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What to do in Stavanger and getting to Pulpit Rock, Norway

pulpit rock

Stavanger is the fourth largest city in Norway and the gateway to Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen ).  Widely regarded as the oil capital of Norway. Stavanger is located in the southwestern corner of the country. Pulpit Rock is a tourist attraction located approximately 45 minutes by ferry and car from the city of Stavanger. Pulpit Rock or Preikestolen as its sometimes known is a steep rock, with the top located over 600 meters above the Lysefjorden fjord. Anyway, some friends and I were looking for something different for our long weekend away and somebody suggested we hike up to the top of Pulpit Rock. I googled some images having never heard of it before and immediately thought “wow this looks scary” Flights to Stavanger are available from most major UK airports with a flight time of just under 2 hours.

Finding our way around.

We arrived in Stavanger early on a Friday morning. On the flight from London, I was sitting next to a local from Stavanger and we got chatting and happened to support the same football team from the UK. He gave me a list of things to put on my itinerary while we were in Stavanger. This guy also very kindly offered us a lift from the airport to our hotel in the city, as he said taxis will be very expensive. We gratefully took the lift, although he would not accept our offer of some money for his hassles. This was our first introduction to the Norwegian people, and during our whole trip, every other local we met couldn’t do enough to help you. I remember the guy telling us that this was the hottest summer Norway has had for many years, with the thermometer reaching 28oc. Although we love the hot weather, we had come here to hike 😅. Once we checked in we headed into town to check out the place. The walk took us about 30 minutes from our accommodation, and although it was a pleasant enough walk, if I stayed here again then I would choose to stay much closer to the port itself.  There is a very reliable and extensive bus service around the city, but I like the exercise. This pretty port is a place well worth a visit and there some nice bars and restaurants here. This is also a stop off for many cruise ships. You will often see a huge cruise liner docked here.

One of the most picturesque places in the city is the Øvre Holmegate. The most colorful street in Norway, known locally as Fargegaten (color street) where all the buildings are painted in different colors. It looks like Stavanger’s version of Notting Hill. It’s most definitely worth a walk up here, sit down and have a coffee while taking in the scenery and people watch. There are plenty of cafes, bars, and restaurants here, as well as a few niche shops for you to buy some souvenirs. A short walk from the city’s waterfront where all the big ships come into the dock so it’s very easy to find

The hike to Pulpit Rock.

We woke up on Saturday morning all very excited for the day ahead. we packed a few bottles of water and a few snacks and headed straight for the ferry port. The ferry port is only a short walk from Stavanger center and from here you can board the carry ferry to Tau. This journey will take you about 40 minutes and you buy your tickets after boarding the ferry.

Once you get to Tau you then jump on a bus that takes you to Preikestolen. The bus will take you right up to the car park where you will start the hike. There is soon to be a new tunnel opening up to connect Stavanger to the ferry port in Tau, I believe early 2020, so be sure to check this before planning your trip for this.

You can book guided tours up Pulpit Rock or you can do what we did and just make your own way up. We started our walk at about 11 am,  It was hot and sunny when we started at the bottom but the further up we went the weather was changing all the time. The start of the walk was quite steep and hilly with steps made of rocks and boulders. This is a general theme most of the way up, although it does flatten out in parts, giving your legs a break. There are so many opportunities to take stunning photographs on the way up so be sure to have your camera with you.

Although we stopped once or twice to take a few pictures and have a drink, we made it to the top, 604 meters up, by about 1 pm, roughly 2 hours from when we started. Wow, is the best way to describe the view from up here, it’s simply stunning, You just have to see it. Even though the cloud had come over, it did little to dampen the breathtaking views.

After spending an hour or so at the top taking numerous pictures and admiring the breathtaking views it was time to start heading back down. Coming back down was much quicker than going up, we managed to get down in under 1hour 30 minutes. Weaving in and out of people traffic proved to be our trickiest obstacles on the way down. None of us are by any means experienced hikers, the most I have done is a walk in the Swiss Alps and a couple of walks in the Lake District in the UK but I found this hike to be relatively easy so don’t be put off by a lack of hiking experience. There are obviously things you need to be careful of like the weather, and of course, you need to be fairly fit, but there are plenty of young children hiking up here. Also, maybe a pair of hiking boots, I made the mistake of wearing trainers, and my feet were a little sore the following day. And take layers, don’t be caught out by changing weather.

Back to Stavanger.

By the time we got back to Stavanger, we had worked up a good thirst and an appetite for a big meal so we stopped by the port and headed to a place called N.B. Sørensen Dampskibsexpedition, a restaurant that had been recommended to us by a local, and if the locals like it then it must be good. Although there was a lot to choose from on the menu I had my heart set on a burger and chips with a nice cold pint of beer, in fact, I had been thinking about nothing else for most of the way back from the hike. The food here is delicious, the prices are very reasonable and it’s a very cozy little place so if your looking for a nice evening meal by the waterfront then this is your place. After eating we decided to stay nearby and have some drinks at a couple of bars nearby. Beer prices are quite expensive here, you are not going to get much change from €10 euros for 1 beer. It is roughly 95Kr for a beer in Stavanger.

While the beer prices are quite expensive in Stavanger, about €8 / £7, the atmosphere is extremely relaxed and welcoming and the locals are very friendly and most will come and start a conversation with you. We continued having a few drinks into the night. Stavanger has a very vibrant nightlife considering the size of the city. Whatever your taste in music, Stavangers nightlife has it covered. And like most other cities you will probably travel to, Stavanger has a lovely Irish bar called The Irishman, and you will quite often find live bands playing here. It has a lovely atmosphere, especially on a summer evening.

Kayaking in the fjords

If you’re looking for adventure or an adrenaline fix, Stavanger has plenty for you. Not only do you have the hikes, but you can also kayak, canoe, fish, ski, boat, zip wire, and even surf, yep surf. Stavanger has a beach, with Sola beach being the closest to the airport. The beeches are very popular among water sports enthusiasts. Stavanger has endless activities for you to partake in, no matter what you are into.

Hire a kayak and take to the fjords

As we only had one day left I decided I wanted to hire a kayak and explore the beautiful fjords. There are companies offering group tours and guided tours and also the option for you to take to the water without a guide, the option we choose. It didn’t disappoint, my mate and I had such a good time laughing at each other’s poor paddling skills. Although in truth, when we go again we will probably hire a guide because they know all the best places to see.

Although it was hard work, in a way it felt incredibly relaxing and peaceful. It was a beautiful sunny day and the water was so calm and still. The scenery from the water is just as stunning as it is from the mountains and in my opinion any trip to Norway must include some sort of fjord water activity.

If you are looking to book tours, trips, hikes, and activities or just pick up some maps of the local area or you are just looking for information, head to the tourist information center, this is situated on the port on the opposite side of the water from the bars. The staff will be very happy to assist you, they are very friendly and welcoming. Opening times vary depending on the time of year.

Opening times of the tourist information in Stavanger as follows:

May 1- May 31st open Monday to Friday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am – 2:00 pm June 1st- August 31st open daily 8:00 am – 6:00 pm September 1st – October 31st Monday to Friday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm and Saturday 09:00 am – 2:00 pm October 15 – April 30th Monday to Friday 08:00 – 3:00 pm.

Norway is a country that has so much to offer and I cannot wait to go back. It wasn’t voted the best country in the world to live for no reason. 

So, Put a trip to Norway and Pulpit Rock on your list, you will not regret it. 

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