Preikestolen is a natural rock formation overlooking Norway’s stunning Lysefjord. It was formed by melting glaciers at the end of the Ice Age, about ten thousand years ago. The famous cliff towers 604 meters above sea level and is one of the most impressive views in Norway. Here are some tips for your Preikestolen hike, safely and securely.
What does Preikestolen mean?
In English, Preikestolen is also known as Pulpit Rock. When you translate Preikestolen from Norwegian to English, you get “the Pulpit Rock”. However, that’s not the only name Preikestolen ever had. Before it was known as Preikestolen, the site had the old local name “Hyvlatonnå”, which refers to the tooth of a wood plane. Around the year 1900, a local tourist organization gave the plateau the name “Prekestolen” and promoted it for trekking.
Later, they added the ‘i’ to reflect the local dialect, and Preikestolen the official name. The origin of the name is said to lay in the shape of the rock formation, but some have speculated that it might have been a place of sacrifice as well.
Where is Preikestolen located?
Preikestolen is located in Forsand municipality in the southern part of the Ryfylke district in Rogaland county, in Western Norway. It reaches 604 meters above the nearby Lysefjord, the southernmost major fjord in Norway. Visitors to Preikestolen normally stay in Stavanger, which is less than two hours away from the trailhead thanks to the local ferry between Stavanger and Tau and corresponding buses to the trail during all seasons except winter.
How to get to Preikestolen from Stavanger?
Travelers who want to hike Preikestolen will need to travel by ferry and bus (or car). In both instances, you’ll need to take the ferry from Fiskepirterminalen in Stavanger to Tau. The ferry takes 35-40 minutes and has regular departures from both sides of the fjord. Ferry tickets cost 60 NOK per person.
Ferry + bus
The ferry + bus option is a common option, especially during summer. Most morning departures with the ferry have corresponding bus departures. For more specific information, you can check out our timetable here. Buses are available from April through November and bring you to Preikestolen Fjellstue, where the hike starts. Bus schedule is in line with the ferry timetable. To save some money, buy your bus tickets online.
Ferry + car
If you choose to drive, you’ll have to pay for the car on the ferry and you’ll have to pay for parking at the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge. Ferry prices for a regular sized car are 182 NOK (driver included in the price).
When you arrive in Tau, drive south on the National Road (Rv13) and follow the signs to Preikestolen. At the Preikestolen trailhead, there is a car park where you can park your vehicle. The parking fee is 200 NOK.
Cruise + hike
One of our partners, Rødne, also offer a cruise and hike that gives you a cruise through the amazing Lysefjorden before you hike to the plateau itself.
Backpackers can spend the night on the Preikestolen campground. It is located 4 kilometers away from the trailhead. During peak-season the main building is open from 7.30am to 10.30 pm. Campground is open year-round.
The Preikestolen Mountain Lodge is an option for spending the night. There’s also a known for its excellent, traditional Norwegian food. A cheaper alternative for accommodation is the Preikestolhytta (hostel).
Tips for hiking Preikestolen
Information about the trail
The trail to Preikestolen starts from the parking by the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge (Preikestolen Fjellstue). It starts at an elevation of approximately 270 meters and has a total distance of 7.6 kilometers (round trip).
Even though the elevation difference is only 334 meters and the trail isn’t particularly long, the walk itself can be very steep in some places. You’ll be going up and down several hills on your way. Don’t worry though. There are several great spots to rest (and even one to take a bath!).
A round-trip hike to Preikestolen from the trailhead takes about 3-4 hours depending on your fitness level. Note that it takes longer to go down the trail than it takes to go up because you have to be extra careful. You’ll also be meeting people on the way.
How to find the trail?
Because Preikestolen is a very popular hike, you can just follow the crowd on most days. If you do go at a time where there’s almost no one there, the route is well marked. Along the way, you’ll see a mix of wooden signposts and stone piles marked with a painted red T. Along the way you will also see poles that give you the distance hiked and left to hike.
