Many people who visit Norway begin and end their trip in Oslo, but this natural paradise has so much more to offer for adventurous travelers. Almost directly across from Oslo on the country's southwest coast is Stavanger, the fourth-largest city in Norway and with a thousand years of history.
Even though the two cities are only separated by 200 aerial miles, getting from one to the other by land takes far longer than expected. A plane is the fastest way to travel from Oslo to Stavanger, and the flight is less than an hour with several daily options. But if you want to take in the singular Norwegian landscapes and have the time to spare, the train ride is truly remarkable. If you're traveling in the summer, the coastal towns along the route make great pitstops for an unforgettable road trip.
How to Get from Oslo to Stavanger
|Train||8 hours||from $28||Taking in the scenery|
|Bus||10 hours||from $62|
|Flight||55 minutes||from $45||Traveling on a time crunch|
|Car||7 hours||342 miles (550 kilometers)||Exploring the area|
If you want to relax and have a nice view along Norway's southern coast, use the train from Oslo to Stavanger. It takes the scenic route through southern Norway, traveling all the way down to the coast before curving back up toward Stavanger. It's a beautiful ride with unbeatable views of Norway's forests and the North Sea, none of which you'd be able to see from a plane.
When tickets are first released, you can purchase them with low-fare pricing for as little as $28. However, as tickets sell out they get more expensive, with last-minute tickets costing as much as $150, assuming they're still available. Seats can be reserved directly through Norway's national rail service. If the low-fare pricing is no longer available, then students, seniors, and children are eligible for discounts of up to 50 percent of the standard pricing.
Both Oslo's and Stavanger's rail stations are centrally located in their respective cities and easy to reach.
Without a doubt, the hour-long flight from Oslo to Stavanger is the fastest option. Even accounting for all of the time it takes to arrive at the airport, check-in, go through security, and wait at your gate, flying still takes much less time than any of the other travel methods. Norwegian, SAS, and Wideroe airlines all offer several direct flights each day, and the competition between them keeps ticket costs down.
The Flytoget train picks up from several locations in downtown Oslo and brings passengers to the airport in less than 20 minutes. From Stavanger Airport, regular buses bring passengers to the city center. The journey takes about 20–30 minutes and if you buy your bus ticket in advance, you can get a small discount.
Driving is the option for flexibility. If you're renting a car in Oslo and want to drive the 550 kilometers to Stavanger, the fastest option is to drive along the major E18 highway along Norway's southern coast before curving back up north on the E39 highway. It takes about seven hours if you were to drive without stopping, but you'll definitely want to make pitstops to take in the breathtaking views you'll pass along the route, starting with the Oslo fjords at the very beginning. If you plan to break up the drive over multiple days, you can spend a night in the south's largest city, Kristiansand, or the charming seaside village of Mandal.
Norway's highways use extensive tolls and almost all of them are electronic. If you're renting a car in Oslo, the rental company has likely already registered the vehicle and will simply add the tolls to your final bill. Due to many environmental taxes, gasoline is also relatively expensive in Norway. Don't forget to factor in both of these costs before deciding to rent a car.
Perhaps the most important determinant before getting a vehicle is the time of year. If you're traveling in the summer, driving is a fantastic way to truly immerse yourself in Norway's coastal towns and the lush, verdant landscape. Many Norwegians head south to the beach in the summer, so many of the cities along the route to Stavanger will be lively and full of people. Winter in Norway is also a beautiful time of year, but not ideal for driving long distances. Roads may be dangerous to drive on due to snow, if not shut down completely. And the beach towns that come alive in the summer may feel dormant in the wintertime, making it complicated even to find somewhere to grab food along the way.
Nor-Way Bussekspress and Lavprisekspressen operate buses between Oslo and Stavanger. It's a long, 10-hour trip. The bus between Oslo and Stavanger costs about the same as the train, which is faster, more punctual, and more comfortable. So while you can take the bus, it's not the optimal choice.
What to See in Stavanger
Even though Stavanger is one of Norway's largest cities, the city center has a small-town, rustic feel with its 18th-century white cottages made of wood. The area is known as Gamle Stavanger, meaning Old Stavanger, and it's truly like stepping back in time. The city contains a surprising number of museums, but if you have to choose one, the Norwegian Canning Museum is the most unique, surprising, and best shows the important history of fish tinning in Stavanger. As with many parts of Norway, the best sites are the natural ones just outside of the city. Book an afternoon ride on the Lysefjord Cruise to see firsthand one of the region's most impressive fjords. If you have time, get off the boat for a hike to Pulpit Rock, a 2,000-foot cliff that drops down into the glassy water below.