Stavanger Waterfront View, Norway

Stavanger Cruise Port: DIY Guide For Your Amazing Fjord Day

Arriving at Stavanger cruise port,ย you’re greeted by the stunning Norwegian fjords and a vibrant city ready to be explored.This comprehensive DIY guide has everything you need for the perfect day in Stavanger: directions to the iconic Three Swords monument and a map listing the top things to do in this charming port town.ย I’ll also list DIY excursions to the breathtaking Lysefjord and the legendary Pulpit Rock.ย Let’s dive in and make the most of your time in this fjord-filled paradise!

Stavanger is considered one of Norway’s oldest cities, officially founded in 1125 with the completion of Stavanger Cathedral. Stavanger continued to flourish, as a trade centre during the Middle Ages, and a shipbuilding centre in the 15th century. Since the discovery of oil in the North Sea in the 1960s, Stavanger has transformed into the centre of Norway’s oil industry.

But to cruisers, Stavanger is the gateway to Lysefjord and the Pulpit Rock. Together, they are one of Norway’s most popular attractions, visited by over 300,000 visitors a year.

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Stavanger Cruise Port: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž (Easy Peasy)

Planning a DIY excursion at Stavanger cruise port? Here’s why I rate a DIY excursion at Stavanger ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž (Easy Peasy):

  • City Centre Just Beyond the Gangway: The cruise pier is literally a stone’s throw from the city centre, meaning you can stroll to major attractions like the Old Town, the colourful ร˜vre Holmegate, and various museums within 15 minutes. It’s so close you can head back to the ship for lunch!
  • Fjord Adventures Made Simple: Fjord cruises and thrilling RIB boat rides depart from the harbour right next to the cruise terminal, making it effortless to plan your independent excursion to suit your day. No need for complicated transfers or long bus rides.
  • Options for a Rainy Day: Norwegian coastal weather is famously unpredictable but don’t despair, there’s loads of indoor options easily accessible within walking distance for cruisers.

If you’re hoping to do the Pulpit Rock hike, then my recommendation is to book a guided hike through your cruise line, as timing will be very tight!

Stavanger Cruise Port Essentials: All You Need To Know

  • Stavanger Cruise Port Schedule: – despite Stavanger being a relatively small port, note that there can be up to 3 ships at Stavanger during the summer.
  • Stavanger Cruise Port Address: Nedre Strandgate, 4005 Stavanger, Norway – see it marked on my Stavanger cruise port map below ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ‘‡
  • Currency: Norwegian Kroner (NOK), June 2024: US $1 = 10.50 NOK, GBP ยฃ1 = 13 NOK, CAD $1 = ~8 NOK, AUD $1 = ~7 NOK
  • ๐Ÿ’ถ Cash or ๐Ÿ’ณ Card: Norway is mostly cashless! Many shops donโ€™t accept cash and if they do, they may not have change to give back to you. So save yourself the hassle and forget about withdrawing NOK at an ATM. Itโ€™s perfectly acceptable to pay by card, even for a cup of coffee! Visa/Mastercard cards, with Amex rarely accepted.
  • Language: Norwegian, with English widely spoken in almost all businesses who works with tourists
  • Official tourism website: FjordNorway
  • Recommended Transport App: Use Google Maps to navigate around town and for walking directions
  • eSIM for roaming in Norway: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSim data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid plan when youโ€™re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you useย ROXANN1666ย when you sign up or apply it at checkout

Stavanger Cruise Port Map

  • My Stavanger Cruise Port Map: ๐Ÿ‘‡ If the map is not loading correctly, click here to see it directly on Google Maps.
    • On Desktop? Use buttons on bottom left to zoom in/out. Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version.
    • On Tablet | Mobile? Pinch your screen to zoom in/out and use two fingers to move map around. If you have Google Maps installed on your tablet/mobile, my map will open in your app if you click on the upper right hand corner.

Top Things to Do in Stavanger Cruise Port

While Stavanger’s charming streets and museums have their appeal, the true magic lies beyond the city limits. Don’t miss the chance to experience the breathtaking Lysefjord during your cruise port day! If you’re not interested in visiting Lysefjord, then skip straight to my suggestions in Stavanger town itself.

1. Fjord Cruise to Lysefjord

View of Whisky Falls in Lysefjord from cruise boat

Lysefjord translates to “Light Fjord,” named for the light-coloured granite cliffs. Lysefjord is a geological masterpiece, carved by glaciers over millennia. Towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and the iconic Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) create a landscape that will leave you in awe!

