Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Stavanger flourished in the early 19th century as a centre for the fishing trade and while other towns and cities in Norway have suffered with the decline of the industry, Stavanger has managed to keep its economy booming by diversifying, first into ship building and now into oil.
These two contrasting industries have led to Stavanger being a city of two halves – it has a bustling and modern area of high-rise buildings and a historic old centre of warehouses, stock rooms, cobbled streets and clapboard residential buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
The city centre has a range of shopping and dining opportunities but is also home to a number of historically significant attractions and was the birthplace of Alexander Kielland, one of the great 19th-century Norwegian novelists. Its cathedral, dating back to 1125, is an impressive building and the only cathedral in Norway to retain its original features.
From here you can explore the attractive blue waters of Lysefjord, surrounded by cliffs and striking rock formations, and visit Hafrsfjord where 29 small kingdoms were united to form the Kingdom of Norway in the 9th century. For those interested in learning more about oil excavation from the North Sea, an independent visit to the very informative Petroleum Museum is recommended.