The plateaus stretch as far as the eye can see. This is a land of blockfields, bogs and lush valleys. Varangerhalvøya National Park is partly situated in a low Arctic climate zone in a landscape that was formed before the last Ice Age. Varangerhalvøya offers many exciting hiking options. The Arctic landscape is suitable for both hiking and skiing. We have many excellent fishing rivers. It is important to be aware that the paths in the park are not marked, so you’ll need to be able to use a map and compass.
Wild reindeer, rivers rich in fish and fjords with access to marine mammals meant that hunters were the first people to live on the Varangerhalvøya peninsula. The area now has elements of Sami, Norwegian and Kven culture. Reindeer have always been important here – from the time of the former hunting communities to the present-day Northern Sami reindeer husbandry.
> Ancient hunting culture
The oldest relics on the Varangerhalvøya peninsula date from the Palaeolithic. Evidence of dwellings can be found both on the coast and in the mountains. Hunters of the time built animal graves, shooting positions and fences to herd and direct the wild reindeer grazing in the area in order to catch them. Hunting was probably an important reason why wild reindeer disappeared in the 1600s and was gradually replaced by domesticated reindeer.
The Sami hunters were seasonally nomadic. In the summer, they lived by the rivers and watercourses inland and set up their winter camps along the coast. In the 1900s, it became increasingly common to live in one place throughout the year, and many people chose to settle in the municipality of Unjàrga/Nesseby.
> The kven people
The 1700s and 1800s saw the immigration of Finnish speakers from northern Finland and northeastern Sweden to Varanger. There was good access to natural resources such as game, fishing and berries here. Gathering cloudberries was an important resource for the people of Varanger. The Kvens were good farmers. Most of the bogs were cut to provide a supply of animal fodder, and peat was used as fuel.
> Arctic fox
The arctic fox is a specialist which lives in the Arctic mountain climate. Varanger is home to a small population of what is one of Norway’s most endangered mammals, and efforts are being made on the Varangerhalvøya peninsula to save the few animals that remain. In contrast to the populations further south in the country, arctic foxes in Varanger have a closer relationship with the coast. The arctic fox’s diet includes marine species, although the species is dependent on a good lemming year in order to breed successfully.
> Reindeer herding
The national park provides ideal summer grazing for reindeer. Reindeer herds are driven here in the spring to calve and to feed on grass and herbs during the summer. The calves are born in May/ June and spend their first six months here before they are moved to winter grazing. Domesticated reindeer herding is the most important industry in the protected area.
Amid the scree and on the gravel of the riverbanks grows the rare Arctic poppy. Together, purple saxifrage and the Arctic poppy are the two northernmost flowers in the world. Crepis multicaulis is one of Norway’s rarest plants. Asia is the core area of the plant, while Varanger lies at the very edge of the plant’s range. Experts believed until recently that the species was extinct in Norway. Experience the flora along the boundary of the Arctic forest in Syltefjorddalen Nature Reserve in one of the world’s most northerly deciduous forests.
Varangerhalvøya is an important area for numerous bird species, such as the red-necked phalarope, long-tailed jaeger, horned lark and the little stint. The long- tailed jaeger is a characteristic species of the national park. Norway’s largest population of bean geese live in the bogs. This migratory bird, which has a wingspan of 174 cm, is on the Norwegian Red List. The bog areas also provide valuable habitats for other bird species, such as the critically endangered lesser white-fronted goose, which can be observed sporadically in the area.
Welcome to Varanger Arctic Norway
In the far north and as far east as you can go in Norway, where the sky meets the sea, lies Varanger, bathed in the midnight sun and the northern lights of winter. Here the wild landscape meanders through bird-nesting cliffs, fishing villages, and rugged headlands – out to the end of the world.
Nature offers rivers teeming with fish, snow-clad plains, exotic king crabs, birds breeding in spring, leaping salmon, the shining sea, and dancing northern lights. People and traditions make Varanger an Arctic melting pot of communities and cultures. Varanger is a different experience. Scenery and settlements, the light, the colours, the lofty sky and wide horizon, exciting activities and the open people.
Explore Varanger Arctic Norway
Activities and experiences in Varanger
> Arctic lights - Arctic Nights
> Aurora Borealis - The Northern Lights
> Endless horizon
> Silence, polar weather and wind
> Bird watching - Birding Varanger
> Hornøya bird cliff
> King crab fishing
> Whale watching safari
> End of Europe Hamningberg
> The Varangerfjord
> The Barents Sea
> Museum boats
> Local fishing fleet
> Deep Sea Fishing
> Salmon Rivers
> Sami experiences
> Varjjat Sami Museum
> Mortensnes cultural heritage area
> Vardøhus Fortress
> Nordpol Kro
> Polar history
> Eastern Cape - Kibergnesset
> II War history
> The Partisan Museum
> The Pomor Museum
> Finnish sauna / sauna culture
> Vardø restored
> Varanger Houses
> Old fishing Villages
> Street art
> Art Galleries
> Extreme Botany
> Geology in Arctic landscape
> World-class architecture
> Witch trial memorial - Steilneset
> Varangerhalvøya National Park
> Music festivals
> Culture festivals
> Ski Varanger
> Kiting and windsurfing
> Dog sledding
> National Scenic Route Varanger
> Storm cabins, weather and wind shelters
> Hiking in Varanger
> Biking in Varanger
> Varanger Golfpark
> Minicruise with Havila / Hurtigruten