The pulpit rock is for many people the very embodiment of how mountains and fjords should come together in Norway. It is THE picture perfect, iconic, everything you would think about Norway in one image, destination. This steep cliff is, with good reason, one of the most visited landmarks, not just in south-western Norway, but the entire country.
It towers 604 meters (1982 feet) over the Lysefjord, opposite of Kjerag, in Forsand, Rogaland county. It is an impressive sight and commands a viewing, whether you choose to look up from a boat, or down from the top with your feet dangling off its edge.
How is the hike?
Thanks to good infrastructure, the hike to the top is suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
Most people — young, elderly, fit, or even fumbling a bit — can do the 2.4 mile long hike without any problems. As the number of tourists have increased, a new and more accessible path is under planning.
The hiking trail is accessible all year round. There are two ways to get to the starting point of the hike, private car or bus. Both modes involve a ferry crossing on which you and the automobile can take a short rest. If you’re driving, it shouldn’t take more than one hour (including the ferry) from downtown Stavanger to the starting point of the trail. We’ve included a Google Map below. This map uses the most recent timetables. Anyways, if you need the timetables for ferries or other local transport, check out Kolumbus. This is the official public transportation portal for the Stavanger region (which also encompasses Preikestolen).
- Follow road Rv13 south from Stavanger via the car ferry to Tau, to Preikestolen Fjellstue (Pulpit Rock Mountain Lodge). The lodge also offers accommodation if you’d like to stay in the area.
- By bus from Tau to Preikestolen Fjellstue
If you’re driving from the south, head east on Rv13 in Sandnes, ferry from Lauvik to Oanes, and continue along Rv13.
Driving your own car has its advantages: you can get to the location early before everyone else and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature as well as get your awesome pictures with your feet dangling off the ledge (check out mine above) without families, tourists, dogs and people barbecuing in the background. You then are free to spend as much time enjoying this spectacular view without having to worry about timetables to get back.
Snow might be an issue in winter, making the path slippery and the hike harder, but still doable, so keep an eye on the weather forecasts.
If you want to see Kjerag, another uniquely impressive mountain site, at the beginning of the fjord, you should plan your excursion for summer time (unless you are willing to hike for days). The mountain road leading to Kjerag isn’t snowplowed in winter and is therefore closed.
The normal starting point for the hike is from Preikestolen Fjellstue. There you just follow a path leading all the way to the top. You can’t go wrong!
My advice, if you’re going in the summer: just follow everyone else, they’re all going to the top.
Throughout the trail there are several places for a rest stop to take a break and enjoy the beautiful views. To keep your motivation up, there are charts along the way telling you where you are and how much of the trail there is left to hike.
Do I have to join a tour group?
You can — but you don’t have to!
You can easily navigate the hike on your own by following a well marked path of red Ts (like most other trails in Norway). The path is nicely routed, and you will for most of the hike walk on rocks stacked in a stair-case like manner, or on wooden boards laid on the ground. Because of its steep drop off from the cliff, the top looks much higher up than it is. Most people think it’s an extensive climb to get there, but that’s not the case: the difference in elevation between the starting point and the end is a mere 1000 ft. It is a bit of a healthy walk with as many scenic breaks along the way as you like.
Good hiking shoes are always a plus — but I have seen people do the hike in high heels and flip-flops, so anything is possible.
The hike is completely safe — also for families, kinds and elderly.
As mentioned, bring good shoes (to avoid a twisted ankle on uneven rocks), and as always when hiking, bringing good clothes, with higher elevation it might be colder up top than when you started out. Water and food are always smart bets.
No barriers are present along the trail. While some people find this odd, this is done to preserve the natural beauty of the cliff. Technically there is nothing preventing you from falling down, but thus far, even with more than 200 000 visitors a year, there hasn’t been a single fatality. When hiking to the top, you follow a wide path — it’s not like you are balancing on the ledge to get there.
You can see a crack in the mountain, separating the plateau from the rest. The legend says that if seven sisters marry seven brothers from the Lysefjord area, the cliff will fall into the fjord — creating a tsunami to destroy all life around the area. So far, so good though.
Don’t want to hike?
If hiking is not for you, the cliff can also be enjoyed from below. A fjord cruise departs from downtown Stavanger several times a day throughout the summer. This guided tour will take you along the fjord, below the mountain, and provide you with some folk legends and information about the site. You will see water falls, cozy secluded houses, and mountain goats along the way. A different experience than the hike, but still a great one.
The cruise is operated by Tide. Though you can book tickets in advance, usually you can just line up to get tickets by the harbor.
In my opinion, this is one of the top hikes you can do in Norway. It’s for everyone, and as it is situated near Stavanger, can fit into everyone’s schedule.
Check out the video below!