If you’re currently putting a Stavanger itinerary together, then you might be wondering whether 1, 2, or 3 days in Stavanger would be sufficient for you to get the most out of your trip. So, in this article, we’ll be delving into everything there is to check out while you’re in Stavanger, so that you can have a fantastic holiday no matter how long or short it ends up being.
While perhaps not as popular of a destination as Bergen or Oslo, Stavanger has an incredible amount to offer visitors in its own right. Found in Norway’s dramatic Rogaland County, Stavanger is home to rich history, quaint architecture, and plenty to do and see.
How Many Days in Stavanger?
Stavanger may be one of Norway’s largest cities, but, by international standards, that’s frankly not saying much! With a population of just over 130,000, Stavanger is fairly compact, making getting around and seeing the sights pretty straightforward and often quick.
Accordingly, if you’re wondering how many days to spend in Stavanger, then it depends largely on how much you’d like to get out of your trip.
If, for instance, you’re planning primarily on checking out the main tourist attractions and spending most of your time in the downtown area taking in Old Stavanger and the charming wooden houses, then one day in Stavanger will likely be sufficient – provided that it’s a full day, of course.
With that being said, a longer trip will, of course, give you more freedom in terms of how you structure your days, as well as allowing you to see far more of the city that you would be unlikely to discover spending a single day there.
For instance, if you end up having 2 days in Stavanger, then you’ll be able to really sink your teeth into what is one of western Norway’s most fascinating destinations.
And, with 3 days in Stavanger, you’ll be able not only to really capture the essence of the city when you plan your trip, but you’ll easily have enough time to explore some of the incredible natural beauty that can be found within the area.
A day trip to nearby Preikestolen would be the most obvious option here, but you can also take a fjord cruise or go hiking for the day or even take in the area’s largest waterfall if you so choose.
Getting To & Around Stavanger
The city of Stavanger and the surrounding region are both served by Stavanger Airport, which is located just outside the resort town of Sola. From there, the easiest way to reach Stavanger itself is via the dedicated airport bus transfer service (Flybussen), with the journey taking just shy of 30 minutes and regular departures.
Note that the Flybuss only operates between the hours of 7:25am and 9:05pm; if you’ll be landing at Stavanger Airport in the early morning or late at night, you’ll likely need to take a taxi into the city or organise a transfer.
Stavanger itself is a very compact, walkable city. Local public transport is fairly reliable and comprehensive, making getting from point A to point B a generally straightforward affair.
For navigating Stavanger itself and the wider Sandnes area, you can make use of the Kolumbus bus network; tickets can be purchased via the Kolumbus Billett app, from ticket booths, or aboard the buses themselves. Do be aware that it costs extra to purchase tickets aboard the bus.
In terms of options for overland transport to reach Stavanger from Norway’s other major cities, it is possible to travel to Stavanger via both train and bus. A direct bus operates from Bergen to Stavanger, taking around 5 hours one way. You can view bus schedules here.
It is also possible to travel to Oslo from Stavanger via bus or train, but this is generally a fairly lengthy journey requiring at least one transfer.
All in all, Stavanger is small enough that renting a car when visiting the city simply isn’t necessary. The only time you may want to consider doing that would be if you’re planning on using Stavanger as a hub to explore the surrounding countryside, or are road-tripping through Norway once you leave the city. You can browse car rental options here.
1, 2 or 3 Days in Stavanger Itinerary
Below, you’ll find our suggestions for putting together the perfect Stavanger itinerary, regardless of whether you’re planning on spending 1, 2 or 3 days in Stavanger.
Day 1 – Sverd i fjell, Flor og fjære & Old Stavanger
Have you only got time to spend one day in Stavanger? No problem! That’s enough to cover the city’s most visited and best-known tourist attractions, which you’ll find outlined below.
Sverd i fjell
It’s probably fair to say that Sverd i fjell is Stavanger’s most famous landmark. And, frankly, it’s not hard to see why; the three towering swords outlined against the North Sea make for an incredibly dramatic sight and inspire plenty of passion amongst both locals and visitors alike.
While it was unveiled in 1983, the monument actually has far greater historical significance than you might have thought.
Indeed, it was constructed to commemorate the Battle of Hafrsfjord, which played out in the very same spot all the way back in 872. This battle is perhaps one of the most important moments in Norwegian history, as it saw King Harald Fairhair defeat two rival kings and unite Norway as a single country for the first time.
Sverd i fjell is fairly easy to access via public transit from downtown Stavanger, but, if you prefer, you can turn the trip into a bit of a day trip by walking there and back from the city centre. It’s about a four-hour loop and, while not especially technically demanding, is a fair way.
Flor og fjære
You probably don’t associate tropical plants with Stavanger (or anywhere else in Norway, for that matter), and I don’t blame you; however, Flor og fjære, which consists of a range of tropical gardens on an island off the coast of Stavanger, might just change that forever!
Home to a restaurant and extensive grounds, Flor og fjære is located on the island of Sør-Hidle and can be reached via ferry. Tours are offered a few times per day, after which guests can sample the restaurant’s buffet, which prepares a rotating selection of dishes and delicacies.
While it’s not the most classically Norwegian attraction, Flor og fjære is certainly memorable and definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of gardens or great food! It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Stavanger.
Stavanger’s historic old town, Gamle Stavanger, is the place to be if you have an interest in checking out older architectural styles.
It’s essentially a perfectly preserved example of the style of building typical to Western Norway in particular from around the 18th and 19th centuries; what’s more, it’s also something of a cultural hotspot for the city of Stavanger and is home to plenty of smaller boutiques and art galleries, too.
