Want to visit Nordkapp but you’re not sure how and when to go? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this detailed guide to visiting the North Cape has all the information you need to plan your trip!
The North Cape is the northernmost point in Europe that’s connected to the mainland by road. It’s a magical place offering spectacular views of the Barents Sea, and it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in northern Norway. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the North Cape – when to visit, how you can get there, and everything else you need to see while you’re in the area!
The North Cape is the northernmost point in Europe that can be accessed by road, so driving there makes the most sense. The closest airport to the North Cape is Honningsvåg Airport. It’s about 33 kilometers away by road, but it’s important to note that this is not an international airport.
The closest international airport is the one in Tromsø and it has several flights a day to Honningsvåg Airport. It’s best to fly all the way to Honningsvåg, where you can rent a car and be at the North Cape in about 30 minutes.
Driving from Tromsø is also possible and it’s a good option if you’re looking to do a road trip in Norway. The city is 592 kilometers away from the North Cape by road and it takes about 9 hours to cover that distance in a car.
The road to the North Cape is route E69 and it’s important to note that it’s not always possible to drive all the way to Nordkapp. The northernmost part of the road (Skarsvåg-North Cape) is closed in the winter – driving is only allowed for convoys at certain times, and that’s if the weather allows it.
Weather conditions can make driving on this road quite dangerous, and it’s not recommended to attempt this drive in cold weather.
If you want to visit the North Cape and explore this beautiful part of Norway, you should plan a trip in the summer. That’s when the weather conditions are the best and driving on Europe’s northernmost road is actually enjoyable.
In addition to that, the North Cape is also accessible by boat trips from other towns in northern Norway. If you’re not up for a road trip, you can always visit the far north area by boat.
As with most other attractions in northern Norway, the best time to visit the North Cape is in the summer. That’s when the weather is mild enough to make your time in the area actually enjoyable and allow you to do some exploring. You should be able to explore the hiking trails in the area, and you’ll get to experience the midnight sun!
It’s important to note that it’s pretty cold in the area even during the summer – the average daily highs are between 10 and 15°C, so you can imagine just how cold it gets during the other seasons.
It’s not recommended to visit during the fall, spring, and winter for several reasons. The cold weather that makes the roads inaccessible and unsafe is the main one. But also, the polar night lasts for about two months at the North Cape and you can’t really enjoy the panoramic views if it’s completely dark outside.
The North Cape was named by Steven Borough, an English navigator and early explorer of the Arctic. He passed by the cape in search of the North East Passage in 1553, while acting as the captain of Edward Bonaventure’s ship.
The steep cliff is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northern Norway. But it hasn’t always been quite so famous – it only became popular with international visitors in the late 19th century, after the 1873 visit of King Oscar II.
After this visit, boat tours from Germany and other nearby countries started to become more common. There wasn’t a road in the area back then, so the visitors would follow a path from Hornviken which was equipped with wired ropes. This was the only way to climb the North Cape and experience the magnificent views of the midnight sun and the lack of roads didn’t stop the people from exploring.
The first road to the North Cape was built in 1956, and since then the area’s popularity among international visitors has only grown.
What is there to do at the end of the northernmost road connected to continental Europe? Not much honestly, other than take in the majestic views and marvel at the fact that only the Svalbard archipelago is between you and the North Pole!
Nordkapp is world famous for the spectacular views, so the most important thing to do there when you finally arrive is to enjoy everything and take lots of photos. That is certainly what we did when we were there last week. Lots of pictures, taking in the end of the world and heading to the visitors center of course! More on what we found in the North Cape Hall below.
Take lots of photos, see all the different monuments on the plateau, and make the most of your time in this unique place. The best thing about visiting the North Cape during the summer is that there’s always daylight, so it doesn’t matter too much when during the day you visit – it will be bright enough that you can enjoy the views any time of day.
Here are some of the monuments we saw while on the Nordkapp!
The main monument you will want to visit, and where you will find most of the people (like we did) is The Globe. It has come to symbolize the North Cape and everyone wants a selfie there.
So, be sure to get there during a lull in the crowds. Often the cruise ships come in waves, even late at night. We found the quietest time was mid-afternoon, surprisingly. Even early morning can be crazy, if there are ships in town. Otherwise, it is a great time to get a photo alone, as you can see above.
Norway’s King Oscar II was famous for having visited the Nordkapp on 2nd July back in 1873. This obelisk is a monument to him as well as a waymarker.
The king actually came by ship to the area and had to climb up the cliff path to get to the cape, unlike the easy road we had to get there.
His visit to the Cape actually inspired the first tourists to come to the area only 2 years later. It is now a crazy busy spot as a result. Something we were not quite prepared for at the top of Europe!
This monument is a series of circles or discs located outside the North Cape Hall. They were made by seven children from all parts of the world and are meant to signify friendship, hope, joy and cooperation.
Visiting the North Cape during the busy summer season means you’ll get to experience the midnight sun, a fascinating phenomenon common in the Arctic Circle.
That’s also the major downside of visiting the place in the shoulder seasons. The area can be quite foggy even during the summer and there’s always a possibility that you won’t get to see much because of the fog. So, be prepared for that scenario, and check the weather forecast regularly before you finally decide to head to the North Cape!
We had some cool fog out in the water, but most of the land and scenery were visible. Well, at least most of the time.
The North Cape Hall Visitors Center is the only building on the North Cape plateau and it’s open year-round. The tourist center offers a variety of facilities, including a cinema, a restaurant, a museum, a gift shop, a cafe, and a post office.
