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Before this port city on Norway’s western coast earned its status as the epicenter of “black gold” and the extraction of North Sea oil, it was a shipbuilding and fish-canning town. Fuelled by its wealth as one of the world’s top energy capitals, it’s now home to top-notch fusion restaurants and a bustling nightlife that caters to a never-ending influx of expatriates.
Amidst this financial boom, though, Stavanger has managed to hold on to its heritage and soul: Archaeological museums and reconstructed settlements pay due reverence to the city’s Viking past. The cobblestoned Old Town is a well-preserved core of white wooden cottages near an Anglo-Norman cathedral, the oldest in Norway. Natural beauty abounds, too, with the nearby Lysefjord and its impressive Preikestolen (“The Pulpit Rock”) drawing a steady stream of visitors during the summer.