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The bird hide at the southern end of Steilneset is an excellent shelter for wildlife photographers - Photo: ©Foto: Harald Bech-Hanssen / Statens vegvesen
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The bird hide at the southern end of Steilneset is an excellent shelter for wildlife photographers Photo: ©Foto: Harald Bech-Hanssen / Statens vegvesen

Varanger National Tourist Route

Get a taste of the far north in this less traveled corner of Norway. Rich bird life, history and long summer nights lit by the midnight sun all await.

Location

Varanger National Tourist Route is a 100-mile-long stretch of road between Varangerbotn and Hamningberg in the county of Finnmark in Arctic Norway.

The road

Far to the north and furthest to the east in Norway, where the sky meets the sea, the road follows the coast towards the ice-cold Barents Sea. The road along the Varanger Peninsula begins among the sheltered birch forests and bogs of Varangerbotn and ends in a lunar landscape of jagged cliffs at the world's end.

Fishing, migrations and trade have made Varanger an Arctic melting pot of peoples and cultures. The proximity to Russia with the Pomor trade, Finnish immigration and Sami traditions are evident in contrasting expressions and an exciting cultural history.

Viewpoints along the road

There are two panoramic view- and rest areas made in collaboration with Varanger National Tourist Route:

Steilneset: A memorial to the 91 persons convicted of sorcery and burnt at the stake in the county of Finnmark during the 17th century. The site is a cooperation between the acclaimed contemporary artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), who created the artwork (this was her last major installation), and the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, who was responsible for designing the building and the information centre.

Gornitak: A large rest area with service facilities. Gornitak has been an important harbour for coastal traffic since ancient times. During WWII the place was important for the German army, which used the stone house as an ammunition bunker. The stone house has been restored and now houses the service facilities. 

What to see

Hamningberg is an old abandoned fishing village in the municipality of Båtsfjord. Beautifully situated at the tip of the Varanger Peninsula, it is the best preserved fishing village from pre-war times. The road to Hamningberg is closed during winter.

At Mortensnes Cultural Heritage Site there are traces of Stone Age settlements, Sami sacrificial sites and graves.

Nesseby Church was built in 1858 and fully restored in 1983. Adjacent to the church is perhaps the oldest chapel in Varanger, dating from the 1700s.

The Varanger Museum in Vadsø presents the history and culture of the Kven people, in addition to the history and culture of Vadsø.

Vardø is the centre of the Pomor trade (frontier trade with Russia). A culture trail leads from the Partisans Museum at Kiberg, through the fishing village and up to ”Fort Kiberg”.

Read more about scenic attractions in Finnmark.

What to do 

Visit Ekkerøy nesting cliffs, which boast more than 50 species and 40,000 nesting kittiwakes. There is also a marked nature and cultural trail through the countryside.

Go ashore at Hornøya Hornøya and experience a plentiful bird life up close. Vardø Harbour offers transportation by boat. Hornøya is the eastermost protected nature reserve in Norway.

Walk along Vadsøya Nature and Cultural Park with remains of 16th century Russian cemetery, airship mast from the North Pole expeditions of Amundsen and Nobile and WWII memorials.

Join a king crab safari in the Barents Sea outside the coast of Finnmark, and enjoy a king crab meal afterwards.

Go fishing in the Varangerfjord, either from the shore or from a boat. The mighty Arctic Ocean is home to many different types of fish. Just throw out a fishing line and dinner is guaranteed.

Do you dream of catching that big salmon? Varanger is a paradise for anglers, and there are many rivers and lakes teeming with fish ready to be caught.

Explore the stunning Arctic scenery on horseback. Friluftsmerran at Vadsø offers horse riding on the Varanger Peninsula. 

Play golf at the world's northernmost nine-hole golf course. Varanger Golf Club at Vestre Jakobselv was the first golf course in Finnmark.

Read more about what to do in Finnmark. 

