When you hear people talk about bucket list places in Norway, then you can pretty much bet that Preikestolen, also known as Pulpit Rock, is on that list. We set off on this challenging hike to find out why.
We had conquered Kjeragbolten earlier in the day and were enjoying the fabulous view and ice cream at the harbour of the tiny isolated town Lysebotn, at the far eastern end of Lysefjord. With a good ten hours of decent light left, we decided to throw our remaining energies at the renowned Preikestolen. It was a realistic plan. Norwegian summers offer 18+ hours of good light and both hikes were 4 to 5 hours long, so we weren’t cutting it fine by any means. We should say though, in hindsight, that hiking to both sights on the one day was physically tiring and we would recommend seeing them over two days.
From Stavanger, ‘Preikestolen’ is about a 1.5-hour drive (approximately 60-kilometres, including the 15-minute car ferry from Lauvvika to Oanes). This steep rock face overlooks the Lysefjord. Over the last few years, Preikestolen has drawn annual crowds in excess of 250,000. Unlike the Kjerag hike, Preikestolen is open year-round, allowing visitors to lock this bucket list destination into their itinerary. Lysefjord is also home to the famous Kjeragbolten.
Preikestolen was shaped during the last ice age over 10,000 years ago. This near-vertical rock face towers over Lysefjord at a height of 604 metres and is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Norway. It was only in 1900 that the first tourist travelled to the top of ‘Preikestolen’. In 1949, the Stavanger Trekking Association built the Preikestolen lodge (close by the car park) making it more attractive for tourists. This was followed in 1961, by the completion of the road to the lodge.
Trek to the Top
Give yourself a minimum of 3.5 hours for the return trip starting from the car-park, including some indulgence time at the top. The 8-kilometre return hike is considered medium technical difficulty and within the ability of most persons.
The uphill sections have stepping-stones, laid by Nepalese Sherpas, for solid footings. Scaling steep rock faces won’t feature in this walk, which is why it is so popular. But in saying that, the trek does have its challenges. The walk up to Pulpit Rock brings your thighs alive, whilst the return descent tends to shock-load the knees a little, but after all, you are trekking the fjords!
Don’t under-estimate how much water you need to drink. The Summer temperature on the day we trekked topped out at 23 DegC, which was a comfortable operating temperature. Now, factor in a weighty backpack, multiple uphill ascents and we were guzzling H2O like it was going out of fashion. It’s always better to over-estimate what you need. About halfway into the trek, you pass a tempting, little lake where we saw some swimmers making the best of the opportunity.
It’s not until you reach the last kilometre that you start getting the views you came for. As with any of the climbs, a fair degree of caution is required. On the final leg of the hike to the plateau, you actually walk parallel to the precipice (on a broad-ish path).
It’s probably about here that you’ll notice there are no safety barriers to prevent falls. This is to preserve the natural beauty of the surrounds. So, take heed, it’s up to you to make those sound decisions on how close to the edge you choose to go. You’ll then need to step over a narrow but deep fissure.
After 1hr 15 mins we had arrived at our objective, the roughly 25m square plateau of Preikestolen. It was 8 pm. The crowds had disappeared, and we shared this magical sight with just a few other people.
Some of these were carrying tents with the intent to camp near the plateau for the night. Check out the photo below. And was the panorama as good as the photos we had seen? Beyond!
Those views! A perfect example of nature working its magic. We had that ‘Oh wow’ feeling when first walking out onto the 600m high plateau. Seeing the beauty of those forbidding, grey, craggy cliffs plunging into the fjord’s mirror-like cerulean waters was a scene that defied comprehension. We felt humbled by the majestic landscape before us, in which we, at that very moment, felt so insignificant. It’s feelings like those, you never forget.
With Preikestolen so accessible, there’s no reason not to factor it into your schedule during your Norway visit. We loved the adventure. For us, Preikestolen lived up to and surpassed all that we expected.
Have you had some great hiking experiences in Norway? We’d love to hear about your adventures.
Good to Know
Length of Hike: Roundtrip totalling 8 kilometres
Walking time there and back: 2 hours 30 minutes
Technical difficulty: Medium (as classed on a Norwegian hiking site )
Sunrise time (Summer, July): 04:45 am
Sunset time (Summer, July): 10:45 pm
Car park cost: 220 NoK without a time limit cap
Toilets: at the car park
Take sunscreen and plenty of water.
Getting to Preikestolen from Stavanger (a one-way trip of 60 kilometres): Drive 45 minutes from Stavanger to Lauvvik, take the ferry from Lauvvik to Oanes (30-minute journey) then drive the remaining 20 minutes to the Preikestolen parking lot.
From Preikestolen back to Stavanger: 2 options are available. Backtrack on your inbound route going to Oanes, ferry to Lauvvik and drive back to Stavanger or as we did, drive 20 minutes (36 kilometres) to Tau and take the 1-hour ferry trip to Stavanger.
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Being an Australian boy brought up in the country, I learnt at an early age to enjoy the freedom and beauty of nature. Leaving Australia at the age of 20, although I didn’t know it then, would be the beginning of a life of adventure. So join me here on our travels and see the world through my eyes.