I visited the North Cape on my way to Gamvik, the northernmost village of Europe, with the Hurtigruten cruise company.
I boarded the ship in Tromso on a Friday evening and had a very rough night on sea. At some point in the night I awoke and got really afraid of falling out of my bed with the next wave as the weather was really really bad! Luckily I only got sea sick in the morning which made it difficult to shower and dress, though. I had to wait until we stopped in the next harbour before I was able to go eat breakfast.
The next three hours were spent in the cabin where the only thing I did was hoping to finally get to Honningsvag, the stop for the North Cape, so that I would feel better. I got through that time without having to throw up, lucky me!
We got to Honningsvag at about 1pm and the northermost city of Europe greeted us with rain and wind. The whole ship disembarked (apart from the crew of course who always has an emergency drill during the 2 hour stay there) and spread on 4 busses: 2 German, 1 French and 1 English group.
Our tour guide was really lovely, a German in her late 20s who already had a Norwegian accent after living there for only about a year. Of course I had to ask her how she got the job because to me, living in the northernmost city of Europe and guiding tourists to the North Cape sounds like a dream!
Honningsvag and the North Cape are situated on the island Mageroya which means,, of course, that the North Cape is not really the northernmost point of Europe. The real point is near Gamvik though I've never visited it as you can't access it with cars but instead have to hike for a very long time!
Mainland Europe and Mageroya are connected through a tunnel below the Barents Sea but as we got to Honningsvag on the sea route, I've never seen this tunnel either.
The road to the North Cape though takes about half an hour and it is not recommended that individuals try to get there on their own between September and May. There is quite a height difference to overcome and the weather there changes quickly. The road to the Cape is often blocked by tourists who think they can get to the North Cape on summer tyres and then have to be pulled out of the way by a bulldozer.
Don't even think about it! Wait for the convoy and change your tyres before you come to Norway.
With that being said, I have to say a few things about the road itself. It is tiny, steep, serpentine and if you sit on the left side on the way up you better not look down if you're afraid of heights! The views you get are spectacular though and within seconds you can find yourself in a snow storm. I loved it!
Halfway to the Cape, a Sami camp is situated. The Sami are the indigenous people of Scandiavia who live in the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and northwestern Russia. While indigenous tourism is a tricky subject, I just started my studies in that field and was quite curious to find out a little bit more about the Sami. While the reindeers have already migrated to their winter grazing areas, the Sami couple that runs this camp, left one for the tourists to take pictures of. I'd rather seen reindeers off the leash though.
Apart from a typical Sami tent there also was a souvenir shop. Inside you could admire and buy Sami handcraft (called Duodji) from clothes made of reindeer fur (much warmer than down or goretex) to figures and puppets.
Our stop lasted approximately 15 mins and we were eager to get to the North Cape now. You have to pay for a visit to the Cape, even if you're going there on your own. Apart from the Cape and the famous globe, there are a few more attractions in the North Cape Hall:
- a cinema where you can watch a panorama film on the North Cape in four seasons
- the cave of light where you can go on an audio-visual journey through the seasons in Northern Norway through light and sound
- the Thai Museum which was opend to commemorate the visit of King Chulalongkor of Siam to the Cape in 1907
- the northernmost post office of Europe where you can get your postcards stamped with the North Cape postmark
- a gift shop, of course
- a coffee shop
- a restaurant
- the Aurora Borealis Bar where you can try traditional Northern foods like king crab, reindeer meat and whale meat
It was definitely very touristy but the beautiful scenery made up for it. I can only recommend you to visit the North Cape at least once in your life. It is absolutely stunning!
We had about 2 hours time to kill and I visited the globe, the Thai museum, the cinema and the cave of lights. I still don't really get the purpose of the Thai museum and think that it is somehow misplaced there but all in all it was a nice visit. As soon as were back in Honningsvag, the cruise ship departed again and I was on my way to the northernmost village of Europe.
3 weeks later I would board the same ship again to make my way back to Tromso and visited Hammerfest on that journey.