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Nordkapp & Around/Norway

Introducing Nordkapp & Around

Nordkapp (North Cape), a coastal plateau at N71°10´21˝ latitude, claims to be the northernmost point in Europe and is the main destination for most visitors to the far north (Knivskjelodden is actually the northernmost point). The sun never drops below the horizon from mid-May to the end of July. To many visitors, Nordkapp, with its steep cliffs and stark scenery, emanates a certain spiritual aura – indeed, long before other Europeans took an interest in the area, Nordkapp was considered a power centre by the Sami people.

It was Richard Chancellor, the English explorer who drifted this way in 1553 on a search for the Northeast Passage, who named North Cape. Following a much-publicised visit by King Oscar II in 1873, Nordkapp became a pilgrimage spot of sorts for tourists.

Nowadays, there’s a rip-off Nkr190 entrance fee and a touristy complex with exhibits, eateries, souvenir shops and a post office. The 180-degree theatre runs a rather repetitious short film, but if you want to really appreciate Nordkapp just take a walk out along the cliffs. If the weather is fair you can perch yourself on the edge of the continent and watch the polar mist roll in.

The continent’s real northernmost point, Knivskjelodden (latitude N71°11´08˝) is, thankfully, inaccessible to vehicles and devoid of tourist fluff. To reach it, head to the marked car park about 7km south of Nordkapp, lace up your boots and hike 9km (18km return) to a lovely promontory. It takes about five hours.

Depending on snow conditions, the toll road to Nordkapp is usually open from May to mid-October; the Road User Information Centre (177) gives opening dates.

The closest town of any size is Honningsvåg, 35km from Nordkapp with a population of 3500. Here you’ll find a tourist office (78 47 70 30; www.northcape.no; Fiskeriveien 4B; 8.30am-8pm Mon-Fri, noon-8am Sat & Sun mid-Jun–mid-Aug, 8.30am-4pm Mon-Fri otherwise), the hotel Honningsvåg Brygge (78 47 64 64; www.hvg.brygge.no; Vågen 1a; s/d Nkr950/1200), which occupies a nicely converted fishing warehouse, a few restaurants and, unbelievably, a microbrewery. Contact the tourist office for area camping options.