Stavanger is the staging point for the Norway Pulpit Rock Preikestolen Hike. It’s a city south-west of Oslo, Norway. I traveled there from Oslo by overnight train which took about 9 hours. There’s an old airport in Stavanger and it’s also a popular port for anyone traveling by cruise ship through the Norwegian Sea. Stavangers biggest tourist attraction is called Preikestolen or more commonly known (especially to tourists) as Pulpit Rock which I’ve written about below (“Norway Pulpit Rock Preikestolen Hike“). While in Stavanger, I learned it’s the place to be for wine and jazz festivals, but who’d go all that way for wine and jazz? If you’re heading to Stavanger you’d better plan to see Pulpit Rock or you’ll regret it.
There’s a mess of information online about the Norway Pulpit Rock Preikestolen hike and I’ll try and break it down. Hopefully this will help anyone looking for information on Norway Pulpit Rock Preikestolen hike tours in Stavanger.
The first way to see Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) is by sea. There are a few local companies that run boat tours throughout the fjords and I recommend Rodne (http://www.rodne.no/) simply because that’s who I chose and I didn’t have any problems with them (despite a few bad reviews I read online). There’s not much that could go wrong on these tours to disappoint anyone, just find the Rodne office or a kiosk in/around the marinas and buy a ticket. They’ll tell you where to board the boat and you return to the same place. There was plenty of room, inside/outside seating, snacks/drinks, etc. There was a recorded “guide” in German, Norweigan and English. The boat tour was about 3 hours long and the views were pretty amazing. We made a few “stops” (never leaving the boat) for up-close photos of animals, a waterfall, a cave and of course the Pulpit Rock. The view of Pulpit Rock from the sea was incredible, but leaving the boat I felt that the whole fjord tour itself was equally as good.
The second way to see Pulpit Rock is to hike to the top. This was the most difficult journey from Stavanger to plan because I found a lot of misleading information online. So here’s my recommended itinerary, current as of August 2011:
1) Find the Tau ferry port
Make your way to the Stavanger Old Town, and ask for directions. You’ll find most people in Stavanger speak English and are happy to help. It really is easy to find. If you don’t want to ask for directions, find the church that’s likely the first landmark you’ll see when you exit the main train station, turn left, and walk about 5 minutes (past the park on the right). From the church, you can see the marina, go there (right side of it). You’ll pass some restaurants on your right, and then the Victoria Hotel. Keep going alongside the water and after about 10 minutes you’ll see Rodne and Tide boats, the Tau port is right near there. Here’s a Google Street View of the area you’re looking for, the Tau port is literally right there. The cost of the Tau ferry was about CDN$10 (each way) and the one-way trip was 40 minutes.
2) Exit the ferry, and find the green “Preikestolen” Kolumbus bus
When you get off the ferry, the bus stops are to your left. There are taxis and shuttle busses too, just ignore them. If there is a green bus with “Preikestolen” on it, hop on. If it’s not there, just wait, they come quite frequently and you should be able to see some signage and a timetable for this bus at that very bus stop. The cost of the bus to Preikestolen was about CDN$20 (round trip) and took about 20 minutes.
3) Hop off at the Preikestolen stop
When you first board this bus you might be confused as to where you should get off – don’t be. There’s a good chance 90% of the people on the bus are going to the same place as you (Pulpit Rock), and it’s the longest stop (lots of time to notice you’re there and get off). You’ll know you’re heading in the right direction on the bus when it passes through town and heads uphill into the mountains/trees. A note about bus fare: it was cheaper to buy a return ticket, so I did, but once I completed the hike back from Pulpit Rock I had to wait 2hrs for that very bus to come back — all the while different busses, shuttles and taxis (all heading back to the Tau ferry) came and went. To take them I would have had to pay extra. So, to keep your options open, I suggest only buying a one-way ticket.
There’s a 3rd way to see Pulpit Rock, by helicopter. I searched while in the area and couldn’t find any information on this but I know the option exists.
Norway Pulpit Rock Preikestolen Hike
On a scale of difficulty from 1 to 10, I’d give the Norway Pulpit Rock Preikestolen hike a 7. The length (suggested 2 hours up and 2 hours down) isn’t a problem, the altitude isn’t a problem, and the trail is relatively safe. What makes this hike difficult is that half of it is through rocks varying from basketballs to volkswagens in size. They’re difficult to navigate, can be slippery, and at times you’ll be crawling up on all fours. I found coming down was harder than going up. Bring good shoes and perhaps walking sticks and you’ll be fine. Don’t forget some food and lots of water. If you have any hesitations check out the Photos on my Flickr page.
Pulpit Rock Hike Tips
I did the Norway Pulpit Rock Preikestolen hike in the Summertime, shorts and a t-shirt were fine. Walking sticks are recommended. Good hiking shoes are recommended too, however I did the hike in 1.5 hours in sneakers. Bring lots of water, 1 liter per hour is a good. There are a few maps and signs along the way, as well as red T’s marked on trees, rocks, etc to guide the way. If you pay attention to the maps, and find yourself at the last “stretch” or “leg” of the route to the top of Pulpit Rock, pay attention: there are 2 ways to approach. Option 1, left, is around a bend and uphill which brings you level with the top of the rock. Option 2, straight-right, is a steady incline hike that will being you above Pulpit Rock for an overhead view. I suggest going with Option 2, and taking Option 1 back. The view from above the top of the rock is by far the best. Check out my Photos on Flickr and you’ll see what I mean.
I arrived by Train and the main Sentral Station was under construction. It was hard to find my way around, it was a Sunday, no stores were open and for the life of my I couldn’t find a darn bathroom. When I did find the bathroom you had to pay, so now I had to find a currency counter. To top it off, the station was full of punks/skids/hoodlums and I didn’t feel safe at all.
Once I left the station and headed out on foot to the main street, flowers and memorials were everywhere you looked, literally. On walls, steps, sidewalks, streets, windows, signs, water, everywhere, as it was only days after the explosion and shootings. A massive memorial was setup outside the Domkirken church, an incredible sight.