When planning our 2 months trip to Norway, we didn’t even dream we will reach as far as North Cape! But then it actually happened and we were over the moon to have arrived to the northernmost tip of Europe!
Being in such an iconic location we felt very lucky, hence we ensured to get to know Nordkapp Norway area as much as possible and explore its hikes. Also, we spoke to the locals, eager to find out about life in such a remote region.
During the Nordkapp road trip we found out, for instance, that the northernmost place in Europe isn’t really the famous Nordkapp Point, but the tip of nearby peninsula, Knivskjelodden. Did you know that?!
Find out important Nordkapp facts, to ensure a memorable visit to Europe’s most remote corner!
Nordkapp and Knivskjelodden – exploring the northernmost tip of Europe
1. How to get to Nordkapp
2. Knivskjelodden – the real northernmost point of Europe vs Nordkapp Point
3. How much is Nordkapp charge (and how we visited ‘the globe’ for free)
4. Our experience at Nordkapp and Mageroya island – exploring the area & meeting Sami, the reindeer herders of the North
5. Hikes near Nordkapp
6. Wild camping and campsites near Nordkapp
1. How to get to Nordkapp
North Cape (Norwegian: Nordkapp) is a part of Mageroya island in Finnmark, Northern Norway.
It can be accessed either by road E69 from Porsanger Peninsula (Porsanger-halvoya) or by ferry from Kjollefjord on Nordkinn Peninsula (Nordkinn-halvoya), operated by Hurtingruten.
Driving to Nordkapp from nearest towns: from Alta 240 km, time 3.5 hours; from Lakselv 192 km, approximately 3 hours.
If you’re already on Mageroya island and fancy a short trip, you can book a bus trip from Honningsvåg to North Cape, click here for timetable.
2. Knivskjelodden – the real northernmost point of Europe versus Nordkapp Point
The controversy starts here! Is Nordkapp Point the northernmost place in Europe? What is Knivskjelodden? Learn some surprising Nordkapp facts!
Let’s start with the obvious: Nordkapp Point (or North Cape) is the northernmost location in Europe, right? Surprisingly – wrong!
Cliffs of North Cape are located atKnivskjelodden reaches 1.5 km further north than Nordkapp, at
Hmm… you may wonder why you heard about Nordkapp Point but not about Knivskjelodden? For very typical Norwegian reasons: practical reasons!
To understand it, you have to get to know the area; once at Nordkapp, it will seem obvious why Knivskjelodden is lesser known.
Knivskjelodden versus Nordkapp
Knivskjelodden is a remote peninsula, its tip (THE point) can ONLY be reached by a 9 km hike across tundra, there is no tourist infrastructure apart from a small path. For an average John Smith, an 18 km hike (there and back) over rough path (and then slippery boulders) would be a challenge; very likely it would discourage our John Smith from venturing to the real northernmost point in Europe. For many others it would simply be inaccessible.
On the contrary, Nordkapp is located almost just as far north and easily accessible by car; hence it appeals to wider public. A visitor to Nordkapp will only have to walk 300 metres to the ‘globe’, over flat and paved ground. There is another reason for choosing Nordkapp as a ‘tourist northernmost point in Europe’ – it’s located on a plateau large enough to have typical tourist infrastructure – massive car park, restaurant and visitors centre. Knowing how many travellers visit Nordkapp every year, having a charged ‘tourist dedicated facility’ is also a good business.
Our main destination was Knivskjelodden rather than crowded tourist spot, therefore we enjoyed the thought of half-day hike to the peninsula (approximately 5-6 hours, find detailed information in ‘hikes near Nordkapp’ section).
Read further to learn about Nordkapp charges (and how possibly avoid them)
3. How much is Nordkapp charge (and how we visited ‘the globe’ for free)
When planning your trip to Nordkapp, ensure to budget for admission fee!
