The Top 7 Things to do in Stavanger, Norway

What to Do in One Day in Stavanger

Stavanger is a gorgeous little city along the western coast of Norway. Docking at the port, it’s easy to walk into the main part of the city center for shopping, quirky cafes, and even a few museums. We spent a couple of days there visiting some friends and we were pleasantly surprised that we could keep ourselves busy. There are plenty of things to do in Stavanger. Since we were on a big Norway road trip, we did have our own car, but in the downtown area it wasn’t needed.  We had been traveling the smaller towns and countryside of Norway on our way to Stavanger and enjoyed some beautiful places like Sognals-Strand and Lista in the summer, and Bergen in the winter.

A red boat docked in Stavanger, Norway
The port of Stavanger on a gorgeous day. Just sit and relax.

If you like charming, quaint, small cities, Stavanger has it all. Even if you are in town for only one day, you can easily walk around and do the things that we did. Throw in a great lunch along the harbor, especially if it’s not raining, and enjoy the atmosphere. What else should you do, you ask? Well, let me tell you. We’ve made a list of the top 7 things to do in Stavanger; which one would you like to visit?

The Cathedral in Stavanger.
One of the best things to do in Stavanger is hang around Domkirken square where you can eat a sandwich, buy a sweater or just people watch.

Map Must-See Places in Stavanger

Stavanger Tourist Map.
Use our interactive Stavanger Tourist Map.

Ready, Set, Go – Our Best Things To Do In Stavanger

White house with flower garland.
White houses are all over the old part of Stavanger
White house with blue door and blue flower pots in Gamle Stavanger.
Gamle Stavanger is on our list of things to do!

Number 1 – Walk around Gamle Stavanger

No matter what, you must walk around the old historic area, known as Gamle Stavanger, to see the beautiful white houses. Apparently it’s a myth that white is a traditional color for the houses in Norway. The thing is, white is and always was too expensive to keep clean and pristine in the salty sea air. Therefore, painting houses a mustard yellow color was much more the norm. Occasionally, people would paint the front of the house white to show their neighbors that they were well off and could afford it, but the rest of the house would be a different color.

Yellow house in Stavanger, Norway.
Maybe not as well known, many houses used a mustard colored paint, not white in Gamle Stavanger.
Rose bush in front of traditional Norwegian town home in Stavanger.

As you walk down the narrow streets in the old section, you’ll find mostly white houses with a few yellow ones here and there. The neighborhood houses are quiet and very manicured with beautiful planters and bright colored-doors opening out onto the carefully set cobblestone streets. It doesn’t take long to walk around here, but it’s a great place to get your quaint on!

Souvenir stand in downtown Stavanger.
Ready to greet visitors, there are plenty of spots to buy souvenirs in Stavanger.
Pastel colored houses in Stavanger Torget.
One of the things to do in Stavanger is walk down this colorful street, called Ovre Holmegate, or sitting and having a coffee. How quaint is this?

Number 2 – Stavanger Torvet

Head to the city center and the expansive open area just off the main harbor. This is Stavanger’s market square, also known as Torvet, where you can find stalls selling a range of food items and souvenirs.  Here you can find some beautiful Scandinavian sweaters or local artisan crafts. This is the central meeting place for the city and you can get a bite to eat in the many restaurants, or sit on the waterfront and watch the boats come and go. Everything from cruise ships to naval vessels will come into port. There are plenty of benches along the water, and, as you can tell, folks love to hang out on the steps by the church.  Join right in and make a new friend.

The Cathedral is a Must-see in Stavanger.

Number 3 – Domkirken

Stavanger Cathedral, also known as Domkirken, is the oldest Cathedral in Norway. Built in the early twelfth century, the structure has undergone repairs and renovations throughout the years. However, its foundation dates back to 1125 and recent changes have been designed to return the church to its medieval appearance. Visit during a choir or organ recital for a very special experience. Outside the cathedral, on the steps overlooking the harbor, you’ll find one of Stavanger’s famous sons, Alexander Kielland, author and politician. After visiting the church, take a seat on the steps in and eat some street food or get that postcard written for the folks back home.

Animal wood carving with designs from ancient viking ship.
Viking wood carvings are one of the things to see in the Archaeological museum at the Stavanger University.
Viking jewelry on display in the Stavanger Viking Museum.
A girl throwing balls at toys in the Viking museum in Stavanger.
Kids of all ages love the interactive games and exhibits in the archaeological museum in Stavanger.

Number 4 – Archaeological Museum

Visit the Archaeological Museum, or the Arkeologisk Museum at the University of Stavanger. It’s only a short walk from the city center (600 meters), and you can see exhibits that go back to megalithic times. There is a children’s part where you can play games and see a mock up of an old house, and an entire exhibit of the Vikings. It’s not a huge museum, but the building is very modern and the exhibits are fascinating. The address is: Peder Klows gate 30 A, and it is open everyday except Monday at 11:00.  Entrance for adults is a mere 50 NOK.

Geopark, Stavanger.
The Geopark is at the top of our list of things to do in Stavanger. Made from an old oil platform kids and adults have fun tromping and climbing around. We did.

