Stavanger, Norway – Cruise Port Guide

Stavanger Cruise Port Guide

What to do in Eight Hours ashore in Stavanger – a Cruise Port Guide…

STAVANGER – is situated on the southwest coast of Norway.

P&O Iona in Stavanger – the yellow building is the Tourist Information Office

Stavanger is a cruise port and the fourth largest city in the country, with a population of about 120,000. Founded in 1125 with the building of Stavanger Cathedral, it is one of the oldest Norwegian cities. From its beginnings as a religious centre centre it grew to be a busy fishing port, and then centre of the sardine industry, before reinventing itself as capital of the Norwegian Oil Industry. With its oil company headquarters, NATO bases and universities sitting alongside Old Stavanger and the white wooden cottages and cobbled streets of  UNESCO Heritage listed Gamle Stavange, it is fascinating mix of old and new. 

Waterfront and Watchtower
Language: Norwegian but English widely spoken  
Currency: The currency in Stavanger is the Norwegian krone, (plural kroner). Currently 13.66 NOK to UK £1, 10.96 NOK to $1US, and 11.77 NOK to €1. (June 23)
Climate: the summer cruise season will have a maximum of 19C° on a sunny day but these only occur about 50% of the time! Layers and packable waterproofs…
Time Zone : GMT/UTC + 2h summer / +1 winter – aligned with Europe CET.
Accessibility: Good, Norway is a disability aware country. Most shops and transport have slope access and other facilities. The main town is level, short walk away. 
Head of State: King Harald V is the present King.
Pulpit rock is the main tourist attraction in the area.

NORWAY is sometimes known as the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Officially The Kingdom of Norway is the northernmost European country, lying on the west edge of the Scandinavian peninsula, partly within the Arctic Circle to the north. Its coastal position gives it one of the milder climates in the country. Norways terrain is mainly mountainous and its long coastline comprises deep fjords, glaciers and more than 50,000 coastal islands. The majority of the population lives in coastal cities such as Bergen and Stavanger with most in the far south centred around Oslo, the capital. Norway has a long seafaring culture, early Norsemen, or Vikings, travelled as far as North America, Russia, Iceland, invading England in the 9th century. Notable Norwegians include explorers Leif Eriksson, Fridjof Nansen, Roald Amundesen and Thor Heyerdahl, the composer Edvard Grieg, playwright Henrik Ibsen and painter Edvard Munch. Norway is one of the worlds leading petrol and gas exporters and you will pass the North Sea oil platforms as you head to Stavanger.

Joining a rim ride in the harbour

Stavanger – the immediate port area and cruise terminal

The deep water Port of Stavanger is in the heart of the city. Cruise ships dock at one of four berths on the sheltered eastern side of the port, alongside the Strandkaien. Ships normally dock here bow into the port and Gamle Stavanger, the UNESCO protected area of Stavanger, recognisable by its picturesque painted cottages and steep cobbled streets, will be immediately visible to the starboard side of the ship. There is no Cruise Terminal here because you are already so close to the cities facilities. Ships security set up a fenced area around the ship which you access with your cruise ID.

As you leave the ship and turn left toward the centre of town the Tourist Information office is the first building that you reach on your left – they are very helpful with maps and walking tours available. There is two ATM machines in the banks just slightly further past this on your right and plenty of other in town if you want cash but cards are widely accepted. This is also where you can pickup the HOHO buses but read on…

Gamle Stavanger, cobbled street with P&0 Iona at the bottom!

Stavanger – within walking distance…   

There is no real need for any excursions or trips here as there is plenty to do close to the ship – which probably won’t even be out of sight!!  All of the main attractions in town that are within walking distance are listed here in order of distance from the ship. as you walk around town keep an eye out for the footprints of various Nobel Prize winners – we’ve spotted Kim Dai Jung and Al Gore amongst others!

