Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen / Prekestolen in Norwegian) is a Norwegian tourist attraction located in Strand, Rogaland. Pulpit Rock is, for all intents and purposes, a very tall, very steep cliff. It may not sound that remarkable, but clocking in at around 604 metres tall, the cliff face is near-vertical. At the top of the cliff is an almost perfectly flat plateaux, making for an excellent viewing platform over Lysefjord.
Of course, even a remarkable cliff like Pulpit Rock needs something to view, which the Norwegian countryside offers in abundance with breathtaking views of the Ryfylke region. Such is the popularity of Pulpit Rock that it attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists a year, and is one of the most popular natural tourists attractions in all of Norway.
Pulpit Rock Hike
Also referred to locally as the Preikestolen hike, the Pulpit Rock hike is a popular part of the experience, with the most-used path up to the viewing plateux being improved by Nepalese Sherpas to make it more accessible to the eager tourists. Indeed, it is widely considered to be Norway’s most famous mountain hike.
Assuming you plan to take the most-used route, starting from the lodge Preikestolen Fjellstue, you will be looking at a moderately demanding hike that clocks in at a little under five miles for the round trip, and should take an average hiker around four hours in total, not counting time spent on Prekestolen itself.
Once you start the hike there are no places to buy food or water and no toilets so make sure you are prepared and use the facilities at the car park before you start.
Though Prekestolen can be reached all year, there is a designated hiking season starting in May and ending in October. Outside of those months, you will need special equipment to reach Puplit Rock, as well as the skills and experience to use that equipment safely.
If you are not the mountaineering type, there is also the option of going on a guided hike. Here, you will be guided up the trail by an experienced guide who will make sure you stay safe and have an enjoyable experience.
Pulpit Rock Parking
The nearest city is Stavanger and there are direct flights to this town from several European cities. From Stavanger it is a 45-minute drive to the Preikestolen Fjellstue car park which is just outside the town of Jørpeland. There are tolls for the road tunnel and a parking fee.
If you don’t have a car you can take a bus from one of the two companies currently offering transportation to the hiking trail.
Pulpit Rock Weather
Being in Norway, the climate around Pulpit Rock naturally tends towards the colder end of the weather spectrum. Temperatures tend to range between -1 degrees Celsius around December and January, and 18 degrees Celsius in July and August.
The region gets an average of a little over 70 mm of precipitation throughout the year, with the wettest season being Autumn. Though Pulpit Rock weather is far from the most extreme you will find on the planet, it can be severe enough to cause serious problems for the unprepared hiker.
Pulpit Rock Safety
We have already mentioned that the hiking trail is of moderate difficulty during hiking season, and will require expertise and specialist equipment out of hiking season. There is certainly the potential for injury on the way up to the spot itself if you are not careful. Regarding the rock itself, Norwegian authorities chose not to install safety rails so as not to detract from the experience of the natural surroundings. Despite this fact, there have not been any accidental Pulpit Rock deaths from falling off of Pulpit Rock. One death in 2013 was initially deemed to be an accident, but a subsequent suicide note caused it to be reclassified as a suicide.
There have, unfortunately, been a number of suicides at Pulpit Rock, as well as an attempted suicide that was stopped by the authorities after they were notified by the family. That being said, the fact that there are no accidental Pulpit Rock deaths from falling from Pulpit Rock should not lull visitors into a false sense of security.
With over 200,000 visitors each year, mostly concentrated in the hiking season months, there can be some conjestion. The project to improve the path involving Nepalese Sherpas that we mentioned earlier was a direct result of the fact that the previous path was too narrow, and often caused congestion and delays from so many people trying to visit at once. The number of people visiting at one time can also cause problems up on the rock itself, which can become quite crowded.
Given that Pulpit Rock is a large, flat surface with no guard rails, the dangers of overcrowding are fairly obvious. To avoid this problem, you can, of course, visit Pulpit Rock outside the hiking season, but this presents its own safety problems as mentioned above. Alternatively, you can start your hike up to the rock at night, beating the crowd and giving yourself a stunning view of the Norwegian sunrise in the process!
Visiting Pulpit Rock With Children
There is no age restriction on visiting the site itself, but the difficulty of the hike and the potential dangers of Pulpit Rock will limit the visiting options for the parents of younger children.
As a general guide, it is probably not suitable for children under six, as they will find the trek up to the rock difficult in places, and it may prove too much for them. As for babies, it is entirely up to you if you feel up to carrying your little one up to the rock—you won’t be able to get a pushchair up there easily—but be sure to keep a close eye on them once you are up on the rock itself. One family made headlines after appearing in a picture where their crawling baby was barely a meter away from the edge. Fortunately, the baby did not come to any harm.
If you decide to visit Pulpit Rock, you will probably be staying in the city of Stavanger, or at least passing through it. Being the third-largest metropolitan area in the country, there are plenty of amenities available.
Stavanger has quite a mild climate due to the influence of the sea on the temperatures. The result is that it rarely drops below freezing, even during the winter, though it is still Nordic weather, so adjust your expectations and clothes accordingly. Stavanger has several transport links, and can be reached by road, rail, air and sea. It was awarded the European Capital of Culture award for 2008, and has plenty of entertainment options for tourists who are planning to stay awhile.