Stavanger – Rich in charm, history and nature

Cobbled streets and wooden houses highlight the charm of Old Stavanger. Be sure to visit the gothic cathedral, see the Norwegian Petroleum Museum and discover natural wonders like nearby Pulpit Rock.

  • Stroll the cobblestone centre with 12th-century cathedral
  • See Europe´s largest historic wooden house district
  • Learn about the Oil Capital of Norway
  • Explore natural wonders like Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen)

Located in the southwestern corner of Norway, the Stavanger region is considered the “shortcut to the fjords”. We will dock near historic Old Stavanger. Just a short stroll away is the lovely 12th century Cathedral and the city centre with its cobbled pedestrian streets and one of the largest areas of old wooden houses in Europe.

The landscape here varies between fjords, farmland and steep mountains. The Lysefjord and spectacular Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) are just an hour’s boat trip away. There are also fine (if often windy) local beaches at places such as Sola.

The history of Stavanger is rich with important Viking events like the famed battle between Viking tribes in 872 AD that united the Norwegian kingdom for the first time. Many visitors enjoy taking a short bus ride (no. 29 from Stavanger centre) to the Swords in the Rock, which commemorates the victory of Harald Harfagre. Three large and impressive Viking swords, symbolizing peace, unity and freedom, are buried into the rocky soil at this monument.

Stavanger is also considered the Oil Capital of Norway and hosts the fascinating Norwegian Petroleum museum, which is well worth a visit. In addition, Stavanger is an active cultural city, named European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Beyond exploring the old town centre and Cathedral, you can take an excursion to scale the heights of Pulpit Rock, offering truly unforgettable fjord views. There are also kayaking, hiking and even surfing activities on offer locally.

The History of Stavanger

One of the oldest cities in the country, Stavanger emerged as an important hub in the 12th century, but archaeological findings indicate that people have lived here since the Iron Age.

The Stavanger area was an important region in the Viking era, most famously as the site of the battle led by Harald Harfarge in 872 AD that resulted in the first unification of the Norwegian kingdom. Today, the Sword in the Rock monument commemorates that historic conflict.

World War II saw a German airstrike followed by paratrooper invasion of the local airport at Sola, followed by occupation from 1940-45. Even today, mines from that conflict are occasionally uncovered in local farmland.

The Oil Era for Stavanger began with the discovery of North Sea oil in 1969, and the government´s decision to make the city the centre of petroleum operations for the nation. An era of economic and population growth followed, and today´s city is largely shaped by this activity.

Visit Stavanger on the expedition sailings