It took me far too long to figure out the correct pronunciation of Norway's third largest city, but I'm always determined to not sound like a total tourist, and I finally figured out. Stavanger.
When booking my trip to Norway, I knew I wanted to do the following: see the Northern Lights or Midnight Sun, and hike Preikestolen (AKA Pulpit Rock). I didn't realize when I booked my six-night trip exactly how much there is to do in Norway - there's a lot - so narrowing my choices took quite some time because I felt like I was sacrificing something really cool no matter where I chose to visit.
Stavanger was nailed down pretty early due to the hike, but for the second leg of my trip, I was torn between the Lofoten Islands, Trondheim, Tromsø, and Svalbard (among others, if you can believe there were more). In order to see the Midnight Sun, I realized I had to trek pretty far North - like above the arctic circle North - so, Svalbard won. (More on that later.)
First up was Stavanger, described as an "extremely vibrant cultural hub," which I think the photos (below) will confirm. I booked a hotel near the airport (actually, on top of the airport). because after three flights, the last thing I wanted to do was spend anymore time traveling anywhere.
Wham bam thank you ma'am, Scandic Hotel.
I won't outline my little "trip tips" for what to do/see/eat since I only had one full day in Stavanger, but I will say a couple of quick things:
- Re: transportation - don't buy bus tickets on the bus itself; buy them in advance (online or from a station) to save some dough. They are significantly cheaper this way. Students get a discount, so bring your student ID (if you have one).
- Most of the shops in the center of town close pretty early - by 4PM, even on a Saturday - because they are independently owned. So if you want to shop, walk around the town center mid morning-midday (I learned this one the hard way).
- To get here from Stavanger, you can take a ferry to Tau and then a charted bus to the hike's starting point. (I booked this one that combines both.) You can also rent a car if you would prefer to drive. You'll drive the car right on the ferry in Stavanger and right off the ferry in Tau, where you will continue the drive to the hike. There's a parking lot with plenty of parking at the base of the hike, as well.
- Make sure you are on the correct side of the harbor should you catch a ferry in Stavanger. The ferry right in front of the restaurants by the harbor is not the only one that takes you to Tau! (I also learned this one the hard way.)
- You do not need a guide for the hike; the trail is very clear with well-marked trail indications along the way. Bring shoes with good tread, and water (and snacks) for each hiker!
- Of course, bring a camera. The views are nothing short of incredible.
And a final two from Stavanger center that make me laugh, below...
I titled this one "Me, Maggie, and a Swan's Ass."