St Olav's Church

Bergen & the Southwestern Fjords

This ancient stone church was built under the reign of King Håkon Håkonsson. Work began in 1250, although it's thought that a much earlier wooden chapel here stood here for many years before. Dedicated to St Olav, it's a fascinating relic of Viking architecture – and an important navigation aid for sailors. Guided tours visit the interior in summer.

The church used to be surrounded by several stone obelisks, although now only one – an impressive 7.2m slab known as the Virgin Mary's Needle – still stands. It's leaning perilously towards the church wall, and legend suggests that when it actually touches the wall the Day of Judgement is at hand.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bergen & the Southwestern Fjords attractions

1. Nordvegen Historiesenter

0.09 MILES

Down a short path from the car park for St Olav's Church, this history centre recreates the story of Harald Fairhair and other monarchs of the newly…

2. Avaldsnes Viking Farm

0.39 MILES

This living history centre brings Viking culture to life, with a number of reconstructed Viking buildings, and regular displays of handicrafts, metalwork,…

3. Visnes Grubeområde

2.49 MILES

From 1865 to 1972, the village of Visnes, 4km west of Avaldsnes, was home to the largest and most sophisticated copper mine in Norway. Over its lifetime,…

4. Marilyn Monroe Memorial

3.86 MILES

Bizarrely, Haugesund claims to be the ancestral home of Marilyn Monroe, whose father, a local baker, emigrated from here to the USA. This monument on the…

5. Vår Frelsers Church

4.13 MILES

With its arrow straight spire and redbrick exterior, this church in the centre of Haugesund is a local landmark.

6. Haraldshaugen


The burial site of Viking King Harald Fairhair, the first king of a unified Norway, is 1.5km north of Haugesund. The obelisk memorial, erected in 1872,…

7. Karmoy Fishery Museum


In Vedavågen, on the island's west coast, this striking museum explores the region's modern fishing industry and also has a saltwater aquarium. It's…

8. Skudeneshavn

14.26 MILES

The wonderful Skudeneshavn, 37km south of Haugesund, got very rich on the herring trade in the 19th century and is known for its 'Empire-style' wooden…