Pulpit Rock’s almost perfectly square shape, towering 604 meters (1982 feet) above the fjord, makes it a truly unique geological formation. Pulpit Rock has always been famous but ever since Tom Cruise decided that he wanted to dangle off its edge in Mission Impossible: Fallout (aka Mission Impossible VI), Pulpit Rock seems to have reached iconic status!

The view of Pulpit Rock will of course be different from sea level but you’ll also be able to see the Hengjanefossen waterfall (aka Whisky Falls) – one of the tallest in Norway.

It was the first time I have been on an electric catamaran! And it’s very very quiet, similar to the “no engine noise” you experience with an electric car.

  • Fjord Cruise Boarding Point: The fjord cruise leaves 3 minutes walk from the cruise terminal, with a sign saying “Rรธdne Fjord Cruise” – see it marked on my map  ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ‘†
  • Cruise Length: 3.5 hours. I did the 10am departure and returned to port on time at 1:30pm.
  • Tickets: 895 NOK for adults, 450 NOK for kids 4-15. Pre-booking is a must – this cruise does run multiple times a day but due to typical cruise port schedules, only the 10am & 12 noon cruises will get you back to the ship on time, hence the need to pre-book if you want a guaranteed seat. If you want to play it by ear, the RIB boat ride is less likely to sell out due to its more adventurous nature, shorter rides and more frequent departures.
  • What to Bring:
    • Dress for Wind: I was surprised just how windy it got on a June day as we head out to the fjords! While the electric catamaran has a downstairs indoor section which will shelter you from the elements, the best views are on the upper decks! So dress in layers, preferably with a jumper or fleece underneath a windproof jacket.
    • Keep Warm: Bring a warm hat and gloves, if you wish to sit outside, even during summer – your warm ears and hands will thank you!
    • Water and Snacks (or purchase onboard): Bring a water bottle or snacks if you like. Hot drinks and snacks are also available to purchase onboard. There’s toilets onboard.
  • Tip: If weather is fantastic, everyone would love to sit outside! Start queuing by the boat by around 9:30am to grab yourself an outside seat on the top deck of the catamaran.

2. RIB Boat Ride to Lysefjord

View of Lysefjord Bridge, Stavanger, Norway
Lysefjord Bridge

If you’ve never been on a RIB boat, it stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat. They are high-speed inflatable crafts with a solid hull and inflatable tubes around the sides. This design makes them incredibly stable, maneuverable, and able to handle rougher waters. RIB boats are smaller than traditional tour boats, allowing them to access narrower passages and get closer to the fjord walls and waterfalls.

That’s why there’s RIB boat rides in all of Norway’s fjord ports – Stavanger, Olden, Hellesylt, Haugesund. So why do one in Stavanger?

The combination of steep cliffs, abundant precipitation and the remnants of glacial activity create the perfect conditions for the dramatic waterfalls around the Lysefjord landscape. Also, because you’re heading to Lysefjord and Pulpit Rock, it’s probably the longest RIB boat rides (distance-wise) out of the cruise ports I listed above. You’ll also make a very sharp turn before zooming under the Lysefjord bridge as the RIB boat enters Lysefjord itself. Altogether, it was a really thrilling RIB boat ride!

There’s two companies operating RIB rides out of Stavanger cruise port and if you book through your cruise line, the chances are, it’s one of these two operators – both tours last about 2 hours and will return you back to the starting point, a few minutes walk from the cruise terminal. All equipment, including a dry suit and goggles are provided, so you won’t get wet! As far as I can tell, the two operators offer comparable experiences, so if one is booked out, check the other.

3. Stroll through Stavanger’s Old Town

Aerial view of white houses in Gamle Stavanger, Stavanger Old Town, Norway
Image by Jan G. Gundersen from Pixabay

The area around Stavanger was settled as early as the last Ice Age and by the 12th century, Stavanger has become a bustling market town. Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) is the oldest part of Stavanger, with many of the white wooden houses dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

Originally, this area was home to fishermen and labourers. That’s why the houses were simple and functional, built close together to conserve space. The narrow streets, quaint houses and picturesque gardens are fun to walk through!

June 2024: Note that Stavanger Cathedral is currently closed for renovations.