I called it ‘admission fee’, but officially it’s a ‘parking charge’ applicable to motor vehicles, therefore if you have a slightest chance to visit Nordkapp by bike or by foot, you should definitely consider it! I appreciate that the nearest village, Skarsvag, is located 15 km away, however to visit Nordkapp on foot, you can leave your car at a small car park (free), roughly 5 km before Nordkapp Point (directions).
Why should you bother?
Have a look at Nordkapp ‘parking charge’ for 2020 *. Interesting how parking fee is calculated ‘per person’ rather than ‘per car’.
|Adult||290 NOK per person|
|Children up to 15 years old||95 NOK per person|
|Family (2 adults + 2 children)||675 NOK per person|
|Students / Military soldiers||180 NOK per person|
Opening Hours 2020
|18. May – 17. August||11.00 – 01.00|
|18. August – 31. August||11.00 – 22.00|
|1. September – 17. May||11.00 – 15.00|
|Extra evening opening 03 Jan – 31 Mar||19.30 – 21.45|
* source: official Nordkapp website
OK, so now when you already know how much a visit to Nordkapp is going to cost you (and you’re shocked!), find out how we managed to visit Nordkapp globe without paying a krone!
Parking charge can only be enforced when there are means to collect it, right?
Charges at Nordkapp are collected at the entrance to car park by a person, rather than ‘pay and display’ system. Hence, visiting Nordkapp Point outside of opening hours means avoiding fees! Stay assured that there is no barrier at the car park therefore you’ll be able to drive in and out as you please (and park for free), just ensure to arrive to Nordkapp outside of opening hours (see above). Keep in mind, however, that all facilities will be closed (most importantly – you won’t be able to use toilet).
Such high admission fee may be a bitter pill to swallow for tourists who already find Norway an expensive country to visit; especially when travelling long term (like ourselves) one has to spend their money wisely. To put it in perspective: 570 NOK (per couple) spent on parking charges (at tourist attraction which takes 1-2 hours to visit) pays for more than 2 nights at the campsite, more than two ferry crossings along Helgeland scenic route…
Therefore before driving to Nordkapp you should ask yourself what is important to you, what would you like to do at the northernmost point in Europe? If you only want to wander around a little and take a photo with the globe, you should definitely think about visiting it when the facilities are closed. If, however, you’re keen on visiting the restaurant and exhibition or watch the midnight sun, you’ll have to pay the charge. We can’t comment whether the exhibition is worth the money as we skipped it.
In our case; after visiting Knivskjelodden we only wanted to top off the day by having photo with the globe, hence visiting outside of opening hours worked very well for us.
4. Our experience at Nordkapp and Mageroya island
The day we arrived to Mageroya island was miserable. It was madly pouring it down. Having heard of the high charge at Nordkapp Point, we thought it would be a waste to drive there in such weather, pay the extortionate fee only to get soaked and leave the place within maximum 15 minutes, without even seeing anything as the clouds were very low… Instead, we decided it would be wiser to spend the rest of the day somewhere nice, warm and dry; and visit Nordkapp Point next day.
Hence we called at 3 campsites passed along the way, they were all closed for winter (mid-September)! Only when we arrived to Skarsvag village, we found an open campsite and lodges! Yay!
A warm welcome in Skarsvag campsite
We checked in at Skarsvag campsite (‘Base Camp North Cape‘) despite being terribly early; oh, you can only imagine how grateful we were for warm welcome! It turned out that on that very campsite, at the end of the world we were greeted by a Polish receptionist! You know that feeling, when you unexpectedly bump into your fellow countryman in the middle of nowhere, in a far-away country!? That happens to us quite often, I must say! And it’s awesome!
Having met a ‘local’ Pole we chatted a lot; then how we found out that it’s possible to avoid steep parking charges at Nordkapp (see section 3).
Despite rain and heavy skies, we somehow felt uplifted. We made ourselves comfortable in campsite’s kitchen and canteen; our Swiss companion, Linnea, baked fresh rolls and the sitting area smelled heavenly! When looking thru the window, couple of times we spotted reindeer casually wandering to the camping grounds, roaming amongst lodges and on nearby hill. Happy and warm, we planned destinations and attractions for next couple of days. That was the first day at the northernmost location in Europe.
