Stavanger

Stavanger, Norway

Itinerary

We had three full days in Stavanger. The only plans we had when we arrived in Stavanger were to hike Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) and Kjeragbolten.

The order in which we did the hikes didn’t matter but we knew that we would reserve the best weather day for Kjeragbolten. Kjeragbolten is located in a region where the weather can change rapidly and it was triple the drive time to get there and back as compared to Preikestolen.

Our itinerary was as follows:

Arrival day (via Norheimsund): Get acclimated to the lay of the land; drink a few cocktails

Full day 1: Buffer day due to inclement weather; hunkered down in the hotel room and explored the old town during non-rainy periods

Full day 2: Hike Preikestolen

Full day 3: Hike Kjeragbolten

Driving from Norheimsund to Stavanger

It took us six hours to drive from Norheimsund in the Hardangerfjord region to Stavanger. This included a stop for lunch at a “rest area” in a village called Sjurseikje.

The “rest area,” was similar to what you’d find in the US. It had a gas station, giant supermarket, car wash, children’s playground, picnic tables, and a Peppes Pizza.

Our journey began by ferrying across Hardangerfjord via the Jondal-Tørvikbygd ferry. It was the fifth time we’d taken the ferry and I was happy it was the last.

Our drive took us along sections of the Ryfylke Scenic Route. The scenery was varied and the drive was slow and I was only somewhat mentally prepared to be behind the wheel for 5-6 hours.

Five hours into our journey, we arrived at the Mortavika-Arsvågen ferry.

On the day of our journey, the ferry departed Arsvagen every 20 minutes on the xx:10, xx:30, and xx:50.

As luck would have it, we arrived at 2:51pm, just in time to watch it pull away from the dock.

The good news was that we only had to wait 20 minutes for the next ferry and we would be the first vehicle on the ferry which meant we’d be one of the first vehicles off of the ferry in Mortavika.

Boarding the Mortavika-Arsvågen ferry was unorganized and chaotic compared to the Jondal-Tørvikbygd ferry. It was kinda a free for all and since it was our first time on this ferry, we didn’t know the unwritten rules of which lanes to use or not use, there was no one directing traffic, and there were orange construction cones in random places.

Complicating matters further, was that we were the first vehicle to board the ferry so I was leading the charge but I had no idea where to go.

I think I did OK but driving in Norway is such a polite affair that I don’t think anyone would have signaled or told me I did something wrong if I had.

The crossing time for the ferry was 24 minutes which was only four minutes longer than the Jondal ferry but it felt like a lifetime.

Unlike the Jondal ferry, the Mortavika ferry wasn’t electric. It was loud and it rumbled/vibrated the whole journey. The water was choppy at times and I wished I’d taken Dramamine to help with motion sickness.

I was elated when we arrived in Mortavika. From there, we only had 30 more minutes of driving to our hotel in Stavanger. Woo hoo!

Accommodation

We were originally booked to stay at Thon Hotel Stavanger but after our experience at the Thon Hotel Sandven, we decided to change our accommodation at the last minute.

It wasn’t necessarily that the Thon Hotel Sandven experience turned us off from that hotel chain, it was that we’d been staying at Thon hotels for six nights at that point and needed a vibe change.

We canceled our reservation and booked four nights at the Radisson Blu Atlantic Hotel Stavanger. The Radisson was the same price as the Thon Hotel Stavanger but did not include breakfast.

The Radisson was centrally located and was a quiet five-minute stroll to the old town.

The hotel has been renovated to meet the needs of a modern traveler. We were upgraded from a Standard room to a Superior room. The Superior room was slightly bigger and had a view of the lake.

The typical furniture you’d find in a hotel room had been swapped for multi-functional pieces. As an example, the desk had been replaced with a table and seating for two. Bedside tables had been replaced with built-in tables and seating that ran the length of the wall.

There were plenty of charging outlets, both USB and European plugs.

One downside to the modernized outfitting of the room was that there wasn’t a dresser or chest of drawers even though there was plenty of space in the room for one.

We had a ton of hiking and city sightseeing gear and since this was the last segment of our trip, we needed to unload our luggage and get a grip on dirty clothes versus clean clothes and a dresser would have been helpful in that regard.

Instead, we had a dual suitcase explosion with our stuff everywhere.

The bathroom was the most compact of the three hotels we stayed in but it was the most functional, though it did lack counter space and ample towel hooks so that the towels can actually dry out.

It had a walk-in shower with a sliding door that kept the water in the shower and not on the floor by the sink and toilet. I appreciated this since we’d been battling leaky showers for the past week.

Individual toiletries had been replaced by big bottles which I appreciated. Anything to reduce plastic is a good thing.

Housekeeping gets a failing grade for this hotel.

On the first day, housekeeping emptied the garbage and pulled the duvet up and over the mattress, not to be confused with actually making the bed.

They also put another guest’s half-used individual toiletries from other hotels on the counter in the bathroom.

When we returned to the room and saw the state of it, my first thought was that another guest had entered our room. It made me think twice about the security of the hotel and everything of value went into the safe at that point.

We gave housekeeping a second try the following day and it was another failure. And that was it for us and housekeeping – maybe that was their ultimate goal? To clean as few rooms as possible and to achieve that, do a subpar job so that guests decide against housekeeping services?