Best time to hike Preikestolen
The best time to hike Preikestolen is in the summer, between April and October. If you’re planning to hike during winter, please read our recommendations for hiking in the winter at the end of this article.
If you want one of those iconic pictures where you stand alone on Pulpit Rock, you should avoid the big crowds. To get those pictures, your best bet is to go in the morning or late afternoon. The huge crowds usually get there in the middle of the day, so you want to get there before them or after they’ve left. If you go in the evening, you’ll either be spending the night or going down without much remaining daylight. This is especially true during winter, spring and autumn as Norway can get quite dark.
If you want to witness the sunset and sunrise over Lysefjorden from Preikestolen, but you don’t have a lot of hiking experience, a guide can be extremely helpful for you. Our Pulpit Rock Tours-guide Harald Bjørkhaug is a great option. If that’s of interest to you, you can read more here.
A general rule of thumb for hiking Preikestolen is not to embark too late in the day to avoid the loss of daylight on your return hike. We recommend you check the time for sunset and weather conditions before you go.
Difficulty of the hike
Preikestolen is quite an easy hike for people with decent fitness levels, and is particularly easy compared to other Norwegian hikes. Still, this is regarded as an easier hike than Kjeragbolten further down the fjord. The uphill sections might be tough on the legs for inexperienced hikers.
What to bring?
Since Norway has a reputation for changing weather conditions, you should always be properly equipped when hiking Preikestolen. Here’s a quick list.
- Warm clothes
- Good shoes
- Food and water
- First aid kit
If you embark late on the day, make sure to have a head lamp and a working mobile phone.
When hiking, you’re always at risk of injury or accidents. Even at a relatively easy hike such as Preikestolen, you have to take some necessary precautions so that you avoid accidents. Act responsibly on the trail and take the following safety measures into account when hiking.
Be properly equipped
We highly recommend good hiking boots, appropriate clothing and first-aid kit. Some people also like trekking poles.
Check weather forecast in advance
Weather can change quickly in Norway, turning a hike in sunny weather into a challenging hike in pouring rain or thick fog. Check the weather forecast in advance and, if possible, choose the best day in your itinerary.
Be fit or take breaks
Having a good stamina is not only a way to enjoy the hike better, but it makes it safer as well as you’re less likely to make a tired mistake.
Norwegians have made a conscious choice not to spoil the natural scenery. As a result, there are no fences installed around the edges of Preikestolen. The lack of fences means that you must act responsibly. Don’t take super dangerous selfies too close to the edge or in places where a fall could end in injury or tragedy.
Hiking with children
The hike is doable with kids, but it needs a little more planning and consideration. Take enough breaks for your kids, and make sure you can carry them if they get tired on the way. If your kids have some experience hiking mountains, they will do absolutely fine. Just be ready to put the youngest ones on your shoulders if they get tired.
Hiking Preikestolen in Winter
A winter hike can be quite difficult compared to summer conditions. Norwegian winters can be rough with low temperatures, lots of wind, snow, fog, and icy paths. Preikestolen can come with all these challenges. For example, the trail might freeze over. This is quite challenging, especially in the steeper sections.
However, if you have solid experience in winter trekking, hiking the trail on a good winter day is a great experience as there will be no crowds. Much of the winter, the mountains are blanketed in snow. This means you’ll need extra gear to hike safely.
You’ll need the following equipment:
- Good hiking boots
- Winter clothes
- Thermal underwear
- Trekking poles
- Traction cleats
You’ll also need to bring more food and water than usual as this hike takes longer than usual.
Before going on a winter hike, check weather forecast in advance. If the forecasts predict bad weather and poor visibility, you shouldn’t go. You’re going to Preikestolen for the view, so why go when you can’t see anything and the weather conditions make it more dangerous?
Also, Norway gets dark quite early during winter, so you should plan your hike well and start as soon as daylight breaks. As an extra safety, you might want to bring a head lamp here as well.
By now, you should be ready to hit the trail.
This is the Land of Fjords - an amazing view over Lysefjorden.