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Stavanger, the Norwegian city closest to Preikestolen (“Pulpit Rock”), experiences some of the highest levels of precipitation in all of Europe. Unfortunately this means the chances of encountering rain at some point on your hiking adventure is rather high. So should you go through with it? Will it be safe in the rain? Will you even be able to see anything? I found myself asking these questions when I set out to hike Pulpit Rock for the first time this spring.
What I quickly learnt was that the weather near Preikestolen is extremely unpredictable and fast-changing. While this might seem like a drawback, it can also work very much in your favour. Even if your Pulpit Rock hike starts off foggy and wet, there’s every chance you could be greeted with clear skies by the time you make it to the top. Now, of course, this won’t always be the case and some days you’ll sadly brave the rain for little reward. However, just because the day looks like doom and gloom from the get-go, don’t give up all hope just yet.
Preikestolen is a steep cliff which rises 604 metres (1,982 ft) above the Lysefjorden. On top of the cliff, there is a flat surface of approximately 25 by 25 metres – this mountain plateau was most probably shaped by the expansion of ice some 10,000 years ago. Preikestolen has been named one of the world’s most spectacular viewing points by both CNNGo and Lonely Planet and is one of the most visited natural tourist attractions in Norway.
HOW DO I GET TO PREIKESTOLEN?
Preikestolen is easily accessible from Stavanger. A ferry takes you from Stavanger port to the small town of Tau in approximately 40 minutes. The ferry has good facilities, including a café and bar. As soon as you disembark, you’ll see coaches waiting in the parking lot to transfer you to the base of the hiking trail. The hike starts from the parking lot by the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge, where you can also hire hiking gear or stop for food.
You can purchase a transfer package at the terminal in Stavanger for NOK 400 (approx. £35) from the Go Fjords stall – this will cover the cost of the return ferry and bus tickets. Otherwise, you can purchase your tickets separately onboard the ferry and the bus without any problems (though it will work out slightly more expensive). Make sure to read the ferry timetables clearly so you can plan your day. In the shoulder seasons, the ferries run less frequently so don’t get stuck in Tau for the night.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE HIKING TRAIL?
There are many mixed reviews online regarding the difficulty of the Preikestolen trail – some people say it’s easy, some people say it’s difficult. The facts are that the hike is a 7.6km round trip with a 350m ascent. The terrain varies from flat ground and wooden paths to large boulders and steep stone steps. If you’re fit and wearing appropriate footwear, you can do the hike from anywhere between 1 and 2 hours one way (4 hours return being the official advised time). Setting a quick pace and with a good fitness level, it took me approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes each way. This hike would not be well suited to people with bad knees or ankles.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIKING PREIKESTOLEN IN BAD WEATHER?
If you’ve committed to setting off on a wet Preikestolen adventure, remember these 5 essential things for a successful day:
1) DON’T TAKE THE WEATHER REPORT AS FACT – IT’S AS ACCURATE AS IT IS INACCURATE
The forecast on the day I was setting off on the hike stated torrential rain and low visibility all day. The entire way to the base of the Preikestolen trail I was uncertain whether I had made the right decision to go through with the hike. Even if the rain didn’t bother me, the chances of seeing the fjord would be slim. Would I have endured the cold and wet for nothing? Would the entire day be a big flop?
Well, in my case, the “heavy rain” forecast was nothing more than a mere intermittent drizzle. That’s it! And even though the entire trail was covered in a thick fog, dashing my hopes of a view at the top, I was still able to see most of the fjord when I reached the rock (so much for that forecast…!). The clouds move quickly, so even if you don’t have a fjord view right away when you get to the top, it’s worth sticking around a while to see if it clears for a minute.
If there is snow in the mountains, it is not recommended you do the hike (or you should use a nature guide).
