Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger is medium-sized, with the charm of a small town and the facilities of a modern metropolis and cover a area of 71,4 km2 in Rogaland County. Approximately 128.000 people live within the city limits, 250.000 if we include the surrounding area. There is no such thing as “far” in Stavanger. Within the city´s boundaries, you can reach out and touch almost anything you want to experience. You can reach a deep fjord, a wind blown island, or an endless white sandy beach under Jæren´s picturesque skies within an hour from the centre of town. Alexander Kielland was born in Stavanger and one of the most famous Norwegian realistic writers of the 19th century. He is one of the so-called “The Four Greats” in Norwegian literature, along with Henrik Ibsen, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and Jonas Lie.

Old Stavanger consists of more than 150 old timber houses built in the late 18th and early 19th century. The site, being the best preserved collection of timber houses in northern Europe, is preserved by law as a historical monument, and gives a real impression of the old city. The houses are partly in private ownership, and partly owned by the City. There is no fee to visit the site, no cars (let your kids run around!) and many places to sit down and enjoy your half kilo of fresh shrimps you may have just bought from the old fisherman down at the harbour… Stavanger Airport is located at Sola.

In Stavanger, you will find all the advantages and charm of a small town; small wooden houses lining narrow streets and alleys, cobblestone streets in the automobile-free heart of the town, lots of pleasant shops, a safe environment where you do not need to be afraid of violence against yourself or your children, the open-air flower and vegetable market, the fish pier with live catches and small boats along the harbor offering freshly caught shrimps, crabs and lobsters.

However, the city can also offer the advantages of a big city; an international mixture of people where nearly everyone speaks English, an excellent golf-course, a vibrant cultural environment with large and small concerts, exhibitions, festivals, theater and revue shows, a selection of restaurants and cafes to satisfy all tastes and styles, and nightlife that includes the most hectic nightclubs. The largest company in the Nordic region, Norwegian energy company Statoil is headquartered in in the suburban area of Forus, located between neighboring Sandnes and Stavanger. Multiple educational institutions for higher education are located in Stavanger. The largest of these is the University of Stavanger, which offers doctorates in Petroleum Technology and Offshore Technology among others.

Stavanger´s roots go back to the Ice Age and the time of the Vikings. The city itself is 873 years old, and preserves still some of last century´s appearance. In the 1960s, exploratory oil-drilling in the North Sea changed the situation for Stavanger. It is located close to the oil-fields, and Stavanger with its good harbour and plane-connections was well-positioned to take advantage of the increased activity. After petroleum-exploration and production became the most important business sector in the Stavanger area during the mid 1970s, business and cultural climate has changed considerably. Yet Stavanger is also a modern, lively place of culture. You can enjoy all kinds of music, galleries and museums, festivals, theatre and cabaret here. If you want a night on the town, you can opt for a sedate “library-bar” or a roof-raising nightclub – or anything in between.

People have lived in the Stavanger area ever since Norway has been populated. Traces from before the last Ice Age show the hardy people who lived and battled with nature around here. At the Archaeological Museum you can study the oldest relics of our culture, the first signs of life in our environs. Stavanger as a city was founded in 1125, when it was made a bishopric and building on the Cathedral started. The huge medieval Cathedral loomed over the little water front settlement around Vågen and its 200 or so people. It was not much of a city for the first 700 years and even in 1800, Stavanger had just 2.500 inhabitants.

And then, the boom times arrived in rapid succession: herring fisheries, shipping, and the canning industry increased population ten-fold over the next 100 years. Yet another resource from under the sea – oil has brought the development of the town even further these last 30 years. The history of Stavanger is illustrated by a new exhibition at the Stavanger Museum. The history of seafaring and trade is shown at the Maritime Museum, located in two seaside warehouses on Strandkaien quay. The Canning Museum you will find in the midst of the old town of small wooden houses.

Stavanger region is a popular tourist destination, especially in summer. The hotels in the city have good occupancy year round due to a lot of commuters who travel to work and meetings in Stavanger. In recent years, Stavanger has also become one of the most popular ports of call for cruise ships, with the number of cruise ships increasing steadily, making Stavanger one of Europe´s fastest growing ports of call for cruise ships north of the Mediterranean.


Fjord Line is a modern and public-minded shipping company focusing on safe and pleasant transportation between Norway and the European continent. The Fjord Line terminals in Norway: Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand, Langesund and Sandefjord. The Fjord Line terminal in Denmark: Hirtshals. The Fjord Line terminals in Sweden: Strömstad.


Gamle Stavanger contains 173 closely built, small wooden houses, all under preservation order. In 1975, the UN Architectural Heritage Year, Gamle Stavanger was selected as one of three Norwegian pilot projects – along with Røros and Nusfjord. The preservation of Gamle Stavanger has merited several respected international awards. This section of town is like a living museum, with residents of all ages. Strict regulations govern the maintenance of the houses. Several artisans have their workshops here, and sell crafts ranging from woodwork and ceramics to knives. The Canning Museum in Gamle Stavanger is well worth a visit.


