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Hiking to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) – Lysefjord, Norway

Hiking to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) – Lysefjord, Norway

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

A complete guide to hiking to Preikestolen, or “Pulpit Rock”, a towering 604-meter cliff viewpoint above the Lysefjord in Norway’s Rogaland near Stavanger.

Hiking to Preikestolen is one of the best things to do near Stavanger and even in all of Norway, especially if you love epic views!

The flat mountain rock plateau towers a massive 604 meters over the Lysefjord and looks as if it was carved by Trolls or Vikings in search of the most scenic camp spot. It’s truly one of the most impressive viewpoints I’ve ever seen in my life.

I first hiked to this amazing cliff viewpoint in 2015 and have recently been back to hike it again with my friends in 2023. Things have changed a little since I wrote this original Preikestolen hiking guide. So, I’ve updated this to include everything you need to know to hike this yourself, including how to get to the trailhead, what to expect, and tips for beating the crowds!

About the Preikestolen Hike

Preikestolen, also known as Pulpit Rock, is a renowned hiking destination in Norway, famous for its dramatic 604-meter-high cliff overlooking the Lysefjord, one of Norway's most spectacular Fjords.

The rock has an almost completely flat plateau of approximately 25 x 25 metres which is plenty of space to stand on to view the mountains and cliffs from the West at the dramatic Northern side of the fjord.

You'll likely have seen this epic flat rock with dramatic cliff drop featured in travel photos and documentaries already. That's because along with hikes like Kjeragbolten and Trolltunga, Preikestolen is one of the most famous viewpoint hikes in the country!

Below is a short summary of things you need to know when hiking to the Preikestolen viewpoint.

  • Distance & Duration: The trail to Preikestolen is 4 km one way, with a 500-meter elevation gain. Typically, it takes about 2 hours each way but this depends on the conditions and your walking speed.
  • Iconic Viewpoint: Towering 604 meters above Lysefjord, Preikestolen is recognized all over the world for its truly epic views, receiving mentions from CNN and Lonely Planet. The downside is that this also makes it quite popular, so expect crowds in the peak season.
  • Trail Characteristics: The initial 500 meters feature a winding gravel path ascending over 80 meters. The route then evens out, followed by a gradual incline. There have been recent enhancements to the trail including bridges and Sherpa steps make the hike more accessible.
  • Rest Spots: Numerous picturesque rest areas dot the trail. Tjødnane, approximately 1 km in, offers a perfect spot for a quick break and a dip in a small tarn.
  • Terrain Variety: The hike passes through beautiful birch forests and over smooth rock. You'll know you're getting close when you reach the cliffs of the Lysefjord.
  • Plateau Experience: The plateau, just 25 x 25 meters, provides the best views over Lysefjord. It's an ideal spot for photos.
  • The Descent: The descent follows the same route back down (out and back).
Misty day at preikestolen lookout
Preikestolen viewpoint on a misty day

How to Get to the Preikestolen Trail

Getting to the trail will depend on where you are staying and what means of transport are available. Below I'll outline four different options for getting to Preikestolen.

Quick Answer: Easiest Way to Hike to Preikestolen from Stavanger

Preikestolen is located south of Jorpeland in a remote region of the famous Lysefjord. The closest major tourist town is Stavanger, which like most other travelers, is where I based myself when going for the Preikestolen hike.

However, getting to the trailhead independently from Stavanger is a little tricky and takes between 50-60 minutes. This is because you need to drive through one of the world’s longest subsea tunnels, Ryfylketunnelen to get here.

Additionally, public transport is very limited, and there are only seasonal coach routes going to the hiking trailhead directly.

Instead, if you don't have your own car, then I highly recommend booking the hiking trip from Stavanger which includes the return transfer and an easy-going guide who will show you the route.

Otherwise, below are three more Pulpit Rock/Preikestolen hiking tours that include transport from Stavanger.

Travel tip: After hiking this route in Summer and Winter, I can confirm that during the off-season Winter months (November to February), many tours and transport companies close. If you are experienced, then is a good time to hike it as there are much fewer tourists but you will need to arrange transport yourself.