4. Go Back in Time as a Viking

If you’re looking for an immersive experience in Stavanger, the Viking VR experience at Viking House is a must-try. Climb onboard a virtual Viking ship! You’ll then witness epic battles, explore ancient settlements and learn about the daily lives of Vikings in the Stavanger region. The VR experience itself takes about 20 minutes but note that this is not a Viking Museum!

  • How To Get There: Walk towards the city centre from the cruise terminal and it’s opposite the tourism office, a few minutes away
  • Opening Hours: Open on days when cruise ships dock in Stavanger cruise terminal
  • Tickets: 175 NOK adults & kids. If you’d like to do this experience, pop in and reserve your spot early in the morning. When I walked in at 1:30pm, all the slots were sold out except the 3:30pm or later slot.

5. Enjoy Stavanger’s Museums

Stavanger’s weather is famously unpredictable! So if your port day weather isn’t cooperating with your outdoor fjord adventure plans, fear not! Stavanger has 4 museums that offer a delightful escape from the rain. If I had to pick just one to recommend, it’s probably the Norwegian Petroleum Museum.

(a) Norwegian Petroleum Museum

The story of Stavanger’s oil discovery is a remarkable tale of chance, perseverance and technological innovation. Oil exploration in the North Sea began in the late 1950s but initial efforts yielded little success. The breakthrough came in 1969, when oil was discovered in Ekofisk, 320 km (200 miles), southwest of Stavanger.

Stavanger, once a quiet fishing town, quickly became the operational hub for the burgeoning oil industry. Norway pioneered innovative offshore drilling and production technologies to overcome the challenges of extracting oil in the harsh North Sea environment.

The Norwegian Petroleum Museum covers this history very well, with interactive exhibits about the science behind oil formation and the technology of offshore drilling.

  • How to Get There: 15 minutes walk from Stavanger cruise terminal
  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 7pm from 1 June to 31 August. 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm Sunday from 1 September to 31 May.
  • Tickets: 180 NOK adults, 90 NOK students and 60 NOK for kids aged 4-16

Tip: On your way to the Petroleum Museum, walk through ร˜vre Holmegate (marked on my map above). This is literally the “Colourful Street”. Perfect for selfies!

ร˜vre Holmegate, the Colourful Street, in Stavanger, Norway
ร˜vre Holmegate, Stavanger

(b) Stavanger Maritime Museum

Housed in beautifully preserved 18th century building on the waterfront, a few minutes walk from the cruise terminal, the museum delve into Stavanger’s maritime past.

The main exhibition delves into the lives of sailors, merchants and shipbuilders who shaped Stavanger’s maritime identity. There’s also a kids-friendly “Working at the Docks” exhibition, about what it’s like to work in Stavanger’s harbour in the 1950s. There’s meticulously reconstructed interiors with a comprehensive collection of detailed ship models and nautical artefacts.

  • How to Get There: Less than 5 minutes walk from Stavanger cruise terminal
  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am – 4pm, from April to mid-September. Winter hours: closed Mondays, 11am – 4pm Tuesday to Sunday
  • Tickets: 140 NOK adults, 110 NOK seniors, students and kids under 18 are free – keep your ticket as you can also enter the Stavanger City Museum & Canning Museum for free on the same day.

(c) Norwegian Canning Museum

This museum is a quirky look at Stavanger’s once booming sardine industry! Housed in a former canning factory in the heart of Old Stavanger, the museums follow the journey of sardines from the sea to the can, from salting and smoking to packing and labelling.

There’s well-preserved vintage machinery used in the canning process on display, including intricate labelling machines and massive ovens for smoking the fish! On selected days, there’s also freshly smoked sardines straight from the old cannery’s ovens to be sampled.

  • How to Get There: A few minutes walk from Stavanger cruise terminal
  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am – 4pm, from April to mid-September. Winter hours: closed Mondays, 11am – 4pm Tuesday to Sunday
  • Tickets: 140 NOK adults, 110 NOK seniors, students and kids under 18 are free. Free if you’ve already purchased a ticket to Stavanger Maritime Museum

(d) Stavanger Museum

Stavanger Museum houses a diverse collection of exhibits showcasing the region’s natural and cultural heritage. It’s about a 15-minute walk away and I would make this the last museum on your list and only visit if you still have time.

