Haugesund is one of the best places to visit in Southern Norway. It’s a beautiful city on the coast of the North Sea, and it boasts a very rich history and culture. Haugesund is home to many museums, landmarks, and some of the best hiking trails in this part of the country.
The city is halfway between Bergen and Stavanger, making it the perfect place for a more thorough exploration of the region. But you shouldn’t go on any day trips before you properly explore the city, so read on to see what the best things to do in Haugesund are!
Haraldshaugen is an obelisk from the 1800s, and it’s the most famous landmark in the entire city. The obelisk sits on a grassy mound close to the sea, offering spectacular coastal views to visitors.
The monument was erected to celebrate the unification of Norway under King Harald Fairhair. It consists of 29 small stones, each from a different historic country of Norway, with the obelisk in the center as the main attraction. There are also four bronze panels at the base and each depicts an important scene from the life of the king it celebrates.
The Dokken Museum is a must on any proper tour of Haugesund. It provides visitors with an insight into the lives of locals centuries ago, when the first houses were yet to be built. Go on a guided tour to hear the tales of the herring era and peer into locked rooms of a charming little boathouse.
The museum boasts several buildings, including a herring saltery, a colonial shop, and a barrel workshop. You can also see an extensive boat display and a detailed photo exhibition in the boathouse building. The museum is open during the summer, but in the winter only the courtyard remains open for visitors.
One of the first places you’ll visit in Haugesund is Haraldsgata Street. You really can’t miss it – it’s centrally located and you must pass through it to get to most other attractions in the city. Haraldsgata is the main pedestrian street in the city and it’s lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants on either side.
Whether you’re looking to grab a quick bite or pick up some souvenirs, this is the place to be in Haugesund. There’s a variety of shops here, from stores that sell local goods to chain stores that are famous worldwide. You’ll also see some interesting monuments and if you make it all the way to the end of the street, you’ll reach Haugesund’s city park!
Byparken is the largest park in the city and a great place to escape the busy city streets. It’s not a very big park, but it’s very picturesque with the gazebo and the fountain. The park is popular for walking, picnics, and snowball fights in the winter. But it’s much more beautiful in the summer when all the flowers are in bloom since they add a lot of pretty colors to the place.
The city park is also home to various events, so if it’s unusually busy when you visit, stick around to see if something fun happens.
Ravnafloke is a large outdoor park north of Haugesund. It boasts a fortress from World War II, rich Viking history, and spectacular coastal views. There’s also an adrenaline park here with suspension bridges, obstacle courses, paintball, and more. It’s even possible to go on fjord safaris from the natural park, which is a great way to discover more of Norway’s coast.
Additionally, you can even spend the night at Ravnafloke if you want. They offer accommodation in the form of chalets, Indian-style tents, and bunkers, so there’s something for everyone’s taste. Whether you want to brush up on Norwegian history or just spend time exploring the stunning landscapes of the country, it’s definitely worth it to visit Ravnafloke for a day or two.
The Nordvegen History Center is technically not in Haugesund – it’s in Avaldsnes, which is a 15-minute cab ride from Haugesund city center. It’s an underground museum and that alone makes it worth the 15-minute ride. It’s also a great place to learn more about Norwegian history and Vikings in particular.
Additionally, there’s a Viking farm close to the History Center and it’s very popular with tourists. You can even plan to spend an entire afternoon in Avaldsnes and see all the Viking-themed attractions in the area. It’s a great way to learn more about Norwegian history and Norse mythology while enjoying the beautiful landscapes of the area.
Kringsjåhytta is a mountain hut in the hiking area above Haugesund and it’s a must if you’re going to explore the hiking trails near the city. It’s a natural stop for hikers exploring the area near Haugesund and the perfect place to grab something to eat and rest. If you have no intention of hiking the nearby trails, there’s really no point in visiting the mountain hut.
The hut features large outdoor spaces with grills, tables, and benches, so it’s a great place to stop and get some rest in between hikes. They also have a variety of fun activities for visitors of all ages and some of the best waffles you’ll find in this part of Norway. But you’ll need to be at the hut on a Sunday between 11 AM and 2 PM to try the delicious waffles because that’s the only period when the café is open.
Djupadalen is a hiking area easily accessible from Haugesund’s city center. It’s the starting point of many hiking trails in the area, so it’s a great place to visit on a nice sunny day. The area boasts a beautiful landscape with a lake and waterfalls and it’s perfect for family picnics.
There are also mountain biking trails in the area, in addition to the countless forest trails. It’s possible to swim in the lake if the weather is nice enough, so be sure to bring along a swimsuit if you’re there on a hot summer day. The entire area is better experienced in the summer when the flowers are in bloom and all the trails are easily accessible. Winter months bring with them a lot of snow, making some trails entirely inaccessible, and others much more dangerous.