Knivskjelodden and Nordkapp
We got up early next morning to hike to the real northernmost point in Europe, Knivskjelodden. The hike was 18 km and we really enjoyed it. We also timed it well, so directly after the hike we drove to Nordkapp Point, already outside of opening hours and therefore visited the place free of charge!
Along the trail to Knivskjelodden we encountered even more reindeer, I actually joked that they’re our guides! We both really liked it – read all about hiking to the most northerly peninsula in Europe, in section 5 ‘Hikes near Nordkapp’ (below).
Upon our return to car park we were met by Linnea; together we set to explore the ‘touristy’ northernmost point on the continent. It was quite surprising to see so many cars and camper vans at car park at this time of the year (mid-September)! We were in no hurry and decided to wait a bit, as we believed that most visitors will be gone by evening and the place will be much quieter in a couple of hours time; we wanted to spend the night at Nordkapp anyway, we had all the time in the world.
As predicted, it didn’t take long before day-trip visitors left the area and number of people wandering around the globe dramatically thinned.
That was our time to finally have a closer look at the globe, the rocky cliffs of Nordkapp and never-ending ocean to the north.
Reaching such a unique and important landmark required proper celebrations! Linnea kept a bottle of champagne for that very occasion, she kindly shared with us! So there we were, three of us very happy and having the globe just to ourselves!
Of course we didn’t have any champagne glasses in the van; nope, we definitely won’t surprise you in this respect! Again, Linnea came to the rescue with three, fancy, bowl-shaped tealight holders! I assure you, champagne never tasted as good as at Nordkapp! Cheers!
Next morning we set off early again; we thought it would be decent of us to disappear from car park before the facilities open.
Meeting Sami, the legendary reindeer herders of the North
Having left the most northerly place on European continent, we headed in the only possible direction – south. Very soon we came across Sami homes and shop, just before Skarsvag.
Sami are indigenous folk of the Far North; they’re mostly met in northern Norway as well as Swedish and Finnish Lapland. Sami are the legendary reindeer herders of the North; even nowadays many of them still live semi-nomadic life and work with reindeer, and of reindeer. Travelling in Finnmark, we came across many Sami settlements, lodges and cultural centres. Curious as we are, we took the opportunity to find out more about Sami and their close relationship with reindeer.
We entered the Matkemuittut Somby Sami Souvenir Shop and were warmly greeted by a young guy wearing traditional Sami outfit. He was very friendly and happy to tell us more about Sami life and culture.
Sami have always been a nomadic folk, they followed their reindeer thru tundra, looking for richest pastures. Today, they still live of reindeer – selling meat, skins and traditional souvenirs made of antlers, wood & leather.
During a chat at Matkemuittut Somby we learned many interesting facts about Sami, reindeer and living near Nordkapp. Did you know that:
- reindeer shed their antlers and grow new ones every year! Hence you shouldn’t hesitate when buying souvenirs made of reindeer antlers – animals were not hurt, it all happens naturally!
- male reindeer shed antlers in the beginning of December, female reindeer keep them longer (till spring), therefore, surprisingly Rudolf the reindeer must be a female!
- Sami folk don’t own the land, but they have special arrangements with Norwegian government to use the land for reindeer herding. The whole of Mageroya island is divided between 3 Sami families, hence the animals we spotted near Nordkapp and Knivskjelodden must have belonged to ‘our’ guy’s family!
- winters at Nordkapp are too harsh for reindeer! Ground covered by thick snow freezes due to high winds and reindeer find it impossible to dig thru the frozen shell to find food. Therefore, every year Sami from Nordkapp (and other ‘far north’ lands) gather their reindeer and relocate them further south for winter, often near Karasjok. Yes, you remember well, Nordkapp is on an island; reindeer have to swim the 2 km distance to across from Mageroya to mainland!
