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FULL Pulpit Rock Hike Guide! By Cruise, Car & Bus, Plus Tips!

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The Pulpit Rock Hike is easily the top thing to do when in Stavanger, Norway! In fact, the Preikestolen hike (as Pulpit Rock is also known), is one of the very top things to to in Norway! This is because although Pulpit Rock looks extremely remote high above the fjord of Lysefjord, getting to Pulpit Rock isn’t actually that hard, and, it’s a beautiful 4km hike to get to the top!

In this guide to hiking Pulpit Rock, I’m going to tell you how to get to Pulpit Rock from Stavanger. The Pulpit Rock hike time, my Pulpit Rock tips (because we missed allll the crowds at the top!), how safe Pulpit Rock is and we’ll weigh up whether you should get a cruise to Pulpit Rock, a bus, or hire a car which is what I did with my husband.

So let’s get into it as you seriously do not want to miss this hike when in Norway and definitely not when you are looking for things to do in Stavanger Norway.

Pulpit Rock Hike

Pulpit Rock Hike
Keep reading for all the information on Pulpit Rock Hike!

Is it Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock?

When researching this trip to Norway I found it was hard getting to know all of these new and unfamiliar names like Lysefjord, Kjerag and Preikestolen which are all names that come up a lot when researching Stavanger. Especially when some places actually just have 2 names, they are not 2 different places.

This is the case with Pulpit Rock and Preikestolen. Preikestolen is the Norwegian name for the rock and Pulpit Rock is the English name. I’ll be using the name interchangeably in this post but please know, it is the same place!

When you get to Norway, although everyone will know what you mean by Pulpit Rock and guides and locals will use the name, when it comes to road signs and signs at the starting point, you’ll see the word Preikestolen, not Pulpit Rock so it’s good to be aware of this. And, it will all make sense once you get there!

Pulpit Rock hike, Ellie Quinn on top of Pulpit Rock
Preikestolen / Pulpit Rock!

Where is Pulpit Rock?

Pulpit Rock is closest to the city of Stavanger and it is located along one of the most breathtaking and most amazing fjords in Norway – Lysefjord.

Here is a Pulpit Rock Map to show you where Stavanger is, where Pulpit Rock / Preikestolen is and where the starting point of the hike to Pulpit Rock is.

How to Get to Pulpit Rock?

One very important thing to note right now is that although you can take various transport methods ‘to Pulpit Rock’ as I explain below, no matter what transport you use, you HAVE TO HIKE THE SAME HIKE to the top! And yes, to get to the top of Pulpit Rock, you HAVE to hike!

There is just one way to the very top of Pulpit Rock and that is roughly a 1.5 – 2 hour hike each way. I go into more detail below on the Pulpit Rock hike time and how hard the Pulpit Rock hike is below.

– Pulpit Rock Guided Tour

If you’re travelling to Stavanger alone, on a tight frame because you’re on a cruise stopping at Stavanger, or need some help when hiking, a guided tour of Pulpit Rock is a great idea!

You’ll be picked up and dropped off at your hotel, or cruise point and you’ll have a guide throughout the day and hike to help you and give you lots of local information.

Here are some of the best Pulpit Rock Guided Tours:

Guided hike to Pulpit Rock Preikestolen – great value tour with hotel pick up and drop off in Stavanger.
Shore Excursion: Hike to Pulpit Rock Preikestolen – aimed at cruise day tourists but available for all. A great value tour.
From Stavanger: Guided Winter Hike Pulpit Rock Preikestolen – perfect if you are visiting Stavanger in winter as hiking by yourself in the snow could be dangerous but this is with an experienced guide and they provide extra equipment like crampons if needed.

– Stavanger to Pulpit Rock by Boat

Why not combine a cruise up the incredible Lysefjord with your trip to Pulpit Rock?! In the end, we hired a car, but if we hadn’t I would have certainly done this option.

