Haugesund is a city in the region West Norway of Norway. The town offers a much wider range of goods and services than might be expected from a city of its size (approx. 32,000 inhabitants; 42,000 including all suburbs), due to its position as the definite center of its relatively populous region.
Haugesund has its own airpot located on the island of Karmøy. There are several options for flying there: SAS Scandinavian Airlines (http://www.sas.no) from Oslo (up to 7 daily departures) and Bergen (up to 2 daily departures). Regional airline Widerøe (http://www.wideroe.no) from Copenhagen (2 daily departures) with SAS-connections to Europe, Asia and USA. Low cost carrier Ryanair (http://www.ryanair.com) from London Stansted (3 times weekly) and Bremen (2 times weekly).
It is also possible to fly to Bergen or Stavanger and travel to Haugesund using a fast ferry (http://www.tide.no) or by bus using Kystbussen (http://www.kystbussen.no).
There are several options for getting around Haugesund. The airport is linked to the city by bus. There is a special bus run by Kystbussen (http://www.kystbussen.no) which ties in with Ryanair arrival and departure times. Once in the city, it is possible to travel around either on foot or by using the local busses, run by Kolumbus (http://www.kolumbus.no). It is possible to travel to Bergen or Stavanger using busses run by Kystbussen or by fast ferries run by Tide (http://www.tide.no). It takes around 2 hours to travel to Stavanger and 3 and a half to travel to Bergen.
While it is possible to explore the city on foot, it may be beneficial to hire a car to see the surrounding area. Car hire is offered by Hertz, Avis and Europcar at the Airport and at various locations within the city itself. It can be expensive to rent the car. Petrol (o Bensin as it is called) is also expensive and road tolls must be paid on many roads. As a result, it may be worth renting a car for only part of your trip. For budget option, Rent-a-wreck also have a branch in Haugesund (http://www.rent-a-wreck.no/eng/index.php).
For thousands of years there have been human activities on Haugalandet, and the region is covered in traces of these people. Visit one of the many exciting, historic destinations!
- St. Olav's Church King Håkon Håkonsson erected the St. Olav’s Church around 1250 AD as part of the royal farm on Avaldsnes. Next to the church stands one of Norway’s tallest pillars, “Jomfru Marias synål” (Virgin Mary’s Sewing Needle). According to the legend when the pillar touches the church wall it means the end of the world. That is why the priests through the years have chipped off parts of the top. St. Olav’s Church is situated on Avaldsnes, approximately 10 minutes by car south of Haugesund.
- Nordvegen History Centre At Nordvegen History Centre king Harald Fairhair invites us in to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors. He is our guide through a 3500 year long history about Avaldsnes as a meeting spot between Norway and Europe, and as a national and, at times, international centre of power. The Viking king presents some of the kings who have controlled the Norwegian coast from Avaldsnes. Some of these kings are known through archaeological findings, and some through tales. The history centre is situated adjacent to St. Olav’s Church.
- The Viking farm at Avaldsnes The Viking farm at Bukkøy is a reconstructed farm at Avaldsnes. The museum provides knowledge about the lives of our ancestors. In the museum courtyard you will find a traditional longhouse as well as smaller dwellings, a Viking boat and plants and animals. During the summer people are dressed in Viking clothes as they display the Vikings’ way of life. You get here by walking from St. Olav’s Church, through the open beautiful landscape before getting to the tree-covered island.
- Haraldshaugen Just north of downtown Haugesund you will find Haraldshaugen, a testimony to the fact that although the city is young, the area has been known and used for thousands of years. Haraldshaugen consists of four important monuments in Norwegian history; the burial mound, the stone cross, the church site, and the National Monument (Haraldsstøtta). The latter was unveiled in 1872 in commemoration of Harald Fairhair’s gathering of Norway into one kingdom. The legend goes that he was buried here.
- Archaeological excavations The ground and sound at the old royal farm at Avaldsnes still hold secrets that can give us new knowledge about Norwegian and international history. Excavations have led to the discovery of traces of old buildings close to St. Olav’s Church. These findings might even prove to be remains of Harald Fairhair’s court, which he set up here following the battle of Hafrsfjord. Projects are in place to excavate more of the area in order to find out more about these important and exciting findings.