Timber-built houses were not exclusive to this part of the world, but fires, wars and relentless progress took their toll. This has made the surviving Scandinavian timber built areas particularly interesting. The largest uninterrupted stretch of these is the section of wooden houses in Stavanger. This includes the oldest downtown areas as well as its surrounding residential areas. In fact, the houses we build in Stavanger today are still mainly of timber.

Stavanger´s position as Europe´s, perhaps the world´s largets wooden house city, carries with it a cultural responsibility. Most of the wooden houses were built between 1850 and World War ll, and range in style from classical to functionalist. A few older houses remain, as well. From the late 1700s until the 1860s, classicism was the reigning fashion.

Examples of this period can be found in Gamle Stavanger and the ABC-block. It was only after the end of the 18th century that houses were painted preferably in ocher or red. The white that is now so typical of Stavanger´s old section first appeared in the mid-19th century, when paint could be prepared chemically and zink pigment became popular and inexpensive. After the 1860 fire that left the northern part of the centre in ashes, the centre was halved.

The north side had streets that were regular, straight and relatively wide with large, late-empire houses with fireproof gables. The Swiss style was dominant around the turn of the century. The most imaginative example of this is Breidablikk manor, open to the public now. Swiss-style houses were often painted in two or three deeply contrasting colours, which enhanced the ornamentation and richness of form.

Art Nouveau became popular in 1910. At first it was a mixture of Swiss and Art Nouveau, but from 1920 onwards Art Nouveau reigned alone. The Eiganes area west of the centre, is full of examples of this style. After World War I, the economy of Stavanger plummeted. The town still conserved the appearance of an old timber town, but in the years prior to World War II a number of houses were built following the rational simplicity of functionalism.


Aside from the Cathedral, the row of wharf warehouses fronting the harbour is Stavanger´s most outstanding architectural feature. In days past, the prominent gables of these houses lined the waterfront almost as far as eye could see 240 buildings at one time. Some 60 remain under preservation order. The painstaking restoration work is an on-going process. Compared to the other major ports Bergen, Ålesund, Kristiansund and Trondheim. Stavanger´s half-timbered waterfront wharf warehouses are outstanding in both construction and finish.


A scenic fiord cruise takes us to Flor & Fjære, Norway´s only palmtree island with an exotic garden and restaurant. Here you are met by the hosts and guided through the colourful and tranquil garden, followed by a sumptuous lunch buffet served in the panorama restaurant.


Stavanger is a wide-awake town, with an impressive list of places to go to and things to see. “There is everything in this town”, we keep hearing visitors say. We have festivals and “weeks” for every taste. Here is a sampling: Garlic Week, The Great Norwegian Humour Festival, MayJazz, Emigration Festival, Religious Culture Festival, The International Chamber Music Festival, the Kapittel literary festival and Literature Week at Sting. You can enjoy all sorts of music here. Stavanger is proud of its top-class symphony orchestra. Regular symphony concert season as well as special concerts at other times. In the summer, lunch-time concerts are held daily at the Concert Hall.

Leif Ove Andsnes is a Norwegian pianist. He studied with Jiri Hlinka at the Grieg Academy of Music in Bergen. He is an ardent champion of the works of Edvard Grieg. Andsnes is one of the most respected classical pianists in the world today and has been nominated for the prestigious Grammy Awards four times (as of December 2004). He has won numerous awards, including the Hindemith-Prize (1987), Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (1997), Royal Philharmonic Society Award, (2000), and the Gramophone Awards – Instrumental Award, (2002, for Grieg´s Lyric Pieces). Also a renowned chamber musician, he holds the position of Artistic Director at the Risør Festival of Chamber Music. Leif Ove Andsnes Grieg Concerto part 1, Grieg Concerto part 2, Grieg Concerto part 3

Utstein Monastery Church is the venue for a series of summer concerts. The town also has a poetry club, and Stavanger Musikkforum also has a varied concert programme. In addition, nightclubs bring to town famous artists and entertainers.

Rogaland Theatre has always something exciting to offer both from the main scene and the intimate scene. The Theatre also promises top entertainment in the autumn season. Inquire at the Tourist Office, they always know what’s going on. Cabarets are popular. In the heart of town is the Culture House, a powerhouse of activity.

From downtown Stavanger, you are only a short distance away from the most the spectacular sceneries. The fjords are just outside your front door, and if you board a boat in the center of the town, you can reach the incomparable Lysefjorden in less than one hour. Here, you can see the famous Pulpit Rock (Prekestolen), among many other things.

But nature has more to offer than fjords; Take a trip in the skerries, visit the open sea or the nearby mountains and try out your luck fishing, enjoy the sea, the sky and the light and the beaches of Jæren, or surf the beach at Solastranden. With Stavanger as your starting point, you can pursue every outdoor challenge you desire, while enjoying food and accommodation as simple or sumptuous as you wish.


