From the Bronze Age onwards Avaldsnes has been a centre of influence around the north sea basin and beyond. During the Viking era Avaldsnes was the throne of the Norwegian kings and so the first capital of the kingdom.
According to legend, Olav Trygvason had a church built at Avaldsnes, apparently as a manor chapel for the king's residence. This has probably been a quite small stave church. The present day church was erected at approximately 1250 AD, on the order of Hakon Hakonsson. It has been dedicated to St. Olav, it was one of the greatest Norwegian stone churches from the Middle Ages, and it was one of the royal collegiate churches. The church was an important station of the pilgrimage route to Nidaros which went along the coast.
Nordvegen historiesenter (history centre) was opened in 2005, in order to raise the profile of the historical qualities of Avaldsnes. The centre is by the church site, and there is a replica of a farm from the Viking Age with several buildings and boathouses, at Bukkoy in Karmsundet.
As a part of Karmoy municipality Avaldsnes is today an active and flourishing village south of Karmsundbrua (bridge.) Avaldsnes idrettslag (sports club) has some hundred members.