shared WCs. Every night guests gather for complimentary tea coffee and waffles – and a very pleasant evening it is too with travellers sharing tips and gossip. Free parking and Wi-Fi too. One of the best cheap hotels in Stavanger.

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel

With its 215 large and well-appointed guest rooms, this is one of Stavanger's larger accommodation options, and stands close to the Old Town. The hotel offers complimentary high-speed and wireless internet access throughout the premises. Facilities include a gym and sauna.

Preikestolen Mountain Lodge

At the starting point of the two-hour hike to the remarkable Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), this new mountain lodge has 27 en suite rooms, each of which is comfortable and in tip-top condition. There's a café, a restaurant and a lovely lounge with wide views plus a roaring fire in winter.