Your guide to Stavanger.
Once the European Capital of Culture, the Norwegian city of Stavanger is blessed with a compelling history and unbridled beauty effortlessly blending the old with the new. From its ancient port the city fans out along a network of islands, each one connected to its neighbor by an elegant bridge. In Gamle Stavanger (the historic center) artists’ workshops still occupy 18th century houses, much as they did in years gone by. It’s a wonderful chance to step back in time and immerse in the Stavanger of old, while the city’s museums shed light on Stavanger’s long-standing relationship to the sea.
Stavanger is the epitome of charm: a characterful mix of ancient houses and modern architecture that offers an ever-present nod to the past. In the city’s oldest neighborhood of Gamle Stavanger 18th century wooden buildings still dominate the streets, while the Canning Museum (Norsk Hermetikkmuseum) and Stavanger Museum offer an enriching glimpse into Stavanger’s maritime history. Those seeking a postcard-worthy view should aim for The Guards’ Museum in Valbergtårnet (Valberg Tower) - the highest point in Gamle Stavanger - and if you’re a fan of Gothic architecture the exquisite craftsmanship of The Anglo-Norman Stavanger Cathedral will no doubt delight.
Eating and drinking.
A port call in Stavanger offers the opportunity to indulge in native Norwegian delicacies such as locally reared elk, reindeer and venison. You’ll find a choice of restaurants near the harbor and while some open only for dinner many places offer a lunchtime service too. Seafood is first-class in Stavanger and a visit to TORJÅ fiskedisken (fish market) is an excellent opportunity to see the day’s fresh catch being sold at the source. For a low-key bite at lunchtime try a smørbrød – an open sandwich topped with meat, fish or cheese - or Koldtbord, a variety of hot and cold dishes offered for a fixed price on an ‘eat all you like’ basis.
If seeking a travel keepsake for your collections, the historic Gamle Stavanger district will see you right. Filled with small independent shops and colorful artists’ workshops, it’s the ideal place to track down a locally produced piece of art, pottery or other craft to take home. For mainstream shopping on a grander scale, Arkaden Torgterrassen, a shopping center in central Stavanger offers around 70 stores, including many international brands. A second shopping center, Kilden, with around 60 stores and eateries, is located around a mile away in Stavanger’s Hillevåg district. There’s also a number of boutiques around Øvre Holmegate, Stavanger’s pretty, color-dominated street.
Journeying just a few miles from Stavanger, you’ll find the popular regional attractions of Jernaldergarden and Ullandhaugtårnet, while Stavanger Art Museum - offering works by Norwegian artists – lies on the city’s outskirts. Of the former, Jernaldergarden is a historical farm re-enactment depicting life during the Nordic Iron Age, while Ullandhaugtårnet - a tower in Stavanger’s surrounding countryside - offers sweeping scenic views. Another worthwhile excursion is to Mosterøy Island, home to Utstein Monastery. Formerly a royal estate belonging to King Harald Fairhair, the journey is an adventure in itself, taking you through one of the world’s longest and deepest sea tunnels.