Key information: Preikestolen
- One of the iconic sites of Norway, Preikestolen (or Pulpit Rock) is a square and almost flat outcrop with vertical sides plunging 604m down into the beautiful Lysefjord.
- The views along Lysefjord from the top are some of the finest you will see anywhere.
- In the summer months, throngs of tourists descend on Preikestolen, so don't expect solitude.
- Walkopedia rating85
- Natural interest15
- Human interest4
- Negative points4
- Total rating85
- Note: Negs: crowds
- Length: 6km
- Maximum Altitude: 604m
- Level of Difficulty: Moderate
The astounding Lysefjord in south-west Norway is a spectacular flooded valley, the sea eagerly swallowing up land as retreating ice relinquished it. Glaciers carved this landscape, and still act upon vast swathes of it. Enclosed by snow-laden mountains on all sides (for much of the year), vertiginous rockfaces plunge down to the fjord's very shores from hundreds of metres up. The mountains themselves are yet higher: Kjerag, on the fjord's eastern end, tops 1,110m.
The most famous feature, however, is Preikestolen, the Pulpit Rock. This solid spur of granite stands majestically across the fjord from Kjerag plateau, a mere 604m up (gulp!), but those metres sheer and smooth. Its precipitous cliffs are the pull for thousands of visitors each year, mostly crammed into three or four summer months, so don?t expect solitude.
Views from its near-flat, 25m x 25m top take in the length of the fjord, some 23 miles, while ridges sharpened by frost-shattering sweep away and up in every which direction. Preikestolen?s odd smoothness actually comes from this same action: during glaciation, frozen water pried off vast oblong blocks along intrinsic fault lines. Now, the planes of the dramatic excrescence are in stark contrast to the surrounding jagged peaks, giving its old local name of Hyvlatonna ("the carpenter-plane's blade").
The ideal picnic place, then, is at the furthest point along the out-and-back route, high above the lake's deep waters. It is said that a "mystic voice" gives hikers a strange desire to leap from the edge - clearly an international phenomenon, as similar also happens on Emei Shan in China.
Trek the four kilometers from Preikestolhytte car park to the outcrop; a decidedly treacherous, and steep, and demanding, path - despite a relatively small height gain of c.300m. The track is well marked, as with many Norwegian trails, a red 'T' painted on rocks en route.
Alternatively, higher but with less prestige: Kjerag. Although 1,110m at its peak, its north face gives a similar vertigo to Preikestolen. It does have its own idiosyncrasy, however. Kjeragbolten is a 5m3 rock plugged into a gap between two slabs. It is jumpable, but only for the brave, and Walkopedia is probably a bit too chicken. A number of ascents are to be had, perhaps the easiest that from Oygardsstolen visitor centre.
The Kjerag option is far better for solitude (though by no means guaranteed, with others too avoiding the Pulpit Rock's crowds), and with the added benefit of a panorama including Preikestolen.
Perhaps the best bet, then, is both: Preikestolen's 3.8kms (brunch on top?), then back down, and then around by road to Oygardsstolen visitor centre and the Kjerag walk.
Other accounts: share your experiences
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Find a wide selection of books on this walk on Amazon:
Norway – Lonely Planet
Norway– Rough Guides
Norway South – Rother Walking Guides
Norway 2007 – Michelin National Maps
Maps are available from the Preikestolhytta accommodation, including orienteering maps of the local area for those who wish to do more walking.
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
The best time to visit the area is probably Spring, when the weather tends to be dry and the spring sun out, with snow still on the mountains. Summer can be very nice, with long sunny spells, but can equally turn out to be cloudy and damp.
The weather around Stavanger is dictated by the presence of the Gulf Stream, and the winters are generally mild and wet, whilst summers can vary from dull and wet to long sunny spells. It is driest in the Spring; in the autumn the area is often hit by the remnants of tropical hurricanes, and can get very windy.
It is possible to fly to Stavanger (about an hour from Preikestolen) or to get to the port by Boat, from England or Denmark. There are trains here, but only southwards along the coast to Oslo.
Most people get to Preikestolen by car, catching the ferry from either Stavanger or Oanes.
Stavanger - Tau - Stavanger: The ferry departs from Stavanger several times a day and there is a bus connection to Jørpeland for most of the ferries. However the bus only goes all the way to Preikestolhytta in the summer months.
Oanes - Lauvvik -Oanes: If you are coming by car from the south of Norway, catching this ferry is the best way to reach Preikestolhytta
Lysebotn - Forsand: The tourist ferry runs from Stavanger to Lysebotn at the end of the Lysefjord.
The first half of the route is along a stone-flagged path, whilst the second half is very rocky and awkward (requiring sturdy footwear!). The height difference between Preikestolhytta and Preikestolen is 350m. The path is clearly marked and generally very busy.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Heights: dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
This is a short, easy walk and done independently, especially given the proximity of the Preikestolhytte, which offers accommodation and food.
There is plentiful accommodation in Stavanger, and many youth hostels in various towns on or near Lysefjord, from these places it is easy to reach Preikestolhytta, a hostel which has been purposefully built for those wishing to climb ‘Pulpit Rock’. This provides good facilities, including cheap rooms and food.
Other information and tips
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with information on Preikestolen. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
Other things to do in the area
- Vatnerinda Ridge
- Ulvaskog Wood
- Refsvatnet Lake Circuit
- Moslifjell Mountain
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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