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The Varanger Peninsula

Into the wild

In the northeastern most corner of Norway, multitudes of birds cling to the rocky and barren landscape.

Hornøya, Finnmark .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visitnorway.com
Hornøya, Finnmark .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visitnorway.com

Are you ready for a journey to the end of the world?

At least, you might feel that's where you are when following the Norwegian Scenic Route as it winds through the untamed, lunar-like landscape...

Norwegian Scenic Route in Varanger .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visit Norway
Norwegian Scenic Route in Varanger .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visit Norway

...passing Vardø, on a small island, where you should stop and visit the Steilneset Memorial.

At this thought-provoking monument, you can learn about the 91 people, mostly women, who were burnt at the stake during the witch hunts in the 17th century.

Then continue on the scenic route until...

Steilneset in Vardø .
Photo: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen Artist: Louise Bourgeois Architect: Peter Zumthor
Steilneset in Vardø .
Photo: Jarle Wæhler / Statens vegvesen Artist: Louise Bourgeois Architect: Peter Zumthor

…you reach Hamningberg. NOTE: The road to Hamningberg is closed in winter due to snow conditions.

The picturesque old fishing village (now abandoned) is one of the few places that was not burned down by the retreating Germans at the end of the Second World War. Many of the houses from the 19th century are still standing.

Hamningberg .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen
Hamningberg .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen

In Varanger, you can also see something very special...

Birdwatching in Hamningberg .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / VisitNorway.com
Birdwatching in Hamningberg .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / VisitNorway.com

...this cute little fellow!

The Atlantic Puffin is one of the 150,000 birds of different species, including guillemots, sea eagles and many more, that you can watch up close on Hornøya island, – Norway's largest nesting site.

Hornøya, Finnmark .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visitnorway.com
Hornøya, Finnmark .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen / Visitnorway.com

Architectural firm Biotope has designed unique birdwatching shelters, which also offer shelter from the weather.

But you don't need to be interested in birds to have a break here. Enjoy the incredible nature all around under the midnight sun or the northern lights, if you are in luck. 

Hasselneset, Varanger .
Photo: Tormod Amundsen / Biotope
Hasselneset, Varanger .
Photo: Tormod Amundsen / Biotope

There's also a lot more to explore here. Head out on a boat trip, or go hiking, climbing, cycling, diving, or fishing for...

Birdwatching by Hornøya .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen
Birdwatching by Hornøya .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen

...this monster!

King Crabs are among the most delicious catch in the Barents Sea. If you are lucky, you might spot some whales, too!

King crab safari in Northern Norway .
Photo: Siv Nærø – Visitnorway.com
King crab safari in Northern Norway .
Photo: Siv Nærø – Visitnorway.com

Vardø is one of the oldest cities in Northern Norway. In addition to the Steilneset memorial, the city is rich in history...

Vardø in winter .
Photo: Tormod Amundsen
Vardø in winter .
Photo: Tormod Amundsen

...and modern culture – like street art!

After many years of population decline, the renowned Norwegian street artist Pøbel invited artists to take part in a project in 2012 to fill the streets with life again. Today, you will find pieces on almost every corner.

Art outside house .
Photo: Emilie Holba / Visitnorway.com
Art outside house .
Photo: Emilie Holba / Visitnorway.com

No need to go south to find beautiful beaches!

Visit Varanger's own 'Arctic Riviera', Ekkerøy! Explore long, sandy beaches and swim in the pristine Arctic water.

But be aware, the cold temperature is for real Vikings! Brrrr...

Beach at Ekkerøy in Varanger .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff
Beach at Ekkerøy in Varanger .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff

The colourful houses and tranquil environment in the little fishing village of Skallelv is well worth a visit.

If you're looking for something a little more urban, continue half an hour's drive further south to Vadsø, one of the biggest cities in this part of Northern Norway.

Colorful houses in Vadsø .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff / VisitNorway.com
Colorful houses in Vadsø .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff / VisitNorway.com

At the end of the 19th century, the majority of Vadsø's inhabitants were of Kven or Finnish origin. Today many locals still speak Finnish and Kven.

Vadsø looks beautiful in winter, don't you think?

Skallelv in Vadsø .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff
Skallelv in Vadsø .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff

Speaking of winter – Varanger is the place to be when the temperature drops! Try ice fishing, snow shoeing, Arctic surfing, kiting, or maybe make some new four-legged friends on a dog sledding adventure?

Dog sledding in Kongsfjord .
Photo: Ørjan Bertelsen
Dog sledding in Kongsfjord .
Photo: Ørjan Bertelsen

Don't forget to explore northwestern Varanger as well!

If you are looking for a comfortable night's sleep here, check in at Kongsfjord Guesthouse. These old harbour buildings have been lovingly restored to preserve the culture and tradition of the area, and remain steeped in a historical atmosphere.