Go for a walk around Haugesund’s old town and eventually you’ll see the Vår Frelsers Church. It’s an iconic city landmark, and it stands out so much you really can’t miss its tall clock tower when you’re looking at the city skyline.
The church is beautiful inside and out, so don’t just take photos of its exterior. Go for the tour if it’s open when you visit and see all the wonderful ornaments and stained glass windows inside.
Located in the center of Haugesund, the Karmsund Civic Museum is a must-stop on any thorough tour of the city. It’s a cultural history museum with four permanent exhibits on the city’s history and the lives of locals. If you have any interest in learning more about Haugesund, this museum is an absolute must. The permanent exhibitions focus on agriculture, fishing, and Haugesund’s maritime history. The museum also has temporary exhibitions that change every year.
It’s even fun for kids – they can spend time at the designated playing area or they can go on a treasure hunt! The museum also boasts a shop full of Haugesund souvenirs and a nice café.
Formbar Glassverksted is a glassblowing workshop in Haugesund and it’s perfect for travelers who enjoy unique experiences. You can try to do some glassblowing yourself, or you can just watch the professionals do it and admire their skills. There’s also a shop where you can buy all sorts of unique glassware, from crooked glasses to one-of-a-kind lamps.
Haugesund is close to some of Norway’s most famous tourist attractions, so there are plenty of options for day trips if you have the extra time. When you’re done exploring everything the charming city has to offer, consider leaving it for a few hours to discover other spectacular sights in the area.
Bergen is one of Norway’s largest cities and it’s only about three hours outside Haugesund. It’s best known for the spectacular mountains that surround the city and which are full of exciting hiking trails waiting to be explored.
Bergen is best known for Bryggen, a medieval wharf full of colorful houses in the city’s harbor district. Fishing and the maritime industry, in general, have always been very important for this seaside city, so Bergen boasts many interesting museums that educate visitors on this topic. The Bergen Maritime Museum, Bryggens Museum, and Bergenhaus Fortress are just the most popular ones.
One of the things you absolutely must do if you’re ever in Bergen is ride the cable car to the top of Mount Ulriken. It’s a short ride that rewards you with beautiful views along the way, and they just get better once you finally reach the top station. Mount Ulriken and Mount Floyen are both so close to the city that it’s possible to hike to them from the city center, making Bergen one of the best places in Norway for hikers!
Stavanger is an exciting city, full of fun things to do. It’s also close to some of Norway’s most iconic sights like Pulpit Rock, Lysefjord, and Florli, which is why most people come to this city in the first place. There are cruises to the Lysefjord from Stavanger harbor, and consider going on one if you’re interested in exploring the beautiful landscapes of this region.
If you’d rather just stay in the city, it’s fine – there are plenty of things to do in Stavanger to keep you occupied for a day. Gamle Stavanger and Fargegaten are two city streets you need to see in person. They’re similar because they’re both city streets lined with houses on either side, but they’re as different as they could be. One feels like a step back in time, while the other boasts colorful houses, murals, and all sorts of other decorations.
Other popular sights in Stavanger include the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, a reconstructed Iron Age Farm, the astonishing Stavanger Cathedral, and the iconic Sverd i Fjell monument.
Utsira is an island that lies some 18 kilometers west of Karmøy. You can get there by ferry – there are four departures each day from Haugesund, and the ride is a little over an hour long. The island is fairly small with just some 200 residents, most of whom live in the island’s central valley.
The island boasts a lighthouse that looks rather charming. The entire place is very picturesque, and people who enjoy taking photos are going to love it here. But that’s not still the main reason why you need to get on a ferry and head to this remote island.
Utsira is the absolute best birdwatching spot in Norway. More than 320 bird species were documented on the island, most of which are incredibly rare sights. If you’re into birdwatching at all, or if you just enjoy taking photos of unique birds, a day trip to this quaint little island is an absolute must.
Åkra is a small municipality some 25 kilometers south of Haugesund. It’s a 40-minute drive or a 60-minute bus ride, and it’s definitely worth the time if you want to see some of Norway’s most beautiful beaches.
With white sand, azure sea, seagulls, and incredibly beautiful landscape, it’s very easy to forget you’re in Norway and not somewhere in the Caribbean. Until you get in the water and the cold reminds you exactly where you are. On a hot summer’s day, the chilly sea could be exactly what you need to cool down a bit!
It’s worth noting that the beaches in Åkra get crowded in the summer, so unless you specifically want to relax and go swimming, you might want to skip this day trip. Instead, visit Åkra in the spring or fall, to admire the incredible beauty of nature without the excessive crowds. You could even go swimming or surfing if you just put on a wetsuit.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.