The region surrounding Stavanger, both north and south, is one of the most beautiful in southwestern Norway, with some spectacular natural attractions. Fjord and mountain landscapes come together in a kind of majesty. There are some man-made attractions as well, but Mother Nature wins out over those.
Norway's Most Beautiful Fjord
Poets have been inspired by the 42km (26-mile) Lysefjord, or "light fjord," the country's most scenic. The blue waters of the fjord seem to glow even on a gray day as a luminous mist hovers over the fjord. "Time passes at a sedate pace at Lysefjord," or so wrote Olav Pedersen in 1883. "Your thoughts can wander in peace." That statement is still true today. Other writers have claimed that spending time on the majestic fjord allows them to tune in to nature's harmonious symphony. Sunsets here are often a dramatic mauve color tinged with royal purple.
You can take a day trip to the fjord, combining a traditional ferry ride with an express boat. Of course, weather could be a factor in your decision to go or not to go. For information about schedules and tickets, contact the visitor information center in Stavanger or call Rogaland Kollektivtrafikk at tel. 51-51-65-30. In summer, 3- to 6-hour boat trips are organized to the fjord, which is accessible only by boat. A typical excursion offered by Rødne Fjord Cruise (tel. 51-89-52-70) costs NOK340 ($68/£34) for adults, NOK240 ($48/£24) for seniors, and NOK175 ($35/£18) for children ages 4 to 15.
"Pulpit Rock" is a mammoth cube of rock with a vertical drop of 609m (1,998 ft.) over Lysefjord. It can be visited on either a boat or bus trip, or by a car-ferry trip and short drive, taking about 45 minutes from the center of Stavanger. If you want to climb the rock, you can take a boat and bus hiking jaunt. A pathway leads to the top. Jimmy Stewart in the Hitchcock film Vertigo would have had a tough time of it here, but if you like panoramic vistas, this rock is for you.
The walk from the car park to Pulpit Rock is 4km (2 1/2 miles) but can take 2 hours each way. The walk has an elevation of 350m (1,148 ft.) and requires both you and your footwear to be in good shape. The last part of the walk passes dizzying drops high above Lysefjord. The weather can change quickly, so remember to bring rainwear.
A bus, costing NOK55 ($11/£5.50) one-way, leaves from the station in Stavanger from late May to early September. The boat is timed to meet ferry departures, which will take you for the final lap of the journey.
You can also sail by the rock on a fjord cruise but it's not as impressive from down below. Rødine Fjord Cruise (tel. 51-51-65-30) offers a cruise from Stavanger to Pulpit Rock for NOK340 ($68/£34) for adults, NOK240 ($48/£24) for seniors, and NOK175 ($35/£18) for ages 4 to 15. Call for bookings.