Winter in Kongsfjord .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff
Winter in Kongsfjord .
Photo: Sven-Erik Knoff

Arctic adventures in the far northeast

Far to the north and farthest east in Norway, where the sky meets the sea, lies the Varanger peninsula. Here, you will find wild Arctic landscapes, an enormous variety of bird life, excellent fishing grounds and craggy cliffs facing out towards the end of the world.

The area is home to fish-rich rivers, snow-covered expanses, exotic king crabs, birds, salmon, sparkling seas and dancing northern lights.

Varanger is an Arctic melting pot of peoples and cultures. With its unique history and nature, exciting activities, and welcoming locals, a visit to Varanger is a unique experience.

There are several options for getting to Varanger. Find more inspiration on Varanger's website or Northern Norway's official website.

Explore all the options below, or go directly to:
Things to do | Where to stay | Food and drink | Getting here and around

Activities and attractions

Go birdwatching under the midnight sun, try dog sledding and king crab fishing, and learn about Finnmark's fascinating history!

Where to stay

Rejuvenate in historical surroundings!

Food and drink

Discover the tastiest Arctic cuisine.

Getting here and around

Get in-depth travel information for travelling to Northern Norway

Top attractions in Varanger
Berlevåg is an active fishing community at 70° N on the Arctic Ocean. The inhabitants live in the fishing villages of Kongsfjord and Berlevåg, where… Read more
Berlevåg Tourist Information - Visit Varanger
Our sauna collection in Varanger is guaranteed to warm you deeply and completely – all the way to your bones. Enjoy long, intense rounds of deep… Read more
Cold as ice and hot as hell. We recommend icebath and sauna experience in Varanger
Varanger Brygge located in Bugøynes is the natural choice for tourist fishermen who want to get in close contact with the good fishing opportunities… Read more
Deep sea fishing and boat rentals in Bugøynes, Varanger
With the mountains, the tundra and the mighty Tana river as the arena, the dogs are waiting to bring you out in our wilderness. Read more
Dog sledding in arctic wilderness, Tana Husky, Varanger
Vi arrangerer mindre eksklusive gruppeturer i Varanger. Fra vår base i Vadsø tar vi deg med på store opplevelser og eventyr i vårt arktiske landskap.… Read more
Gruppetur til Varanger
Norway is home to most Sami (The indigenous people of Norway )in the world. The total population of Sami in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia is… Read more
Experience the Sami culture in Varanger Arctic Norway
Ice fishing is one of Norway’s most popular winter activities, as the country is dotted with thousands of lakes. Every year, enthusiasts of all ages… Read more
Ice fishing in Varanger
Join our King Crab fishing and king crab safari in Varanger the arctic part og mainland Norway. Read more
King Crab fishing and king crab safari in Varanger
Are you looking for a place where to find your inner space, inspire your senses and enjoy precious moments in an environment of rare and haunting… Read more
Kongsfjord Guesthouse - Visit Varanger
Snowshoe walking in Varanger . Local guided trips in Varanger Arctic Norway. Read more
Snowshoe walking in Varanger with guide
What do Vadsø museum - Ruija kvenmuseum present? Massive immigration from Finland and the Torne Valley in Sweden occurred in the 19th century; these… Read more
Vadsø museum - Ruija kvenmuseum, Varanger
Varanger is about the long lines in the landscape as well as the long lines of history. Varanger not only offers a physical experience; you will also… Read more
National Scenic road Varanger
The exhibition Airships and Boats on the Coastal Express quayside exhibits local fishing boats, and narrates the exhilarating story of Amundsen and… Read more
The Polar history in Varanger
From Nesseby village it is only a short walk down to the fjord and the landmark of Nesseby church. The scorched-earth tactics used by the retreating… Read more
The old Nesseby Church from 1858, Varanger
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… Read more
Varangerhalvøya National Park, Arctic Norway
One of the best Cross Country Ski trails in Norway will you find in Varanger in the arctic part of Norway. The name of the trails are "Tana -… Read more
Tana - Varangerøypa - One of the best Cross Country Ski trails in Norway
Båtsfjord Brygge is a small and intimate deep sea fishing destination in the Arctic Båtsjord. We have 5 modern fishermen's cabins in different sizes… Read more
Welcome to Båtsfjord Brygge, Varanger Arctic Norway
In recent years, more and more people have become aware of the natural phenomenon of the northern lights. The green flickering lights that appear in… Read more
Hunting the northern lights on top of Europe
Steilneset memorial in Vardø has been erected to commemorate the 91 people who were found guilty of witchcraft and burnt at the stake here. The artist… Read more
Witch trials in the arctic part of Norway
Hornøya bird cliff is the easternmost protected nature reserve in Norway. The island has one of the largest seabird colonies in Norway, including… Read more
Birdwatching at Hornøya, Vardø Arctic Norway
The Cultural heritage site is administered by Varanger Sami Museum – one of the richest and most characteristic cultural heritage sites in… Read more
Mortensnes Cultural Heritage Site
The Várjjat Sámi Musea/Varanger Sámi Museum communicates the coastal Sámi history and Sámi culture, the prehistory of Finnmark and Sámi handicraft -… Read more
Várjjat Sámi Musea - Nesseby, Varanger
Kiberg is a village in Vardø Municipality in eastern Troms og Finnmark county, Norway. It is located on the eastern end of the Varanger Peninsula,… Read more
Explore Cape East, arctic birdlife and the history of Kiberg
Ekkerøy is one of the oldest fishing villages in Finnmark. Previously a typical old Sami settlement along the Varangerfjord, Ekkerøy became one of the… Read more
Ekkerøy, Arctic riviera
This abandoned fishing village is a cultural heritage site with an intact set of buildings, and is the best-preserved fishing village from pre-war… Read more
Hamningberg on top of Europe
The northeasternmost tip of Norway has vast white plains, wind aplenty and mountain snow into late summer. Every year, Varanger – known as "the… Read more
Snow, ski and sail Varanger: The Hawaii of snow kiting
Welcome to the Icehouse and stay in probably one of the coolest accommodations in Varanger. ..even in the summertime. The Icehouse is a perfect… Read more
Cool down, relax and sleep in the Icehouse
The festival of Komafest resulted in Norway's northeasternmost city also becoming a gallery for street art of the very best kind. A city walk in Vardø… Read more
Street Art in Vardø - Ultima Thule Norway
“Drakkar/Leviathan” – is a story about sea, people migrations, myths, ships, historical events, wood and whales. It is an anthem to the Arctic,… Read more
Drakkar Wooden sculpture - a "must-see" art piece when visiting Vardø
Varanger Golfclub is the easternmost 9-hole golf course in Europe. The club invites you to play golf in the middle of the night, in the light and… Read more
Play golf one the easternmost 9-hole golf course in Europe
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    Statens Kartverk, Geovekst og kommuner - Geodata AS
    • Varanger by road

