Haugesund has a population of just under 40,000. The town is nonetheless compact and has a strong urban vibe. It serves as regional centre for the surrounding area, which has a population of more than 110,000. Haugesund is situated off Smedasundet sound beside the North Sea to the west, and several populated islands lie close to the centre, such as Utsira and Røvær, which you can get to by boat or across bridges.
Although Haugesund is mentioned in Snorre Sturlason's saga about Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway, it was not until the 18th century and well into the 19th century that the town as we know it took shape. Like many of the towns in Western Norway, the town was built on the herring fisheries.
If you visit Haugesund today, you’ll see that it still makes its living from the sea, and it is often referred to as the maritime capital of Norway. Norway’s only national monument, Haraldshaugen, erected in honour of Harald Fairhair, is in Haugesund. The town is also the proud host of the Norwegian International Film Festival Haugesund and the Sildajazz jazz festival.