Definitely stop by the visitors center to learn more about the history and importance of the North Cape. This is also a good place to shop for souvenirs, especially if you want to get something that will help you remember the experience forever.
The restaurant in the tourist center is also pretty good. It’s a great place to try some local cuisine while admiring the stunning views of the North Cape cliff and the Arctic Ocean.
There is also a fascinating history behind the development of the North Cape, the people who have come there as well as some of the wildlife you will find while on the island.
Inside the North Cape Hall they have done a great job of showcasing some of this in various ways. From displays and films, like the Cave of Lights and Nordkapp Panorama Film, there is lots to keep you busy on your visit.
The various halls leading to these things show you all this history, so be sure to explore every corner of the visitors center before you leave.
This room at the bottom of the visitors center is a fun mixture of sound and light show with a small movie.
One of the many famous people who came to the North Cape was King Chulalongkorn of Siam in 1907. As one of the most illustrious people to visit first, he has a room dedicated to him and Thailand inside the Hall.
One thing to note is that the North Cape Hall Visitors Center has an entrance fee. It’s about 31 Euros for adults, and it includes entrance to all the facilities at the visitors center, as well as multiple entrances to the North Cape plateau. The fee doesn’t cover parking – that’s free. Even if you just sleep there the night in your camper as we did.
This wasn’t always the case and it’s possible that it won’t stay free for too long.
Touring the visitors center and admiring the panoramic views from the plateau doesn’t take too much time. Since you’ve already made it all the way to the end of Europe’s northernmost road, it makes perfect sense to explore as much of the region as possible.
Kirkeporten is a popular hiking area near Skarsvåg. It’s a stone cliff with a natural arch, and it’s considered a geological wonder. The entire area is very beautiful, plus it offers a fabulous view of the North Cape cliffs. Kirkeporten is easily accessible from the Skarsvåg village – it’s about 2.5 kilometers away from the village via a well-marked path.
Knivskjellodden is another popular hiking destination in the area and the better option for all hikers who want a proper challenge. This is the actual northernmost point of Europe, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you want to experience a magnificent view. However, you need to know that the trail to Knivskjellodden is very challenging, and it’s recommended only for experienced hikers.
The trailhead is near a car park off the E69 road, and it takes about 6-7 hours to hike to Knivskjellodden and back. The terrain is steep, rocky, and includes a lot of scrambling and climbing. It’s tough on the ankles and it’s not recommended for people who aren’t in good shape. Older people might also struggle with this hike because it’s quite strenuous on the joints.
But if you’re fit enough and you’ve got experience climbing steep rocks, you might just like this hike. When you finally reach the northernmost point in Europe, you’re rewarded with a stunning view of the North Cape.
If you’re up for an adventure of a lifetime, you should know that the North Cape marks the starting/ending point for several long-distance hikes and races in mainland Europe. It’s the beginning point of the E1 European long-distance path, which traverses through six different countries for a total length of some 7,000 kilometers.
If hiking for thousands of kilometers is too extreme for you, then how about cycling? NorthCape 4000 is a bike race that takes place annually. The exact route changes every year but the main goal is to cycle to the North Cape from somewhere in Europe. The total length of the route is around 4,000 kilometers, and only those who can arrive at the finish line in a set time period are classified as finishers.
The cliffs in the North Cape area are full of seabird colonies, so you can do some bird-watching during your visit. Gjesværstappan is one of the largest bird cliffs in this part of Norway and it’s just west of Nordkapp. If you are an avid bird watcher, a trip to the North Cape is definitely an excellent opportunity to see some unique bird species.
The Gjesværstappan bird reserve is home to Norway’s second largest colony of puffins, as well as kittiwakes, razorbills, cormorants, gannets, and guillemots. The bird-watching island can only be accessed by boat, so it’s best to join one of the many tours and cruises in the area.
Most depart from the Gjesvær village, which is on the northwestern coast of Magerøya Island. This village is very popular for birding and fishing, and they’ve even got tourist agencies entirely centered around the bird safari opportunities in the area.
Gjesvær can be easily accessed by road, so if you’ve decided to drive to the North Cape, you can very easily see the seabird colonies on a quick detour.
Nordkapp has polar day and night, so you can definitely see the Northern Lights here if you visit at the right time. However, it can be tricky to travel to Nordkapp in the winter because of the cold weather conditions. The road to the North Cape is closed in the winter months, so you can’t drive there alone.
The weather conditions make it challenging to access other viewpoints in the area as well, so you generally won’t have the best time if you attempt to chase the Aurora Borealis over Magerøya Island on your own.
Your best bet for seeing the Northern Lights at or near the North Cape is to join a guided expedition. These are led by people who make a living by chasing the dancing lights, and they’re familiar with the local weather conditions.
It’s worth noting that you can’t see the Aurora Borealis unless the weather conditions are optimal. This is something you learn the hard way if you go chasing the dancing lights on your own, and you’ll kind of become an expert at reading weather forecasts and searching for signs that it’s ideal Aurora weather.
The city of Honningsvåg is the best place to stay in the area if you’re looking for a proper hotel. This is the biggest city in the Nordkapp municipality and it’s got all the amenities you could need even during a longer stay. Honningsvåg is only about 30 kilometers away from the North Cape, so you can easily access the famous tourist attraction even without a vehicle.
If you’re RVing to the North Cape or you just really enjoy camping, you’ll be glad to know that there are several campsites near Skarsvåg, the world’s northernmost fishing village. It’s also possible to rent cabins in the village, and this is a good option if you want to see what life is like for the locals in the area.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!