Journey to the edge of the world
- What is North Cape, Norway
- When to go
- Where to stay
- How to reach the North Cape
- What else to see near the North Cape
North Cape annually attracts hundreds of tourists who dream to get to the northernmost, as they think, point of Europe where from the observation deck they can admire magnificent views of the vast Arctic Ocean in the background of the flashes of the Northern Lights.
What is North Cape, Norway
North Cape is located on the 304-meter cliff Magerøya and is often called the northernmost point of Europe mainland, although in fact, the land ends a kilometer and a half away, in Knivskjellodden that you can reach only on foot by the marked trails. It is considered the most distant point of Europe, though, as well as the North Cape, located on the island Magerøya, and therefore, it is not the northern most place on the mainland. The real ‘extreme north of Europe’ can be only Cape Nordkyn that Norwegians known as Kinnarodden, however it is the North Cape that attracts so many tourists with its location.
June 15, 1999 between the island and the mainland a 7-kilometer tunnel at a depth of 212 m was opened. Its location makes the inner walls of the tunnel be often covered with ice or fog, even in the summer. The first years, the tunnel had been the longest and deepest underwater tunnel in the world. Annually, for 2-3 months of the summer, about 200 thousand people come to the cape and, as if upon command, take photos against the backdrop of the globe metal model – the landmark of the North Cape. The Cape got its name in 1533 thanks to the English explorer Richard Chancellor, who tried to find northeast sea route to China.
Inside the mountain, there is the Royal North Cape Club where, in the hall, you can see a screen showing the change of seasons. Anyone can become a member of this club, having received a document certifying the visit to the so-called ‘the edge of the world’. Here you can see the monument Children of War symbolizing peace and friendship, as well as the Thai pavilion dedicated to the King of Siam, who visited the Cape in 1907. Lovers like to arrange wedding ceremonies in the North Cape, in the world's northernmost chapel of St. Johann.
Atop the Cape, there is a three-storied building with some of its parts cut out right in the mountain range. There is a restaurant with panoramic sea views, souvenir shops, where in addition to bank cards and NOK, you can pay in euro. At one of the stories, there is a cinema, a recreation room where in high tourist season the musicians play.
When to go
The weather can change here hundred times a day, and if you are going there by your own car, it is better to do it in the summer (in the winter, namely, from November 1 to April 30, moving by private transport over the island is strictly controlled). But even if you go to the North Cape in the summer, be prepared for unexpected surprises like rain, wind, and low temperature (it can drop up to 2-5 degrees above zero) – after all it is the ‘most’ northerly point of Europe. So care for warm winter, water- and windproof clothing. However it is cold only at the Cape, at the bottom and in the valley near Honningsvag, it is 5-10 degrees warmer and there is almost no wind.
Where to stay
If you want to find a budget place to stay near the North Cape, it is worth to make reservation in advance as the cape is very popular among tourists, and once there, you may have no chance to find free and especially cheap places to stay. Generally, the farther to the north of Norway you go, the higher the prices are.
Along the way you will come across campsites where, having paid about 50-55 Euros, you will get a simple double room; breakfast and linen are optional. The popular campsite where many travellers going to the North Cape stay is located in the town of Russenes (about 130 km from the Cape); the cottage for two persons will cost you about 45 Euros, the prices are not so high because it’s a State campsite. Amenities are located in a separate building. There is a shower with hot water and a well-warmed room. At the campsite, there is a restaurant, eatery, shop with food products and souvenirs. Camping is really very big, so there is usually free place there. If you arrive too late, you can take keys in the box near the reception. Take a free house and pay in the morning. Cards are accepted, as almost everywhere in Norway.
Another option is one of the campsites in Skarsvag located just 15 km from the North Cape. Here, a double room or cottage for two with shared facilities will cost you 70 Euros minimum. A little further, 36 km away, there is Honningsvag where you can stay in a hostel giving almost 100 Euros for a double room per night.
How to reach the North Cape
If you prefer independent travelling, then plan your trip to the North Cape from early March to late October – this time the road is open for private vehicles. The way through the tunnel, which runs at 212 meters below sea level, will lead you to the island of Magerøya. The road is narrow goes through the plateaus, sometimes on one side, there are cliffs and on the other, there are breaks. The closer to the island, the more severe nature is and the more deer come to the road – be careful while driving. For entrance to the tourist center at the North Cape, you have to pay about 30 Euros per person.
If you are traveling by car from Oslo, you have to go through Sweden and spend more than 24 hours on the road non-stop – it is obviously not the most convenient option. It is better to use public transport. Tourists often go to the Nordkapp from Rovaniemi, located in Finnish Lapland.
In winter, as mentioned above, you will have to choose other transport. For example, you can go from Lapland by camper, which takes you to Honningsvag, and then continue your way by bus having paid 60 Euros per person for the pleasure of comfortable travel (ticket to the North Cape Center is included). In winter, the possibilities to reach the North Cape are very limited. A few kilometers to the Cape you will be stopped by the convoy, which controls traffic: two passes there and two back a day. Here everyone must pass face control. If the convoy guys are not sure that the car will master the final part of the road you have to give up and continue by bus. An average car will be immediately turned down, if you go by SUV well-equipped for the sever climate conditions you have a chance to go on. Usually convoy consists of two trucks equipped with everything you need to quickly get cars caught in trouble.
There are other ways to reach the North Cape, as well:
- By plane from Oslo to Honningsvag (3.5 hours on the road, the cost is about 330 Euros), and then go on the road E 69, heading south in a rented car up to the North Cape, it will take you 40 minutes, in good weather, to get to the Cape. Or by public bus.
- Other nearby airports to the North Cape are the following: Lakselv Banak Airport, Alta Airport and Kirkenes Airport. Te distance from Lakselv to the North Cape is 193 km from Alta – 238km, and from Kirkenes – 590 km.
- Travel with Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes, or vice versa is considered one of the great sea voyages in the world. Stops and Honningsvag and Nordkapp are very popular among passengers. Ferries going both directions every day stop over in Honningsvag.
What else to see near the North Cape
On the way to the North Cape, on the island, there are no outstanding attractions, however the road itself is spectacular: hairpin turns, breathtaking views of the fjords on one side and overhanging cliffs on the other, sometimes fog, small waterfalls, rare fishing villages and houses.
If you go to the North Cape by plane, you'll find many interesting things in Kirkenes and Alta, and traveling through Finnish Lapland you should make a stop in the village of Santa Claus near Rovaniemi.
- In Alta you can watch the northern lights, ride on a dog sled, see how real Sami live, learn about the history of Norway and even spend the night in an ice hotel.
- Kirkenes is a port city located near the borders with Russia and Finland. Here you can also experience how to live in a snow hotel.
- And in the village of Santa, even if you arrive there long before the Christmas holidays, you can write a letter of congratulations, which will find its destination on time.
After the North Cape, you can continue exploring the north of Scandinavia, though not so extreme, and go to the Lofoten Islands.