The hike to Pulpit Rock is one of the most popular hikes in Norway. With great views, a relatively easy hiking trail, and convenient accessibility from the town of Stavanger, this hike has a big appeal for many visitors to Norway.
With that being said, you should expect big crowds in the summer months. Unless you start your day early or time your visit for the end of the day, expect to share the trail with many other hikers.
We did this hike in 2013. Even then it was very, very crowded. But what an amazing experience. This is a gorgeous spot in Norway and the views over the Lysefjord are incredible.
How to Hike to Pulpit Rock
Facts About the Hike
Distance: 7.6 km (4.7 miles)
Elevation Gain: 350 meters (1150 feet)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Length of Time: 4 to 5 hours
When to Go: It is possible to hike to Pulpit Rock year round. If you plan to hike to Pulpit Rock in the off-season (November through April), click here for important information.
About Pulpit Rock
Pulpit Rock is also called Preikestolen. This uniquely shaped rock towers 604 meters over Lysefjord.
Pulpit Rock made an appearance in Mission: Impossible – Fallout staring Tom Cruise. For one week in 2017, the rock was off limits to hikers while movie scenes were filmed.
Lonely Planet called Pulpit Rock one of the world’s “most impressive viewpoints.”
With these accolades, movie cameos, and hikers posting their photos on Facebook and Instagram, it’s no surprise that Pulpit Rock is one of Norway’s most popular hikes.
Options for Getting to Pulpit Rock
In 2019, a tunnel opened that connects Stavanger with Tau. I read that the car ferry that once connected Stavanger and Tau will no longer be operating.
There are two bus companies that provide transportation from Stavanger to the Pulpit Rock hiking trail:
From Stavanger, you can now drive directly to the Pulpit Rock parking lot without taking the car ferry. By way of the Ryfylketunnelen, it is a 45-minute drive to the Pulpit Rock parking lot.
Hiking to Pulpit Rock
The hike to Pulpit Rock is just under five miles round trip. By Norwegian standards, it is classified as an easy hike that people of all ages can do.
Guide books and the Visit Norway website recommends two hours to hike to Pulpit Rock, an hour to spend at Pulpit Rock, and a two hours to hike back.
At noon we started our way up the mountain. It was very steep at first, and it didn’t take long until we were scrambling up boulders amidst pine forests.
There were an incredible number of people on the trail. This made the hike less enjoyable than we were expecting. We were constantly trying to pass people on narrow, rocky trails (as a family we hike at a pretty fast speed, including our eight year old daughter). It did not take us long until we were removing layers of clothing and working up a good sweat.
The trail to Pulpit Rock alternates between relatively flat, easy sections with steep climbs up staircases built from giant rocks. For the first half of the hike to Lysefjord, there is not much of a view. You hike in and out of pine forests as you climb up these long staircases.
The last kilometer, just before reaching Pulpit Rock, is the best part of the hike. The trail levels out and now you have views of Lysefjord. To get to Pulpit Rock, there is one short section where the trail skirts the edge of a cliff, so if you have a fear of heights, this part of the hike might be challenging for you.
Pro Travel Tip: If you do not want to walk along the cliff trail, you can hike the Hill Trail to Pulpit Rock. As you approach Lysefjord, a second trail, labeled “Hill Trail” will break off from the main trail. This adds a little extra elevation gain but you can avoid walking along the cliff, great for families and those with a fear of heights.
On Pulpit Rock
It took us an hour and forty-five minutes to reach Pulpit Rock. What a view, but wow, look at all of the people!!
August is peak season for vacationing in Norway and we were hiking on a perfect day just before the start of the weekend. The crowds were unavoidable.
We spent just enough time here to enjoy the view and take some photos.
For a view down onto Pulpit Rock, you can hike up the hill behind it for this view.
Getting back to Stavanger
Now it was time to start the trek back downhill. Weaving between groups of people, hopping over rocks, crossing over wet, muddy areas, and climbing over thousands of boulders we made it to the starting point in just 45 minutes. Tyler and Kara may be kids, but they hike fast!
From the Pulpit Rock parking lot, return by car or by bus.
Thoughts on the Hike
The four of us had a good time hiking to Pulpit Rock. Climbing over the boulders was fun and the views from Pulpit Rock were amazing! Unfortunately, the hoards of people on the trails took away from the enjoyment of the hike. Still, we are glad we did it. For someone looking for a relatively quick and easy hike with fabulous views of the Norwegian fjords, Pulpit Rock is perfect.
However, if you have plans to visit Stavanger and only have time for one hike, take a look at Kjeragbolten. It’s a harder hike but you get the chance to do something crazy and stand on this boulder wedged between two cliffs. Learn more in our article about Kjeragbolten.
Hiking to Pulpit Rock with Kids
Tyler and Kara (who were 10 and 8 at the time) had a great time on the hike. Just put a boulder in their path and they have a good time.
As far as their hiking experience prior to this trip, we had done some hiking at home in Maryland and in Shenandoah, Virginia, and also in Cappadocia, Turkey. The hike to Pulpit Rock was easy for them, but they would be much more challenged in our upcoming hikes in Norway (Kjeragbolten, Trolltunga, and Romsdalseggen Ridge).
In our opinion, children should be at least six years old to do this hike. It is a somewhat strenuous uphill climb over rocks and boulders to get to Pulpit Rock. There is also a short section of the trail just prior to Pulpit Rock with a drop off down to Lysefjord (but you can avoid this by taking the Hill Trail).
When Can You Hike to Pulpit Rock?
The main hiking season for Pulpit Rock is from April through October. Peak season is during the summer months of June through August. Expect large crowds during these months. To avoid the crowds, hike on weekdays and start the hike early in the morning.
It is possible to hike Pulpit Rock year round. From November through March, tempertures will be very cold, snow could be on the ground, and you will have very limited daylight. Read this article to learn more.
Where We Stayed in Stavanger
The Comfort Square Hotel. This modernly decorated hotel (with interesting artwork) is located within the heart of Stavanger. Take-away breakfast is available, perfect if you want to grab breakfast and get an early start hiking.
More Information for Your Trip to Norway:
- 14 Best Hikes in Norway to Put on Your Bucket List
- 10 Days in Norway: The Fjords and the Lofoten Islands
- 10 Days Norway Itinerary: The Ultimate Road Trip through the Fjord Region
- Hiking Trolltunga: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Best Experience
- Norway Bucket List: 20 Epic Things to do in Norway
Planning a trip to Norway? Read all of our articles in our Norway Travel Guide.
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