A day trip to Pulpit Rock by cruise offers you lots of experiences and will fill a whole day in Stavanger! You’ll get on the boat in Stavanger Harbour and sail to and up Lysefjord with multiple stops on the way like waterfalls and with a guided tour.

You’ll get dropped at Forsand port and a bus will take you to the starting point of the Pulpit Rock hike.

The difference between Pulpit Rock by cruise trip to the guided tours of Pulpit Rock above is that although the timings and transport are organised, you will not have someone hike with you or a guide once you get off the boat. This is an independent trip in that way.

Once you finish the Pulpit Rock hike you will get an organised bus back to Stavanger rather than getting a cruise the way you came.

The top Lysefjord Cruises to Pulpit Rock:

Rodne Cruise and Bus Trip with Hike – this is without a guide but the cruise and bus are all organised. They offer summer and winter options too!
GoFjord Cruise and Bus Trip with Hike – this is also unguided except for an audio guide on the boat but all timings are organised for you.

Pulpit Rock Viewing Cruise:

As mentioned, to get to Pulpit Rock by boat you do have to then get a bus, do the hike and get a bus back to Stavanger. If you are reading this post because you are wondering can you see Pulpit Rock without hiking?

You can get a short cruise to the base of the rock! Check out these 3 companies which offer 2.5 – 3 hour cruises from Stavanger up Lysefjord and past Pulpit Rock:

Pulpit Rock hike, cruise boat in Stavanger to Pulpit Rock
You can get a cruise boat like this to Pulpit Rock

– Stavanger to Pulpit Rock by Bus

If you need to get to the start of the Pulpit Rock hike by public transport but don’t fancy the boat option, OR you want a cheaper way to do this hike, you can get a bus from Stavanger to the start of the hike.

Visit Norway recommend the Preikestolen Express Bus which is run by Go Fjords, I also saw them driving around the city and doing a pick-up outside the hotel I stayed in the Radisson Blue Atlantic Hotel (which I recommend as a great hotel in Stavanger by the way!

Note – Most of these cruise and bus tours only run during the Summer months. For Pulpit Rock hiking in Winter check out this specific winter tour or consider getting a car!

Pulpit Rock hike, Go Fjords boat in Stavanger to Pulpit Rock
Or a bus like this to Pulpit Rock hiking start point

– Stavanger to Pulpit Rock by Car

Lastly, we hired a car at Stavanger Airport for 2 days in Stavanger. We loved this option as we got to see so much of the surrounding area like all of these places to visit near Stavanger like kayaking in Frafjord! It enabled us to go to Pulpit Rock in our own time AND go later in the day to beat the crowds… which we did!

We used RentalCars to hire a car through Sixt at Stavanger Airport and had no issues!

It’s just a 45 minute drive from Stavanger to the start of the Pulpit Rock hike which involves a drive through the world’s largest underwater tunnel and a beautiful scenic drive the other drive.. but honestly, every drive in Norway is scenic, this is why I love the country so much and really recommend hiring a car!

– Oslo to Pulpit Rock

You may have flights booked to Oslo instead of Stavanger or have found yourself in Oslo now keen to do this famous Norway hike.

Oslo and Stavanger are quite far apart, the quickest way to get between them is by flying because even the train is around 7 hours.

This is fine if you are on a longer Norway road trip, I would definitely suggest getting to Stavanger from Oslo to do the Pulpit Rock hike but if you are just on a weekend break in Oslo, it’s unlikely you will have time to visit Pulpit Rock unless you spend a lot of time travelling.

Pulpit Rock Hike Starting Point

Ok, what is the starting point for the Pulpit Rock hike?

Well, it’s actually really easy to find on Google Maps because there is literally a point called Preikestolen hiking starting point (here is the google maps link).

The starting point is also known as Preikestolen Base Camp and it has a car park, bathrooms, a cafe, a shop, a restaurant and accommodation. But don’t go thinking it’s super commercial. It still only has the basics and you should still come prepared for the hike.

