Norway, Stavanger: oil, canned goods and street art

Norway, Stavanger: oil, canned goods and street art

Breathing in the clean air of Stavanger, it’s hard to imagine that this is the industrial center, the oil capital of Norway. The black gold deposits at the bottom of the North Sea were discovered only 50 years ago. Before that time, the welfare of the country as a whole and all its citizens depended solely on fishermen. Today Norway is one of the leaders in terms of standard of living. Although the government is not in a hurry to luxuriate in oil money, justly believing that someday this source will dry up, and sends them to the state pension fund, also called the Future Generations Fund. The value of the assets of this financial institution is now estimated at about a trillion dollars, and in the local Museum of Oil is a running counter that shows the current balance, based on daily production and the price per barrel.

To see what Stavanger looked like and what life was like in the pre-Oil era, you have to walk from the waterfront up the lanes. White houses with colorful doors, cobblestone sidewalk, and not a soul around. Stavanger has always been a wealthy city. This is evidenced by the color of the wooden walls: in the past, only the rich could afford to paint their house white.

Norway, Stavanger: Oil, Canned Food & Street Art - Photo 2

Norway, Stavanger: oil, canned goods and street art

In the pre-Oil era, canned fish was the main source of income for the inhabitants of Stavanger. The North Sea sardines were particularly famous – the fish was caught in the fjords, smoked, dipped in olive oil and canned. You can learn all about the production process, from the initial processing to the ergonomic packing in tins, in great detail at the local Canning Museum.

Even if you’ve never dreamed of being a geologist, you should allow at least an hour and a half for the local Oil Museum. That’s just enough time to watch a movie about where in the bowels of the earth black gold comes from, study models of the most modern oil platforms, visit the cabin of a drilling rig operator and even try on the suit of an oil producer. Most exhibits are interactive, so feel free to pull the levers and press the buttons.

Norway, Stavanger: Oil, Canned Food and Street Art - Photo 3

Norway, Stavanger: oil, canned goods and street art

The center only looks sleepy and provincial at first glance. In fact, it’s a vibrant, contemporary art-filled city. Rims of houses and fences, ventilation pipes and bridge abutments are painted here by world-class street artists. Walking around, one often comes across a transformer box painted to resemble a high-rise building (the work of Evol, a German), then matrioshkas with Asian faces (the work of Hush, a Brit), then bright abstractions painted over black-and-white stencils by the famous Norwegian artist Martin Watson.

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Some of these creations disappear quickly, while others remain in place for years. The city of Stavanger encourages and welcomes street art in every way. Every year in September, the Nuart festival is held, after which the walls are covered with new artwork. Street art flourishes on vre Holmegate, where houses are painted pink, turquoise, lilac and lettuce and there are cosy bars and coffee shops behind every door. Particularly popular is the Bker og Brst library bar, where you can wrap yourself in a plaid, read, and play backgammon. From time to time, parties are held in the backyard.

Norway, Stavanger: Oil, Canned Food, and Street Art - Photo 4

Norway, Stavanger: oil, canned goods and street art

From Stavanger to the pier, where the ferry that takes tourists on the Lyse-fjord starts, you can get there both by land and by sea. You can’t see all the beauty of Lysefjord from the water. To check in at Prekestulen, a mountain plateau called “Preacher’s pulpit”. , a flat monolith overhanging the fjord, or take a picture against Kjoragbolton (stone-corn), you have to go on an eight-kilometer hike. But on the ferry you can go right up to the stone wall, where the usual mailbox is bolted to the rock. It is said that the lucky ones will also catch the letter carrier coming by boat to collect letters from it.

Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger is the most contrasting and unusual city in Norway. It is located on a peninsula in the west of the country and is the fourth largest Norwegian city. But it became big relatively recently – in the middle of XX century, when there was an event that radically changed the fate of the city and Norway as a whole. The history of the city is revealed through its sights: from the oldest cathedral in the country to the oil museum. What to see during your visit is in this post.

A brief history

For most of its history, Stavanger was a small fishing town. The fishing industry reached its peak in the early 19th century, with the construction of fish processing and canning plants going on apace. But the heyday did not last long – soon the herring left the coast, businesses closed, and the town sank into stagnation.

Everything changed in 1969, when oil was found in the North Sea. This was a turning point in the history of Norway, which overnight turned from a poor country into one of the richest in the world, managing to make good use of the resource. The most contrasting changes were in Stavanger, because the first source of oil was located near its shores, and the city was chosen as the new center of the oil industry. American and other international companies interested in oil production and refining came to Norway.

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The companies needed modern business centers, which began to be actively built in the 1970s, mainly around the main park – Bypark and on the waterfront. Overnight, the city was transformed, and concrete and glass buildings grew over small wooden houses. Its status as the capital of the oil industry provided the impetus for further development: more housing for workers, entertainment centers, stores, cafes and cultural institutions appeared. From a small town dependent on herring production, it became one of the richest cities in Europe.

Despite the many changes, the historic center and important architectural monuments have been preserved here. At the same time, residential complexes and offices with bold architectural designs continue to be built in the center, and interesting art objects and street art appear.

Over time, the centers of oil production have moved to other regions, and Stavanger’s development has slowed down again. Despite this, here is one of the best universities in Norway, where many international students study, the city has become a cultural capital and a point of attraction for tourists on their way to the Luce Fjords.


Stavanger Cathedral

Stavanger is home to Norway’s oldest cathedral, founded in 1100. You can trace the influence of England in the architecture, and indeed, the English were involved in the construction. The cathedral combines Romanesque and Gothic styles.

