I could tell you thousands of reasons why you should visit Norway and I’m beginning right here at the foot of Pulpit Rock in the western county of Rogaland. The name, known in norwegian as ‘Preikestolen’ is derived from the shape of the rock itself. 604 meters above the spectacular Lysefjorden hangs a 25 by 25 meter square cliff plunging into the deep, blue waters beneath. Feel your legs tremble and your adrenaline rise as you carefully slide your body close to the rim of the rock and tip your head outside the edge to views that you will never forget.
Preikestolen lies a couple of hours drive from one of Norway’s largest cities, Stavanger and is a popular destination for anyone interested in exploring beautiful nature and stunning fjord landscapes which you won’t come across many other places in the world. More than 200.000 people a year take on the four hour hike (return) to visit Preikestolen and to see what all the fuss is about. Oh man, the pictures weren’t lying. As if the hike up didn’t convince you, the views as you reach the rock’s plateau will eliminated any doubt about why this is considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
As part of a roadtrip or a visit to Stavanger, the hike is a perfect way to spend a day. Initially, I was on my way to hike up to Kjeragsbolten (also highly recommended) a bit further in in Lysefjorden on this day, but with morning fog that lasted well out into the early afternoon we had to admit defeat and head back towards the coast. I was proper bummed out when I realised I wouldn’t be able to go hiking, but as we descended from the mountains the fog lifted and again it was hope that this day wouldn’t be a complete waste after all. We got the idea to head to Preikestolen instead seen as it’s situated more or less in the same area.
The drive through the valleys before we reached the ferry docks at Lauvika was getting more spectacular by the minute as the sun was coming through the clouds. What makes Norwegian summers so appealing is the fact that the days last long into the the late hours of the evening. It was the 10 o’clock sunset that made it possible for us to change our plans and start the four hour hike to Preikestolen at 5 in the afternoon, perfect timing as we avoided the masses earlier in the day and got to enjoy the sun setting as we headed back down.
What is amazing about Norway is that it bears its greatest assets through fantastic nature and thus, most worthwhile experiences are completely free. The hike starts at Preikestolen Fjellstue and parking (100 NOK for the duration of your stay) and is 3,8 kilometers each way with an altitude difference of 330 meters.
Bear in mind that the hike is not for the faint hearted as the path narrows dramatically as you get closer to the plateau. Not everyone can stomach to see an over 600 meter plummet just a few meters away from your feet. With that said, it is only the last 15 minutes or so that you will get to feel the real impact of raw, rugged nature. Most of the path is made up of small trails with the occasional stone stairs at steep inclines and planked walkways through particularly wet areas. When you reach the top of the last incline you’ll start hiking on open mountain landscape until you reach Pulpit Rock.
The difficulty of the hike is more or less moderate with mostly flat landscape and a few inclines to reach the highest points. It is for sure one of the most rewarding views as you finally step out onto the rock that shows off Lysefjorden in the best possible way. If a day hike won’t satisfy your time spent at Preikestolen you can pack your camping gear and spend the night. Wake up to an early, but unforgettable sunrise as a new day begins.
The hike to Preikestolen is just one of many amazing trips that you can do around the mountainous landscape in Norway. Whilst in the area dont’t miss out on Stavanger, also know as Oljebyen (Oil City), the hike to Kjeragsbolten and the rest of Ryfylke (municipality) that has amazing opportunities to experience the fjords of Norway.