Stavanger is located on the west coast of Norway, where the rough sea meets the green peninsula with mountains all around. In the business hours the local residents, called “siddiser”, are rushing around with a rather stressed attitude, while in their time off they are friendly and open-minded.
If you look over the people you can see a small city centre, where you can walk from one side to another in 20 minutes. In the city centre the large cathedral, called Domkirken, has been there since the 12th Century.
There is a marine harbour, Vågen, an old part with small white houses and gardens called Gamle Stavanger, and the colourful street, Den fargerike gaten, is a focal point.
There are also a significant number of shops and restaurants. This is pretty much the size of the city centre. Stavanger has changed over the last 50 years, from a small town based on fishing to an oil and gas capital. The city was the European Capital of Culture in 2008, alongside with Liverpool.
Stavanger is not just a city centre with 125,000 inhabitants and a high number of oil companies. You can also travel out to the long white sand beaches at Jærstrendene, go to the mountains for skiing or hiking and travel by boat to the famous Lysefjord.
In the Lysefjord you can see The Pulpit Rock (Prekestolen) and Kjerag. If you want a challenge you can hike up to the Pulpit Rock and see the amazing view over the fjord and the surrounding mountains.
Stavanger Pride is held each year and there are a number of festivals in the city, the most famous being 'Gladmat' in July. When Gladmat is on, all the restaurants move to temporary locations in Vågen.
You can taste all sorts of food from the finest local halibut to crabs and prawns, and international food as varied as Indian and Brazilian. Last year the British master chef Gordon Ramsey was the main guest and attracted a high number of visitors.
During the summer you can visit Flor og Fjære, which is a tropical garden on an island in Ryfylke. Ryfylke is several islands and peninsulas north east of the city. To go to Flor og Fjære you have to make reservations for lunch and dinner in addition.
There are mountains a couple of hours' drive away. You can go to a valley called Sirdal, and here you can go skiing cross-country or downhill in the winter, or hike in the summer and autumn.
What you must see while you are in Stavanger is the city centre, the fine area called Eiganes, where his Royal Highness of Norway has his residence, and the beaches at Jærstrendene and the Lysefjord.
By Håvard Wattum, International Editor
JMU Journalism travel articles
The waterfront in Stavanger, called Skagenkaien (photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life AS/Fjord Norway)