The breakfast (not included with our stay) gets a low grade. Upon first glance, it looked like a big spread of food but when I got into it, there wasn’t much to choose from.

There was a dutch oven of scrambled eggs that was more of a soup consistency than scrambled egg consistency. There was a plate of fried eggs that were shaped in perfect circles (like McDonald’s) and looked like plastic. They also tasted like plastic.

All of the hot foods were either ambient temperature or cold. The breakfast was a bummer it was the only option on the days we hiked because nothing else in the city was open at that time of day.

The Superior room (not including breakfast) gets a rating of 8/10.

Driving and parking in Stavanger

Stavanger is smaller than Bergen but driving in and out of Stavanger was more hectic than driving in and out of Bergen. There are a lot of multi-lane roundabouts in Stavanger which caught me off guard.

The bulk of my roundabout driving experience has been in the UK where we drive on the left and go clockwise in the roundabout and so when I’m faced with roundabouts where the direction of travel is counterclockwise, my mind goes haywire. And multi-lane roundabouts are always confusing, no matter the direction.

Needless to say, getting to the hotel the first time was a little nerve-racking, especially after five hours of driving.

The hotel does not have a private parking garage but there is a public parking garage directly behind the hotel and we parked there.

One design flaw of the hotel is that there are no doors on the parking garage side of the hotel and because the hotel is situated on a hill, getting from the parking garage to the hotel’s entrance means you have to maneuver your luggage down ~4 flights of stairs.

Every parking garage and lot in Norway had its quirks.

The parking garage in Stavanger scanned the license plate upon entry. Prior to exiting, we paid at the pay machine which was located in the vestibule near the elevators. Upon exiting, the license plate was scanned again and the barrier arm lifted when the payment was confirmed.

Protip: Take a photo of your license plate number because it needs to be entered when paying.

We paid 938 NOK for parking during our four-night stay in Stavanger (480 for the first exit, 240 for the second exit, and 218 for the third exit).

Note: The current exchange rate between NOK and USD is about 10:1, so, 938 NOK is about $93 USD.

Protip: It is a known perk with this parking garage that the system does not recognize non-Norway license plates so cars with non-Norway license plates park for free! We saw this happen twice!

Stavanger old town

Stavanger old town is cute but it’s also a cruise ship port so when the ship comes to port, the town floods with people.

Some of the cruise ships that docked when we were there towered over the old town.

Similar to Bergen, Stavanger had a fishing village vibe with wooden houses and cobblestone alleys.

The old town is compact and can be explored in a couple of hours. Walking from one end to the other takes less than 10 minutes.

The main drag, Øvre Holmegate, is a pedestrian-only street and is lined with bars and restaurants that are brightly painted.

With the exception of one dining experience at a restaurant in the old town, all of our dining and drinking experiences in Stavanger were great. The food in Stavanger, both in variety and quality, was better than it was in Bergen. For that reason alone, I’d recommend visiting Stavanger over Bergen.

As is typically the case with tourist destinations, if you walk slightly outside of the tourist zone, you’ll usually find better quality restaurants and that was the case with Stavanger.

Dinner on our first night brought us to Pedersgata (street). We referred to this street as “Restaurant Row.” It begins here and extends east for several blocks. It’s where I would recommend going for dinner.

Overall, we enjoyed Stavanger and I’d consider visiting again, like if we were out of ideas of places to visit for a long weekend.

Stavanger area hiking

As mentioned above, we hiked Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) and Kjeragbolten during our stay in Stavanger. I wrote about these hikes in individual posts.

What we’d do differently

What would we do differently if we were to do our stay in Stavanger over again?

Well, we added in a buffer day to every segment of our vacation, primarily for inclement weather but also so that we had flexibility if we found additional things we wanted to do or see.

Our buffer day in Stavanger was a loss of a day but that was the intent of our buffer days.

First, it rained all day. Second, it fell on a Sunday when all stores were closed (exception: a few supermarkets) and only a handful of restaurants were open.

As it pertained to our multi-day itinerary, we would not do anything differently with our stay in Stavanger. Hiking Preikestolen and Kjeragbolten were must-dos for us and one way to increase our chances of hiking both was to have an inclement weather buffer day.

If we were doing Stavanger as a city break over a weekend with the intent to hike Preikestolen and Kjeragbolten, we would still stay four nights, allowing for three full days, one of which being a buffer day.

Eat and drink recommendations

Here are a few recommendations for Stavanger.

Protip: Venture 5 minutes out of the old town to Pedersgata (street) for a vast selection of restaurants that are better quality and better value for money. We referred to this street as “Restaurant Row.” It begins here and extends east for several blocks.

Business nameTypeNotes
Bøker og Børst
(Books and Booze)
Coffee, beer/cocktail barExtensive selection of beer
Bacchus CafeRestaurant
Mano PizzaRestaurant
Meze RestaurantRestaurant
Pasha RestaurantRestaurant
Norvald VinbarWine bar
BardelloCocktail barExtensive cocktail list
Pjolter & PunsjCocktail barLimited cocktail list, cocktails are mostly aquavit-based

Next: our hike to Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen).

0 comments on “Stavanger, Norway

What's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.