Where to stay

Visitors at Vardø Lighthouse  can spend the night in the lighthouse keeper’s house. The lighthouse is located on Hornøya Island, Norway’s easternmost point. 

Rica Hotel Vadsø is a modern, full service hotel in the centre of Vadsø. 

Vardø Hotel is situated a short distance from the Hurtigruten quay and the centre of Vardø.

Rent a house on the seafront in Meskelv. Varjjat Holiday and Leisure is a good starting point for hunting and fishing. Boat rental and guided tours on request.

You will find houses and cabins for rent in the old settlement of Ekkerøy, close to Ekkerøy nesting cliff and nature reserve.

Vestre Jakobselv Camping at Vestre Jakobselv is located close to Jakobselv River and is therefore a great place for sport fishing and outdoor activities.

Read more about where to stay in Finnmark.

Where to eat

Varanger Kroa is located in the centre of Varangerbotn. Here you will find cold and warm meals based on traditional recipes.

Påls Matopplevelser in the centre of Vadsø serves lunch and dinner dishes.

At Hildonen Bakery and Confectionery in Vadsø you can enjoy cakes, baguettes and other baked goods with a good cup of coffee.

Rica Hotel Vadsø in Vadsø serves dishes using local ingredients.

Restaurant Arctic at Vardø Hotel in Vardø has a well-known cuisine that makes the most of local ingredients.

Read more about food in Finnmark.

Facts

  • Road: E75 between Varangerbotn and Hamningberg in Finnmark.
  • Length: 160 kilometres.
  • Parts of Varanger National Tourist Route are closed in winter. The stretch between Smelror and Hamningberg is normally closed in November and reopens in May.

Getting to Varanger National Tourist Route

The two towns of Vardø and Vadsø are located along the Varanger National Tourist Route.

They are also the nearest airports. The main airport in the area is Kirkenes. Direct flights Oslo-Kirkenes takes two hours. Flights from Kirkenes to Vadsø/Vardø take 15-30 minutes.

The Hurtigruten ships stop at the ports of Vardø and Vadsø. The ships can accommodate cars, making it easy to combine the cruise with a drive along the Varanger National Tourist Route

There are also daily bus service to/from Vardø and Vadsø. The distance between the two towns is 75 kilometres.

Distance between Kirkenes and Vadsø/Vardø: 173/248 kilometres
Distance between Tromsø and Vadsø/Vardø: 756/831 kilometres
Distance between Trondheim and Vadsø/Vardø: 1,853/1,928 kilometres
Distance between Oslo and Vadsø/Vardø: 2,348/2,423 kilometres

Read more about getting to Finnmark and around.

More information

National Tourist Routes in Norway 

Destination Northern Norway (includes Finnmark) 

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Last updated:  2014-06-02
Varanger National Tourist Route over Domen, Norway's lowest mountain pass, between Kiberg and Vardø, Norway - Photo: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen
Varanger National Tourist Route over Domen, Norway's lowest mountain pass, between Kiberg and Vardø, Norway
Reindeer on the shore near Kiberg, seen from Varanger National Tourist Route, Norway - Photo: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen
Reindeer on the shore near Kiberg, seen from Varanger National Tourist Route, Norway
Hamningbergveien seen from Storflognakken, Varanger National Tourist Route, Norway - Photo: Hjalmar Steinnes / Statens vegvesen
Hamningbergveien seen from Storflognakken, Varanger National Tourist Route, Norway
The Steilneset Memorial in Vardø, Norway, features an installation by artist Louise Bourgeois  - Photo: Hege Lysholm / Statens vegvesen
The Steilneset Memorial in Vardø, Norway, features an installation by artist Louise Bourgeois

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The bird hide at the southern end of Steilneset is an excellent shelter for wildlife photographers - Photo: ©Foto: Harald Bech-Hanssen / Statens vegvesen

Varanger National Tourist Route

Get a taste of the far north in this less traveled corner of Norway. Rich bird life, history and long summer nights lit by the midnight sun all await.

Varanger National Tourist Route

Source: Visitnorway

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