Option 1: Public Bus Route from Stavanger (Seasonal Timetables)

The first time I hiked to Preikestolen in 2015, I was forced to take the Ryfylke Express Ferry to Tau and then a public bus to the Presikestolen Mountain Lodge to begin the hike.

However, during my recent visit, I spoke to Aksel from Visit Norway, who told me that there are now two express coach transfers to the mountain lodge from Stavanger. In my opinion, this is much easier as it only takes about 50 minutes from Stavanger each way, compared to about 1-2 hours for the old method.

This service is called the Preikestolen Express bus and drives directly from the center of Stavanger to the Presikestolen Mountain Lodge daily.

This is the updated timetable information:

Departure from StavangerReturn from PreikestolhyttaAvailable Months
08:0014:00April to September
09:0015:00June to August
10:0016:00April to September
11:0017:00June to August

You'll notice that this bus doesn't operate in the winter season. So, it's best to go for the other methods in the off-season.

Option 2: Organised Group Tour from Stavanger

If you don't want to organize your own way to the hike, you can book a hiking tour from several companies operating in Stavanger.

This usually ends up being a little expensive but will take the hassle out of the logistics so you can just enjoy a great day in the mountains.

Typically I choose the DIY option when I can because I prefer this type of independent travel. However, I've had great experiences hiking with group tours at Kjerag and therefore can certainly recommend these companies for Preikestolen based on that awesome experience!

If you're looking to book only the transport through a tour company, you have a couple of options below.

Frozen waterfall when hiking to preikestolen

Option 3: Take a Cruise on Lysefjord from Stavanger

The third option doesn't take you to the trailhead for the hike. But, it allows you to admire the might of Preikestolen from the bottom of the Lysefjord on an epic 3.5-hour scenic fjord cruise from Stavanger.

This cruise is called Rødne Fjord Cruise and departs from Strandkaien in Stavanger and can be booked online in advance.

The cruise passes close by the Hengjanefossen waterfall and the Vagabond's Cave and reminded me of the amazing Milford Sound cruise in New Zealand!

Option 4: Driving to Preikestolen Car Park

If you are fortunate enough to have your own car in Norway, the best place to start from Stavanger is to drive the famous Ryfylketunnelen to Tau and then drive 19.6km (25-30 minutes) to the large parking lot near the trailhead.

Alternatively, head to Lauvik Wharf (RV 13). Here, you can take the car ferry to Oanes and continue on RV 13 towards Jøssang. There are several signs to Pulpit Rock so keep a lookout.

Google Maps Pin: Preikestolen Parking

This is a very large car park and even has a big overflow parking lot next to it. So, even in peak season, you will have room enough to park your car. The cost is 250 NOK per day or 40 NOK if you park less than 2 hours.

But, this is not really enough time to do the entire return hike to the viewpoint.

Preikestolen with a bicycle
We took our bicycle to Preikestolen to promote our charity bicycle ride across Norway. (No we didn't ride down).

About the Hike

  • Hiking Distance: 8 km round trip (4 km each way)
  • Duration: 4 hours (2 hours each way)
  • Elevation: 500 meters gain (604 m elevation at the plateau)
  • Difficulty: Medium

The hike to Preikestolen is officially 8km for the return trip but I recorded roughly 7.6 km on my trip from the Prekestolen Mountain Lodge (Preikestolen Fjellstue).

The recommended time for this is 4 hours from the official sources. However, on my first hike in Winter, we spent a little longer due to the icy trail. And, on my second more recent hike up in Summer, it took about 2.5 hours (while we carried up a road bike for promo shots).

Those hiking to Preikestolen will find that the trail is well-marked, with trailheads dotted all the way to Pulpit Rock. You'll want to keep out for the obvious, red-painted trail markings which display the red letter “T”.

The terrain is slightly hilly, and winds through forest, valleys, and up rocky hills with flowing (or frozen, depending on the season) rivers.

The last kilometer before reaching Preikestolen has incredible views of the Lysefjord.