With its quaint, cobbled streets, wooden houses and laidback atmosphere, Gamle Stavanger is the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon stroll after you arrive in the city. You can also organise a walking tour to learn more from a guide.
The Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Given its status as one of the epicentres of gas and oil production in Europe, it’s not surprising that Stavanger’s biggest and most popular museum is the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, which focuses on educating visitors on offshore petroleum in particular.
Here, you can learn all about one of Norway’s biggest industries, as well as taking in the unique design of the building itself, which certainly adds to the overall immersion of the experience.
It’s worth noting here that, compared to other tourist attractions, the Norwegian Petroleum Museum could be described as being on the drier side, though it’s clearly been designed to cater to visitors of all ages.
Stavanger’s charming, moody cathedral is the oldest in Norway and, being located in the city centre, is definitely worth paying a visit to for its unique atmosphere and eye-catching gothic design.
Reportedly built in the 1100s, the cathedral is allegedly the only one in Norway to have been in constant use since the Middle Ages, as well as retaining its original appearance from when it was first constructed.
Day 2 – Canning Museum, Lysefjord Cruise & Breiavatnet
We suggest that you spend the second day of your Stavanger itinerary making the most of both Stavanger’s cultural highlights, as well as using it to sample some of the incredible natural beauty that can be found just outside the city limits.
The Norwegian Canning Museum
Look, hear us out. You might not find the idea of a museum dedicated to canning especially enthralling; we get that. However, the Canning Museum in Stavanger is genuinely really interesting and definitely worth checking out, especially if you’ll be making a longer trip to the city.
For one thing, canned fish has historically been a pretty significant part of the Norwegian economy, with much of the industry being historically based in Stavanger.
And, the museum is remarkably well-run and immersive; not only will you find out more about canning practices in the city, but you can even have a go at canning sardines yourself!
Ultimately, the Canning Museum is quite small, so you can probably expect to spend 2-3 hours here, max.
Lysefjord Cruise & Nature Experience
The stunning Lysefjord is found not far from Stavanger, and plenty of travel operators in the city offer guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with this natural marvel through fjord cruises, kayaking expeditions, or similar.
Most of these excursions such as this half-day tour last between 4-6 hours and are a fantastic, relaxed way for you to immerse yourself in what many would consider to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. You can also go on an inflatable boat or take a kayaking tour.
So, unless you’re very prone to seasickness, going on one of these outings is highly recommended!
Located in Stavanger’s Byparken, Breivatnet is a remarkably peaceful, tranquil lake. Locals love it for its ducks and swans, and it offers charming views of the surrounding buildings.
If weather permits while you’re in Stavanger, the banks of Breiavatnent make for a lovely place for a picnic with an urban twist.
Day 3 – Preikestolen or Kjeragbolten Day Trip
Spending more than 2 days in Stavanger? In that case, we suggest that, for the third day of your Stavanger itinerary, you head out into the surrounding countryside to explore some of the incredible hiking that the county of Rogaland has on offer.
Day Trip to Preikestolen (Hike)
As one of, if not the most famous hike in Norway, Preikestolen truly has to be seen to be believed. What’s more, it’s just a stone’s throw away from Stavanger; in fact, many tourists to the city go more or less exclusively to use it as a hub for making the trip to the region’s famous Pulpit Rock.
Indeed, this mighty cliff towers high above some of the area’s fjords, offering spectacular views of some of Norway’s most striking and eye-catching landscapes. It’s worth noting, though, that the hike takes between 4-5 hours for most people and does require a decent level of physical fitness to be able to tackle it safely.
If you’ve decided on renting a car for your trip to Stavanger, then making a day trip to hike out to Preikestolen will be a very simple affair. It takes just over 30 minutes to drive from Stavanger Sentrum to Preikestolen fjellstue, where the hike begins.
There is also a bus that you can take from Stavanger for those travelling via public transport or you can join a guided hike.
Day Trip to Kjeragbolten (Hike)
While not quite as famous as Preikestolen, plenty of people have actually seen pictures of the end of the hike to Kjeragbolten, even if they don’t recognize it by name (often remembering it instead as ‘that scary boulder people stand on in Norway’).
Yes, Kjeragbolten is a very famous boulder wedged between two cliffs on top of Mount Kjerag. The hike itself is somewhat longer than Preikestolen and demands a decent level of physical fitness; however, it also offers incredible views of the surrounding fjords and mountain ranges, so it’s well worth the challenge.
The drive from Stavanger to Kjerag is incredibly scenic, too, and takes a little over 2 hours one way. There are also guided hikes to join.
You’ll also find an express bus operating from Stavanger to Kjerag throughout the summer if you’re travelling by public transport; note that this service will generally give you between 5-6 hours to complete the hike, so you won’t have much time to waste!
Where to Stay in Stavanger
Thon Hotel – This hotel located in the centre of Stavanger is an excellent base in this lovely Norwegian city. They have a number of cool and modern rooms to choose from along with a range of great amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Hotel Victoria – Located within easy reach of all Stavanger has to offer, this sophisticated hotel is an excellent base in this Norwegian city. They have an array of beautiful rooms to choose from, breakfast on offer each morning and an on-site restaurant/bar. Click here to check availability
Sea Story by Frogner House – Those looking for a self-catering option in Stavanger will love these cool apartments. Fully furnished with everything you may need during your stay along with a great location for exploring the city. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Stavanger hotels!
While Stavanger may be on the smaller side, it’s absolutely worth visiting if you’re in Western Norway, especially if you have an interest in nature or the history of Norway. What the city lacks in size it easily makes up for in charm and character and you’re sure to have a great time here!
Are you planning to visit Stavanger? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!