Old Town

Gamle Stavanger is the coziest and most picturesque area of the city. It’s hard to guess now that it was a poor neighborhood where fishermen lived. Most of the houses are painted white, but white paint was expensive, so it was only used for facades, everything else was painted with cheaper red paint.

The neighborhood is well preserved, despite the fact that all the buildings are wooden and there were frequent fires in the city. Moreover, after the war the authorities wanted to demolish it, as they didn’t see any historical or cultural value, but this decision was avoided.

The area remains residential and the crowds of tourists seem to often disturb the peace of the residents, so there are notices on many of the houses asking people not to enter private property and not to peek in the windows.

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The residents pay a lot of attention to the gardens and grounds, which makes the place very green and cozy. This is partly due to the annual contest for the most beautiful garden, in which residents participate.

Oil Museum

In a city that owes so much to oil, you couldn’t help but have a museum dedicated to it. Its construction resembles an oil platform, and inside tells in detail about the history and peculiarities of the oil industry in Norway. Since it once changed the course of the country’s history and Stavanger in particular, it might be interesting to learn about the search for oil, its refining, use and why, it is such an important area of Norwegian industry. The exhibit consists of interactive elements, mock-ups of machinery and a movie room with documentaries in Norwegian and English. There is a small brochure with general information in Russian. The price of admission is 150 NOK, and there are benefits.

At the museum on the pier there was a playground made of parts that resemble parts of oil platforms and refineries.

Canning Museum

Another unusual museum is the canning museum in Old Town. The peak of the fishing industry was inextricably linked to the production of canned goods as well. The museum is located in a former factory, where old machines and ovens have been preserved. Thanks to this, you can trace the entire process of making canned food, and at the end you can buy the products that the factory produces to this day. Surprisingly, here you can order a tour in Russian or use the Russian-language brochure. The museum is closed for renovation until November 2020, admission usually costs 95 NOK, there are concessions.

Colorful Street

Most of the wooden houses in Stavanger are white, but the owner of one barbershop decided to paint the facade a bright color to attract attention. At first there was an outcry, but gradually his idea was picked up by the neighboring establishments, and now the entire street is made up of brightly colored buildings and has become a landmark in its own right.


The waterfront is Stavanger’s most beautiful place. Most cafes are now concentrated here, there is a promenade area and ferries to the fjords depart from here. It’s hard to imagine that it was once a place for unloading ships, and instead of today’s buildings there were warehouses.

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Cruises to the fjords depart from Vaughan Harbor, the most popular of which is Luce Fjord with Prekestulen. There are also boat trips from here to the Flor og Fjære flower park. This is a small botanical garden on the island with tropical plants and picturesque views.

Read also: Southern Norway – a ready-made itinerary.

St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter’s Church was built in the nineteenth century of red brick in the typical Norwegian style. It is in an interesting area with ethnic establishments and unusual buildings built in a modern style.

Wallberg Tower

Although Wallberg Tower looks more like a defensive structure, it was built and functioned as a fire tower for a long time. From here you can also see the view of the city.

Three Swords

In the distance from the city there is another famous attraction, the Three Swords. Three swords stuck in the stone remind of the battle of Hawrsfjord in 872, where Harald the Fair-haired defeated the konungs. This victory is considered the beginning of the unification of Norway. The battle took place right there.

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Find the cheapest tickets on the low price calendar.

Find a tour of the fjords from Stavanger or a walk around the city with a local guide on Get your guide (tours and excursions mostly in English).

Modern architecture

Excellent examples of modern architecture can be found in the center as well as on the outskirts. It’s difficult to judge whether it fits well because of the original mix of different styles and eras in the city.


Stavanger is surrounded by fjords and scenic vistas, and it’s common to come here to then continue on to the natural attractions. But the city itself is also worth a visit, and worth a stay of at least one day.


The most popular places around Stavanger are Lyse Fjord, namely Prekestulen and Kjerag Baalten. You can get to them by car or with a special tour. Please note that you have to walk a long way up the mountains to get to the points themselves.

It is best to visit the fjords with a professional guide as part of the tour:


Stavanger is also visited for the beaches. Although the water rarely warms up, the beaches themselves are worth a visit, the best ones being: Bure, Revtangen, Helleste.

Utstein Monastery

Medieval monastery from the 13th century, the best preserved in Norway. Before the Reformation the monastery belonged to the Augustinians, and then it became the property of the aristocracy. The monastery is in a beautiful place, so it’s worth a trip to enjoy the medieval architecture, landscape and history. There is the deepest underwater tunnel to the island, and you can get there by car.

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Kongeparken is a large amusement park and water park. It is often called the Norwegian Disneyland.

Where to eat

Most cafes and restaurants are on the waterfront and around the colorful street. Traditional Norwegian food, especially in this city by the sea, can be tried in fish restaurants like Fisketorget. The cheapest options are ethnic cuisine (Gadja, Far East) and street food (Dognvill Burger).

Where to stay

Since hotels in Norway are quite expensive and the price range is generally small, it turns out that the best hotels are the best value for money. They are right in the center, they usually include breakfast and they have spacious rooms: Scandic, Thon, Radisson. If you book a room for two and with breakfast included, these hotels are not much more expensive than budget options.

Inexpensive options in Stavanger include the Beds of Stavanger hostel – it’s better value if you’re traveling alone.

The best lodging options are best found on Hotellook.

How to get there

You can get to Stavanger by train from Oslo or Kristiansand. Look for tickets on the website:

By car you can get here from Oslo, Bergen or Kristiansand.

There are no direct flights from Russia, but you can fly here with a connection. From Sola Airport to the city can be reached by bus Flubussen.


On the map there are all the places mentioned in this post.

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