Right at the start of the year, I vigorously tried to fill all the bank holiday weekends with a trip abroad. What a better way to go on vacation without taking annual leave from work. During my cheap flight search on skyscanner, Norway popped up in my top results. Stavanger? Never even heard of it! Quick, google search and straight to images. Shock! I didn’t expect to see such amazing pictures from a cheap flight destination. Mountains, fjords, and colourful streets? Sold, booked. Now, it was only a matter of time until I got on that plane and be on my way to Stavanger.
Located in the South West, Stavanger is one of the oldest Norwegian cities. It was often ranked as the world’s most expensive city in the world. However, after my trip to Zurich in Switzerland, I can confirm it’s not as bad! In general, Norway is portrayed as the expensive country and sadly for that reason it’s often avoided by the budget travellers. In spite of that, you can certainly afford a cheap trip to Stavanger. It’s a hidden gem of Norway and there’s plenty to discover during your stay. The traditional Norwegian architecture of small white wooden buildings can be seen around the city. It’s not over populated with tourists or western retail chains, keeping the Nordic authenticity just the way it should be.
Where to Stay?
Stavanger is a small city, which doesn’t have a big range of hostels, and the prices of hotels are quite expensive. Doing a last minute search, I’ve managed to find the cheapest hostel in Stavanger – the Lagårdsveien Guesthouse. Perfectly located, only 15-20 min walk from the city centre. The room was tiny with nothing but beds. However, there was a big kitchen with all facilities and there’s a number of toilets and showers so you’re unlikely to queue for one.
Best Things to Do in Stavanger
A weekend in Stavanger is enough to see all the city has to offer. That’s why it makes it a perfect getaway destination. Here’s a list of my top things to do:
1. Hiking to Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock)
If you’re looking for an adventurous things to do in Norway, I strongly recommend Lysefjord hiking. Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock), Kjerag and Trolltunga are the top three. The Pulpit Rock is the closest to Stavanger and easily accessible. Also, it’s relatively easy even for inexperienced hikers. It’s a great outdoor activity and guarantees spectacular views. I managed to hike Pulpit Rock during my 3 night stay in Stavanger. It can take as long as half a day – 2 hours transport to get there and return and 4 hours hike up and back. Of course, you can stay longer than that and I wouldn’t be surprised if you decided to do so. It’s absolutely beautiful up there. You can read all about my experience of hiking to Pulpit Rock in my blog post – ‘All you need to know when hiking Pulpit rock’.
2. Walk Down the Most Colourful Street
Øvre holmegate is the Norwegian’s version of Notting hill. The most colourful street in Stavanger will infect you with the positive vibes. The vibrant colour buildings and quirky street art resemble a real-life wonderland. Filled with many cafes, niche shops and restaurants, it’s the best place for a coffee or a lunch. This has been my favourite part of the city!
3. Get Lost in Old Town
Gamle Stavanger is old town full of small white wooden buildings. These have been built back in the 18th century and since then they have been well-preserved over the years. The white wooden buildings decorated with flowers will make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale!
4. Visit Museums
This is big coming from me, as I’m not particularly a big fan of museums. There’s a complex of museums called MUST. It costs 90NOK and includes entry to all museums on the same day. I’ve managed to go to 5 different ones; Stavanger Museum and Norwegian Canning Museum were my two favourite! Stavanger Museum is very interactive and you even can transform yourself into a seagull and fly over Norway! Whereas the Norwegian Canning Museum is an old fish warehouse. At first sight it might look rather boring with a lot of old equipment. However, it offers a free guided tour, which turns the canning process into a great story you will want to experience. There’s also Petroleum Museum called Norsk Oljemuseum. This is the most popular one in Stavanger, as the city is often referred to as the Oil Capital of Norway. It has a unique architecture that from the sea it looks like a small oil platform. This one unfortunately is not a part of the MUST complex and individual entrance fee has to be paid.
Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Stavanger Maritime Museum
5. Go and See Swords in Rock
A little out of the city centre, but easily reachable by a bus; in this very place during the Viking era, the battle was fought that united Norway into one kingdom. The three swords represent peace, unity and freedom. Located near a small bay, makes it a perfect spot for a picnic on a sunny day.
6. Admire the Stavanger Cathedral
Domkirken is the oldest Cathedral in Norway. Built back in the 1125, it is marked as the official foundation year of Stavanger city! The beautiful architecture of the cathedral can be admired from the outside or also inside by paying a small fee.
7. Relax in the Harbour
Enjoy the serene view of the ships and boats. With many bars and cafes nearby, it’s the best place for a drink or two!
8. Take a Picture with a Troll
The mystical creatures famous from Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore can be seen around Stavanger. If you haven’t taken a picture with a troll in Norway, have you actually been to Norway?
From walking around the white wooden buildings of Old Stavanger to the colourful street Øvre Holmegate. Stavanger is an absolute Norwegian’s gem, which I’d recommend to anyone as a perfect weekend away in Norway.
Have you ever been to Norway? What’s your favourite thing about it?