If you are planning a road trip around Norway and haven’t heard of the Preikestolen hike you must have been living under a rock. This classic Norwegian trail takes you to a unique stone platform with a beautiful view over Lysefjord.
11 Things to Know Before Hiking to Preikestolen in 2023
Preikestolen is one of the busiest hikes in Norway. If you are interested in learning how to tackle it, as well as whether it is actually worth it to incorporate it into your road trip around Norway then this post will come in very handy.
1. Is the Preikestolen hike worth it?
If I am going to be honest, hiking to Preikestolen was never really on my Norwegian bucket list. Preikestolen, Trolltunga, and Kjeragbolten also known as the Big 3 of the busiest day hikes in Norway, were never my objective.
After years of hiking, I prefer lesser-known trails, where I don’t need to stand in line for 2 hours to get a photo or pay 100 Euro for a parking lot at the trailhead.
During my two seasons spent road-tripping around Norway, I hiked many different trails and was absolutely blown away by how beautiful and quiet some of them were in comparison to Preikestolen.
If it weren’t for the fact that my parents were traveling with me at the time, we were passing by the trailhead anyways, and the rather easy grade of this hike which meant I felt comfortable bringing my dad along, I would have probably skipped it.
Do I regret hiking it after all? No. Was it my favorite day hike in Norway? Not even close. However, just because I wasn’t crazy about it, doesn’t mean you won’t be.
2. Preikestolen hike: the stats
- Distance roundtrip: 8.8 km / 5.4 mi
- Time required: 3-4 hours
- Total Ascent: 460 m / 1500 ft
- Type of hike: Out and back
- When to go: May-October
- Parking: 58.9917, 6.13763
3. About Preikestolen
Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock as it is known amongst international tourists is a steep cliff with a unique flat platform on the top, approximately 25 meters long by 25 meters wide.
Preikestolen raises over 600 meters above the Lysefjord at a 90-degree angle which gives it a really menacing look.
The nearest city is Stavanger which is 40 minutes away by car. Stavanger is the 4th largest city in Norway. Ferry and flight connections from mainland Europe make it a great place to start a road trip across the Norwegian Fjords.
Between 2013 and 2016 the trail went through a massive renovation which was carried out by Nepalese Sherpas. Stone steps and many platforms and stairs have been laid out to minimize trail degradation and improve its safety.
Nepalese Sherpas have contributed greatly to the maintenance of Norwegian trails including Saksa in Møre og Romsedal or Reinebringen in the Lofoten Islands. I have also been guided by one to the top of Galdhøppigen – Norway’s highest peak.
4. The map of the Preikestolen hike
Above you can see the path I followed from the car park to Pulpit Rock. I measured the distance, elevation gain, and route with my Garmin Fenix 6S pro watch, which I always wear on hikes.
5. How difficult is the hike to Preikestolen?
When it comes down to distance and elevation this isn’t a very strenuous hike. On the way to Preikestolen, you gain ca. 380 meters of elevation and lose 80 meters. This makes the total elevation gain 460 meters for the return track.
Navigation is extremely easy, with poles every 500 meters telling hikers how much distance is left. There are also red-painted trail marks along the whole route. Always look for the red letter “T”.
With both being said you shouldn’t underestimate the hike to Preikestolen. There are a few very steep sections along the hike. If you suffer from vertigo you won’t have a good time. If you aren’t an experienced hiker consider joining a guided tour to Preikestolen.
I can also imagine that the trail becomes very slippery when wet, so make sure to have good footwear. Believe it or not, I have seen people wearing sandals on this trail. Sandals are not appropriate hiking footwear.
6. The best time to hike to Pulpit’s Rock
The trail is actually possible to do year-round however during the winter season the conditions are snowy and icy, so only those with mountaineering experience should go out of season.
The official trail walking season for Preikestolen lasts from the beginning of May all the way through October or if the weather permits even in November.
When it comes down to daytime I would recommend going really early or really late to avoid the crowds. Sunrise guided tours operate from Stavanger during the summer season.
I hiked to Pulpit’s Rock in the second half of June. We left at 8 PM and came back at midnight with the last light. Sunset during that time of the year isn’t until 11 PM which gave us plenty of light to make it there and back in time. We only met a handful of other people on the trail.
7. How to get to the Preikestolen trailhead
Since this is a very busy hike there are plenty of transport opportunities to get to the Preikestolen trailhead.
Getting to Preikestolen trailhead by car
It takes around 40 minutes to drive from Stavanger, the nearest city to the Preikestolen trailhead. Type in Preikestolen Lower Parking into your GPS for directions.
The parking costs 250 NOK per day and overnight parking is prohibited unless you are a guest of Preikestolhytta, a hotel placed right near the trailhead.
The payment system is automatic. You just get a ticket upon arrival and then pay for your stay at the machines.
Come early as the spaces fill up quickly. If the lower parking is full you have the opportunity to park at the upper car park and hike from there. This will add another 2 kilometers to your hike.
Getting to the Preikestolen trailhead by bus
The shuttles start operating on May 1st and continue daily through the summer season. The price is 450 NOK per person for a round trip.
You have to prebook the tickets online. Both companies state on their website that tickets are not sold on the buses.
8. Facilities along the Preikestolen trail
There is a small visitor center with an outdoor & souvenir shop, where you can purchase some last-minute equipment before venturing onto the trail.
There are also toilets right in the middle of the parking lot.
Around halfway along the trail, there is a tiny shelter hut (pictured above) that is meant to serve as an emergency shelter. Given the number of people on the trail, I find it difficult to imagine squeezing in there with the others.
Sadly many hikers decided that peeing on the shelter is a good idea. There was toilet paper and a strong urine smell right next to it. Please do better.
As on all other trails in Norway, there is a policy of bringing out what you brought in, which includes any trash and fruit peels you may have.
9. Preikestolen trail description
Immediately after you leave the lower parking lot you will start walking on a wide gravel path which quickly will turn into a forest path.
You can expect a mix of different path conditions, from rocks, and roots to wooden platforms and stone steps.
Every 500 meters there is a post telling you how much further you have to walk to get to Pulpit’s Rock.
Most of the elevation is gained during the first half of the hike, but overall the trail is undulating.
Apart from a nice rocky outcrop around 30 minutes into the hike, overlooking the lake, there aren’t many extensive views. Most of the trail to Preikestolen actually leads through the forest.
10. What to bring and wear on the Pulpit’s Rock hike
Other things and hikes to experience nearby
Ryfylke Scenic Route
Ryfylke Scenic Road is a drive that spans 183 kilometers along Norway’s southwestern coast, offering beautiful views of fjords, mountains, and waterfalls. The road is considered one of Norway’s National Scenic Routes and is a popular drive when heading North.
Lysefjord Kayaking Trip
Kayaking on Lysefjord is a great experience for any kayaking enthusiast who would like to experience Norway’s Fjords from a different perspective. With crystal-clear waters, towering cliffs, and cascading waterfalls, Lysefjord is a popular destination for guided kayaking tours.
Lysefjord cruise from Stavanger
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Norwegian fjord landscape aboard a silent and electric boat on the cruise from Stavanger to Lysefjord. The cruise will give you a unique view of the Pulpit’s Rock from below.
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