- Stødle Stødle, in the municipality of Etne, is another important historical area in Haugalandet. During parts of the Middle Ages, Stødle was the main seat of power in Norway. From here king Magnus Erlingsson ruled Norway at the end of the 12th century. His father, earl Erling Skakke, built a chapel at the royal farm. The chapel dates back to 1160 and today it is part of the current Stødle church. At Stødle you will also find remnants of the Bronze Ages. Stødle is situated about one hour by car east of Haugesund.
- Rehaugene At the top of Karmøy, six imposing earthen burial mounds, which dominate the landscape, were built during the Bronze Age (1800 – 500 BC). There used to be many more burial mounds here, however, only six remain, and they are called the pyramids of the north. They were built as the final resting place for the powerful chiefs that lived at Avaldsnes. These burial mounds show that 3000 years ago Norway traded with communities as far away as Russia, Ireland and the Mediterranean.
- Flagghaugen Flagghaugen is a burial mound dating back to the third century AD. It is situated just north of St. Olavs Church. Originally it was 43 meters in diameter and 5 meters high. The remaining parts can be seen just outside of the stone fence surrounding the church. A prince was buried here, and in the grave the richest gold finds from any grave in Scandinavia from the Later Roman Iron Age was found. Among the findings was a massive necklace made of 590 grams of pure gold. The prince is presented at the Nordvegen History Centre close by.
- Ryvarden The Icelandic Book of Settlement, Landnáma, says that Flòke Vilgjerdson build a beacon at Ryvarden in 868 before he sailed to Iceland. He was the first man to sail to Iceland with the purpose of settling there, and he is also the one who gave Iceland its name. The story goes that he used three ravens to show him the way, hence the name he is now known by; Ravnafloke (Raven-Floke). The first Viking raid is also said to have originated from Ryvarden. There is a small museum at Ryvarden telling the story of Ravnafloke. Of course, the highlight of a trip to Ryvarden is simply taking in the breathtaking scenery.
- The Viking Centre The Viking Settlement at Avaldsnes is copy of a Viking settlement, complete with a longhouse and all the requisites, has been reconstructed, just below the Church of Olav in Avaldsnes.
- The Bear Pit. Near to Karmøy, this is the ancient hole dating back to 972 in which irritating Swedes were thrown to be mauled by bears. The pracitce eventually deterred Swedes from passing through, although some credit this to the nearby 'Bird Cage'.
In August Haugesund host the Norway Film Festival and The SildaJazz Festival. Check out http://www.freedomnorway.com for information on things to do in Haugesund.
Haugalandet is one of the best commercial regions in Norway and is well equipped with nice down town areas, charming markets and large shopping centres. In other words: you will find everything you need and more!
There are numerous restaurants on the harbor.
- Restaurant Naustet specialises in maritime fare served in intimate and cosy surroundings that reflect part of Haugesund's history.
- To Glass, Strandgaten 169 (Next to the tourist information building), ☎ 52707400, . 15:00-0:00. Considered one of the best places in the city, it has prices to match. It is also not a place to visit if you are a vegetarian, but then most places in Norway aren't. The restaurant is best known for its tapas.
There are several pubs and clubs in Haugesund. However like the rest of Norway these places only come alive on a weekend and late at night, in many cases after 22-00, most have pretty good live music and cater for all ages, the big drawback is the crippling price of alcohol, $11 dollars for Guinness, $10 for local lagers, and up to $20 for spirit and mixer.The staff are usually very friendly and all speak good English, in fact many staff speak 2-3 languages.
- Sam Son, The Harbour, . 11:00-01:30. Located on the waterfront, Sam Son's chic decor provides an excellent place or relax in the afternoon or party all night. They offer food, beer, wine and cocktails. It is also worth trying one of their smoothies.
- Lothes Mat og Vinhus, Skippergate 4, . Cafe from 11.00-22.00 (23.00 Friday-Saturday) and Restaurant from 18.00-22.00 (23.00 Friday-Saturday). Provides a warm atmosphere during day and into the evening. Drop in for a drink, coffee or a meal. The food is good and prices are reasonable.
There are several hotels in Haugesund.