Harbor of Stavanger at sunset with pink clouds in the sky

Why Stavanger is a popular tourist destination

Famous for its stunning natural beauty and rich culture, Stavanger, Norway’s energy capital, is an ever-evolving city with a proud history.

Sheltered by islands located off the southwest coast of the country, Stavanger is a tourist hub welcoming travellers by air, land and water.

Offering some of the most iconic views of Norway, including the world-renowned Pulpit Rock cliff and Kjerag in the Scandinavian Mountains, the area also features lakes, trails, caves and beaches.

Whether you have a few hours or an entire week, taking time to explore Stavanger, Norway is well worth the effort. With memorable experiences for all ages and activity levels, the region is not to be missed on your next Norway trip.

Valberg tower in the centre of Stavanger
Photo: Bob Engelsen

Old Stavanger

Stavanger is the third-largest city and one of the oldest settlements in Norway. Its many museums feature everything from sardines to Vikings and its Old Town boasts 173 restored wooden buildings. The quaint, small white cottages are enhanced by beautiful gardens and cobblestone streets.

Located a short five-minute walk away from the cruise ship terminal, Old Stavanger, also known as Gamle Stavanger, invites visitors to step back in time and imagine what life was like in the 18th century.

With an active business community located outside of Stavanger’s town centre, visitors are free to explore the many historical sights, educational museums and recreational areas.

Couple walking in the streets of Stavanger Old town


Located in Byparken, in the centre of Stavanger, this small lake features a fountain and is home to a variety of birds. Enjoy a relaxing stroll or an ice skate depending on what time of year you visit and take in the memorial for Norwegian emigrants who helped build North America.

Breiavatnet lake in the centre of Stavanger

Øvre Holmegate – “Fargegaten”

Known as the colourful street, the wooden houses in this area are painted in eye-popping greens, oranges and pinks and are home to trendy bars, cafes and boutiques. Just a short walk from the harbor, visiting this area is recommended by locals and tourists alike.

Colorful wooden houses in Fargegaten in the urban district of Stavanger

Stavanger Cathedral

The restored gothic structure known as Stavanger domkirke is Norway’s oldest cathedral, thought to be built in 1125. Within walking distance from Stavanger harbour, the cathedral retains its original architecture and is well maintained.

The cathedral of Stavanger in the heart of the city

Street art

Embarking on a street art tour is a wonderful way to explore Stavanger and see some amazing artwork. Many of the murals are created during the annual Nuart street art festival, which takes place in August and September.

Street art on a factory wall in city of Stavanger


The popular 42-kilometer-long ( 26 mi) fjord is a day trip from Stavanger and features some of the most spectacular views, both looking up at the incredible fjords from the sea or gazing down from enormous heights.

Whether you challenge yourself by stepping out onto the stone wedged between two rocks 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) above sea level (known as the Kjerag Boulder), push your limits by climbing a to the top of Preikestolen or relax and enjoy sailing deep into the fjord to view the sheer wall of Preikestolen from below, visiting Lysefjord is an unforgettable experience.

Electric fjord boat from Rødne cruising in the Lysefjord
Photo: Bob Engelsen

Kjerag hike

Standing at 1,110 meters (3,680 ft), Kjerag is the highest mountain in the area. Kjerag Boulder attracts thrill-seekers from around the world but there are many other natural wonders in the area to admire as well.

Our Kjerag Express bus is a reliable bus service between Stavanger and Øygardstøl, the starting point to the Kjerag hike. The steep climb over rocky terrain is self-guided but well-marked and takes between 6 and 8 hours to cover the 12-kilometer round trip.

Tourist standing on top of Kjerag boulder

Lysefjord cruise

As one of the most beautiful fjords in Norway, it’s no surprise Lysefjord attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Stavanger each year. Boat tours allow you to sail into the fjord to view small islands, waterfalls, traditional farms, local wildlife, Fantahålå (a small cave named after vagabonds) and of course the famous Preikestolen, which rises more than 600 meters (1968 ft) above the fjord.

Lysefjord & Preikestolen Cruise Summer is our roundtrip fjord cruise departing daily from Stavanger. This two-and-a-half hour catamaran trip takes you through the fjord’s granite-lined walls past some of Norway’s most popular attractions.

A couple photographing a waterfall in the Lysefjord
Photo: Bob Engelsen

Pulpit Rock hike

The famous 25×25 meters (82×82 ft) mountain plateau offers an unmissable view of Lysefjord. As one of the most popular hikes in Norway, many people visit Stavanger just for this hiking experience.

Preikestolen Express bus is our comfortable and direct transfer from central Stavanger to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), with several daily one-way or round trip departures. The moderate 8-kilometer-hike ( 4mi) takes between 4 and 5 hours to complete.

Hiker on top of Preikestolen plateau
Photo: Bob Engelsen

Jæren – outside Stavanger

While Stavanger, Norway is best-known for its spectacular vistas and oil exports, this region also features 70 kilometers (43 mi) of sand dunes. The beaches of Jæren are protected conservation areas and are home to unique flora and fauna.

Borestranden beach in Stavanger

Sola beach

Located near Stavanger airport, about 16 kilometers (9 mi) out of the city, the 2.3-kilometer (1 mi) stretch of sand known as Solastranden (Sola beach) is known for its wind and is a popular surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing destination.

Ogna beach

Home to several local artists, Ogna has sandy beaches and rocky shorelines with polished rocks. In addition to accessible walking paths there are several hikes in the area as well as camping spots.

Why Stavanger is a popular tourist destination

Although Stavanger’s city centre is small, it houses a long and interesting history and offers something for everyone. With its ideal location as a home base for remarkable day trips to the flat coastal areas or the jaw-dropping mountaintop panoramic landscapes, there is also an abundance to see, do and experience right in town.

Whether it’s shopping, visiting quirky museums and art galleries or experiencing Norway’s unique coffee culture at cosy cafes, Stavanger has a lot to offer and should be on everyone’s must-visit list for their next Norway holiday.

Experience Preikestolen and the Lysefjord

Electric fjord boat from Rødne cruising in the Lysefjord

Silent Lysefjord & Preikestolen Cruise

Fjord cruise on the Lysefjord with electric boat to Preikestolen
From NOK 725
Hikers on top of Preikestolen plateau

Preikestolen Express Bus Round Trip

Express bus between Stavanger and Preikestolen hiking trail
From NOK 476