Welcome to Destination Stavanger!

This website is meant to give guidance and provide useful information for tourists and visitors to Stavanger in Norway as well as for people currently living in Stavanger.


The city of Stavanger is also a municipality in Rogaland, in the southwest of Norway. It is the fourth largest city in Norway and approximately 130.500 people are living in Stavanger (per October 2013). The municipality is at Nord-Jæren and combined with the areas of Sandnes, Sola and Randaberg it is the third largest city area in Norway with it's 237.000 inhabitants. Stavanger borders to Randaberg and Rennesøy in the north, Sandnes in the south and Sola to the west. Stavanger is the administrative city of Rogaland county and is also considered to be the economic and cultural centre in the county. There are 13 surrounding municipalities with a combined total of 325.000 people constituting around 70% of the people in Rogaland county.

Stavanger is considered to be the oil capital in Norway and is also one of the European centres for energy business. The Forus business area is located between Stavanger, Sandnes and Sola and is one of the country's largest business parks with approximately 2.500 companies and around 40.000 employees. The largest company in Norway, Statoil, has it's headquarter at Forus in Stavanger in addition to several large international oil and gas corporations. As a result, Stavanger is considered to be international in nature with around 20% of the population being from other countries. Other governmental organisations like Petoro, the Oil Directory and the Petroleumstilsynet have also got their headquarters located in Stavanger. The airport is located in the neighbouring municipality of Sola and is one of the busiest airport in the northern countries.

Every second year the city is host to the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) which is the world's second largest conference for the energy industry. In addition, the Gladmat festival is arranged every year and is considered to be one of the leading food festivals in Scandinavia.   

Nature and geography

Stavanger is a part of the lower Jæren which is a flat area constituting mainly of marsh, sand and stone. Stavanger borders to the sea towards the west and to the Boknafjord in the northeast. The city lies in a coastal landscape and most of the area of the municipality is between 0 and 50 meters above sea level. It is closely tied to the sea with three surrounding fjords and several lakes nearby. The highest point in the city is the Jåttånuten with it's 139 meters above sea level, followed by Ullandhaug at 136 meters.

The municipality of Stavanger stretches across 54,19 square kilometers plus the surrounding islands of 13,48 square kilometers. The lakes in the region constitute around 3,5 square kilometers with the largest being the Store Stokkavann (2,19). Around 43 square kilometers of the municipality (approx. 60,5%) is built and developed land, and this makes it the most densely populated region in Norway.

Stavanger has a climate typical of the Atlantic ocean. There is a lot of rain but less than the average for the western parts of Norway. The landscape is open and flat and thus exposed to storms and strong wind from the North Sea during the autumn and winter. The winters are normally mild and with little snow and the temperature rarely falls under -4 degrees Celsius during the winter. During the summer the temperature is normally under 24 degrees Celsius, but the average temperature is higher than the national average. The average temperature for the whole year in Stavanger is 7,4 degrees Celsius and the average total downfall of rain during the last 30 years is 1.180 mm. 

The city of Stavanger:

The city has it's origins from before the 18th century when it was scattered and unorganised as a city. It was not before 1849 when the first city enlargement was approved that Stavanger became a proper city. During the last half of the 18th century several enlargements were decided upon and the city developed. In 1964, the final and largest enlargement of the city was announced when Hetland and Madla were incorporated into Stavanger. This enlargement of Stavanger meant that the population grew from 52.000 to nearly 78.500 people. Since then the debates have continued whether one should consider further enlargements, and especially the discussion whether the cities of Stavanger and Sandnes along with Sola and Randaberg should merge to form one large city has been a heated debate.

The city council consists of 67 members and Christine Sagen Helgø is currently the mayor of Stavanger. The conservative party, Høyre, holds the most political power with 34% of the votes at the last election in 2011. Along with the coalition partners FrP, KrF and Venstre, the conservative wing has a majority of about 60% in the city.

Stavanger is made up of seven official subparts and areas; Hundvåg, Tasta, Eiganes and Våland, Madla, Storhaug, Hillevåg and Hinna. In terms of population, Eiganes and Våland is the largest area with Hinna and Madla close behind. 

The city of Stavanger is closely tied to the rest of the Rogaland county despite the fact that the Boknafjorden divides the county into three areas. The E39 highway connects Stavanger and Sandnes as well as further north to Haugesund via the famous and record-deep underwater tunnels termed Rennfast. The railway opened as early as 1878 and was massively upgraded in 2009 with double tracks.

