For all the immense beauty that Stavanger Norway (and the rest of amazing Norway has), this has been somewhere I have wanted to visit for such a long time. I can’t tell you how excited I was when my fiancé James told me that Stavanger was the chosen location for his family’s reunion in 2019. Excitement was on two fronts – the first was to finally meet many of his family members that live in different parts of the globe, and the second was to do this while visiting such a beautiful location.
Established in 1125, Stavanger is the fourth largest city in Norway situated on the south western coast in Rogaland county. Family members all jetted in from as close as the Netherlands in Western Europe to as far away as the Gold Coast in Australia to spend time in this beautiful part of the world.
Well prior to leaving for Stavanger, I did a fair amount of research on Norway generally as James and I also planned to see as much of the country as we could on this trip. The reputation of Norway being one of the world’s most beautiful places excited us both and we were keen to visit quite a few iconic locations while we were in the neighbourhood.
Very rarely do I bother trying to take photos from the air as you really don’t get to see too much on most flights. We had flown to Stavanger via Norway’s capital of Oslo and as our final flight into Stavanger was a domestic one, we were low enough to see something of the fabulous natural scenery, particularly as we neared our destination. In my excitement, I took a few photos to share as we flew over the width of Norway and made our final approach to land at Stavanger.
The world certainly has many beautiful harbors. What makes Stavanger Harbor quite unique is the immense beauty that completely surrounds it. City harbors generally around the world might often have natural beauty in their shape and formation but otherwise the city itself is nothing to get excited about.
However, the city of Stavanger as viewed from the water looks so pretty, clean and colorful. Likewise looking out from the city to the harbor shows unpolluted, pristine water leading out to the North Sea in one direction and to the majestic fjords along the coast.
Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock
This incredible rocky cliff overlooking a stunning fjord is a major drawcard the world over for hikers and nature lovers alike.
Not the easiest of hikes (especially in winter or in times of bad weather), those who make it to the top are rewarded with a truly amazing view and the satisfaction of being able to tick this off their bucket list.
This hike also offers much in the way of changing scenery as you ascend and there is just too much on this fabulous journey to share here. For more detail on this fun, challenging and beautiful hike check out The Natural Beauty of Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock Norway.
If there is one thing Norway is famous for above everything else when it comes to natural beauty, it would be the amazing fjords situated along its coast.
Stavanger is blessed to have one of Norway’s most famous fjords, Lysefjord, right on its doorstep. Here it is a simple matter to jump on one of the regularly scheduled cruises to experience being right in the middle of an incredible feature of natural beauty, created by the Ice Age.
For any visitor to Stavanger, this is just too good to miss and too large an attraction to include in this article. To take a look at this majestic fjord, do have a look at the dedicated feature entitled The Natural Beauty of Lysefjord Norway.
The Jæren coastline
Fronting the North Sea, the Jæren coastline is known for its many lighthouses, its many German World War II bunkers and over 70km of sandy beaches!
We visited one of the stretches of coastline that contained one of the lighthouses together with a German bunker, museum and café which was closed on the day we visited – something that was actually a very good thing, as we essentially had the entire grounds and view to ourselves.
Walking along the coast looking out to the North Sea and the islands nearby was a lovely and slightly chilly experience with the breeze coming in, even though it was summer time. Nevertheless, as we explored places along this region it wasn’t hard to see why the Jæren coastline is so popular.
This is just one of the beaches along the Jæren coastline and is the beach closest to Stavanger and is in fact situated very close to Stavanger airport.
Perhaps you might have thought that Norway’s fame for its fjords, mountains, islands and arctic regions meant that there really isn’t much at all in the way of quality beaches? Well if so, you would be wrong.
Take a look at Sola beach as one example of many along the Jæren coast, where the family spent some time exploring the area and enjoying lunch at the Sola Beach Hotel. This beach in terms of its sand, width and cleanliness would seriously and easily rival most other places in the world.
Other beaches along this coastline (like Borestranda) are well known for having ideal windsurfing conditions. Borestranda beach is where you will find all the windsurfing schools and in fact this beach hosted the 2017 Euro-Championship in windsurfing.
Cultural beauty – Norway’s National Day
The timing of the family reunion was planned over a period to include Norway’s National Day, which is a celebration of their constitution and patriotism on May 17 every year. This is always a public holiday and is celebrated by children’s parades throughout the country and also involves speeches by dignitaries and eating a lot of ice cream and hot dogs.
All family members gathered in Stavanger attended the children’s parade in the centre of the city, where James’ youngest niece from Norway also participated with her school. It was a lovely day with such amazing costumes with some of those parading and the spectators waving the Norwegian flag.
The atmosphere was electric and everyone was excited to cheer on this fantastic parade before we as a family joined many others to enjoy lunch at a wonderful restaurant overlooking the harbour. Below are some photos I wanted to share from this special day.
While you are here
Gamle Stavanger (or ‘Old Stavanger’) is a historic area of the city comprising 173 wooden buildings from the turn of the 18th century. Most of them are small, white cottages and a number of them are now home to retail outlets, catering to locals and tourists alike. Stavanger has received several awards for its efforts to preserve Old Stavanger.
While I am not a fan of cities generally, it was really a joy to wander the streets and shops of this delightful area of Stavanger.
Right in the middle of the city, next to the Stavanger Cathedral (a beautiful building called Stavanger Domkirke completed in 1125 when the city was officially established), is the lovely Lake Breiavatnet. This small lake takes up the equivalent of just 7.7 acres, within which is a decorative fountain installed in 1924. The lake gets its water from the Kannikbekken stream, which flows from Lake Mosvatnet in the west.
Lake Breiavatnet is the home of various birds, such as swans, seagulls, ducks, and sparrows with only a few fish to be seen. It is a lovely place to take a leisurely walk around this body of water with numerous well-kept plants, trees and park benches to enjoy the view and atmosphere.
There is also one other major natural attraction that Stavanger is well known for that I should mention. This is Kjeragbolten.
This rocky boulder is almost as famous as Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock and is a real favourite for Instagrammers around the world.
The hike to get to this location is more than twice as long as the one to Preikestolen and although it would have been nice to see this first hand, we simply ran out of time and had to leave in order not to miss a number of other trips within Norway.
Exploring this wonder of nature will have to wait for next time.
The End of our stay in Stavanger Norway
When you are really happy with choosing a lovely place to visit, you often feel sad to leave. This was felt so much more as I also made such wonderful connections with James’ family here and it felt like we were leaving much too soon. James has such a lovely family and everyone got on so well, so it was very hard to say goodbye although I am now very much looking forward to the next family reunion when I will attend as James’ wife.
Stavanger and the surrounding region to enjoy the family reunion was the first stop on our Norway trip as we planned to visit a number of stunning destinations in this lovely country. Do follow along as more articles are published showing how beautiful this country really is and please share any thoughts you would like in the comments below.