View of pulpit rock plateau from above

My Experience Hiking to Preikestolen

The hike begins at the gravel road just between the "Hiker's Cafe" and the souvenir shop. This is just a couple of hundred meters from the parking lot and very easy to see as there are signs everywhere.

Soon, the trail begins winding up the hill rapidly. In the first 500 meters, I gained over 80 meters in elevation before leveling out at a rocky section of the forest.

Hiking in lysefjorden with a bike

Continuing on, there are strategically placed bridges over the wettest sections, which are a good relief because this can get very boggy!

Bridge on the preikestolen trail in norway

Continuing on there are "Sherpa steps", installed by Himalayan Sherpas that the Norwegian government flies in to build trails. These are installed at the steepest parts which is particularly helpful as they offer steady footing and preserve the landscape.

Preikestolen hiking trail

About a kilometer in, I reached Tjødnane, a large scenic tarn where it is possible to swim on a warm day.

Icy lake at tjødnane near preikestolen in norway
Not swimming here in Winter!

Soon, the trail continues through varied landscapes through dense birch forests and onto open, smooth rock.

The terrain is a gentle mix of ascents and flat stretches, which makes for an enjoyable hike that isn't too strenuous.

Soon, we reached an emergency mountain shelter, which looked really comfortable but of course, is just for emergency use.

Shortly after I made it to Lysefjord, which I remember to be very close to the end and near the viewpoint.

From here, I followed the worn path along the edge of the cliff before arriving at the top of Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), the famous 25x25 meter plateau.

Preikestolen hike in lysefjorden

The journey in the summer months for me was much wetter due to the rain. However, it was a much more pleasant walk overall since the rocks are much easier to manage compared to the icy conditions in winter.

The journey back follows the same path, which is easy to follow, and climbs back down gently to the car park.

Follow my route: My Strava

Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) Viewpoint

Most people make the hike to Preikestolen trip to see the famous flat Pulpit Rock viewpoint. Standing near the edge and looking down onto the seemingly endless drop into the frozen fjord is a wild experience.

Unfortunately, this fjord is known for its heavy fog, which as you can see from the pictures, was particularly bad during my recent summer visit. However, you can see that on my winter trip, we had excellent views on a clear day.

Originally, the name of the ancient site was Hyvlatonnå, meaning "Planed Tooth" in English. However, Preikestolen got its new name around 100 years ago when tourism in the region was first kicking off. It is said that a local tourism organisation, Stavanger Turistforening wanted to establish the site for trekking.

Tip: If you want to take a photo of the Pulpit Rock platform, I recommend climbing up to a small viewpoint just behind it. You'll see the obvious trail leading up the rocks behind, just be careful as it was slippery in winter.

Preikestolen viewpoint, norway

Tips For Avoiding the Crowds at Preikestolen

Over 300,000 people visit this viewpoint every year. For perspective, that's an average of 821 people per day, and most of these are visiting in the summer peak season, so expect more!

That's a lot of hikers. Luckily for me, on both visits, I got no crowds since I visited for the first time in Winter, and on the second time, conditions were not ideal, with a late afternoon bringing in heavy fog and rain.

However, here are some more tips to help you avoid the crowds:

  • Early Start: Begin your hike before 7 am. Most crowds arrive after 8 am and the hiking tours from Stavanger usually start at 9 am. So, an early start ensures a quieter trail!
  • Off-Peak Season: Plan your visit in the shoulder months, April or September, when there are fewer tourists compared to the summer months. In Winter, we only saw a couple of other hikers.
  • Weekdays Over Weekends: Opt for a weekday hike. Weekends, especially Sundays, tend to be a lot more crowded!
  • Evening Hike: While not as good as an early start, a late afternoon or early evening hike is good when most day-trippers are heading back.
  • Stay Overnight: If feasible, stay at the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge to start your hike early or late, avoiding day-tripper schedules. I've also seen photos of people camping up here on a calm day, taking advantage of Norway's Allemannsretten (Right to Roam).

