Finding your true north is very important. Yet sometimes, finding the actual North can be cool too. When in Europe, the best way to do that is by visiting Nordkapp, also known as the North Cape, in Western Finnmark, Norway. And if you do so in wintertime, you’re in for a special treat.
When Francesco Negri, an Italian priest and the first tourist on the North Cape Plateau, visited the place back in 1664, he must have certainly felt like he was standing at the edge of the Earth—and he wouldn’t have been exactly wrong. See, so far in the North, the only dry land between you and the North Pole is the Svalbard archipelago. So when you stand on the plateau, with its cliff face rising 307 meters (1000 feet) above sea level, looking down at the frigid waters of the Atlantic meeting the Arctic Ocean, you do get an “end of the world” feeling. But in fact, the fun is only just beginning.
For starters, the light here is extreme. Either relentless, or remiss. In the summer, from mid May until the end of July, the sun doesn’t set at all—offering you the chance to enjoy the midnight sun, or a spectacular sunset over the Barents Sea. Don’t worry if you start having romantic thoughts while watching the latter: there’s an ecumenical chapel at the North Cape and apparently it’s quite the popular wedding venue. Looking at this view, we couldn’t imagine why…
Is tying the knot not in your immediate plans? You can always explore the island of Magerøya, where the North Cape is located. You can hike to the natural arch of Kirkeporten (for an impressive view of the North Cape plateau) or, if you’re up for something more challenging, you can hike to cape Knivskjellodden, the northernmost point on Magerøya. From there, you can see the seaside cliff face of the North Cape. In any case, you’ll be in good (and very Instagrammable) company: the bird cliff of Gjesværstappan is home to hundreds of thousands of puffins, gannets and cormorants.
Of course, you will need somewhere to relax—and the colorful fishing villages of the area will provide the perfect haven. From Skarsvåg, the world’s northernmost fishing village, and Kamøyvær, where you can also find a lovely art gallery, to Gjesvær, with its lovely views of the archipelago of Gjesværstappan, and Honningsvåg with its infamous Ice Bar, you won’t be lacking in choices.
If you’re wondering how you’ll be moving around in the wintertime, a snowmobile is a great solution. You can also drive an ATV or try snowshoeing. No matter what you do, don’t forget to look up: it’s never been more likely you’ll see the Northern Lights than here.