Stavanger Norway is a fantastic little city and there are lots of things to do in Stavanger and things to do near Stavanger making it a perfect quick city break, a stop on a wider Norway road trip, or a day in Stavanger off a cruise ship!
I have just returned from 3 days in Stavanger. 2 of these days were jam-packed with Stavanger attractions and hikes near Stavanger and we had a great time!
This was my second trip to Norway (last year we went from Bergen to Alesund in a jam-packed 3 days) and a long weekend in Stavanger made me fall in love with Norway even more, especially as we hired a car at Stavanger Airport so we could see more of the mountains and countryside near Stavanger, Norway is too beautiful to even describe!
I found Stavanger city itself relatively small. Many of the best places to visit in Stavanger are out of the city and the attractions in Stavanger city are easy to see in half a day so I’m glad we did head out of the city because the fjords near Stavanger and the hikes near Stavanger really make this city an impressive trip location for a mix of city break, hiking, nature and road trip vibes!
So, based on my fantastic trip, let me help you out with what to do in Stavanger, Stavanger things to do from a cruise ship, day trips from Stavanger and hiking in Stavanger so you can have the best trip in Stavanger, Norway too!
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Things to do in Stavanger Norway
Map of Stavanger Things To Do
I have added all of the best things to do in Stavanger and places to visit in Stavanger and near Stavanger into this map to help you plan your trip.
At the bottom of this list of things to do in Stavanger, I’ve given some tips on accommodation in Stavanger including the hotel we stayed in and loved. Car hire, how to get to Stavanger, and how to save money in Stavanger, so be sure to scroll to the end or use the table of contents above to read all of my Stavanger travel tips!
Things To Do in Stavanger
1. Stavanger Old Town / Gamle Stavanger
Easily the top tourist attraction in Stavanger is Gamle Stavanger which is the Old Town of Stavanger. Located along the street Øvre Strandgate you’ll find beautiful old wooden houses.
I read on the Visit Norway site that there are 173 wooden houses from the turn of the 18th Century. It used to be common for people to move their house with them if they moved, hence the use of wooden houses and the range of wooden buildings in the area.
Not only is it an extremely pretty part of the city to see but it’s also a very historic part to see to get an idea of how people used to live here.
If you are visiting Stavanger on a cruise ship. Gamle Stavanger is literally a street up from the cruise ship departure point and a 1-minute walk, so be sure to get off the ship first and get up there first too!
2. Øvre Holmegate
Next on the list of popular places to visit in Stavanger is Øvre Holmegate which is an extremely colourful street on the other side of Stavanger Harbour.
I read that it was a hair salon that decided to paint the street bright colours to help attract tourists to this area of the city and it certainly helped because it’s now one of the top Stavanger attractions.
Ovre Holmegate is mainly full of cafes, restaurants and bars where you can sit inside or out enjoying the bustling vibe.
But don’t just visit this colourful street in Stavanger and leave, be sure to explore the streets nearby which have lots of nice shops. This part of Stavanger is known for being the shopping district.
3. Stavanger Lake
We stayed at the Radisson Blu Atlantic Hotel Stavanger (I highly recommend this hotel by the way) which is right on the lake, so for us, it was easy to walk around the lake but if you are on a day trip in Stavanger don’t miss out on the lake.
It feels a bit strange having a lake in the middle of a city surrounded by water and with the harbour just a few meters away but it’s a nice relaxing place to walk and sit down. It’s also one of the free things to do in Stavanger!
4. Stavanger Harbour Market Stalls
During all the 3 days I was in Stavanger in September there were some market stalls set up on the edge of the harbour. They were selling a range of things like jewellery, jumpers and souvenirs.
I’m not sure how often they are set up but it seems they were popular with the tourists from the cruise ship so I assume that whilst the cruise ships pull into the harbour, the stalls are set up as they make for easy shopping off of the cruise and help support the local businesses which is why I wanted to add them to this list of things to do in Stavanger even if they aren’t always on.
5. RIB Lysefjord Experience
For a thrilling experience and surely one of the most fun things to do in Stavanger, book a RIB Safari experience which leaves Stavanger Harbour and goes into Lysefjord!
RIB stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat which goes extremely fast and you are open to the elements so it’s an adrenaline-inducing experience! You will be given a dry bag and extra warm marine suit to keep you protected so don’t worry about that!
Spaces do book up quickly so be sure to book a spot before you arrive on Viator here!