Best Time for Hiking to Preikestolen

Hiking to Preikestolen has particular seasons. The hiking season is April to September when the weather is warmer, days are longer and there is no ice on the trail. During this time, buses and tours are catering to those hiking to Preikestolen.

Due to its popularity, both the trail and Pulpit Rock viewpoint can get pretty crowded in peak season. Officially, the trail is closed in the Winter months but it is still possible to hike here, you just have to be careful.

The conditions are completely different, with very icy sections that can be present on the rocks.

Tip: Be Prepared in the Off-Season

The hike is definitely doable in the Winter months, however, is a little more sketchy. There is ice covering much of the path, meaning slippery crossings beside steep cliffs. It can also get pretty cold and windy. We were fortunate enough to have good weather, but temperatures will still be below zero for most of the hike.

It is important to monitor weather conditions as things can change quickly.

The days are also much shorter. You will need to account for this if you are hiking to Preikestolen in winter. Leave earlier and make sure you have enough daylight for the return hike back to the lodge.

After the hike, we returned to the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge to find it empty. Luckily we had a mobile with us to call for transport. It wouldn't have been fun to walk an extra 9 km at night in minus 10 degrees. Make sure you plan ahead.

Icy paths when hiking to preikestolen in norway
Slippery, cold conditions in Winter

Where to Stay in Stavanger

Bedroom views over stravanger at radisson blu atlantic hotel

1. Radisson Blu Atlantic Luxury

The perfect pet-friendly luxury hotel choice. Perfectly located within the city boasting incredible views over Stavanger. The ultimate choice if luxurious comfort is your thing.

Frogner house apartments lounge area with views of stravanger

2. Frogner House Apartment

With up to 3 bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen, it's a no-brainer choice for those traveling with a group. It's a great way to keep the costs low with maximum comfort.

Outdoor view of central economic stavanger hostel

3. Central Economic Stavanger Budget

The perfect budget backpacker choice for those in Stavanger. Featuring clean dorm rooms, a shared kitchen, and luggage storage. It even has the option of a 13-person holiday home.

No matter the season, the hiking to Preikestolen will demand some protection against the elements. During Summer and peak hiking season, the hike is fairly easy. Normal hiking attire with some protection from the wind will suffice.

Bringing a water bottle is also recommended. There are several flowing streams on the trail when hiking to Preikestolen. Drinking Norwegian mountain water straight from the stream is about as fresh as it gets. Remember there's always a risk, which is why I always filter with my Grayl bottle.

Here's a very basic overview of recommended hiking gear:

  • Footwear: Sturdy hiking boots with good grip are essential. For winter, opt for insulated, waterproof boots.
  • Clothing: Layered clothing is key. Use moisture-wicking fabrics as a base, add a fleece or wool layer for insulation, and finish with a waterproof, windproof outer layer. In winter, add thermal leggings and a heavy-duty insulated jacket. Goretex and a down combo is good.
  • Accessories: A hat and gloves are crucial year-round, with thermal versions for colder months. Sunglasses and a sun hat are advisable for summer.
  • Backpack: A small to medium-sized backpack is sufficient to carry water, snacks, and extra clothing.

If you are adamant about doing this hike in the off-season like us, you will need some extra gear. Warm clothes, a waterproof jacket, and some food are highly recommended. Although I didn't have them, we met one other hiker on the trail who had microspikes for the icy parts which looked like it helped a lot.

Hiker with garmin inreach satellite device

How I Stay Connected Off-Grid

I've been using the Garmin InReach Mini satellite communicator for all serious treks and expeditions since 2020.

It lets me send unlimited SMS anywhere on earth and has an emergency SOS feature that could save your life.

More Norway Adventure & Travel Guides

I hope that you enjoyed this updated guide to climbing up to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) for amazing views in Norway.

While you're here on my blog, why not check out some of my other Norway Travel guides for first-hand trip-planning advice to help you enjoy a unique trip?

  • Bryggen - guide to visiting the historic wharf and colorful buildings in Bergen
  • Mt Fløyen hike - an apic viewpoint I recommend in Bergen
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Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.