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Stavanger is a city in the southwest of Norway, located in Rogaland county. Its rapid development over the latest years has not eradicated the old town charm, its small size compared to other international cities, and not least its proximity to the fjords and mountains of western Norway. This makes it worthwhile to spend a couple of days here on a trip to Norway and using it as a starting point for exploring the rest of the country.
Stavanger has about 125,000 inhabitants, though the larger metropolitan area has almost 300,000 inhabitants. Stavanger's airport is well connected to a number of domestic and international destinations, a railway links the city to the south and east of Norway, and boats links north to Bergen and into the fjords.
Stavanger has experienced three pronounced rise-and-falls all related to its geographical location on the coast. In the late 1800's the small town saw a rapid expansion due to herring fishing along with a booming number of sailships. Both industries failed and by the turn of the century Stavanger was in heavy decline only to be saved by sardines. The canning industry boomed through the 1920's and onwards only to be stopped again by one of nature's twists of fate. Then came the late sixties, with rumours of possible hydro-carbon (petroleum) resources under the North Sea. The rumours proved correct giving fuel to a renewed bonanza which Stavanger and the surrounding region still prosper from.
All these shifts have left their impressions on Stavanger's architecture, geographical layout, expansion, and culture. The city's growth has made it the centre of the third largest conurbation in Norway. The ever-expanding, technology intensive, oil industry has created one the most dynamic business regions in Norway. Personal and public wealth combined with a heavy influx of immigrants from all parts of the world have given rise to a rich and diversified cultural life. The town abounds in bars, restaurants, festivals and stages for all sorts of performances. The Stavanger Region was Europe's culture capital of 2008.
Stavanger is divided into 7 boroughs:
There are lots of festivals all year round. Check out this link to see what's On.
Stavanger, due to its location along the southwestern coastal area, has a mild maritime climate. Precipitation is lower compared to Bergen, but with 1,200mm a year still high. Temperatures are mostly above zero during winter, with frost common at night and sometimes there is snow. Summers are around 20 °C from June to August with long days and generally good weather. Obviously the best time for a visit.
See what it's like the upcoming days.
Stavanger Airport, Sola (SVG) is well connected to the major airport hubs within Europe - Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
Norwegian Air Shuttle has flights to Alicante, Bergen, Berlin, Dubrovnik, Krakow, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, London, Malaga, Moss, Murcia, Nice, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Salzburg, Split, Trondheim and Warsaw.
SAS flies to/from Aberdeen, Alesund, Alicante, Bergen, Copenhagen, Kristiansand, Kristiansund, London, Oslo and Trondheim.
Several other airlines serve cities like Amsterdam, Newcastle, Billund, Esbjerg, Gothenburg, Reykjavik, Frankfurt, Graz, Hannover and Innsbruck.
Getting to/from the airport
Airport buses connect the airport with the centre of Stavanger every 20 minutes fro around 90 NOK (150 NOK return). Bus number 9 goes every 30 minutes and costs only around 30 NOK, but is slightly slower.
Roads connect Stavanger both to the north, south and east.
Bus connect Stavanger in all directions. Companies include Nor-way and Lavprisekspressen, which go to Oslo (about 8 hours), Kristiansand, Sandefjord and Arendal, among other places. Kystbussen goes to Bergen and Haugesund.
There are ferry connections to Denmark on a regular basis. Ferries and speed boats also go to Bergen and the fjords in the region.
Thanks to the large international influence, and a dynamic business life, Stavanger has more restaurants than you would expect from such a small town. The quality is also good, not least because Stavanger is generally considered to be the gastronomical capital of Norway. The town has the country's only Gastronomical Institute where several Norwegian world champion chefs have trained. The region stages Norway's largest annual food festival and the region is also home to some of the most fertile soils in the country.
Check out the list of restaurants at "What's On".
Alcoholic drinks are expensive in Norway, so get used to that fact right away and then forget it. Stavanger has its good share of bars, pubs and coffee-shops. Read more on this link.
There are a number of hang-outs along "Vågen", the Harbour area. (Remember: Norway is generally a very safe place, with low crime rates.)
Also check out the Øvre Holmegate street.
Check out the accomodation section at the website of the regional tourist authority. In general prices are steep in Norway, and hotel rates given are usually per person.
Possibly the cheapest would be to bring your own tent and camp at Mosvangen Camping. Or simply check in at Stavanger Vandrerhjem next door.
The hotels are generally three or four star on an international range. Quality.
Stavanger offers no truly luxury hotel but some of the hotels listed may be knocking on that door.
Being one of the most lively and dynamic places in Norway, Stavanger has for 40 years had very low unemployment rates, plenty of jobs for skilled and unskilled labour and higher wages then elsewhere in the country. Getting a labour permit may however be tricky for foreigners.
Norwegians have a right to 13 years of free education, 10 of them are compulsory. After that young people from the region usually continue their education at a university level, either at the University of Stavanger, at the BI Norwegian Business School or leave to study elsewhere. For foreign language students the University offers programs in English.
For children Stavanger has a British school, a French school and the International School of Stavanger. The latter gives the opportunity to take university prep examinations based on a mix of American and European standards.
Most Norwegian households are connected to the Internet in some way (often broadband), making cybercafés hard to find outside major cities, due to a relatively small market. Most public libraries have free public access to the internet, but a limited number of computers and limited opening hours.
However, if you bring a laptop with a wireless connection you will find wireless internet zones just about everywhere (gas stations, city centres, cafés, shopping centres, hotels etc.), sometimes free, but be prepared to pay for it though. It is not unusual for hotels to have a terminal for guest use. Well over half of the camp grounds have wifi internet, but if it's crucial for you, best to ask before paying for your camping space.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The international calling code for Norway is 47. Emergency numbers include Police at 112, Fire at 110 and Emergency Medical Services at 113.
If you are unsure which number to call, 112 is the central for all rescue services and will put you in contact with the correct department. For non-emergencies, the police is to be called on 02800.
Cell phone Coverage generally is very good, except maybe some of the valleys, fjords and mountains. The company with the best coverage is Telenor. The other main operator is Netcom. These two deliver coverage to a multitude of other companies (Tele2 and Network Norway are two smaller companies that deliver coverage in the main cities, but utilize the othe two's net when outside).Prepaid sim card are available in all shops that sell phones and also petrol stations and kiosks. Prepaid has been in a slump in Norway after forced registration was effected, so prices are a bit higher for these than for subscriptions.
If you plan to do quite a bit of websurfing on the phone then Telenor's Prepaid (or "Kontant" in Norwegian) might be the ticket. You can surf as much as you wish, but the card doesn't get charges for more than 10 NOK per day (worth it if you use more than 2MB per day on the days you surf - though after 500MB the speed get's axed to 100kb/s).
Red mailboxes are found easily and post offices are plentiful, with opening hours on most being 9:00am to 5:00pm, with usually shorter hours on Saturday. Stamps can usually only be found at post offices although some popular tourist venues might carry them. Norway's postal system, "Posten", has a good website with a lot of English information including up to date prices and also details about the opening hours of the nearest post office. The most commonly sent format for travellers are letters and cards up to 20 grams, check their website for current prices. If you want to send packages, you might also use international courier companies lik DHL, UPS or TNT.
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