  • Gamle Stavanger, (2 minutes from ship) the UNESCO protected area of Stavanger, is a lovely warren of white painted cottages, steep steps and narrow cobbled streets dating back to the 18th century yet containing some very up to date street art at the ‘town’ end.  If you need to avoid steep steps, a good route is to walk into town along the port and then back through the upper levels which will bring you gently back to sea level via the Strandkaien. If you want to learn more about the street art in Stavanger you can join a walking tour with NuArt Tours based at the modern building to the right of where the ship docks.
  • Norwegian Canning Museum (10 minutes) is in the old town, on this higher path. Stavanganger used to house more than half Norways canning factories but the last one closed in 2002. This museum, in a former canning factory, provides a surprisingly interesting experience. 
  • Norwegian Printing Museum (10 minutes) is housed in the same building. The two industries were linked by the need for packaging which led to a thriving graphic and printing industry in Stavanger. These two museums have a combined MUST ticket (NK950) which also covers the Maritime Museum.
  • Viking House, (5 minutes) back down at sea level, is a virtual reality experience telling the story of Norway and the Vikings and is particularly popular with kids. There is a large souvenir shop in the warehouse next door.
  • Stavanger Maritime Museum (8 minutes) rambles across several restored old merchants warehouses. Information of ships, the history of the port, with an interactive exhibits and a restored shipping office. You can visit some historic vessels in the harbour including MV Rogaland, a beautiful old steamer with a dramatic history. The museum has a gift shop and cafe and is closed on Mondays. 
  • Fishmarket (10 minutes) is housed in a modern building at the head of the port in the marketplace. Lots of interesting fish to see, a cafe and a nice restaurant. Lots of bars and restaurants in this area of the seafront  
  • Torget (10 minutes) the marketplace – full of souvenir stalls and dominated by the statue of a shrimp on a column  – occasionally live music and festivals are set up here.
  • Stavanger Cathedral (15 minutes) is the oldest in Norway and dates back to 1125. The solid grey stone building is dedicated to St Swithun. It has been heavily restored over the years and is currently closed for restoration, probably until August 2024.
  • Breiavatnet lake (15 minutes) is in the park that surrounds the Cathedral, built as the city’s first urban park in 1866. A circular walk encloses the lake where you can see swans, ducks, and fountains with a cafe and restaurant on the far side.
  • Øvre Holmegate (10 minutes) is a picturesque colourful street found on the opposite side of the fish market to the cathedral and lake. This cheerful street, known locally as Fargegata, the street of colours, is full of shops, cafes and bars, a nice place for a pit stop enroute to the
  • Norwegian Petroleum Museum (20 minutes) another surprisingly interesting experience with lots of information on the formation of gas and oil and gas fields and the development of the Norwegian petroleum industry. The oil rig evacuation chute which takes you from the top of the museum to the ground floor is definitely a highlight.
  • Valbergtårnet ( 18 minutes) the Valberg tower is the old watchmans tower, constructed in 1853 as lookout post in order to alert the town when there was a fire. There is a museum on the first floor The tower is 3 storeys high with no lift. It has great views over the harbour and across to your ship although you will barely be any higher than it!
  • Electric e-scooter hire – because the centre of Stavanger is pedestrianised it has a good network of e-scooters for hire. Two companies operate in town, Tier and Voi – you will need to download their apps and set up an account in order to find available scooters so it is worth doing before leaving for your cruise. Check the apps for full pricing info but both have an unlock fee of aprox NK 11 and a NK3 per minute charge. You may be able to buy a day pass, there are also a number of local shops that hire e-bikes. 
Museum Ship MV Rogaland, a beautiful old steamer with a dramatic history.

Stavanger – beyond walking distance

  • HOHO Bus – (8 minutes) this picks up close by the tourist information centre. There are two companies and as usual you can pay on the day or book online in advance. There are 12 stops including Stavanger Cathedral and the Petroleum Museum.The bus runs from 10am to 4pm and there is an audio guide. However, unless you have mobility issues, I feel that Stavanger is not the best place to take a HOHO trip. This is because the centre, the port and the old houses of Gamle Stavanger are all in a pedestrianised area so are not accessible by bus. The route drives way out of town to see the outskirts before bringing you back by the Cathedral and going out to the Petroleum museum. Most people seem disappointed by the ride but if you have mobility issues or want to visit the following it is worth considering;  
  • St Petri Church – church dates from 1863 designed by the architect Conrad Fredrik von der Lippe.
  • Ledaal Royal Residence – a beautiful old house, originally built for a local merchant now functions as a royal summer palace as well as a museum, Nice gardens, historic paintings and furniture
  • Mosvatnet Park – is a beautiful lakeside park in a wealthy residential area. It is a 20 minute walk around the lake – or you can hire a bike.
  • Museum of Art holds a collection of 2000 artworks from the 1800s until present including works Lars Hertervig, a significant Norwegian artist.
  • The Archeology Museum displays items found during local digs.
  • Stavanger Museum has three theme: cultural history, scientific history and a museum for children. 
The HOHO ticket Office and the harbour tour ticket office are this closer to the ship!

Beyond Stavanger – there is lots to see

by public transport if confident, or cruise excursions if not! Boat trips leave  from the dock adjacent to the ship so are not a good option for budget conscious cruisers. Book in advance to be sure of a space but be aware that you won’t be refunded if the ship fails to dock. 

Pulpit rock from sea level… it looks tiny because it is so high!

