Photo: The Lysefjord - Eduardo Grund /
Fjord Tours Articles / 15 Nov 2021

A History of Pulpit Rock

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.

Outdoorlife Norway_Preikestolen Autumn Hike.20171018.13.jpg
Photo: Outdoorlife Norway

What is Pulpit Rock?

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.

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.

Preikestolen Panoramic Sunset Profilbilde Lav
Photo: Paul Edmundson

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 traveling from Oslo, the journey is 8 hours.

Rygerdronningen 28 Servogear Lav
Photo: Rødne

How do I get to Pulpit Rock?

A perfect way to get to the Pulpit Rock from Stavanger is the Lysefjord in a Nutshell™ 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!

Preikestolen MG 9009 1667782 Photo Eduardo Grund
Photo: Eduardo Grund /

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 lights of towns glittering 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!

Outdoorlife Norway Preikestolen Sunrise Hike2017090221
Photo: Outdoorlife Norway