- although you may think that reindeer roam totally freely and uncontrolled over vast spaces, Sami know exactly where their herds are.
- herding reindeer is a full time job, whole year!
- before winter comes, Sami gather their herds to mark young reindeer, check their health and keep an eye on them during severe winter cold. The event is called ‘reindeer roundup’, families work together for several weeks to prepare for winter.
- Sami language is widely spoken in northern Norway and Lapland (northern Sweden and Finland), for many it’s the first language
- different dialects of Sami language are spoken by different Sami tribes (yes, there are several Sami tribes!), also their cultural heritage and traditional outfits differ.
5 Hikes near Nordkapp
Hiking always is a highlight of any trip we do! Visiting Nordkapp (and Mageroya island) was no exception, we spent some time studying map to find hiking trails to bring us closer to unique nature of the area. Below, we’re presenting 4 ideas for shorter (and longer) hikes recommended during your visit to Nordkapp. Enjoy!
Kirkeporten is a rock arch located near Skarsvag village, some 15 km from Nordkapp. It’s a very short hike, total distance of a circular walk is approximately 1.5 km, however to reach the arch you’ll have to climb a small hill. Several paths lead to the unique rock formation, all of them are well defined and easy to find. The paths are also marked with small wooden posts.
We hiked to Kirkeporten from Skarsvag campsite, left the car at a small parking area just past campsite’s gate. Alternatively you can leave the car along main road, a bit further towards the village as there are some parking spaces available. Allow approximately 1-2 hours for visit to the arch and nearby quirky rocks. Keep in mind that trail becomes slippery in places as you descend lower, towards the rocky coast. This shouldn’t stop you from exploring thou; if you’re a geology enthusiast (like myself) you’ll find Kirkeporten of great interest.
5.2 Visiting Nordkapp by foot
In a section above, I mentioned the high parking fees at Nordkapp Point. Therefore, to avoid the charges I recommend dropping your car at a free, small car park 5 km before Nordkapp (directions) and walking to the globe, rather than driving (walking time approximately 1 hour each way). Follow a faint path running along main road. It will take you thru typical northern landscape – gentle bumps (too low to be called a ‘hill’!), and overgrown wetlands. Have a closer look at the ground – you’ll be walking on a beautiful tundra carpet. Try to spot the ‘laces’ of dwarfed birch ‘trees’ entwining rough rocks; looking at them I realised how tough conditions must be in this remote corner of earth.
If you’re lucky, you may encounter some friendly locals!
5.3 Tip of Knivskjelodden peninsula, the real northernmost point in Europe
We strongly recommend walking to the real northernmost point in Europe, Knivskjelodden peninsula. It can only be reached by a 9 km hike thru tundra, please allow 5-6 hours for the total of 18 km hike.
Knivskjelodden hiking trail starts at a small, free car park (directions) and is marked with standard Norwegian red ‘Ts’ painted on rocks along the way.
At first, path is very rough – rocks stick from the ground like randomly pitched cobblestones and walking over them is a bit awkward. However, very soon the trail becomes smoother, albeit wetter.
Ensure to take in the views around you; as much as some can consider them little exciting, others can appreciate the rough beauty. Before your eyes are gentle hills covered by finest tundra. Look at the ground and spot dwarfed birch ‘trees’. I know, I mentioned them already; don’t take it against me, but I absolutely fell in love with them. They created ‘laces’ of tiny, entangles branches; their fine yellow leaves like amber drops. Oh, autumn & tundra go together very well!
You’re very likely to come across numerous herds of reindeer; during our visit to Knivskjelodden we spotted them every couple of minutes, literary everywhere. Sometimes we only noticed antlers sticking out from behind the rocks or over the hill, other times they casually crossed our path. I’ll be honest, despite seeing reindeer couple of times every day (while travelling in Finnmark and later in Lapland, Finland) we never took them for granted, and every sight was special and exciting!
