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Honningsvåg

Searching in 1553 for a northeast passage to India, British navigator Richard Chancellor came upon a crag 307 yards above the Barents Sea. He named the jut of rock North Cape, or Nordkapp. Today Europe's northernmost point is a rite-of-passage journey for nearly all Scandinavians and many others. Most cruise passengers visit Nordkapp from Honningsvåg, a fishing village on Magerøya Island. The journey from Honningsvåg to Nordkapp covers about 35 km (22 miles) across a landscape characterized by rocky tundra and grazing reindeer, which are rounded up each spring by Sami herdsmen in boats. The herdsmen herd the reindeer across a mile-wide channel from their winter home on the mainland. Honningvåg's northerly location makes for long, dark winter nights and perpetually sun-filled summer days. The village serves as the gateway to Arctic exploration and the beautiful Nordkapp Plateau, a destination that calls to all visitors of this region. Most of those who journey to Nordkapp (North Cape), the northernmost tip of Europe, are in it for a taste of this unique, otherworldly, rugged yet delicate landscape. You'll see an incredible treeless tundra, with crumbling mountains and sparse dwarf plants. The subarctic environment is very vulnerable, so don't disturb the plants. Walk only on marked trails and don't remove stones, leave car marks, or make campfires. Because the roads are closed in winter, the only access is from the tiny fishing village of Skarsvåg via Sno-Cat, a thump-and-bump ride that's as unforgettable as the desolate view.

Why cruise Honningsvåg

Honningsvåg is the northernmost city of Norway and the last port of call before heading eastward to the Arctic Circle. The town is one of the best places in northern Norway to experience the beauty of continuous sunlight, a phenomena known as the midnight sun, as well as the northern lights, best seen in North Cape. Situated in the Island of Mageroy, Honningsvåg is a charming and modern town with a fascinating history, having been completely rebuilt after WWII.

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What to see and do in Honningsvag

Nordkappmuseet (North Cape Museum)

This small, local museum located in the centre of Honningsvåg is a hop, skip and a jump away from cruise line Hurtigruten’s cruise quay and bus station. It presents and chronicles the coastal culture and fish industry in Finnmark Country and has at least five exhibitions a year.

Honningsvåg Church

Consecrated in 1885, the neo-Gothic style church has huge historical significance in Honningsvåg, having been the only building in the town except for the morgue to escape from being burnt to the ground by the occupying German forces when they retreated from Finnmark in 1944.

North Cape

No visit to Honningsvåg is complete without a trip to North Cape. Cruise lines including Fred Olsen and Royal Caribbean both offer excursions to the mighty cliff’s plateau, where you can look out onto the vast Arctic Ocean and the Svalbard islands, which are the only things separating you from the North Pole. North Cape also offers unrivalled vantage points to experience the northern lights. Just west of the North Cape is Gjesvaerstappan, one of the biggest bird cliffs in Norway, home to nearly one million puffins, along with a plethora of other species.

Bamse Statue

There to greet passengers as they disembark from the cruise ship, the Bamse statue is a touching tribute to the famous St. Bernard dog that became the heroic mascot of the Free Norwegian Forces during WWII and reportedly saved the lives of two sailors. There is another statue of Bamse (meaning teddy bear in Norwegian) at Montrose in Scotland, which was unveiled by HRH Prince Andrew in 2006.

Need to know when travelling to Honningsvåg

Getting around in Honningsvåg

Cruise ships will dock or anchor off shore at the port of Honningsvåg. Once in town, you can easily get around on foot, but there are also taxis, buses and trains available. It’s best to check with your cruise operator about organised shore excursions for North Cape, bird watching, and bird safaris.

When to go to Honningsvåg

Undoubtedly the best time to visit Honningsvåg are the summer months due to the midnight sun. While the city enjoys 24 hours of sunlight during this time, it can still get a bit chilly, so make sure to pack some warm clothes and waterproofs. Between October and March is the best time to catch the northern lights.

Currency

Honningsvåg uses the Norwegian krone.

Visas

If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don't need a visa to enter Norway unless you're planning to stay longer than three months.