Pulpit Rock, also known as Preikestolen in Norwegian, is one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions. It features a characteristic mountain plateau where you can go out on it and look down at the amazing Lysefjorden below.
There are few places as incredible as Pulpit Rock, but the big problem with popular tourist attractions like this one is that there are big crowds all the time. So, how can you avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock?
There are a few options to avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock, and you can either choose to hike very early, spend the night in at tent close to the top, hike in the off-season, or go for a late-night hike.
All of these are viable option if you want to avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock, but there are both pros and cons to all four options.
So, let’s take a closer look at how to avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock in detail.
Avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock by going on a very early hike
A common tip on how to avoid the crowds at Pulpit Rock is by going very early in the morning. And it works – to a certain extent.
The big problem with this tip is that it’s already very popular, and it takes a big effort to beat the crowds. So while you might consider starting the hike at 7 AM to be a good option, it’s way too late!
If you want to beat the crowds at Pulpit Rock, you should aim to start the hike at around 5 AM in the morning.
It’s also pretty important to hike at a decent pace, because you’re not going to beat the crowds if you start early, but hike at a very slow pace so that other hikers catch up to you.
But if you are in decent shape, starting the hike at around 5 AM pretty much guarantees that you beat the main crowds, even though you will likely still meet a few other early birds on the top.
It’s becoming increasingly more trendy to do sunrise hikes to Pulpit Rock, so I think that even 5 AM might be a bit too late in a few years from now, but as of 2022, you will usually have the place without crowds if you leave at 5.
You will also beat the main crowds if you start the hike at 7 AM, but this will not allow you to be virtually alone at the top, since many people will leave at 7 AM «to beat the crowds» just like you did.
Spend the night close to the top of the Pulpit Rock hike to beat the crowds
Another great option for getting to the top of the Pulpit Rock before any of the crowds is to bring a tent a go wild camping somewhere close to the top! This allows you to wake up at a decent time and still beat the crowds.
The freedom to roam principle in Norway allows you to put up a tent anywhere in nature in Norway, as long as you are at least 200 meters away from a place where people live or have their cabin.
This means that you can camp close to the trail, but it’s strongly advised to move a least a hundred meters away from the main trail.
After setting up camp in the evening, either go for a quick late-evening visit to the Pulpit Rock, or go to bed early to be ready for an early morning. There’s few things as amazing as seeing the sunrise at Pulpit Rock!
If you get to the top between 6 AM and 8 AM, you are likely to have most of the plateau to yourself (and other hikers who have spent the night in a tent nearby). Obviously, this will depend a bit of how far away from the top you are.
As mentioned earlier, seeing the sunrise from Pulpit Rock is becoming very trendy, and this is pretty easy to achieve if you spend the night in a tent close to the plateau.
How to go wild camping at the Pulpit Rock hike
If you choose to go wild camping close to the Pulpit Rock to avoid the crowds, you can either choose to bring your own tent, or book a trip with a guided group.
Both options are fine, but one’s free and the other one is pretty expensive (expect to pay around 1,500 NOK per person).
If you are unfamiliar with tenting, I would recommend going with a guide, because this is not really a suitable wild camp for a brand new beginner. There are no tree cover close to the top, and it’s pretty unforgiving if you don’t know how to pitch your tent correctly.
If you tenting by yourself, just bring your tent, the equipment you need, and pitch your tent anywhere you like. There are usually a dozen or so tent camps during the primary season, so you should be able to find other people to socialize with as well.
By tenting close to the top, you can certainly avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock, but it’s important to have realistic expectations. Because while you beat the main crowds, many people spend the night in a tent close to the top, so you’re not going to be alone at the plateau.
Hiking to the Pulpit Rock in the off-season
The main hiking season for visiting Pulpit Rock is between June and August, and over 90 % of all visitors will visit in this time period. This means that it is much less crowded during the remaining 9 months.
Generally speaking, the further you are from the summer months, the less crowded Pulpit Rock will be. It’s entirely possible to go for a fall, winter or early spring hike to Pulpit Rock as long as you bring appropriate clothing.
So one of the best tips to avoid the crowds at Pulpit Rock is simply to schedule your hike outside of summer. It’s very beautiful in the fall, and there’s something magical about the view in the middle of winter!
It’s important to keep in mind that certain parts of the hike is more challenging in the off-season. Both the fall and the spring tends to have a lot of rainfall, making the trail slippery. The winter will often have snow as well as fog and cold weather, so make sure to bring good clothing.
It might be a good idea to book a guided tour to Preikestolen if you are serious about going there in winter, and lack some of the experience that’s needed to complete it on your own.
And it goes without saying, but be very careful at the plateau! A small slip and you’re in serious trouble.
Avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock by hiking late in the evening
Most people hike to Pulpit Rock in the early morning hours, and start the hike between 7 AM and 12 AM. But there are still lots of hours left of daylight in the summer, and it’s easily possible to start the hike at 2 PM and still make it.
The later you arrive at Pulpit Rock, the less people will be there.
Just keep in mind that you need to have daylight on your way back down again, and that the trail will be much more dangerous if you decide to hike it without daylight or a proper headlight.
Another option is to hike to Pulpit Rock in the evening, then pitch a tent and do the return trip in the morning hours the next day.
The parking lot might be closed in the middle of the day
A potential problem to hiking late to avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock is that the parking lot will be full at the time you plan to start the hike. It will be closed if it’s full, but luckily you can choose to just wait a short while.
Since most people start the hike early, there’s always someone going down again, and you can usually find a free parking spot by waiting around 30 minutes or so.
Another option is to go to Jørpeland and spend a few hours there to star the hike even later.
How annoying are the crowds at Pulpit Rock really?
Pulpit Rock is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Norway, and brings in over 300,000 visitors on a good year according to NRK. Since most of these visit in the summer season, expect over 3,000 visitors on any given day.
As you can imagine, over 3,000 people on a rather small mountain plateau is insanely crowded, and you will have people all around you at all times.
You can just forget about getting a photo of you alone on the plateau, and most times will have hundreds of people there at once.
So many people choose to get creative to avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock, but it’s getting increasingly more difficult since Pulpit Rock is getting more popular year by year. We hope you found the article helpful, and let us know in the comments below if you got other tips to avoid crowds at Pulpit Rock!
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Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.