The international airport, Stavanger airport Sola, lies in Sola municipality as the name suggests, roughly 14 kilometers from Stavanger city centre. Along with standard airplane traffic, the airport handles a lot of helicopter transport to and from the oil rigs in the North Sea. Direct flights from Stavanger airport to international destinations include Aberdeen, Alicante, Amsterdam, Berlin, Billund, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, Hannover, Krakow, Copenhagen, London, Malaga, Newcastle, Paris, Riga, Salzburg, Tenerife and Warsaw. The main traffic however is to and from Oslo with approximately 25 daily flights.

Stavanger is host to one of NATO's defence headquarters, the Joint Warfare Centre. This holds command at one of the highest levels in NATO and is one of only two remaining top commands in Europe. Furthermore, the Norwegian navy has one of their largest military training camps in Stavanger, the KNM Harald Hårfagre - also known as the Madlaleiren.

Stavanger had a poor polulation growth from the medieval period and towards the end of 1700, but since the 18th century the growth has been constant. During the period from 1950 to 2010 the population of Stavanger doubled, mainly due to the discovery of oil in the North Sea and the following establishment of the oil industry. Because of the oil industry the immigration to Stavanger has been significant even in the last few centuries. There were registered nearly 11.000 people with foreign origins in 2000, but this number had risen to 18.400 eight years later. Poland is best represented in this statistics with nearly 1.700 inhabitants in Stavanger whilst Great Britain is second with close to 1.400 people living in Stavanger. The growth of the population of Stavanger has been significant during the last 300 years:

17693 337
18013 916
185516 121
190036 202
195067 181
2001109 566
2009121 610
2013129 191
Prognosis 2030165 880


At the beginning of the 19th century Stavanger was mainly known for the fishing and shipping industry. However, during the first half of the 19th century the city became known for it's significantly growing canning industry. By the 1950s there were about 50 canning factories in Stavanger. Christian Bjelland was the foremost person with his canning businesses, but the last of all the canning factories was closed in 2002.  During the last 60 years the oil and offshore industries have developed to become the main businesses in Stavanger. In 2007 a total of 24,4% of the region's workforce were employed in the public sector whilst 75,6% were in Stavanger's private businesses.

The industry has become highly decentralised lately and the most important industrial areas are now at Forus on the border between Sandnes and Stavanger as well as at Dusavik by Randaberg municipality. The old shipping dock at Rosenberg Verft at Hundvåg is still active after over 100 years in existence. Shipping has long economic traditions in Stavanger and the city is still ranked number four by the country's registered fleet, after Oslo, Bergen and Ålesund.

There is a significant focus on food and farming in the region and Stavanger is often compared to the French region of Lyon. The politicians in the whole region attempt to spare the farming regions when planning for city enlargements and developments, and there are initiatives to develop knowledge of food and culinary activities through the partly state-owned Culinary Institute in Stavanger. Every year the Gladmat festival is held in the centre of Stavanger and the region has a goal of becoming the region that most Norwegians associate with food products and experiences by 2020.

Stavanger is now considered to be the oil capital of Norway and the largest oil company, Statoil, has it's headquarter at Forus in Stavanger. Statoil was established in 1972 and the headquarter was placed in Stavanger already at this point. Several international oil corporations have also got their headquarters located in Stavanger, along with Petoro, the Oil Directorate and the Petroleum Authority. The large industrial area at Jåttåvågen was important for the offshore industry during the 1970s through to the 1990s where huge oil rigs were built. The Offshore Northern Seas-fair is one of the largest in the world and is held in Stavanger every second year. In 2008 over 38.000 people visited the ONS where about half of the visitors came from overseas.

The city of Stavanger is also a popular tourist destination, especially during the summer. However, the hotels do well throughout the whole year due to the large number of commuters to the region in connection with the oil industry. There are also several cruiselines coming to Stavanger during the season and the numbers have gone up considerably during the last decade.


The name Stavanger is from the old Norse language and means stick (for "stav") and fjord (for "anger"). With Stavanger being located right on the edge of the North Sea it has always been dependent upon the sea and visitors coming by boats. Stavanger is thus considered to be highly influenced by international impulses. The first signs of settlers at Stavanger indicate that the first people came to the Stavanger area around 10.000 years ago when the ice melted. These findings have been unearthed at Rennesøy, Mortavika and at Viste in Randaberg.

