Stavanger, Norway can be reached by air, train or ferry. Why would you go there? Many people use Stavanger as a base to access some of Norway’s most popular fjords. Other people go as part of a cruise, sampling some of the coastal cities of Norway.
I went as a base for accessing a couple fjord hikes I wanted to do. The closest is Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock. To get to Preikestolen, you get a ferry ticket on the commuter ferry, then hop on the bus that is waiting for you. You can reserve this in advance through the Tide website , or when you get to the ferry. Since this is such a popular hike, there are lots of departure times and usually plenty of space.
Why is Preikestolen so popular? It is easy to get to, has amazing views of the Lysefjorden fjord, and boasts a steep drop off of almost 2,000 feet into the fjord. When I say this is a popular hike, don’t expect a quiet, solo experience, unless you go before or after the ferry/bus runs as hundreds of people are doing this hike all at the same time. But on a nice day, the views are unbelievable.
A bit further from Stavanger is Kjeragbolten, known for the boulder sitting between two cliffs, dropping over 3,000 feet into a beautiful fjord. This hike takes more commitment than Preikestolen as it is located 2.5 hours by car from Stavanger, and is quite steep. In fact, there are chains to help you climb up and down the steep ledge for the first part of this hike.
Some brave souls like to get onto the boulder for a photo, but be careful if you choose to do this. No one has fallen to date, and I hope it stays this way forever. To get there, you can either drive or take the Tide bus. The bus trip allows a lot of time at the hike location, so most people have plenty of time at the boulder for pictures and taking in the view. If you finish early, there is a restaurant at the bottom with amazing views of the fjord. Definitely book this trip in advance as there is only one trip per day and it can fill up.
What is there to do in the actual city of Stavanger? Lots! Old Stavanger is a popular place to walk around. The buildings are all old, white wooden structures, many of which have beautiful flowers to liven up the place. The cobblestone streets add another touch of beauty to the area. It is definitely worth walking around this part of town.
Ready for more color? Then visit the Color Street. This short street, Ovre Holmegate, has many colorful buildings, cute cafes, and restaurants, plus some small shops. It is a great place to take a break and recharge.
Street art can be found around town. Nuart offers tours as well as a free map you can download of where the art is located. I wasn’t there the day of the tour, so I downloaded the map and took a self-guided tour of the street art. I enjoyed seeing what the artists came up with, as well as walking around parts of town that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. I feel like I got a much better sense of the town of Stavanger by getting off the beaten track.
If it is restaurants, bars and shops that you like, there are plenty of those around Stavanger. Many of the popular ones are located near the water where the cruise ships dock. But venture a bit further from the crowds and you will find lots of other great places. I particularly liked the Pakistani restaurant called Zouq, the new Australian restaurant located on Pedersgata, and the cafes of the color street.
Have you been to Stavanger? What were your favorite places to see?