In the northeastern most corner of Norway, multitudes of birds cling to the rocky and barren landscape.
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...
...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...
…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.
In Varanger, you can also see something very special...
...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.
There's also a lot more to explore here. Head out on a boat trip, or go hiking, climbing, cycling, diving, or fishing for...
King Crabs are among the most delicious catch in the Barents Sea. If you are lucky, you might spot some whales, too!
Vardø is one of the oldest cities in Northern Norway. In addition to the Steilneset memorial, the city is rich in history...
...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.
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...
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.