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Deep into the spectacular Lysefjord, close to the Kjerag boulder, lies a roadless hamlet that you can only reach by ferry. Once you reach the hamlet, the real challenge begins: the world’s longest wooden stairway, with 4,444 steps that lead right up the mountain, awaits you. If this all sounds like the beginning of a Dungeons & Dragons quest, it’s because Flørli is pretty epic. Here’s what you need to know about it.
Flørli has a bit of everything. Although the wooden staircase is definitely the star, the area itself is no boring supporting actor either. Staying at the local hostel or in one of the rental apartments, you’ll get to wake up to the calm waters of the fjord, where you can canoe or kayak and fish for trout. If you’re more into hiking and trail-running, there’s the Frafjordheiane Landscape Reserve – or you can just relax with a beer at the pub.
From Flørli, you can also visit iconic attractions like the Kjerag boulder or the Pulpit Rock. Or, you know, you can just take endless pictures of these rocks…
Hydropower, that is. The actual wooden staircase was first built for the workers of a power plant that was founded in 1916 and soon attracted the attention of a German company. As WW1 was still raging, the Germans were interested in steel so they planned to create a steelworks building in Flørli – but in 1918 the war ended and the steel market crashed. The steelworks building was never to be.
But the water pipeline from the power plant by the fiord up to the dam in Ternevatnet was already being constructed during that time. The pipe was to be fastened to the rock and buried in concrete, so rails had to be laid up the hill that would help a crane pull trolleys with workers and materials uphill. After a couple of accidents though, they decided that it would be safe to just build wooden stairs along the rails – 4,444 stairs to be exact.
Nowadays, the wooden staircase at Flørli is a famous hiking destination. It takes three to four hours to climb all 4,444 stairs to get to the top and some parts of the stairs are rather steep – but you’ll be rewarded with a bird’s eye view of the fjord, as you’ll be well above the treeline. There’s also a smaller hike that’s more appropriate if you’re traveling with children, which goes up to the 1,000th step.
On the other hand, if 4,444 stairs feel like a mere warm-up to you, you can always hike directly to Kjerag after you get to the top (it’s a two-day hike through rocky outcrops with insane fjord views). Just make sure to stop for a while and fulfill your Instagram duty…