THE LOCALS’ GUIDE TO STAVANGER
Top insider tips
“If you visit Stavanger for the first time, a trip to Old Stavanger is a must. Here you’ll find northern Europe’s best-preserved wooden houses”, says Katrine Lilleland, the festival director for the Stavanger Chamber Music Festival.
Lilleand has worked with art and culture for ten years, and loves to go to the theatre, dance shows, and concerts.
Lilleland’s tips for cultural experiences in Stavanger
Street art safari: Stavanger has one of Europe’s largest collections of street art. The city has hosted the annual street art festival Nuart for more than 15 years. Visit in September to take part in the festivities, or any other time of year to go exploring on your own or on a guided tour.
Art: The city has a varied and broad cultural life with lots of museums and galleries, including Stavanger City Museum and a top-rated philharmonic orchestra. At Stavanger Art Museum you can enjoy both a permanent collection of Norwegian art and temporary exhibitions. It is located by the lake Mosvannet, so you can go for a walk after your visit. Find out what’s on at Stavanger’s art factory TOU, too. And the amazing art gallery BGE just has to be experienced!
Architecture: Stavanger Museum’s culture and natural history exhibitions are great fun for curious minds of all ages. The museum also manages several beautiful historic buildings in the area. The royal residence Ledaal (built 1799–1803) and the shipowner villa Breidablikk from the 19th century are both highly recommended. If you have enough time, plan a trip to Utstein, Norway’s only preserved medieval monastery. Located in magical surroundings on the island of Mosterøy, you can get there by car or bus in under 30 minutes.
Food & beverage: Ostehuset Domkirkeplassen is a stylish restaurant and café by the cathedral. Enjoy a gorgeous lunch and good coffee or pop in to buy delicious cheese, fresh bread, and other delicacies. Stavanger is also the proud home of Bellies, one of the best vegan restaurants in Scandinavia.
Concerts: Check out the friendly vibes at Blyge Harry in Østervåg for quality concerts, especially if you like jazz. Folken is a cool rock place that attracts the local student scene, and the art gallery TOU arranges live music events, too. For the biggest stars, see what’s on at Stavanger Concert Hall.
Top star restaurants: Two restaurants in Stavanger have Michelin stars. For a complete gastronomical adventure, treat yourself to a meal at RE-NAA (two stars) or Sabi Omakase (one star). Another safe bet is Tango. Book in good time, as these places are often full several months in advance.
Pub crawl: Check out the bars lined up along Fargegaten. Painted in bright colours, Fargegaten (which literally means “colour street”) is Stavanger’s most photographed street. With a wide choice of venues, you are sure to find something you like. A local favourite is the uber-cool Hanekam, where the city’s smallest dance floor fills up quickly at the weekends.
While you’re here: Venture outside the city centre to see Fritz Røed’s enormous monument Sword in rock in Hafrsfjord. Another tip is the contemporary art on display at Hå Old Vicarage, situated in magnificent surroundings by the sea in Jæren.
Saturday with the locals
“Stavanger is full of good restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shopping, and at the same time, it has a small and charming city centre. You can walk everywhere here”, says Karl Erik Pallesen.
Pallesen is chef, manager, and co-owner of Fisketorget Stavanger and Matboden Rogaland. He’s also been part of the Norwegian national cooking team.
Pallesen’s tips for a Saturday with the locals in Stavanger
People watching: A great place to observe Stavanger’s international atmosphere is Martinique. This friendly pub attracts a wonderful mix of people from all walks of life.
Explore cool neighbourhoods: It’s great that more and more new and nice neighbourhoods are being developed in Stavanger. An example is Eiganes, where you’ll find the landmark Hermetikken, which houses a number of creative businesses and the brewery Stavanger Mikrobryggeri. Have lunch at the lovely Eg&du and stop for a pint at Lervig brewery pub in Ledaal Park.
Fresh fish: Fishing, and especially herring fishing, is important to Stavanger. Local dishes – and stories – based on herring abound. It is often served pickled with different kinds of spices and flavours. Fisketorget is known for its divine fish soup and other fish dishes based on seasonal ingredients. You can also enjoy excellent fresh fish in season at Fish & Cow and Eg&Du.