6. Lysefjord Sightseeing Cruise
This is one of the best things to do in Stavanger! Seeing the almighty Lysefjord is a must-see in this part of Norway!
If you are not hiring a car, a sightseeing cruise is going to be the easiest way to see Lysefjord.
When looking for myself, I did notice that some of the Lysefjord cruises from Stavanger include a stop for people to go and hike Pulpit Rock. You might want to do this too and there’s more information on Stavanger to Pulpit Rock below but if you don’t, be sure NOT to book on a cruise that offers the hike as the cruise will cost you double the amount
Look for a general Pulpit Rock cruise from Stavanger like the ones I have found below:
Rodne Fjord Cruises offer a passenger boat cruise from Stavanger, you can stop at some ports along the way before returning to Stavanger and make a full day tour from Stavanger of it! Note that they only seem to offer this in Summer from May to September.
Fjord Tours has a daily 3 hour cruise which takes you from Stavanger on an electric boat all the way up Lysefjord passing by the impressive Pulpit Rock. For a price of 660 NOK you cannot get off the boat which is perfect if you want a leisurely and fairly quick cruise.
NORLED offers a 2.5 hour cruise which is perfect if you are a bit tight on time. The cruise starts in Stavanger Harbour and takes you up Lysefjord passing by Pulpit Rock. The cruise runs in the summer months only from 15 June to 15 September and for 590 NOK seems to be the best value Lysefjord sightseeing cruise.
7. Cruise, Bus or Tour to Pulpit Rock
Right, let’s get into some hiking in Stavanger and an incredibly impressive place you can visit from Stavanger – Pulpit Rock, also known as Preikestolen.
Pulpit Rock is one of the top famous places in Norway and iconic places. I’d seen photos of Pulpit Rock on Instagram for years and wondered how to get to this incredible viewpoint and the best thing is, from Stavanger it really isn’t that hard at all! And the hike from the starting point is not overly strenuous either so without a doubt, this has to be top of your list of things to do in Stavanger!
If you are hiring a car in Stavanger it’s easy to drive to the start of the hike to Pulpit Rock but if you do not have a car, you can get a bus from the city, a cruise from the city or book a full-day tour with a guide.
I have a full post on how to do the Pulpit Rock hike here with timings and how to get there, but if you want to get a tour or cruise tour, check out these options which will make it really easy for you to visit:
- Guided hike to Pulpit Rock Preikestolen – great value tour with hotel pick up and drop off in Stavanger.
- Shore Excursion: Hike to Pulpit Rock Preikestolen – aimed at cruise day tourists but available for all. A great value tour.
- From Stavanger: Guided Winter Hike Pulpit Rock Preikestolen – perfect if you are visiting Stavanger in winter as hiking by yourself in the snow could be dangerous but this is with an experienced guide and they provide extra equipment like crampons if needed.
8. Viking House
Located right on Stavanger harbour, Viking House is a world-class visitor centre and for things to do in Stavanger with kids, this needs to be on your list!
Viking House Stavanger used virtual reality technology to see what Stavanger would have been like in Viking History. This is a fully immersive and unique experience!
9. Norwegian Petroleum Museum
There are quite a few museums in Stavanger and the Petroleum Museum is one I fully recommend going into. We weren’t sure at first but the moving dinosaur on the museum roof intrigued us and I’m so glad it did.
Firstly, if you are travelling to Stavanger with kids, this also needs to be on your list of things to do in Stavanger with kids because the museum is home to an array of dinosaurs that all move and kids these days seem to love dinosaurs!
This is an oil museum, yes, but the dinosaurs help tell the story of the region first (and get kids interested!), then, you can move on to learning about how oil was discovered in this area including the incredible technology they used and the effect it had. It’s actually really interesting!
To top it off and why it’s one of the great attractions in Stavanger in my opinion, there is an outside platform which offers an amazing view over the water and a re-created emergency slide that adults and children can slide down back to the lower floor!
10. Stavanger Maritime Museum
If you like Maritime Museums, don’t miss this Stavanger tourist attraction which is located in Stavanger’s best-preserved merchant buildings right on Stavanger Harbour.
The Stavanger Maritime Museum is also one of the good places to visit in Stavanger with kids because the museum offers a fully immersive and interactive experience where they can act out the life of the late 1950s Stavanger!
There is plenty for adults to see too. You can take in the last 200 years of maritime history here in Stavanger in a variety of exhibitions.
