Article cover image

Must-See Attractions In And Around Stavanger: The Heart of Norway


| 6 mins read

With vibrant streets and a bustling coastal area, Stavanger is Norway’s fourth-largest city and a captivating mix of old and new. The city originally started out in the Middle Ages as a coastal market and gradually evolved into a fishing port; however, it was the offshore oil rigs that changed the city’s fortune.

Today, the city boasts an impressive array of art collections (both in its museum and on the streets), some of Norway’s finest restaurants for pub crawls, an array of watersports opportunities and some of Norway's most famous hiking trails. For your visit to Stavanger, here are a few must-have experiences that will allow you to live the essence of the city.

Sverd i fjell

It is fitting to start any trip to Norway by paying homage to the history and culture of Vikings. Located some 15 minutes away from the city centre and near Harfsfjord, the Sverd I Fjell (Swords on Rock) is one of the most popular historical monuments in Stavanger. The monument, made by Fritz Røed and unveiled by King Olav in 1983, is in honour of the unification of Norway into a single kingdom by Harald Fairhair. As a monument of pride, Sverd i fjell symbolises peace, unity, and freedom.

Start by strolling along the rocky region to learn more about the legends and history of the three swords sculpted to resemble traditional Viking sabres. Moreover, to enhance the experience, check with your local guide to plan a visit to the local Viking festival ‘Harfsfjordkaupangen’ that takes place in the bay near Sverd I Fjell each year around June!

Old Stavanger

Moving a little ahead in the history of Stavanger, the charming streets of Gamle Stavanger host 173 wooden houses, the largest preserved collection in Europe. Most of these white wooden houses were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. The biggest and most stunning of the houses are located in the centre of Vågen, the smaller ones being further out. Moreover, visiting the seafront Stavanger Maritime Museum with your local guide will offer deeper insights into the region’s almost 200-year-old maritime history and craftsmanship.

Fargegaten (Colourful Street) in Stavanger

Regarded as one of Norway’s most colourful streets, the Fragegaten was a brainchild of the artist Craig Flannagan, created to liven up the previously dull buildings. The Ovre Holmegate, as it is named originally, will make for a perfect photo - whether for personal memories or to share with the world! It also has a variety of cafes, art stores, and some rather unique concept stores, making it a popular hangout place for locals and tourists alike. Spend the day here talking to a friendly local or a fellow traveller or just enjoying some coffee with a book. 

Lysefjord Cruise with Pulpit Rock Visit

For most people, Norway means two things - Vikings and fjords. Fjords are a long strip of sea between steep hills, especially in Norway.  Located just 16 miles east of Stavanger, Lysefjord is probably the easiest fjord to reach.  Further, it is home to two of the most iconic hiking trails in all of Norway, making it arguably one of the most popular fjords in the country! 

One of the most relaxing ways to feel the grandeur of this fjord, however, is to take a cruise among the cliffs. Request your local guide for a safari cruise from Stavanger, which sails through Lysefjord, with splendid views of the famous Pulpit Rock and, if timed well, an opportunity to visit the beautiful Hengjane Waterfall.  You will see seals, eagles, caves, and waterfalls along the way. It is truly a Narnia-esque sight to behold, and you might feel like you are aboard a ship to visit Aslan. For the more adventurous souls, plan for a guided kayaking trip along Lysefjord or embark on the Preikestolen trail starting from Lysefjord to the Pulpit Rock, a flat clifftop hanging almost 2,000 feet above the fjord! 


The tougher elder brother of the Pulpit Rock trail is the Kjeragbolten, with the Kjerag’s famous boulder suspended between the highest peaks in Ryfylke. This 10-hour hike is not for the faint of heart and is most certainly inadvisable without a local guide. Be sure to verify the optimal timing, falling somewhere between May and October, for safety and a hassle-free experience. If you brave the trail and reach the peak, though, the view is worth the arduous journey.

Tungenes Fyr

Literally meaning the "Guiding Light", Tungenes fyr has stood the test of time since 1828 on the northern coast of Randaberg, being - as you guessed it - the guiding light for all the seafarers coming to the coast of Stavanger until the 1980s. These days, the lighthouse is a protected historical monument. 

Enjoy a short day trip from Stavanger to this coastal lighthouse, and walk along the coast from Tungenes lighthouse to the beach Sandestranden to enjoy an experience that has both history and nature combined. Your local guide will be able to advise you on the various cultural events and programs held in the lighthouse and even arrange for an immersive tour!

Beaches of Jaeren

Want to surf at the Edge of Norway? Head to the popular Jaeren Beach! Etymologically, Jæren means ‘the edge’. With several breathtaking landscapes and natural phenomena, the name Edge of Norway is a fitting match for the region. Some of the best surfing or kitesurfing conditions are found on the beaches of Jaeren, and the experience is truly one-of-a-kind!

Flor og Fjære

Flor & Fjære is one of the most unique destinations in Norway because it is the only island in the country where one can find palm trees! Situated 30 minutes from Stavanger by boat on the island of Sør-Hidle, the view will transition from the sea to a sea of about 50,000 colourful, exotic flowers and flora. The best season to visit is from May to September, and it is inaccessible by public transport. Plan ahead with your local guide to acquire the tickets to the garden and a restaurant serving a delicious, traditional Nordic three-course meal.

Magma UNESCO Global Geopark

One small step for mankind…right in the heart of Norway! The Magma UNESCO Global Geopark contains a rock type called Anorthosite that is more common on the moon than on Earth. The name ‘Magma Geopark’ refers to the fact that the vast majority of the rocks in the area formed from magma (molten rock) about 930 million years ago! Learn about the geological history that made this miracle possible from your knowledgeable local guide while strolling through the ethereal, lunar landscapes of Trollpikken or hiking to the Vinjakula, the highest peak in Magma Geopark - the choices are aplenty!

Apart from the above-mentioned wonders, there are enough opportunities to explore the art and culture of the place. Interestingly, Stavanger hosts an annual street art festival, Nuart, the details of which you can get from a local guide. The city has one of the largest collections of street art in Europe, with the streets being lined up with cafes, restaurants, and pubs!