Preikestolen – The Pulpit Rock is one of the most visited natural tourist spots

in the whole of Norway – a steep cliff rising dramatically, 604 metres (1,982 ft) above Lysefjorden. The top of the rock is a 25m² platform which has stunning views across the fjords to Stavanger and the mountains beyond. A favourite spot for BASE  jumpers and hang gliders as there are no safety barriers at its edge. There are four options to see Preikestolen:

Hengjanefossen waterfalls from a RIB
  • Preikestolen – Pulpit Rock by sea – quickly. A RIB ride from Stranger harbour is great fun. The small size of the Rigid Inflatable Boat means the captain can take you right up to the base of Hengjanefossen waterfalls and into the hidden cove at the Fantahålå or Vagabonds Cave. Not suitable for back problems, pregnancy or wheelchair. Be prepared to get wet although full body waterproofs are provided, definitely take a hat and gloves if chilly! The boats are based on Strandkaien – close to the Maritime Museum – book in advance or check availability on the day. 
  • Preikestolen – Pulpit Rock by air – some cruise lines offer helicopter sightseeing excursions at £200 or so a head. Also from
  • Fjord Cruise there is a great option for a more general cruise with the Ar Erbe Rodne Fjord Cruise, on an environmentally friendly electric boat. Cruise through Lysefjord to the waterfalls, visiting caverns and seeing the Pulpit rock but the silent ship means you can actively look for wildlife – you may see seals or even get the opportunity to feed mountain goats! a 3.5 hour excursion is NOK725 (approx £50), more than half the ‘23 price of the P&O excursion. You can book tickets in advance or dockside, if you have a Wi-Fi package I advise booking the evening before or even as you arrive in port.
  • Sverd i fjell – Swords in Rock – is a much photographed commemorative monument, located in Hafrsfjord on the outskirts of Stavanger. The 10m high sculpture commemorates The Battle of Hafrsfjord when King Harald Fairhair united Norway under one crown for the first time. Oddly the site is not on the HOHO route but it is accessible by public buses routes 6 and 16. A 12 minute ride costs about £3.50 and then a bit of a walk gets you to the monument. A taxi cost about £50 for a return trip. 
Sverd i fjell – Swords in Rock
  • Hafrsfjord is also home to a reconstructed Iron Age farm, Jernaldergarden, not far from the swords monument.

  • The Jaerstrendene conservation area islands is the prefect place to watch wildlife such as seals, porposes, sea eagles and cormorants on a boat trip out from Stavanger  with Rodne Ferries
  • Flor e Fjaerer (Flora and Fauna) is ships excursion by boat to a manmade sub-tropical botanical garden with palms, banana trees and bamboo thriving on Sor Hidle Island on the Gandsfjord – not what you’d expect to see in Norway! Not possible independently so if this sounds your sort of thing we advise booking early as it often sells out.
to really appreciate Stavanger you need to get on the water…

SHOPPING in Stavanger:

Norway is quite expensive but actually Stavanger is one of the most reasonable places to buy souvenirs. Trolls, Runes & other Viking themed items often in wood or pewter, sheepskins & reindeer fur pelts are everywhere ( Warning – the latter look great on a bed but are not meant to be used on a floor. The hair is hollow and they shed if walked on…) .

The tourist stores along the dockside also offer a good range of outdoorwear, knitted jumpers, teeshirts and fleeces which make useful souvenirs.  You will also see some lovely crafts and artwork in Gamle Stavanger and along the front, especially silver jewellery and glass. There is a nice glass studio on Mellomstraeen, close to the canning factory, that has some lovely inexpensive pieces.

A really great place to find contemporary design in clothing and home furnishings is in the Arkaden shopping centre which you will find tucked inauspiciously underneath Starbucks! I particularly like the Illums Bolighus store and the little kitchenware shop on the second floor.

An unusual and lightweight souvenir is 100% wool yarn which is available in a huge range of colours and textures at the many craft shops in the city. 

Inside the Illums Bolighus Store

FOOD & DRINK Stavanger:

again Norway is EXPENSIVE and for that reason we tend not to plan to eat more than snacks when ashore. You might be lucky enough to visit during the Gladmat Festival of Food and Drink – a foodie heaven that takes place over 4 days full of food vans and one-off culinary experiences – in 2023 it starts on June 28th.

At other times we can definitely recommend the excellent fish restaurant in the old fishmarket, Fisketoret Stavanger, particularly the fish soup, and there are loads of bars and restaurants along the harbour front,if you want to take a wander and see what you fancy. The fish market sells local seafood in open sandwiches which are very tasty and we find it hard to pass the waffle shops too! If you want warming up, try a cinnamon roll and hot chocolate, there is a great cafe for these near the Canning Factory.

Brunost – Norwegian Brown Cheese

Foodie souvenirs include dried Reindeer meat, Brunost – a caramelised brown cheese that is almost fudge-like, Kvikk Lunsj – Norwegian hiking chocolate, liquorice, aquavit, cloudberry preserves, tinned meats and sardines and other fish in colourful tins.  

I hope you enjoyed reading this Cruise Port Guide and that it will be useful to you. If we’ve tempted you to visit Stavanger you can search for a cruise here..

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