In the fall of 2018, I flew to Scandinavia. The trip began in Copenhagen, notably to rent a car. Then it was on to Sweden and finally Norway. Of all the things I wanted to see in Norway, the Preikestolen cliff was at the top of the list.
In fact, there are many exceptional landscapes in Norway. But it’s a country that doesn’t often come up on Flytrippers’ cheap flight deals page. However, deals to Europe in the $400s roundtrip are frequent, so the self-transfer tip comes in handy.
Here’s how my visit to the Preikestolen cliff in Norway went.
Here’s the classic image of the Preikestolen, as widely published.
Some of Norway’s landscapes are even more spectacular than the Preikestolen (like the Trolltunga).
But some are a long way from the big cities. Others are closer, but require several hours’ walking on difficult trails. All in all, the possibilities are limited when you don’t have a lot of time and aren’t a seasoned hiker.
So this spot caught my eye as a more accessible natural attraction.
The Preikestolen cliff is located in south-west Norway, not far from the town of Stavanger.
However, in Norway, nothing is in a straight line because of the many fjords and mountains. So you had to take one or more ferries to get to the cliff (and this mode of transport always ends up on your itinerary just about anywhere else in Norway, if you wander around at all).
Fortunately, in 2019 the world’s longest underwater road tunnel was inaugurated between Stavanger and the Preikestolen, making the journey very short (less than an hour).
My trip to the Preikestolen
It was an October day. The scenery was similar to that in Canada, but it was quite warm (around 15-20 degrees). The day was quite advanced (it was 3 PM) and the park’s directions advised against climbing too late in the afternoon, because the sun set early in the mountains and the outward journey alone took about 2 hours.
I figured these warnings were for tourists in poor shape and set off on my adventure. I soon discovered that the recommendations were quite applicable. Despite my fairly brisk pace, I soon realized that the climb was quite demanding at times, and that the cliff was much further away than I’d thought.
And my theory that the higher up a mountain you climb, the clearer the view and the more sun you can see… turned out to be spectacularly wrong.
The higher I climbed, the lower the sun got. Hard to explain, but if you attempt the climb in the late afternoon, you’ll understand. However, I invite you to take my word for it and venture out on these trails earlier, ideally in the morning.
But I kept my focus and continued on my way, passing a few people along the way. In particular, I came across a guy juggling bowling pins on the trail/climb while a friend filmed him. Quite a strange scene, after an hour and a half’s walk.
The sun was dipping in the sky and the scenery was pretty, but there was no sign of an imminent cliff with a view similar to the mountains in Lord of the Rings.
Finally, about 10 minutes from the final destination, the view cleared and I found myself in front of an incredible vista of infinity. And the trail became decidedly more dangerous, with a fair chance of falling into a crevasse or the void, aided by the strong winds blowing at this point.
And then, at around 5:15 PM, after a little over 2 hours’ walk and the sun getting lower and lower, I found myself practically alone on the Preikestolen. Only a Norwegian family with 2 children and a dog joined me. A strange place to take a dog, with the few crevasses jutting into the abyss. But in the end, it seemed like just another walk for these friendly Scandinavians, who took my picture.
Some people sit on the edge of the abyss to take their picture. As my fear of heights was too great and the winds quite strong, I stayed just a few meters from the edge, but that was quite enough for the immensity around me.
I imagine that in summer, when it’s crowded, it’s less conducive to contemplation. But that day was the perfect day to set off on my assault on this cliff.
Even though I had to leave fairly quickly in order to find my way back with the little sun that remained, I still have fond memories of this hike on the Preikestolen cliff.
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Original publication date: March 22, 2019
Featured image: Preikestolen (photo credit: Oleksii T)