Preikestolen, otherwise known as Pulpit rock or Preacher’s rock, is arguably one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway. It’s popularity as the ‘must-see’ tourist destination in Norway has strengthened over the past few years as the popularity in sharing inspirational travel photography on social platforms like Instagram has increased.
What is it – the short version
It’s a rock
What is it – the long version
An angular plateau that extends from the side of a cliff, which you can walk out onto and admire the lush valleys and fjord below.
How to get there
In order to reach Preikestolen you must hike a trail that takes between 1 – 3 hours depending on your fitness. Whilst the elevation difference is only 334 meters and the trail itself only 3.8km each way, don’t underestimate the difficulty of the terrain. The total elevation gain and loss over the course of the hike is more than you might expect as you climb and descend multiple ridges.
In order to reach the trail, take the RV13 road from Stavanger and a ferry from Tau, or the RV13 road from Sandnes via the ferry from Lauvik to Oanes. There is motorcycle parking (they try to charge a fee, but see below about arriving early) and parking for cars, although you will want to get there extremely early in order to get a spot. Otherwise you can catch one of the many buses that leave from Tau.
You can also camp close by at the Preikestolen campsite, where the convenient location justifies the inflated prices. Or you can wild camp – although I don’t recommend it as you won’t be able to leave your gear safely behind when you do the trail. You can also camp on top of Preikestolen (illegally) as I saw some people doing, so if you’re game give it a shot. Just be aware of the freezing cold wind sweeping over the plateau and the lack of cover. Otherwise you can sneak off the trail into the forest at some point in the trek and I’m certain you won’t get caught.
If you’re on a motorcycle, or hiking the road to Preikestolen lodge (where the trail starts) arrive before 8am and beat the crowds. There is a small path/opening to the left of the car park entrance which will allow you to sneak through as the gates don’t open until 8am. If you do this you can also avoid paying the car park fees (don’t hold me to it).
Repeat. Go early. Avoid the crowds.
I arrived at 5am and finished back at the car park at 8am. The entire car park was full with at least 4 – 5 giant coaches spitting tourists out like a broken gum ball machine. If you want to get a photo of yourself on the famous rock without waiting 10 minutes to half an hour and you don’t want to walk in single file behind a million other people then go early. Real early.
Eat on the trail
Keep your eyes out for the small, thick blueberry shrubs that line the trail. Some patches are laden with berries and, as well as being a pleasant novelty, will keep you energised as you go.
Should you visit
100% yes. This is one of the rare tourist attractions that I actually love. But to enjoy it you need peace and solitude that can only be achieved by arriving really early (or possibly extremely late).
- A vigorous walk through Norwegian wilderness
- One of the most amazing views you will ever witness.
- You can walk out onto the rock and feel the enormity of the world (and your insignificance)
- Densely populated tourist destination
- Bottlenecks in the path at peak times (ie. after 8am)
- Idiots hiking the path in inappropriate gear (think high heels and handbags similar to that at Kjeragbolten).