About 5 km into the hike, you’ll note that now you’re mostly descending the gentle hills, towards a small bay with a pebble beach. Once at the beach, continue along the shore, to the left.
This is where ‘the fun’ starts – you’ll have to cross some large boulders. Take care – some are very slippery! It’s the last section before reaching Knivskjelodden, but it seem to be dragging forever.
Then, when you think you’ll never get there, you suddenly arrive to Knivskjelodden trig point!
Make sure to put your name in a ‘guest book’; look for our names under 14/9/18. If you’re lucky, you may find a bottle of whisky at the ‘guest book’ box 🙂
Well warmed up, we sat at the rocks and admired the view before our eyes – endless ocean! How did it feel to have reached the northernmost tip of Europe? It felt amazing! We were both really happy to have been able to travel that far and enjoy so many great experiences while exploring Norway!
It won’t be to anyone’s surprise that we felt reluctant to return. Also, as the weather improved, we both wanted to spend more time at Knivskjelodden and just enjoy the warm sun.
Eventually, we retraced our steps to the car park.
5.4 Skipsfjord to Torvhamna
Skipsfjord is located approximately 4 km north-west from Mageroya’s largest settlement, Honnigsvag. You’ll easily find it – look out for a large campsite and red hotel complex, just alongside the main road (near the only hairpin bend on Mareroya island). Walk from the campsite to Torvhamna coast takes about 20 minutes, distance is approximately 1 km (one way).
Leave your car in the campsite’s parking area (just at the gate) and walk towards the end of camping zone. Once you reach two small buildings, take a rough track towards small bumps (too small to be called ‘hills’). The track will take you thru moon-like landscape. We found it a weird place; by ‘weird’ I mean that it didn’t match the rest of tundra on Mageroya island; barren rocks made a rather out of this world impression and the landscape was kind of ‘volcanic’.
About 500 metres further, the views suddenly changed and we ‘returned’ to tundra; gentle green-yellow bumps. There were numerous paths cutting across the hills and we set to explore some of them – we’re always looking for higher viewpoints over the area.
Another funny fact about the track was the amount of fish bones laying around! Wherever we looked, we saw white fish bones – along the track, on the hills, virtually everywhere. We didn’t spot any predators thou, but surely there were some fish hunters in the area!
After about 30 minutes from setting off we reached picturesque shores of Torvhamna; rugged coast with some small islands. On the other side of the fjord was Honningsvag village. Having explored the area a bit further, we retraced our steps to the campsite.
6. Nordkapp camping (including wild camping)
Wild camping is allowed and widely accepted in Norway. By law, everyone is allowed to stay overnight at any spot at least 150 metres from nearby buildings.
It’s not very easy to find a suitable wild camping spot for a camper van nor a tent near Nordkapp, as there aren’t many parking bays nor viewpoints along the road. The best spot for wild camping near Nordkapp is a small car park 5 km before the ‘globe’ (directions). Alternatively, you can stay overnight in a campervan at Nordkapp Point car park; please note that there is only limited space suitable for pitching tents. During our visit, there were dozens of camper vans and only a handful of tents staying for the night at Nordkapp Point.
Another idea; why not take your camping gear and stay overnight along the trail to Knivskjelodden , or actually at the northernmost point of Europe? That would be something special!
Nordkapp camping. There are several campsites on Mageroya island, two of them relatively close to Nordkapp. Skarsvag campsite & ‘Base Camp North Cape’ offered good facilities at a reasonable price; most importantly its ‘kitchen-canteen’ was large, warm and clean. We thoroughly appreciated it during our visit – on the day we arrived to Nordkapp area weather was wild and we greatly enjoyed the afternoon spent at Skarsvag campsite, working on laptops and planning further adventures.
Another two large campsites are located near Honningsvag.
If the weather is wild during your visit to Nordkapp and you prefer to find a reasonably priced accommodation, why not try lodges (hytter)? Finding hytters is very easy – there are numerous hytter-sites along main road between Honningsvag and Skarsvag.