Number 5 – Geopark

Take the kids down to play at Geopark next door to the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. Oil is one of the reasons Norway is what it is today. This museum, and the park that is next to it, is a great way to learn about oil as a natural resource and how it has impacted the country. The park is meant to be a playground and is built from parts of their first oil platform. The museum is located in Kjeringholmen, which you can walk to following the blue promenade. Cost is 150 NOK for adults and 60 NOK for children and students. The museum is open daily from 10:00 am.

Viking exhibit in Stavanger, Norway.
Norwegian Troll!

Number 6 – Troll Hunt

Go on the search for trolls. Trolls are ubiquitous in Norwegian folklore, being little “people” that play tricks on humans. They have become a symbol of the country, and you can find troll souvenirs anywhere you look. They are not cute, but they are fun.

Stavanger menu board.

Number 7 – Sticker Shock

Marvel at Norwegian prices, especially for food. Here you can see a blackboard menu for one of the many seaside restaurants in the downtown area. Now remember one U.S. dollar is worth about six Norwegian Kroner, or NOK. So you can see that a plate of nachos will cost you a mere $27, a burger will cost over $28, and the cheapest thing on the menu, the Gyros pita, is about $16.50. Needless to say, you will want to bring your own food or shop in the grocery stores if you are staying more than just for lunch.  However, I would suggest you having at least one Norwegian meal. You can try some fresh fish at the fish market, or Fisketorget, or you can find a traditional potato dumpling or komle to try.

Manhole cover for Stavanger, Norway.
Fountain and lake in Stavanger.

Stavanger was a such a great city to explore. It was green, clean, well-manicured, full of brick buildings, white houses, and friendly people. The city has a fresh, maritime vibe. I loved it! If you have more time in Norway, consider heading north out of Stavanger for a visit to Bergen or Lillehammer. Both are great in winter!

Posing with a Norwegian Troll in Stavanger.

Looking for some good recommendations for places to stay in Stavanger? Try these…

We loved coming up with our top 7 things to do in Stavanger, now it’s your turn.

Have you been to Stavanger? What did we miss?

Pin Things to do in Stavanger for later!
What are the absolute must-dos in Stavanger?

The Top 7 Thins to Do in Stavanger Await You

45 thoughts on “The Top 7 Things to do in Stavanger, Norway”

  1. Pingback: 25 of the Best Things to Do in Bergen in Winter - Reflections Enroute

  2. We did not eat in Stavanger just because of those staggering prices. Stavanger was a lovely town to see and walk around. We also went to Bergen which was nice too. We splurged at are at the fish market there. Love Norway and hope to go back!

  3. A visit to Flor & Fjaere is a must – the tropical gardens of Norway. To find somewhere so beautiful and full of colour so far North was pretty special. We were blown away by our visit.

    Also, download the map and find as many of Antony Gormley’s Broken Columns dotted around the city as you explore.

  4. Am sure I’ll definitely marvel at the prices in Norway, *braces myself*. Heading to Stavanger soon and looking for ideas, thanks for the suggestions!

  5. I love learning fun little tidbits about places, especially when there’s a myth already! Makes sense to not paint your house white, it’s almost impossible to keep clean, even in 2017! But that the rich would paint their doors white makes sense, like a sign of status. Can’t wait to visit Norway!

  6. We missed Stavanger during our trip to Norway last summer. We based ourselves in Bergen. Stavanger looks just as interesting. My kids made sure to stop at every troll we saw for a photo. Norwegian towns like these are beautiful. Love the colorful houses.

    1. Bergen is also a beautiful city! There were many similarities, I think Stavanger has more amenities since it has a large expat community for the oil industry.

  7. Whoa, I’ve heard that it’s expensive but goodness that’s insane for a burger! We went to Switzerland last year and it was expensive as well – not like this though. We went to nice food courts and grocery stores to eat as it was much less expensive. This is a good tip for Norway as well. It would probably be more economical to stay in a vacation rental where you can cook a couple of meals and splurge on one meal a day. Great info!

  8. flydriveexplore

    Useful list, we really want to visit Norway soon and this will help us plan. May head further north to Bergen as you suggested too.

  9. The houses are soo pretty. The doors decorated with flowers look lovely! Domkirken is fascinating. There is so much to learn in Stavanger. Love this beautiful quaint place! The old world charm of these places is so endearing.

  10. I loved Stavanger. We only had a day here and split it between a fjords cruise and the town. I remember the white houses well, but I hadn’t realised they were not traditional. We did get to the first three on our list, but didn’t hunt for trolls. And I don’t think you can set foot in Norway without noticing the high cost of everything.

  11. I just adored Stavanger when we visited a year ago, especially Gamle Stavanger. Our cruise ship looked right over the harbour, so it was fabulous to enjoy a glass of wine on the balcony and look down on the whole city!

  12. Have been saving itinerary ideas for Norway and Stavanger is on the list now. Do suggest if October is a good time or not? I believe its rainy and some sights are closed.

  13. Janet Thoreson

    The Emigrant Museum is on the waterfront. There is also a recreation of the sloop Restauration, the boat the first Norwegians took to America. We were lucky enough to sail on the boat as my husband’s great-great grandfather was on that first voyage to America. It was thrilling. Going back in July. Want to see the giant viking swords when we go this time.

  14. Um, I’m baffled by the prices. Yes, it is exceptionally charming, but why is Norway so expensive? And I love the city guide pin you made! I saved that for when we do get to head to Scandinavia.

  15. Pingback: Interview with Corinne Vail, from Reflections en Route

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