Pulpit Rock hike, Map of the Preikestolen hiking trail
Map of the Preikestolen hiking trail in the car park
Pulpit Rock hike, Preikestolen Base Camp
Preikestolen Base Camp and start of hike

– Pulpit Rock Car Park

There is an upper and lower car park at the Pulpit Hike starting point, I would suggest heading to the Preikestolen Lower Parking (google maps link here) as it’s a bit closer.

It costs 250 NOK with no parking limit, or 40 NOK for 2 hours but you definitely need more than 2 hours to do the hike.

There is an electric charging section in the car park too! Trust Norway to have this!

The Preikestolen Car Park’s opening times are 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.

You pay when you leave by card, and the machine gives you a QR code which you collect and put into the machine as you exit with your car.

And a tip for you so you don’t have the same issue as the car before us. There is a time limit on when you pay for parking and exit, so if you plan to sort things out or get food before actually leaving, don’t get your ticket too early as the machine won’t accept it after a while!

Pulpit Rock hike, Preikestolen Car Park
Preikestolen Car Park
Pulpit Rock hike, Preikestolen Car Parking machine
The car parking machines with prices and opening times

Pulpit Rock Hiking Trail

Let’s get into the actual hike now! From the starting point, the hike starts with a fairly steep gravel incline but you’ll be pleased to know, this doesn’t continue.

The walking trail to Pulpit Rock is easy to follow all the way and where the path becomes less obvious like over the rocks, there are red arrow markers to point you in the right direction.

What really surprised me is that the terrain constantly changes on this hike. I also thought that the hike would just be uphill the whole way in a straight line to the top but this is definitely not the case as it curves around a lot and takes you through many different places and viewpoints!

Pulpit Rock hike, Rock Preikestolen hiking trail
The path towards the start of the hike

The path continues through the forest in a series of ups, downs and steps with a beautiful view of the reservoir to your right.

About a quarter of the way through it actually flattens out a bit along a wooden path which offers a nice respite. From here the inclined steps start but again, they don’t last too long.

Pulpit Rock hike, Preikestolen hiking trail Reservoir view
The Reservoir view towards the start of the hike
Pulpit Rock hike, Ellie Quinn on Preikestolen hiking trail
Pulpit Rock hike, flat path Preikestolen hiking trail
It was nice seeing this flat path ahead on the Preikestolen hike!

Now you are up pretty high and you can start seeing mountain and fjord views. Around this point, you’ll see signs saying there are 2 more km to go meaning you’re halfway.

I found the second half of the trail much quicker, maybe because a lot of it is walking over big rock areas.

Pulpit Rock hike, Preikestolen hiking trail mountain views
This is about halfway and you are much higher at this point!
Pulpit Rock hike, Preikestolen hiking trail climbers over rock
Towards the end, the path gets rocky like this

The final push to the top is quite hard, to be honest as it’s quite an incline up the rock, but before you know it, you’re at the top and you can see this oh-so-famous view!

Pulpit Rock hike, Pulpit Rock view
The first view you get of Pulpit Rock!

– How difficult is Pulpit Rock?

Do I have to be fit to hike Pulpit Rock?

If you are used to hiking quite a bit like my husband and I are, you will find this a bit sweat braaking and be out of breath in sections but you will not find it that hard at all. We did the hike in 1 hour 30 minutes on the way there and 1 hour 10 minutes on the way which is much quicker than many online posts about hiking Preikestolen suggest because we are quite fit and hike a lot.

We did see many different people hiking Pulpit Rock. We saw families with fairly young children, older people, and people who were very out of breath and seemed not used to hiking like this, but at the end of the day, they did it! (And I know they did because we went later in the day so we saw all these people coming down as we were going up!)

You do need fair fitness to hike Pulpit Rock but with the right determination, the correct footwear like good trainers or hiking boots and snacks, water and energy, you will be able to do it without being hugely fit!

