This city in the south of Norway is a popular port of call on cruises to the Norwegian fjords. Ships dock in Old Stavanger, a classic seaport that once thrived on shipbuilding and fish canneries (and, most recently, offshore oil). The harbor is chockablock with boats and wooden homes once occupied by ship captains and tradesmen. These buildings now house museums, galleries, and cafés. If you don’t sign up for an excursion, you can easily explore the Old Town on foot.
What We Love
Stavanger Art Museum: See works from 19th-century Norwegian painters Lars Hertervigs, whose coastal and landscape scenes have an intriguing fantastical style, and Edvard Munch, famous for his paintings with a psychological dimension.
Pulpit Rock: An excursion to this rocky plateau that juts out nearly 2,000 feet above scenic Lysefjord below is a thrill. The round-trip trek is a hearty four and a half miles or so over uneven terrain.
Best Known For
Stavanger Cathedral: This 900-year-old stone beauty, the oldest cathedral in Norway, is framed with bright pink flowers and surrounded by an emerald green moat of a lawn.
Stavanger Maritime Museum: Set in a pair of early 19th-century seafront warehouses, the museum features exhibits furnished with artifacts typical of an early 19th-century merchant’s house and of a general store. There are also displays about Stavanger’s shipbuilding and canning past, with an interactive area for kids.
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Who It's Best For
Families: You can walk from your ship’s gangway right into the heart of the Old Town, where there are multiple museums and casual eateries.
Ship Buffs: Anyone with a love of maritime history and ships will instantly fall in love with this place, made by and for old salts.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Megaship Overload: If you’re there when another huge ship or two is in port, the low-rise Old Town will be dwarfed and the narrow lanes thronged with strolling pedestrians.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.