Let’s Go – Norway
Get There. In the south west of Norway, about 200km south of Bergen, Stavanger is both a city – the third largest in the country – and a region, home to some of Norway’s top natural attractions. Norwegian and SAS airlines operate direct flights to the city of Stavanger from a number of other European airports.
When to Go. May to October is the best season both for hiking and cruising the fjords, with warmer temperatures and longer days because of almost round-the-clock daylight.
Where to Stay. Norway is not cheap. But once you’ve got over that hurdle, you can sleep and eat remarkably well in and around Stavanger. If you want to be close to the hiking country and at the trailhead to Pulpit Rock, consider spending the night at Preikestolen Mountain Lodge, a one-stop shop for outdoor activities. Upping the budget, Comfort Hotel Square has trendy digs with a contemporary edge bang in the heart of Stavanger. See also Region Stavanger for a list of holiday homes, cabins, guesthouses and campgrounds.
What to Take. With this being Norway, you should always pack layers, waterproofs and sturdy boots as the weather can change at the drop of a hat. Stock up on picnic provisions as most trails are without facilities.
Boat Trips. Rødne Fjord operates boats across Lysefjord; these include cruise and hike trips to Preikestolen, Kjerag and Flørli.
Food and Drink. If you like fish, boy are you in for a treat in Stavanger. Top billing goes to incredibly intimate Omakase, where Roger Asakil Joya – the world’s fourth best sushi chef, no less – serves up a multi-course feast that sings with freshness and simplicity. Fisketorget by the harbour is more Nordic in look and style. For locally sourced picnic treats, stop by the Mathallen market, and tie this in with a cracking deli-style lunch at Ostehuset Øst. And for your picnic, check out the Norwegian delicacy brown cheese – cheese with a distinct caramel flavour.
Fitness, Maps and Guides. The main trails in the region, including the ones featured in this article, are well marked (follow the signs and red Ts), easy to navigate and doable for those with a moderate level of fitness and surefootedness. Anyone who suffers with vertigo should bear in mind that Pulpit Rock, Flørli and Kjerag are all high-level routes with some steep and exposed sections.
Should you wish to venture further off the beaten track, it’s worth investing in a decent 1:25,000 scale topographical map. The Norwegian Trekking Association lists websites and stockists where you can order maps online. These show the details of the terrain as well as lodging facilities. GPS maps are also available.
Cicerone’s guide Walking in Norway includes 20 walking and trekking routes in the main mountain areas of Norway.
Trolltunga. As well as Pulpit Rock and Kjeragbolten featured here, another much-photographed and equally don’t-look-down-ish natural Norwegian attraction is Trolltunga, or Troll’s Tongue – a terrifying lick of rock stretching out over a lake 700m below. It’s also in the south of Norway, about 250km west of Stavanger. Getting to Trolltunga involves a tough, 10-12-hour hike with nearly 1,000m of ascent from the village of Skjeggedal – you’ll need to be fairly fit, with good hiking boots, waterproof layers, food and water. The reward is yet another mind-blowing Kodak moment.
If you fly into Stavanger and out of Bergen, a bus service connects the three sights so you can do them all in a thrilling long weekend.