      By road

      Roads have a high standard, and are for the most part open all year, except for some mountain passes serving small fishing villages on the coast, which may occasionally be closed in winter. Read more about driving in Northern Norway.

      Long-distance express buses connect the region to points beyond, but departures are not frequent, so research and planning are required.

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    • Varanger by boat

      By boat

      Hurtigruten and Havila both call at harbours in Varanger: Berlevåg, Båtsfjord, Vardø and Vadsø.

      The ships begin their return journey to Bergen in Fjord Norway in Kirkenes, calling at the same ports on the way back, with the exception of Vadsø.

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    • Varanger by plane

      By plane

      Kirkenes Airport is the nearest of the regional airports, offering several daily connections to Oslo, and connecting flights to many smaller communities such as Vadsø, Vardø, Båtsfjord, Berlevåg and Mehamn, as well as connections to Alta and Tromsø, among other destinations. You can also fly from Helsinki to Ivalo in Finland and rent a car to drive to Varanger from there.

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    Search for trips with Entur and receive suggestions based on the entire Norwegian public transport system.

    Seasons and climate

    Varanger is in the far north, and its climate is on the border between Subarctic and Arctic. In fact, Vardø is the only city in Norway within the Arctic climate zone, where the average temperature is never above10 degrees Celsius.

    Further inland, notably in Vadsø and Tana, temperatures are a degree or two higher in summer. Hot air from Russia can bring the thermometer up past the 30 degree Celsius mark, and when the midnight sun shines, the temperature remains above 20 degrees Celsius all night, even in the fishing villages facing the Barents Sea. But north-western winds can cause single digit temperatures, wind, and rain. You should therefore pack for all kinds of weather.

    Winters are cold and dry with stable weather in inland areas like Tana and Nesseby. In maritime Vardø, you can expect more snow, milder temperatures, and the occasional rainy spell. Overall, if you’re dressed properly, the winter weather in Varanger is great for outdoor activities in the snow. A few times every winter, Arctic low fronts engulf Varanger in ferocious snowstorms. Flights are cancelled, the Hurtigruten sails far out at sea without coming to port and roads are closed. However, it’s all over soon, and transportation is back on track very quickly.

    In Vadsø, the sun remains below the horizon at mid-day from the November 25 to January 17. During winter, you can experience the northern lights from time to time, throughout the peninsula.

    In summer, the midnight sun shines in Vardø from May 15 to July 28.

    Check the latest weather forecast at yr.no.

    Discover more about the northern lights.

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