If you are looking for what to do in Stavanger from a cruise ship, this is perfect as it’s right by the cruise docking point.
11. Norwegian Canning Museum
The history of canned food might not sound interesting but Norway put a lot of effort into their museums and therefore the Norwegian Canning Museum is one of the best things to do in Stavanger!
I didn’t make it but I do wish I had and if I went back with my stepsons I’d certainly take them as this is another one of the museums in Stavanger great for children!
I love that Full Suitcase wrote this whole blog post on it because she loved it so much, so give it a read to learn why you should go too!
12. Hop on Hop Off Bus
Stavanger is a very walkable city. All of the top tourist attractions in Stavanger are fairly close together in a flat part of the city, but if you have walking difficulties or are tight on time, the Stavanger Hop On Hop Off bus is a great idea.
This Hop on Hop Off Bus will take you to 6 different stops in the city and you can take your time in each place before hopping back on.
Places To Visit Near Stavanger
13. Pulpit Rock
I have to give Pulpit Rock another section in this blog post because it isn’t in Stavanger although it’s possible to get a bus, cruise or tour from Stavanger to see it.
We hired a car and we were really happy with this choice because it meant we could start the rock hike later on meaning we missed a lot of the crowds by the time we got to the top and we hiked down at sunset.
Click here to read my full post on how to do the Pulpit Rock hike because it makes for one of the best Day trips from Stavanger!
14. Sola Beach
If you’re like me, you don’t put Norway and beaches together, you put Norway together with Fjords, Mountains, hiking and even cities, but not white sandy beaches!
However, one of the best places to visit near Stavanger is a white sandy beach called Sola Beach, also called Solastranden.
Sola Beach is next to Stavanger Airport so it’s worth adding a stop here after landing or before returning to the airport, especially if you have hired a car.
Visit Norway say it was once named one of the most beautiful beaches by the Sunday Times and it is a popular spot for kitesurfer and other water sports. This is definitely one of the unique things to do in Norway!
15. Kayaking or Paddleboarding on Frafjord
Ok, THIS was a highlight of my weekend in Stavanger. I was looking for kayaking near Stavanger or Paddleboarding near Stavanger and Frafjord SUP and Kayak came up on my google map search.
You can book and pay on his website but we decided to just turn up and see when we got there and thankfully he still had availability.
We initially hired a double kayak for 1 hour but we ended up out for 2 hours in total and had an amazing time. Kayaking on a Fjord in Norway should be a bucket list item and one to be ticked off in Stavanger!
Frafjord is one of the many breathtaking fjords in the area and it’s amazing to be at the start of the fjord and paddle out into it!
The owner of Frafjord SUP and Kayak is extremely friendly and helpful. He has a toilet, and changing facilities and can give you a dry bag too along with a mandatory life vest. We paid £45 for 2 of us for 2 hours which we thought was good value and definitely good for Norway when you think about how expensive Norway is!
16. Månafossen Waterfall
If you’re looking for Waterfalls near Stavanger, Månafossen is the best one to visit as it’s not too far away and easily accessible.. well after a steep 10-20 minute climb uphill!
We went to Månafossen Waterfall after being at Frafjord as it was just a 12 minute drive down the road so I really recommend doing 2 of these things to do near Stavanger together!
Visit Norway say that this is the 7th biggest waterfall in Norway with a free fall of 92 metres which is pretty impressive! It is just a short hike from the car park up to the top viewpoint where you can see the full waterfall from.
The hike up is steep but there are chains to help pull yourself up and keep you stable. Good footwear is needed, especially in winter or when it’s wet or icy and you’ll need to be extra careful on the way down in winter conditions.
Some articles online say it takes 30 minutes to the top but it took us just 10 minutes up and 10 minutes down in good walking conditions.
Your hike doesn’t have to end at the first viewpoint either, you can keep following the signs to hike further up into the valley which sounds great if you are looking for hiking near Stavanger!
As well as the iconic view of Pulpit Rock, you might have seen the iconic view of a rock wedged between 2 sides of a cliff and people standing on said ‘floating rock’?
Well, this is Kjeragbolten, also known as Kjerag, and the Kjeragbolten hike to be precise because you can’t get here without doing a pretty demanding hike. But the best thing is that it can most easily be done from Stavanger and makes for one of the top attractions near Stavanger!
Earth Trekkers have a great post here on how to hike Kjeragbolten. We were going to do it but decided to go kayaking in a fjord instead and keep this Stavanger hike for another time!
