Mid last year, a friend and I (Carrie) hiked the iconic Preikestolen (popularly known as Pulpit Rock) in southwestern Norway. I travel to Oslo at least once a year for work and am determined to use these trips to see as much of Norway as I can. When I was there last March, my friend, Roberta and I decided to piggyback off my then upcoming June trip and have a girls’ weekend. Roberta had been living in Norway for many years so I left the decision up to her-lazy of me, I know. She had always wanted to go to Preikestolen but never made it there, so that’s what we did.
If you know anything about Preikestolen, you know it is one of the top tourist destinations in Norway. The hundreds of tourists who are bused in daily make the beautiful landscape difficult to appreciate. We were keen on avoiding this at all costs, and lucky for us, Roberta found a small local company, Outdoor Life Norway that offered a guided sunrise hike.
Having found a way to beat the crowds, Roberta and I booked the rest of our trip-return flights from Oslo to Stavanger-the closest airport to Preikestolen on Norwegian Air at an unbeatable price of $110 round-trip with checked bags; one night stay in Stavanger; and one night at the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge.
We flew into Stavanger in Southwest Norway, on a Friday evening, after work. After a quick 40-minute flight and 30-minute bus ride we were at our hotel in downtown Stavanger and looking for a place to eat. Fortunately, one of our colleagues was from Stavanger and had given us a list of recommendations. Both being foodies, Roberta and I immediately headed toward, Renaa Matbaren, sister restaurant to the Michelin starred Renaa Restaurant, and were ecstatic when they had open seats at the bar. The downside of this though, was that we saw every dish that came out, which made it extremely difficult for us to choose our meals. Ultimately, we both settled on the steak-a surprising choice for me as I rarely eat meat, let alone red meat-but it looked so good I couldn’t resist. And, it was worth it.
After dinner, we stopped in for a drink at Boker og Borst, also at the recommendation of our colleague. This cozy bookstore-esque café/bar, has a great selection of local and regional craft beers.
The next day, we had some time before heading to the lodge to check out the city. We went to “Old Stavanger”, which is full of traditional houses and is home to the canning museum-one of the quirkiest museums I’ve ever been to. On our way back we stopped at Tango Bar and Restaurant for a drink on their rooftop terrace overlooking the city. Then it was on to Preikestolen.
We had initially planned to take a bus there but the same colleague with the restaurant recommendations arranged for us to use her sister’s car. There are two ways to get to Preikestolen from Stavanger, one route includes a short ferry ride (approximately 30 minutes). Due to timing issues, we took the non-ferry route there. After an hour and a half, we arrived at the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge, located at the trail entrance. The parking lot was teeming with tourists and tour buses-we definitely made the right decision to do a sunrise hike. The lodge was built in 2008 and was designed to fit within the natural landscape of the area. The rooms are simple, beds, shelves, and for some, like ours, a private bathroom. We didn’t have long until we had to go to sleep to prepare for our early morning-so we had a quick drink and dinner at the restaurant and then tried to get some sleep starting at 8 pm.
When we woke up at 1:00 am, the forecast was calling for heavy rain. I, unfortunately, did not have rain paints but the lodge offers them to rent! We met Chris, our guide, his dog, and two other hikers in the parking lot at 2 am. Chris gave us headlamps and walking sticks. Then we were off. Not but 10 minutes into the hike, it began to pour. It rained heavily for the first hour of our 3-hour hike, which made hiking in the dark with walking sticks even more of a challenge. But getting to the top and seeing only two other people made the early morning hike in the rain and dark entirely worth it. There wasn’t really much of a sunrise because of the weather but the view was spectacular nonetheless.
Unfortunately, because we were wet from the rain and the wind starting picking up, we didn’t have much time at the top. We had tea brought by Chris and I had my bread with Norwegian brown cheese-I have a slightly unhealthy addiction to Norwegian brown cheese. Then we took the requisite photos before beginning our descent. The hike concluded with breakfast at the lodge.
Luckily for us the lodge has late check out for guests who do the sunrise tour so Roberta and I were able to take a short nap after our hike and before heading back to Stavanger to catch our return flight to Oslo. This time we took the ferry route back, though it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. The ride was short and there weren’t many photo ops. So, we just sat inside and ate sandwiches.
This was the perfect weekend trip from Oslo or longer if you have the time. I would have never considered such a popular destination like Preikestolen if not for Outdoor Life Norway’s sunrise hike. While Preikestolen is free of charge and anyone can technically do the sunrise hike on their own, having a guide made hiking in the dark and rain much easier. Chris, our guide, was also very knowledgeable about the site and area. He shared a lot of interesting information about the history of Preikestolen and knew the mountain well enough to advise us against staying on top too long because of the change in weather.
For anyone going to the area, I highly recommend doing their sunrise hike, or one of their other trips for a unique experience in some of Norway’s most beautiful places.
All Photography by Carrie Bond
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