– How far is the Pulpit Rock hike?

The Preikestolen hiking trail signs say the hike is 4km. This isn’t that far and I can walk that easily but there are a lot of ups and downs and steps so it makes 4km feel much longer, to be honest!

– Time needed to hike Pulpit Rock?

Most Pulpit Rock travel guides suggest giving yourself a total of 5 hours. 2 hours up, 1 hour at the top and 2 hours down which I agree with.

It’s likely to take less time getting down and unless the weather is really nice you probably won’t spend an hour at the top, but at least this way, you give yourself more time to climb up if you struggle and less stress about being on time for bus return journeys etc.

We did the hike in 1 hour 30 minutes on the way there and 1 hour 10 minutes on the way back, we did it fairly fast but we didn’t hugely rush it so if you’re fit it can be done quicker.

– Can kids hike Pulpit Rock?

I saw quite a few families with children hiking to Pulpit Rock and I’ve seen plenty of photos of children up there.

It’s definitely not pushchair friendly and if you have a baby or toddler you are carrying on your back, your legs better be strong as there are a lot of steps.

Kids should be determined to do the hike, fairly fit and wearing appropriate clothing. Like adults, if they are unfit they will struggle.

Pulpit Rock hike, Ellie Quinn on Pulpit Rock hands up

Is Pulpit Rock Safe?

This is a popular question and rightly so as Pulpit Rock does look very dangerous.

However, when you are up there you realise that the rock itself is pretty big and you can either go to the edge or stay away from it.

You may think there should be a rope or barrier up here but I read that the Norwegian Government believe that WE should be cautious of nature, we shouldn’t have to barrier it off. Plus, if there are barriers people may feel more inclined to go past them and this could be even more dangerous.

Personally, I always stayed at least a foot from the edge, my body would literally not take me to the edge. My husband was sitting on the edge which made me feel sick but he trusts his ability to do this and even on the very edge, the edge isn’t tiny, there’s a lot of room to fall back and either side.

Pulpit Rock hike, sitting on edge of pulpit Rock
My husband sitting right on the edge of Pulpit Rock!
Pulpit Rock hike, couple on edge of pulpit Rock
I wouldn’t go much further to the edge!

When Pulpit Rock gets busy I can imagine it becomes more dangerous as people are trying to dodge eachother and get good photos but again, you can go as far to the edge as you wish and even if you don’t go to the edge or even on the rock, you can still enjoy Pulpit Rock from afar and the hike itself is so beautiful, its worth it!

When searching for Pulpit Rock deaths there are a few articles for tourists who have died from falling up here but it doesn’t seem like a common thing.

Pulpit Rock Tips

– What to wear for the Pulpit Rock hike?

One thing to know about Norway is that the weather can change really quickly so it’s best to pack a variety of clothes with you. Pack a raincoat even if it looks like there is no rain and pack a warm jacket or jumper at least.

The walk up to Pulpit Rock is fairly covered but once you’re on the rock it can get very windy, cold and wet!

Wear leggings, shorts or hiking trousers and tops that are breathable.

Trainers with a good grip are suitable footwear for hiking Preikestolen but if you have hiking boots with ankle support, these will be better, especially if it’s wet.

Pulpit Rock hike, what to wear for pulpit rock hike
What to wear for Pulpit Rock hike

I did this hike in early September and the weather was really nice. There are quite a few streams that run over the path, this was fine for us but I can imagine the paths will get wet and muddy after some rain so wear shoes that can handle this.

If you are hiking Pulpit Rock in winter on a tour like this, they will advise you on what to wear.

Make sure you pack enough water and food with you too.

– How to avoid the crowds at Pulpit Rock?

A few years ago photos of a crowded Pulpit Rock were going around Instagram and it looked pretty awful to be honest. But 1 – there are ways to avoid the crowds and 2 – this is an amazing place so if you can only go when everyone else does, I wouldn’t let that put you off. Often photos of crowds of people can look worse than it actually is!