Because it is such a demanding hike and it is a 2.5 hour drive from Stavanger to the starting point, many people decide to do this Stavanger hike with a guide which will turn it into a full day trip from Stavanger. This guided hike to Kjerag and Kjeragbolten is a great tour to book with good reviews.
It’s so amazing that from Stavanger you can visit 2 such iconic and incredible places in Norway! – Pulpit Rock / Preikestolen and Kjeragbolten!
18. Start of Lysefjord
As mentioned quite a bit in this blog post of things to do in Stavanger, Lysefjord is an absolutely breathtaking fjord and is always towards the top in lists of the best fjords in Norway like this!
There’s something cool about going to the start of a Fjord and in this case, the start is the village of Lysebotn. It’s particularly cool going to the start of Lysefjord if you have already seen it from above at Pulpit Rock or Kjerag.
If you are doing the Kjeragbolten hike you should head down to the village of Lysebotn afterwards. This little village is a popular tourist attraction, mainly because people who have finished the hike head here or people on a Lysefjord cruise.
Access by car (more on that below) is only open in the summer months and in these months you might see a company offering guided kayak tours or kayak hire.
19. Lysevegen Windy Road
Now, to get to Lysebotn from the mountain roads above there is an incredibly windy road to go down first! The road is made up of 27 hairpin bends! We saw a fair few windy roads on our Bergen to Alesund road trip but this was much crazier!
It’s kind of an attraction on its own. If you love driving and crazy roads you could visit here without evening doing the Kjerag hike because although it’s nearly 3 hours from Stavanger, the drive is so beautiful all the way and it makes for one of the good day trips from Stavanger by car.
20. Kjerag Restaurant
In the car park at the start of the hike to Kjerag and before the windy road starts, you’ll find Kjerag restaurant (Øygardstøl) which is certainly a unique restaurant!
This cafe is located 640 meters above the village of Lysebotn below which is the start of the Lysefjord and it has a panoramic outside terrace and restaurant view.
From the reviews, I don’t think you go here purely for the food but it makes for a great place to get a meal after the Kjerag hike or as part of a road trip near Stavanger or day trip from Stavanger and things to do near Stavanger!
I stayed at the Radisson Blu Atlantic Hotel Stavanger which I HIGHLY recommend! Some Radisson Hotels these days can be quite basic and outdated but this hotel is really lovely with contemporary decor. It’s spotlessly clean with helpful staff and in an amazing location on Stavanger Lake.
Waking up to this view was so amazing so make sure you try to get a lake view room!
Other well rated hotels in Stavanger are:
Car Hire in Stavanger
From our research, the only place to hire a car from in Stavanger is the airport and there are no city centre hire offices.
Unfortunately, because we landed after midnight we couldn’t pick a car up when we landed. We got told the car hire offices close at midnight but I can imagine they might close earlier as it is a small airport.
We did have to get a taxi from the airport to the city and then get the bus back to the airport the next day to pick up a car which wasn’t too much of an issue but the cost of travel between the airport is quite expensive so if you can reduce the number of times you go to the airport it’s best.
How To Get To Stavanger
I found direct flights from Manchester to Stavanger on Skyscanner which worked perfectly.
You can also get a train or bus from Oslo to Stavanger or from Bergen.
Stavanger Airport to Stavanger City
We got a taxi from Stavanger Airport to the city at 00:30 and it cost us a sickening £54! We didn’t have a choice as we couldn’t pick up our hire car that late and we didn’t think to look for a bus. (more on car hire above!)
I think it was more expensive because it was nighttime, but even in the daytime, I highly recommend looking at the Flybussen Bus, you can book tickets in advance here really easily and then you show the QR code ticket when you get on.
This bus will take you directly from Stavanger Airport to outside the Radisson Blu Atlantic Hotel and the Lake.
I hope this list of things to do in Stavanger and things to do near Stavanger has helped you plan your trip!
- For more of my Norway posts see:
- FULL Pulpit Rock Hike Guide! By Cruise, Car & Bus, Plus Tips!
- Easy Hike to Stegastein Viewpoint in 3-4 Hours! Most Scenic Platform in Norway!
- 3- 5 Day Norway Road Trip Itinerary! Bergen to Alesund & Atlantic Ocean Road.
- 18 Places To Stop On A Bergen to Alesund Road Trip.
- Is the Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway Worth the Visit?