6. Three Swords aka Sword in Rock Monument

Sword in Rock monument in Hafrsfjord, near Stavanger Norway
Image by MARIE SCHNEIDER from Pixabay

Just outside of Stavanger, on the shores of Hafrsfjord, stands the imposing Swords in Rock monument. This iconic sculpture commemorates the legendary Battle of Hafrsfjord, fought in 872, where Harald Fairhair (Harald I) emerged victorious, uniting Norway until one crown. If your cruise is heading to Haugesund, then you’ll also get to visit Haraldshaugen, which marks the millennium celebration of this battle, in 1872.

The three bronze swords stand 10 metres (33 feet) tall and are firmly planted into the rock of a small hill next to Hafrsfjord. The three giant swords symbolise peace, unity and freedom, with the largest sword representing Harald himself and the smaller swords representing the defeated kings.

There are well-maintained trails around the monument that offer beautiful views of the fjords. The full length is nearly 9km (~5.5 miles), but you can just walk along the waterfront promenade area for a short stroll if you like. You can also take a dip at Mรธllebukta Beach, a few minutes walk from the monument.

  • How to Get There:
    • Walk to Bus Stop: From Stavanger cruise pier, walk around 10 minutes towards the city centre to bus stop called Olav Vs gate – this is marked on my map above  ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ‘†
    • Bus #16 starts from this bus stop,. Catch the bus to “Mรธllebukta” stop and the monument is right in front of you.
    • Bus Timetables: Download the PDF Timetable here, or you can use Google Maps for live bus departure times. It’s roughly every 30 minutes.
    • Tickets: 45 NOK adults, 23 NOK for kids, students and seniors – note that tickets cost 20 NOK extra if you pay onboard and only cash is accepted. The easiest way to buy a ticket is to download the Kolumbus Local Bus App and buy tickets from there. Otherwise, walk towards the end of Olav Vs gate street and you’ll see a local bus service centre where you can buy a physical bus ticket.
  • Tip: If you’d like to make a half-day excursion out of this, there’s also a supermarket where the bus stop is. Swing by and pick up snacks and drinks for a picnic. There isn’t much out at the monument – only a WC!

7. Stavanger Cruise Port to Hike Up to Pulpit Rock

Aerial view with hikers at top of Pulpit Rock, Lysefjord in Norway
Image by Geir Ormseth from Pixabay

Pulpit Rock, or Preikestolen in Norwegian, is a massive, flat-topped cliff that dramatically juts out over Lysefjord in Norway. It’s been used enough in fjord tourism pics that you’ll sure to know it! The cliff’s almost perfectly square shape, towering over 600m (~2,000 feet) above the fjord, makes it a truly unique geological formation. It’s definitely a very different view of the fjords than seeing it at water level from a fjord cruise!

Hike: Reaching Pulpit Rock involves a moderate hike of about 4 km (~2.5 miles) each way, with about 350 metres (~1,150 feet) in elevation). The trail is extremely well-maintained as over 300,000 hikers visit Pulpit Rock each year. This hike is definitely not good for those with a fear of heights!

Book with Cruise Line: If you’d like to do this hike, book a guided hiking tour with your cruise line, especially if your ship is scheduled at Stavanger for less than 9 hours. From Stavanger, it takes about 50 minutes’ drive to reach the trailhead, incidentally passing through the world’s longest undersea road tunnel, Ryfylke Tunnelen. The hike takes on average 2.5 hours and assuming that you’ll like some time at Pulpit Rock to enjoy the views (or simply to catch your breath!), the entire trip will take around 8 hours. It’s a little too close for my liking to do this trip independently.

(Most cruise lines will dock in Stavanger from around 8:30am – 9am till about 4:30pm – 5pm. This is because the Stavanger cruise pier is so close to residential areas and local restrictions want to minimise disruption to residents).

Alternatively, if you’ve stumbled across this blog post and you’re staying in Stavanger overnight, then here’s a guided small group hike with pickup from Stavanger and surrounding areas. The DIY alternative, if you’re a very experienced hiker and want to do this alone, is to catch a bus from Stavanger Bus Station to the trailhead. It’s such a popular route that pre-bookings on the bus is needed.

Featured Image by Thomas Wolter from Pixabay

Your DIY Stavanger adventure awaits! Whether you choose to explore the city’s charming streets, embark on a fjord cruise, or delve into its fascinating museums, I hope this guide has equipped you with the information to create your own unforgettable port day in Stavanger. 

Remember, the best experiences are often the ones you discover yourself. Safe travels, and if you found this guide helpful, please share it with fellow cruisers your cruise roll-call groups, who might be planning their own DIY adventure in Norway!

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