All I knew of Stavanger before visiting is that it is home to big oil and the jumping-off point for big fun. I was in town to tick off hiking Preikestolen from my bucket list and found a surprisingly cool Stavanger in the process. Here’s how this unassuming Norwegian town became one of my favourites in Scandinavia.
After a ridiculously scenic bus and boat ride from Bergen, I arrived in the heart of Stavanger. It didn’t take long to find a compact and charming town. I strolled along the cobblestone path around Breiavatnet Lake to the Thon Hotel Maritim, the perfect spot to explore this surprisingly cool Stavanger from. After checking in I found that this charm goes well beyond the lake. From the Stavanger Cathedral, the cobblestone path turned pedestrian street lined with trendy shops and cafés. This surprisingly cool Stavanger feature continued to Øvre Holmegate street where the colourfully painted buildings house restaurants and bars that attract tourists and locals alike.
It didn’t take long for me to fall for Stavanger – and I’d only wandered a couple of blocks.
Fun in Oil?
This cool Stavanger realization continued in the most unlikely of places – a museum dedicated to oil. More specifically, just outside of it. The Norwegian Petroleum Museum has a park made up from recycled oil production parts and seemed to be very popular with the little Vikings.
Norway runs on oil so it shouldn’t be surprising that this museum exists. What was surprising is how great this cool Stavanger site is. The museum is listed as one of the top things to do in town, and with good reason – it’s fascinating. Highlights for me included the model recreations of oil rigs, massive drill bits, and the simulation of an oil derrick control center.
If finding fun in oil wasn’t shocking enough, finding it in cans sure was. Stavanger was once the canning capital of the world and there’s no better place to hear all about it than inside the Norwegian Canning Museum. Located in an actual former canning house in Stavanger’s old town, the Norwegian Canning Museum is an important part of the town’s history. Inside you will find excellent displays that take you through the canning processes of yesterday. With being the canning capital of the world came plenty of innovation and inventions. This included a machine that could seal one thousand cans an hour, changing the industry forever.
Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Don’t miss the early 1900’s promotional video that is shown upstairs. It includes the most embellished enjoyment of canned fish you will ever see.
I left the Norwegian Canning Museum with confirmation that surprisingly cool Stavanger is also fascinating. Wandering the old town showed its charming side and touring the various outdoor art pieces showed its creative side. Surprisingly cool Stavanger is also surprisingly versatile.
Don’t Write Off Stavanger
Before visiting Stavanger I was convinced that it’s best feature lay in the nearby fjords. It was to be my base to explore from but as I found out how cool Stavanger is I found myself spending more and more time in town. If you’re heading to the Stavanger region to hike Preikestolen, don’t write off this diverse little town. Getting there is easier than ever with discount airlines like Wiz Air and Norwegian Air Shuttle offering ridiculously cheap flights to major hubs throughout Europe.
Surprisingly Cool Stavanger Good to Know
Sleep: Thon Hotel Maritim
Eat: – Sjøhuset Skagen
Don’t Miss: Norwegian Canning and Petroleum Museums, wandering Øvre Holmegate.
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the Stavanger Region. All opinions are my own.
So cool! I would LOVE to visit Norway and now Stavanger is on my list!
How cool are those swords!?