During the Bronze age (1800-500 BC) a rich upper class developed in the region, and these had close ties to Europe. This upper class used horses and had status symbols in bronze. They lived in long houses and were buried in large tumuli. One has also discovered the remains of about 400 old farms around the Jæren area and the oldest discoveries can be traced back to 2200 years before Christ. The many findings across Jæren leads the experts to believe that the region has always been important due to it's proximity to the sea, strategic location and closeness to the fruitful areas in Ryfylke. Stavanger must also have played an important part during the Viking era with the natural departure locations for visits to Great Britain and other areas. Many Irish items have been found in the Jæren area, more than any other place in Europe, giving rise to these speculations.

Stavanger is an old city and one of the oldest in Norway. The oldest burials underneath the city church in Stavanger are dated back to the ninth century. This church was built in the decades leading up to it's completion in 1150, but there might have been a wooden church before it. A large fire in 1271-1272 burnt down most of the city, including the church. However, most of it was rebuilt and the city grew slowly throughout the next centuries.

During the 16th century the city of Stavanger grew more predominantly and the population rose from around 800 in 1600 to 1460 in 1684. There was also a plague both in 1618 and in 1629 as well as huge fires both in 1633 and 1684. In the year 1701 a population count was completed and it was established that a total of 1.385 people lived in Stavanger.

In the 18th century an economic upswing began for Stavanger, mainly due to the herring fishing but later also shipping and canning industry. Up until the 1950s, Stavanger was a typical industry-dominated city.

Stavanger was invaded by the Germans on the 9th of April 1940 and the city was captured relatively peacefully during a few hours. The airport was attacked for about an hour in the morning on the 9th before it surrendered around 10:00. Thereafter several hundred German planes landed and a troup of German soldiers began the march to Stavanger city centre. By 12:30 the first soldiers arrived in Stavanger and seized the police station, the telephone operator office, the post office, the gas office, customs and the city bay office which was considered the most important as several shipments were en route to Stavanger. By the end of the World War 2 there were about 15.000 German soldiers stationed in Stavanger.

After the war the city regained strength and the economic growth was strong due to rebuilding activities after the years with war. During the 1950s and 60s, the shipbuilding, offshore and canning industries were still at the forefront of the growth, and several of the ship docks in Stavanger were among the world leaders in certain areas. However, partly due to a stagnation in the canning industry by the end of the 1960s the city's growth stalled and times became more troubled. By the middle of the 1960s Stavanger was in fact considered to be one of Norway's poorest cities judged by the city's average salary per inhabitant.

However, after the US-based oil corporation Philips Petroleum Co expressed their interest in searching for oil and gas outside the coast of Norway in 1962, the activity started to pick up and a new era was developing. Several other international corporations followed suit and Esso was the first company to start the drilling in the North Sea in 1966. On the 23rd of December 1969 the rig Ocean Viking found oil about 180 kilometers outside the coast by Stavanger and the oil adventure began. During the decades since 1969 the city has experienced an amazing journey and growth and the population has gone from 80.000 in 1970 to close to 130.000 now. 

Cultural aspects and places to see:

The region of Stavanger and Sandnes was along with Liverpool the cultural capital of Europe in 2008. During the year several arrangements were held and led to an upswing in the interest for cultural activities in the region. Thus a new concert hall was built in Stavanger in the years after the festival.

Stavanger has several museums, including the most visited Norwegian oil museum which had nearly 95.000 visitors in 2008. The oldest museum in Stavanger is the missionary museum which opened in 1864. However, the most wellknown traditional museum is the Stavanger museum which was established in 1877.

The city has also had a share of the country's famous writers and poets. Alexander Kielland was from Stavanger and is considered to be one of Norway's Great Four (Ibsen, Bjørnson, Lie and Kielland). Furthermore, Sigbjørn Obstfelder was considered as one of the most prominent poets in Norway. Other wellknown local writers, past and present, are Andreas Jacobsen (also known as Ajax), Gottfred Borghammer, Arild Rein and Tore Renberg.

Stavanger has seen a significant uprise in the local film industry during the last few decades and several local films have had success on a national scale in this period. Films such as "Mongoland", "Alt for Egil", "Monstertorsdag", "Mannen som elsket Yngve" and "Jernanger" have all had great success, both for the film itself but also for the actors and their careers.

With regards to other medias, Stavanger is known for the daily newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad. In addition, there is the Rogalands Avis along with the TV producers TV Vest and NRK Rogaland.

The city of Stavanger has several successful sports associations and clubs. There is the football team Viking FK (8 national championships and 5 cup victories), the ice hockey team Stavanger Oilers (national champions in 2011/12) and the Viking Handball team. The city does also have a basketball team playing in the top divisions. Furthermore, the city has several local sports associations where Brodd, Madla Idrettslag and Stavanger Turnforening are the biggest. 

Source: Information has been gathered from Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.com) with some adjustments.