2) WEAR PROPER WATERPROOF HIKING SHOES
Not everyone has a set of waterproof hiking shoes laying around; however, having a pair will make a huge difference to your balance (and to your warmth)! Having no other choice, I hiked the trail in my Nike trainers. Needless to say, even in drizzle, my feet were soaked within the first 10 minutes of the hike (not ideal, but bearable thankfully!). Given my shoes had no grip, I also caught myself slipping countless times on the wet rocks – one time I even fell over completely. There are jagged rocks everywhere on this hike – one bad fall is enough to cause a nasty injury and ruin your day.
3) DRESS APPROPRIATELY – WEAR SOMETHING WATERPROOF
Knitted sweaters, jeans and wool coats are not something you’d expect people to be wearing along a rainy hike. Yet I did, astonishingly! Even if it’s not raining, given the unpredictable weather, you should wear (or at least pack) something waterproof – whether that’s a proper jacket, a raincoat or just a plastic poncho. Keep yourself dry. Ideally, wear something with a hood, there’s nothing worse than a constant stream of water in your eyes. Also, wear sportswear that’s made of breathable material. Parts of the hike are intensive and you will work up a sweat – it’s important to wear something that will regulate your body temperature.
4) BE PREPARED AND BE SENSIBLE
The most important thing about hiking in bad weather is to be prepared for the worst – just in case! Here’s my list of suggested simple must-haves in your backpack to ensure a smooth (and warm!) journey:
- Plenty of water
- Energy snacks (lots of them!)
- A small thermos of something warm to drink
- 100% battery on your phone (or a spare battery pack)
- Spare warm socks and comfy sweatpants (to wear on the journey home)
- Warm hat (in case of high winds)
It goes without saying – be sensible. One person I met on his way back down the trail told me he’d stayed up on Preikestolen too long the night before and then was unable to find the trail back in the dark! Fortunately for him, some other hikers who were camping the night kindly gave him shelter. To avoid the loss of daylight on your return hike, don’t embark on this hike too late in the day. Get informed on the times for the sunrise and sunset.
5) ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE – EVEN IF THERE IS NO VIEW AT THE TOP!
The hike itself is beautiful, through lush Norwegian forest, passing small lakes and gorges, along large boulders and well-laid stone paths. The low hanging clouds that usually come with the rainy weather are mysterious and majestic. The hike is breathtaking at every corner, no matter what the conditions are. If you’re greeted with a view of the fjord at the top that’s just a bonus! Walk away knowing you’ve hiked one of the most famous trails in the world.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WHILE IN TOWN?
The Stavanger and Ryfylke areas offer endless opportunities for adventure. A few ideas for an active holiday are canoeing, kayaking, fishing, salmon safari, kiting, climbing, ZIP line, rappelling, SUP, boating, skiing, cycling, hiking or extreme sports like base jumping or paragliding. Stavanger is also where you find Norway’s best surfing conditions, along the beaches in Jæren.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY NEAR THE PREIKESTOLEN TRAIL?
Preikestolen Fjellstue and Lilland Hotell are the two closest hotels near the Preikestolen trail. However, most people stay in the city of Stavanger where there are many hotels and Airbnb options suiting all budgets. Some well reviewed hotel options in Stavanger include:
EMILIA’S TOP TIPS TO HIKE PREIKESTOLEN (PULPIT ROCK)
- The main hiking season is from April to October. If you’d like to have a quieter experience on the trail, try doing it in the shoulder months of April or October.
- If you are concerned about sharing Preikestolen with too many people, start the walk at night (don’t forget your torch!) and you will experience a mesmerising sunrise over the fjord.
- If you have time and want to admire the Preikestolen cliff from a different perspective, take a sightseeing boat along the fjord.
- If you’re up for another adventure, challenge yourself on the 4,444 steps of the wooden staircase of Flørli, which will take you 740 metres above sea level in less than two hours.
We hope that this article has inspired you to hike Preikestolen in Norway. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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- Ydalir Hotel
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We Are Travel Girls Contributor Emilia Drozda
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