We did the Pulpit Rock walk on a Saturday in early September so the sun didn’t set until about 8:00 pm. We got to the Preikestolen Base Camp in late afternoon and after hiking to the top and spending 1 hour at the top, as we walked down the sun was starting to set and it was 9:00pm by the time we got back to the car.

As we walked up we saw A LOT of people passing us walking down and when we got to the top there were only about 20 people up there with only a few more after us which was perfect!

Another way to experience fewer crowds would be to hike at Pulpit Rock at sunrise. And visiting during the day but on a weekday rather than a weekend is likely to help too.

Pulpit Rock hike, no crowds at pulpit rock
You can see how few people there were at Pulpit Rock when we went!

If you do happen to get to Pulpit Rock early in the morning or stay late in the evening as we did, note that you should bring a torch, and as per the signs I saw, the car park opens at 6:00 am and closes at 10:00 pm so on those bright late summer nights in Norway, be sure to be back down by 10:00 pm so you can actually leave the car park!

From the research I’ve done on how to get to Pulpit Rock and Pulpit Rock day tours, going late in the day or early on is only possible if you hire a car…. We used RentalCars to hire a car through Sixt at Stavanger Airport and had no issues!

Pulpit Rock hike, pulpit rock sunset
We also got to watch an amazing sunset as we walked down back to the car park

– How to get the best photo at Pulpit Rock?

Photos of Pulpit Rock are very cool! I’ve had so many people say I’m crazy because it looks so high, and it is high, but it does feel safer when you’re up there than what photos and videos may show.

To get the best Pulpit Rock photo you will need someone to take a photo of you. If you are on your own, just ask someone, I’m sure they will be happy to help.

You’ll see the famous edge as you approach the rock and this is where to get the best photo at Pulpit Rock.

Pulpit Rock hike, best photo of Pulpit Rock
How to get the best photo of Pulpit Rock

We found that people were considerate and helpful when it came to taking photos and they would stay back from the edge, therefore out of the photo, and we created a bit of a photo line for the edge, but we did go when it was pretty quiet when it’s busier I’m sure this is harder to do.

The person taking the photo needs to get off the actual rock and walk back down the cliff below about 50m. There will be quite a gap between the photographer and the person posing and a camera or phone zoom is needed to get the best photo. We used zoom 3 on our iPhones for the zoomed photos you see here.

Pulpit Rock hike, Ellie Quinn on pulpit rock zoom
With Zoom 3 on the iPhone

To get a view of the rock from above, if your legs can take it, you can continue up a path once you’re at Pulpit Rock which will give you a view over it.

If you have a drone, drone shots of Pulpit Rock look super cool! My husband made this cool reel of him with his drone!

– Cheapest way to get to Pulpit Rock?

For the cheapest way to get to Pulpit Rock, you’ll want to get a bus from the city centre of Stavanger to the hike starting point. There is a Preikestolen Express Bus run by Go Fjord with prices from 389 NOK pp which is considerably cheaper than the cruise and bus option, guided tour and hiring a car.

Pulpit Rock in Winter

Finally, visiting Pulpit Rock in Summer is a popular time to go with many tourists from Stavanger and Norway cruise tourists doing the hike. Summer brings long light days and much safer weather for the hike, but for much of the year Norway has short daylight hours, is cold and snowy.

That doesn’t mean you can’t hike Preikestolen in winter though!

As mentioned above, from what I can see, the cruise boats and buses stop tours outside of June to September so to do Pulpit Rock in Winter, or Autumn or Spring, you’ll need to hire a car and do it yourself (with appropriate footwear and clothing), or join a winter guided trip.

These are some guided winter Pulpit Rock tours I have found:

I hope this has helped you understand how to do the Pulpit Rock Hike!


Wednesday 15th of November 2023

What a wonderful detailed review of Pulpit Rock. I enjoyed the entire read and learned so much!! Thank you, Salaam!!