City farmers: Stavanger Ysteri is a local city dairy farm at the forefront of a growing movement towards local, organic food production in Norway. They only use raw milk for cheese production and deliver their products to the city’s restaurants by bike.
More goodies: Other cool tips are restaurants like Söl, K2, and last but not least, RE-NAA! The locals are also crazy about Gladmat, which is the largest food festival in the Nordics. You’ll love it too – visit at the end of July to take part.
Heavenly drinks: The cocktail bar Pjolter & Punsj oozes with personality. The name of the bar comes from two of the most popular Scandinavian mixed drinks throughout history – ask for them at the bar! The folks behind Pjolter & Punsj run another bar, which specialises in drinks based on Nordic spirits and gin. It’s called Gimlet and is located on the east side of the city. Be sure to check it out! For craft beer, try Lervig Local or Cardinal, which has northern Europe’s largest beer selection.
Sunday city walk
“Stavanger is perfectly located for everyone who enjoys active nature experiences – all year round! You can visit some of Norway’s most famous rock formations, beautiful fjords, and fantastic sandy beaches”, says Gaute Løvset.
Løvset works for the activity and tourism company Norwegian Experience. He loves to be outdoors as much as possible, create fantastic experiences, and share good tips.
Løvset’s tips for urban Sunday walks
Public transport: A great thing about Stavanger is that nature is so easily accessible by bus, boat, and even bicycle.
Urban coastal trip: One of my family’s favourite trips is to follow the hiking trail from east Stavanger along the Gandsfjord via Emmausbukta and Goddalen, down to the harbour in the area Paradis in Storhaug. You can easily extend the trip to Stavanger city centre, where you can finish your excursion in a café.
The pulpit: One option is to dedicate the Sunday to one of Norway’s most famous rock formations, the mighty Preikestolen (the Pulpit rock). Thanks to a new tunnel, you can get to the starting point in only 30 minutes by car or bus. Most people do this hike in the summer, but I prefer it on a clear and cold winter day. There is hardly anyone else around in the winter, and the nature and fjord seem even wilder and rawer. Go with a guide if you don’t have experience of winter hikes. Tours are offered daily and will make sure that you have a nice and safe trip.
After the hike: Walking makes you hungry. I recommend the meatballs and waffles at Preikestolen BaseCamp. You can also tuck into something tasty by the fireplace at Preikestolen Fjellstue.
Lysefjorden by boat: A fun way to experience the Lysefjord is to join a RIB safari from the harbour in central Stavanger. It’s a fantastic trip, regardless of the weather. If you’d rather spend your Sunday on deck, there are several day-cruises to the Lysefjord to choose from.
Selvikstakken: The best viewpoint in Sandnes! From this mountain peak, you get a priceless view of the Høgsfjord, the Lysefjord, and Strandalandet. Just note that you have to be prepared for steep and rocky scree, which can be hard if you don’t have much experience of hiking in the mountains. If, on the other hand, you want a longer trip, you can start with the Bynuten hike. In that case, you need to set aside the whole day, because it’s a long and tough trail.
Jærstrendene: Those who prefer flatter terrain should opt for a walk along Jærstrendene, the chalk-white sandy beaches just outside the city centre. Great for body and soul. Some of them are no more than five minutes on foot from the airport at Sola. The beaches have everything you can wish for in terms of long or short coastal hikes, swimming, kayaking, surfing, kite flying, and kitesurfing. When you need to recharge, the restaurant at Sola Strandhotell, the café at Solastranden Gård, and Strandhuset restaurant are all ready to prepare a lovely meal for you. If you just want a snack, Strandhuset also has a kiosk where you can get your hands on a burger or hotdog, a fish cake, or an ice cream.
Ski boat: For skiers, Stavanger offers a completely unique experience. Take the ski boat from the harbour in Stavanger to the ski resort in Sauda. It’s an eventful trip where you get both an awesome nature experience and skiing in the best ski resort in this part of Norway.
While you’re here: In the Sørmarka forest, around 15 minutes by car south of Stavanger, you’ll find eight kilometres of hiking trails. The highest point is Ullandhaug, where you get a beautiful view of Jæren and Ryfylke.