The sight of people perched on the edge of this extraordinary granite rock formation is one of Norway's emblematic images. Soaring 604m above the fjord, framed by cliffs on three sides, Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) is one of the nation's most remarkable sights. It's a steep, four-hour return hike from Preikestolhytta Vandrerhjem, and is usually accessible from April to September, depending on the snows.
The two-hour, 3.8km trail begins along a steep but well-marked route, then climbs past a series of alternating steep and boggy sections to the final climb across granite slabs and along some windy and exposed cliffs to Preikestolen itself. The steepest sections are at the beginning and in the middle parts of the trail and can be challenging for the unfit. Theoretically it can be done in winter, but it's not advisable due to the likelihood of adverse weather and the more limited options for public transport.
As for many of Norway’s natural attractions, there are no fences or barriers of any kind, and despite the alarming crack where it joins the mountains, it's likely to be around for a few more centuries. While the rock receives over 200,000 visitors a year, there has only been one accidental fatality, in 2013. That said, do take all due care even if other people seemingly don't. For those with vertigo, even watching other people dangling limbs over the abyss can make the heart skip a beat. Rocky trails lead up the mountains behind, offering more wonderful views.
The area also offers several other fabulous walks – the Vatnerindane ridge circuit (two hours), Ulvaskog (three hours), the Refsvatnet circuit (three hours), the summit of Moslifjellet (three hours) and even a two-day hike all the way to Lysebotn – all of which are accessible from the Preikestolhytta car park. For more information on possible routes and DNT huts along the trails, visit the Stavanger Turistforening DNT before setting out from Stavanger.