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Stavanger, Norway Travel Guide

Stavanger Summary


  • Small, charming city within driving distance of both beaches and skiing
  • Old Town, with quaint white wooden houses and flowering gardens
  • The Canning Museum offering history about Stavanger's canning industry
  • Petroleum Museum, with edgy design, rich info about Norway's oil industry, and lots of hands-on exhibits (the pitch-black Cat-astrophe room lets visitors test their oil rig escape safety skills)
  • Ferries to the beautiful Lysefjord depart from the harbor


  • Not as many cultural attractions as in Bergen or Oslo
  • Ravaged by fires over the years; many historic buildings burned down
  • Hotels can fill up fast, especially during business conferences
  • Expensive, like all of Norway

What It's Like

Stavanger is a small city with charm to spare. Old Town is one of the most appealing historic areas in all of Norway, with cobbled streets, quaint white wooden houses, and flowering gardens. The city also has the advantage of being close to both beaches and skiing: In fact, it's possible to drive to the slopes in the morning and hit up the beaches in the afternoon. Boat trips to the Lysefjord depart right from the harbor; though the Lysefjord is not as famous as the Sognefjord, it's still very beautiful and access is more convenient. For cultural attractions, Stavanger offers several interesting museums, including the Canning Museum and the Petroleum Museum. (Stavanger is a hub for businesspeople in the oil industry.)

Where To Stay

The area closest to Stavanger's harbor -- particularly to the east of the harbor -- is a prime location for hotels. It puts guests within spitting distance of the departure point for ferries to the Lysefjord, as well as to the city's top restaurants and bars. However, the city center is compact and any hotels here will be within walking distance of attractions; even hotels just outside the city center are still relatively convenient.

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