Originally penned by National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Nestled in the southwest corner of Norway, right where the Lysefjord’s waters start to fragment into myriad islands and passageways, Stavanger stands out as a place shaped by the sea — both culturally and geographically. Once a big player in the fish-canning industry and later in North Sea oil extraction, this fourth-largest Norwegian city has morphed into an unexpectedly hip urban scene.
Bergen, Stavanger’s northern, more illustrious sibling, often steals the limelight, but don’t be fooled. Stavanger offers its own brand of charm with quieter, cobblestoned streets, buzzing waterside cafes, and a street art scene that competes on a global scale. Think local artists like Pøbel and DotDotDot as well as international giants like Banksy and Pure Evil.
You can taste the vibe in just a weekend, but trust me, you’ll wish you had called in sick for an extra day or two. Whether you’re scaling fjord cliffs or enjoying a silent retreat in a natural hideaway, you won’t regret the extended stay.
Unforgettable Sights at The Bolder
Linger awhile and absorb the awe-inspiring vistas from The Bolder.
Kick off your day by meandering through the ancient streets adorned with charming wooden houses that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Fargegaten Street pops with kaleidoscopic hues, while Gamle Stavanger treats you to quaint, whitewashed lanes.
Drop by Fisketorget at Vågen Harbour for an alfresco lunch. The day’s catch dictates the menu, but trust the classics: shrimp sandwiches and fishcakes. You’ll also see a series of steel sculptures, a part of Antony Gormley’s Broken Column art project, culminating at the city’s modern art gallery, Kunstmuseum.
Ready for some adrenaline? FjordEvents offers a two-hour RIB boat thrill ride departing at 2:30 pm. Imagine zipping through the water at 50mph, while catching glimpses of waterfalls and cliff faces that jut skyward toward Pulpit Rock.
If you prefer a quieter pace, canoe or kayak with Rogaland Aktiv. Enjoy the serenity as you drift through fjord inlets beneath towering cliffs. Keep an eye out for porpoises, seals, and sea eagles.
Initiate your evening escapade at Pjolter & Punsj, a joint boasting an industrial-chic atmosphere. It’s no wonder they were up for Norway’s best cocktail menu at the 2023 Bartenders’ Choice Awards; the menu serves up inventive seasonal cocktails like sea buckthorn martini and rhubarb spritz.
Got a reservation at 10-seat Michelin-starred Sabi Omakase? Good for you! Watch Chef Roger Joya fuse Nordic culinary magic into sushi that will blow your mind: think tuna nigiri with marinated seaweed and reindeer sashimi, among others.
Back to Basics: Top 3 Nature Retreats
Snøhetta-designed lodges that overlook the fjord, complete with minimalist touches and Eikund furnishings.
Immerse yourself in lakeside tranquility on Reidunn Botnehagen’s ancestral farm, about 50 minutes from Stavanger.
Stay here to be the early bird catching sunrise on Pulpit Rock, with options like kayaking and paddleboarding to help you unwind.
Day Two: Culture Crawling and Cocktail Sipping
Start your day at bohemian Bøker og Børst with an organic coffee and pastry. After that, revisit Gamle Stavanger to explore the Norwegian Canning Museum, a nod to the city’s past, now revamped and extended.
For Sunday brunch with a view, Spiseriet at the Stavanger Concert Hall is the place to be. Afterwards, delve into the high-tech and the high-stakes world of Stavanger’s oil industry at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum.
Sip cocktails at Salon du Nord in Hotel Victoria, where art nouveau meets modern sophistication. Then make your way to Söl, the go-to Sunday evening eatery where the menu changes with the seasons.
Coffee & Brunch Enthusiasts: Top 5 Stops
- Kokko Kaffebar
- Jakob’s Brød
- Ostehuset Øst
- Sirkus Renaa
- The Garden
Craving Adventure? On the Rocks
- Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock)
- Flørli 4444
Norwegian offers direct flights from Gatwick to Stavanger in just 1h 40m, while Widerøe connects other cities to Bergen, with a short hop to Stavanger.
Hotel Victoria awaits with recently refreshed rooms overlooking Stavanger’s waterfront. Rates start at €180 (£155), including breakfast.
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Published in the September 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Stavanger weekend guide
What can I expect from this article on Stavanger, Norway?
This article will serve as your ultimate guide to a weekend getaway in Stavanger, Norway. It covers everything from Stavanger’s urban charm to adventures in nearby fjords, options for fine dining, street art spots, boutique hotel suggestions, and hiking trails. If Norway is on your bucket list, this article should be too.
Is this guide specifically for adventure seekers?
While the article does cover activities like hiking and fjord adventures, it also highlights the urban aspects and cultural elements of Stavanger, making it a well-rounded guide for all types of travelers, not just adventure junkies.
How do I get to Stavanger?
The article offers suggestions on the best travel options to get to Stavanger, whether it be by plane, boat, or car. Your Norwegian journey starts here, folks.
What’s the food scene like in Stavanger?
Ah, the gastro-nerds among you won’t be disappointed. The article dives into Stavanger’s fine dining options as well as street food locales. From traditional Norwegian cuisine to international dishes, there’s something for everyone.
Is Stavanger a good place for street art?
You bet your last Norwegian Krone it is! The article explores various spots around Stavanger where you can find vibrant street art that reflects both local and international influences.
What about accommodation? Any recommendations?
The guide lists a variety of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to boutique hotels. It provides recommendations tailored to various preferences and budget ranges.
Are there any seasonal activities or events I should be aware of?
Indeed, the article covers seasonal activities and events that make Stavanger a unique destination year-round. Whether it’s the summer music festivals or winter sporting events, Stavanger keeps the fun dial cranked to 11 all year long.
How accessible are the hiking trails for beginners?
Fear not, novice hikers! The article discusses hiking trails of varying difficulties, from beginner-friendly walks to challenging treks for the seasoned adventurer.
Is it an expensive city to visit?
The article provides tips on how to navigate Stavanger’s range of price points. While Norway is generally pricey, there are ways to explore Stavanger without breaking the bank.
How does this article capture the essence of Norwegian culture?
Through interviews with locals and firsthand experiences, the article delves into the authentic aspects of Norwegian culture that you’ll encounter in Stavanger. Think of it as your personal lens into the heart of Norway.
More about Stavanger weekend guide
- Ultimate Norway Travel Guide
- Stavanger Official Tourism Website
- Top Hiking Trails in Norway
- Norwegian Cuisine: What to Know
- The Art of Street Art in Stavanger
- Boutique Hotels in Stavanger: A Review
- Seasonal Activities and Events in Norway
- Budget Travel Tips for Norway
- Local’s Guide to Stavanger
- Norway’s Cultural Heritage Explained