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The Pulpit Rock - history and hiking advice

Pulpit Rock, known as Preikestolen locally, is one of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations. In this article, we’ll tell you all about its fascinating history and look at the reasons why this unique rock formation continues to attract visitors from near and far.
Car ferry Forsand - Lysefjorden - Stavanger, Norway

What is Pulpit Rock?

Pulpit Rock is a flat plateau of rock that measures approximately 25m x 25m, offering wonderful views of the surrounding landscape. Jutting 604 meters in the air above Lysefjord, it’s possible to see all the way to Lysebotn which lies at the end of Lysefjord.
Pulpit Rock has been described by Lonely Planet as ‘one of the world’s most spectacular viewing points,’ and often features at the top of the list for natural wonders around the world. Nestled atop the Lysefjord, it’s a 25m squared mountain plateau which functions as a viewing point and has been attracting visitors for over a century.
The famous, well-visited natural attraction has an interesting history. Pulpit Rock was first discovered in 1896 by Thomas Peter Randulf, a bank manager and amateur hiker. The story goes that Randulff was a passenger cruising the fjords on the steam boat Oscar II when he looked up and spotted the monolith above him. Entranced by its beauty, Randulff decided to try to reach the summit, taking his friend Ole Hausken along for the hike. It took several days, but they made it to the top with the help of three locals.
Car Ferry Forsand - Lysefjorden - sunset at Preikestolen, Norway
As with any great discovery, the spectacular beauty of Pulpit Rock couldn’t be kept secret for long. By the beginning of the 20th century, tourists began to visit the rock and the Stavanger Hiking Association began building facilities to ease the burden of what was at that point a long and difficult hike.
Over the years, guest houses have been built along the trail which has become well-trodden due to its popularity. Despite these material improvements making the hike easier and more accessible, the rock itself remains unchanged – standing as a beautiful monument to the incredible artistry of nature.

Where is Pulpit Rock?

Pulpit Rock sits in the municipality of Strand in the Southwestern tip of Norway, just under 40km from Stavanger. It’s now easier than ever to get to Pulpit Rock- from Stavanger it’s just a 1.5 hour journey by bus or car (and optional ferry). If you’re travelling from Oslo, the journey is 8 hours.
Lysefjorden and Preikestolen Fjord cruise from Stavanger - runs to Hengjanefossen - activities in Stavanger, Norway

How do I get to Pulpit Rock?

A perfect way to get to the Pulpit Rock from Stavanger is the Lysefjord cruise & Pulpit Rock hike tour, including a stunning fjord cruise on the Lysefjord and transport by bus to the starting point for the hike.
Another option is to drive the whole way due to the opening of the Ryfylke Tunnel in 2019. The tunnel is in fact the world’s longest deep sea road tunnel, covering a whopping 14.4km!
On arriving at the Pulpit Rock parking lot, you have to lace up your boots for the 3.5km hike to reach the summit. While the hike is not especially difficult, the path does hug the cliff edge as you reach the top. If anyone in your group is afraid of heights, there’s no need to worry. ‘The Hill Trail’ breaks off from the main route and provides another way of reaching the summit – it includes a little added elevation, but the path is wider and easier to navigate so it’s perfect for families with kids!

When is the best time to visit Pulpit Rock?

Pulpit Rock is open all year round and can be accessed 365 days a year. However, due to the long summer days, June, July, and August are the most popular times to visit. That being said, the delights of the rock are not limited to these months – hiking season in Norway is from April to October and the bright leaves of spring or the rustic colours of autumn only add to the beauty of this stunning natural area.
For those who don’t mind the cold, you can even go in the winter months. Due to the ice and snow this is less common as particular care is needed when hiking, however, standing atop the empty rock with the glittering fjord below is truly a sight to behold. Just be sure to wrap up warm and always follow our advice for hiking this spectacular natural wonder!
Sunset over the Lysefjord   - The Lysefjord, Norway

Hiking advice

To reach the viewpoint which offers such outstanding vistas involves a fairly vigorous hike. If you’re not sufficiently prepared for the challenges en route to Pulpit Rock, you could find it a struggle. Coming prepared, however, will make sure that the hike is a pleasure from start to finish!
Here’s the essential guide to hiking up Pulpit Rock and what you might see, including how to stay safe when you’re at the top.
During the day Pulpit Rock can get very busy as it’s such a popular spot for tourists. Arriving just before the dawn provides the opportunity to see the glow of the morning sun bursting over the horizon in perfect serenity.
View to Preikestolen - Lysefjorden and Preikestolen Fjordcruise - Stavanger, Norway

Preparing for the hike

The route up to Pulpit Rock is considered to be a relatively easy hike, and one that’s suitable for children as well as adults. However, don’t let this classification make you complacent, as it still involves a considerable trek up to the top and it’s imperative to be properly prepared.
There are some steep areas on the path so you’ll need to wear proper hiking shoes. Don’t be tempted to try and walk the trail in unsuitable footwear, such as regular running shoes, or flip flops, for that matter! Close to the summit, the trail narrows and there’s a dizzying drop so it’s essential to have proper footwear.
Sunrise at the Pulpit Rock - Stavanger, The Lysefjord, Norway
Whether you’re climbing up in the winter or the summer, take supplies for all eventualities. On the mountain the weather can swiftly change and the temperature can feel very different to sea level. This means having warm clothing, rainproof layers, lots of fluids and energy-packed food. You should also carry a map and a compass, even though there’s a marked trail. All of your provisions should be carried in a comfortable backpack.
The length of the hike depends on the starting point, but as an example the Pulpit Rock Sunrise Hike takes approximately 9-12 hours. Therefore, while it’s not the toughest uphill hike you will need to be reasonable fit to undertake the excursion. In winter it’s much more demanding and you’ll need to be much physically able to cope with the snow and ice.
Macigal Pulpit Rock - Stavanger, Norway

Reaching the top

The route to the top of Pulpit Rock is generally very safe, with very few accidents. However, even when you’ve reached the top it’s important to bear safety in mind. Statistics show that there is a certain increase in accidents on the way to the Pulpit Rock.
A popular activity is to have a photo taken close to the edge. If you’re feeling daring you could even lie on your stomach and look down over the edge to the plunging drop below! Don’t forget to consider the wind before you get too close to the cliff-edge; when you’re so high up the gusts are much stronger than lower down the mountain. If in doubt, have your photo taken further back; it’s not worth risking your safety for the sake of a snap and risk «death by Instagram»!

Experience it first-hand

If Pulpit Rock sounds like the adventure you’ve been waiting to have, why not take steps to experience it for yourself? With so many excursions and options available from Fjord Tours, there’s no time like the present to plan a visit.

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