I will post our experience traveling in Norway (Stavanger) since I had such a difficult time planning it in advance.
**Perhaps other readers can add some options that we could use the next time.**
Just a note about why we chose to visit this part of Norway. We were in England and decided to try the budget airline Ryanair that flies to many European destinations from Stansted for ridiculously low prices (my return flight was less than $40USD). We wanted to climb in the fjords near Stavanger on the south-west cost and see the BASE jumping that goes on near there at Kjerag. Cars were very expensive to rent - two days would have cost over $300 just for rental. Many times the cars and buses must take ferries due to the inland depths of the inlets, so we decided to take public transportation.
Off-Season travel options - Stavanger as a base.
Helganes (HAU airport) to Stavanger
We traveled by Ryanair to Haugesund (actually Helganes) airport in September 2005. When I was planning this 'off-season' trip, I found it difficult to find information for costs, schedules, and options for after the tourist season ended August 31. Here is how we got around:
Helganes to Kopervik by taxi: (on a Monday)
Coming out of the airport at Helganes (14:20), there was a bus that had a 'Ryanair' tag in the front window. Many people were boarding this bus (15 min north) for Haugesund. However, we wanted to get to Stavanger and feared we would miss the ferry out of Haugesund. So we (4 of us) hired a taxi to Kopervik (10 min south) where we could catch the same ferry at 15:15. Taxi driver was friendly and spoke English. Fare was 186 NOK.
Kopervik to Stavanger by ferry: (on a Monday)
Kopervik was quiet (almost deserted it seemed, until the ferry arrived). I had printed off a copy of the Flaggruten schedule and fares and the same schedule was posted in the ferry office window. I figured that 'minipris T/R' meant 'return trip' and I was right. It was 320 NOK for a trip Kopervik to Stavanger (and return to Kopervik for later). We boarded and stood in line at the on-board kiosk to pay. The ferry trip took an hour.
Stavanger to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) and return:
Stavanger to Tau: (on a Tuesday)
Next day we headed for Tau by ferry, with a plan to take a 'tourist bus' to Preikestolhytta (the Preikestolen base lodge). I had printed off a schedule for both ferry and bus but found that the ferry times had changed slightly (though were still regular 30 min apart through the day and evening). I was worried we'd miss the 'tourist bus' to Preikestolen. Also caught a quick peek at the latest return time (!) and there were plenty, even late into the night. We boarded around 09:00 and arrived in Tau around 09:40 - 34 NOK each (one way). This time they just let you simply board and take a seat and the ticketmaster makes the rounds for payment.
Tau to Preikestolhytta:
Straight off the ferry everyone was running for a big green bus so we had to make a quick decision. The driver said the direct 'tourist' bus to Preikestolhytta had stopped Aug 31 but that he would take us as far as Jorpeland and arrange a taxi from there. This is Osterhus Buss and I have a copy of the September to April schedule (includes the ferry times). Departed at 09:45 and arrived in Jorpeland at 10:15. There were a few regular stops in Tau itself and a ride into Jorpeland past postcard views of inlets and forested hills and sheep pastures (sit on the right side with cameras ready). Fare was 25 NOK each, one way. Only ourselves and one other group of tourists remained on the bus and the driver seemed to have forgotten, but he actually dropped us off at a parking lot where the taxi he had summoned was waiting. So all eight of us shared a taxi-van from Jorpeland to Priekestolhytta for 184 NOK. Maybe a 15 minute ride. The driver gave us a card (Strand Taxi) and told us to call for pickup.
Preikestolhytta to Tau:
Six hours later we dragged ourselves into a taxi at the base lodge and headed directly for Tau. For four of us, the cost would have been the same to take the taxi/bus combination. I had asked the attendant at the lodge store to call Strand Taxi for us. Another group approached us with an idea of sharing a taxi, but it was too late as the attendant had called another company for them. Same scenic drive back (but the other group got taken for a much longer and less scenic ride - just beware - I think it is worth being bold and talking to fellow travelers to prevent this). Our fare was 305 NOK. This may have been around 19:00.
Tau to Stavanger:
Ferry again - same price 34 NOK.
Stavanger to Lysebotn (Lysefjord) and return
We had originally planned to take a ferry up the Lysefjord to Lysebotn and climb to Kjerag. In the end we were too 'wrecked' from the 'stroll' to Priekestolen. The base camp at Lysebotn had clarified the following off-season travel option:
This is the MS Fjordelys Fast Ferry, NOT the slow tourist ferry that is now docked for the winter. This is the ferry that the locals take year round, but after August there is no longer a stop in Stavanger. If you had hoped to climb for the day, the only morning ferry departs at 06:15 (Mon-Fri) from Lauvvik and arrives and hour later in Lysebotn. Return schedule (for Sun-Fri) departs 15:30 and arrives in Lauvvik an hour later. Lauvvik (sometimes spelled Lauvik) is south-east of Stavanger across from Oanes (where the Lysefjord begins). I haven't done this trip to confirm times, nor do I know the price.
Stavanger to Haugesund and return to Airport
Stavanger to Haugesund: (on a Thursday)
Our return tickets were for Stavanger to Kopervik, but it was raining and we had a couple hours to kill before heading for the airport, so we were considering going all the way to Haugesund to do some shopping. We boarded at 09:15 and showed our tickets. During the trip we spoke to the ticketmaster and she said that not too many people purchase an additional one-way 'extension' from Kopervik to Haugesund. The regular one-way fare would have been 102 NOK each, and so we debated taking a taxi instead. Hearing this, the ticketmaster offered us half-price for the extension since we had purchased return tickets to begin with. So the additional fare was 51 NOK each and we continued on to Haugesund. Total trip time was 1 hour 20 min.
Haugesund to Airport (Helganes):
From the town center we hired a taxi for 210 NOK - 15 min ride.
How to read Norwegian transportation schedules
Here is a link for some common Norwegian schedule phrases, translated into English and German:
Hopefully this information helps any future budget- travellers.