The medieval church, Stavanger Cathedral (Domkirke) dating from 1125, is always open. Come in, sit down, relax and enjoy the very beautiful church of ours! Of all the Norwegian churches built in the Middle Ages, our cathedral is the only one that has retained its original style. Adjacent to the church, the upper secondary school, Kongsgård, is located. For the last 150 years the buildings have served as a school, but prior to that it was a residence of kings, bishops and district governors.


The Canning Museum (Hermetikkmuseet). This is a living museum in an old canning factory where brisling is smoked, for you to taste. A fine museum, providing you with the data on the most exiting historical account of Stavanger. Here, you will see why Stavanger looks as it does!


It will give you a fine introduction to the old printing crafts, and show you how the herring industry gave birth to Stavanger’s highly advanced graphical expertise.


The Norwegian Emigration Centre with their National Archives and genealogical research centre, is also worth a visit. It also arrange the Emigration Festival every year, between June 22 and 29.


Archaeological Museum, displays interesting artifacts covering 15.000 years of history. Rogaland has an incredible collection of ancient relics. The Iron Age Farm at Ullandhaug is a reconstructed farm-stead from the Migration. Period, open during the summer season. Here you can see an interesting portrayal of Iron Age life.


Stavanger Museum has a zoological exhibition of animals and birds from all over the world. There is also now a new town history exhibition with life-like scenes from Stavanger´s 870-year tradition.


Rogaland Art Museum, displays 1500 paintings from the 19th century, many by Lars Hertervig. Fantastic paintings from the region around Stavanger dating from the 18th century.


The Swiss-chalet style Breidablikk mansion dating from 1881. Also displays old landaus and sledges in its barn museum.


See the Ledaal Herregaardsmuseum (Mansion Museum). This magnificent and beautiful old house, a fine example of the Neo-Classical, was the summer residence of the Kielland (writer) family from 1799.


Maritime Museum, displays the important maritime history of the area for the past 200 years. Easy to find; At the harbour just across the street from the fish market.


The Missionary Museum (Misjonsmuseet), has many interesting artifacts and relics from Africa, Asia and South America.


Among the existing government incentives, all-electric cars are exempt in Norway from the annual road tax, all public parking fees, and toll payments as well as being able to use bus lanes. Charging points in Stavanger at the moment is 133. Charging points can be found on street parking, at taxi stands, in parking lots, at places of employment, hotels, airports, shopping centers, convenience shops, fast food restaurants, coffeehouses etc., as well as in driveways and garages.


Rent a electric bicycle in Stavanger and Forus and enjoy km of bike lanes. Explore Stavanger by e-bike! Great fun at small price NOK 30,-.


Jæren is the largest flat lowland area in Norway, stretching from the municipality of Randaberg in the north to Hå in the south. The coast is flat compared to the rest of the Norwegian coast, and has sandy beaches along most of the coastline. The largest city of Jæren are Stavanger and Sandnes.

The petroleum industry around Stavanger is an important part of economy of Jæren, with the headquarters of the country’s largest oil company Statoil being located on Jæren, as well regional offices of international companies like ExxonMobil, Eni, Shell, ConocoPhilips, BP, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and several others.

Jæren is also one of the most important agricultural areas of Norway, with a long crop period and a varied and well-developed livestock production. Industry here is also strongly connected to the farming industry, with one of the largest producers of agricultural machines in the world, Kverneland Group, located in Time and Klepp.

Author and poet Arne Garborg grew up in the traditional lowland landscape of Jæren, and in several of his works he describes the landscape and its inhabitants around the turn of the 19th century.


The Norwegian Petroleum Museum was opened on 20 May 1999 and its unusual architecture has made it a new, exciting landmark in the Port of Stavanger. Our web pages will give you some idea of what the Museum has to offer in the way of exhibitions and activities.


Vågen is the harbour at the heart of Stavanger, busy with sailing boats from afar, local boats, ferries and cruise ships. Set around it is a rainbow assortment of wooden seahouses that now contain restaurants, bars and shops. Its the place that people come to to relax, by walking, eating or drinking, preferably outside in the sunshine. This is also where the main festivals take place, filling the whole area with beach volleyball courts, or food tents or boat information.

The Stavanger port authorities provides mooring in three guest marinas: The Vågen marina situated right in the centre boats up to 50 ft. The Bekhuskaien marina located next to the GMC building (just east of the Fiskepiren pier). Børevika guest marina close to the petroleum museum having showers, WCs and laundry facilities. All marinas have electricity connection facilities and fresh water.


Enjoy the rugged coastline, the invigorating sea air and the secluded coves. Stavanger has a rich fishing traditions which are preserved to this day. The herring fisheries of the previous century provided the basis for many settlements on the island.


Stavanger Golfclub is a golf course with 18 holes and a variation of difficulties. The course lies at Store Stokkavatn, approximately 6 km from Stavanger City Center.

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