The city of Stavanger is located on the Stavanger Peninsula in Southwest Norway, unlike much of Northern Norway, the coastal landscape is quite low lying with plenty of interesting inlets, five lakes (including Breiavatnet, Stora Stokkavatnet, and Mosvatnet) and three fjords (Hafrsfjorden, Byfjorden, and Gandsfjorden). The city includes many islands off the coast including: Bjørnøy, Buøy, Engøy, Grasholmen, Hellesøy, Hundvåg, Kalvøy, Lindøy, Sølyst, Vassøy and part of the island of Åmøy.
Stavanger is the third largest city and metropolitan area in Norway and fourth largest by population. There has been human settlement for at least 10,000 years ago, but the city grew as a trading and military centre in the 9th and 10th centuries. Stavanger grew into an important centre of church administration with the construction of Stavanger Cathedral which was finished around 1125, and the city of Stavanger counts 1125 as its year of foundation.
Over the centuries, Stavanger was known for its herring fisheries, shipping, shipbuilding and fish canning industry. In the late 1960s, oil was first discovered in the North Sea and Stavanger became the centre for the oil industry on the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.
Cruise ships tend to dock in the main harbour and it is a short walk into the main city centre. From the ship it is easy to see the large number of 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses that are an important part of the city’s cultural heritage. From the city centre, there are a series of bridges that take traffic onto the various islands and beyond onto the Norwegian mainland.
Walking along the side of the harbour, we were interested by the sight of a Dutch patrol vessel and submarine lying across the water. Part of the attraction of smallish Norwegian cities is that are often located in wonderful scenery and Stavanger is attractive in many ways.
At the end of the harbour is a plaza on the hill is Stavanger cathedral which dominates the skyline, Mrs Nice is particularly fond of churches and cathedrals and we made our way to the front door.
Stavanger is one of Norway’s oldest cities and the Cathedral is a reminder of how the church transformed the traditional Viking Norse society from its old beliefs. Although the Cathedral has been reconstructed many times, it has been the focus of the city that developed over the centuries and Stavanger reputation was built as a church city and a education base throughout the Middle Ages.
Near the Cathedral is the Breiavatnet lake with plenty of birdlife and a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by, in one corner of the lake is a romantic location with a tree full of red hearts. Although we were not sure what the point of the hearts were, they created a lovely effect.
Walking along the harbour we came across the Valberg Tower which is watchtower and museum perched on a hill, it was quickly being filled by schoolchildren so we decided to press on around a small peninsula.
We found ourselves at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum and a large ecopark made out of a number of bits and pieces used in the oil industry. The brightly coloured park was very unusual and full of strange attractions like a large number of red rubber balls and numerous pipes.
Nearby was a shopping full of independent shops, the area near Ovre Holmgate had bright multicoloured shops which brightened up the greying skies. To anyone new to Norway, there are plenty of interesting shops but the prices tend to take you by surprise. Many Norwegian places like Stavanger feature on the most expensive cities in the world lists.
Stavanger is a popular tourist destination, especially in summer and you can see why, there are several parks and green spaces in the city and beyond. Stavanger is also a popular base for tours to Lysefjorden which is particularly popular for hiking and Instagram favourite Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock) which is and a massive rock overhanging the fjord.
It is only in recent years that Stavanger has also become a popular port of call for cruise ships, each year over 100 cruise ships visit Stavanger with over 175,000 passengers.
One of the positives of cruising is that you will visit places that you would probably overlook if travelling by other modes of transport. Stavanger is unlikely to be on many people’s bucket list but the reality is that the city is attractive, interesting, full of history and not overly dependent on tourism which usually means that the locals are friendly and happy to have a chat. Norway because of its high costs is difficult to travel around on a budget, but a cruise reduces cost considerably and allows you more money to buy those well made but expensive Norwegian gifts.
Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.
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