Bjarne Riesto

Your northernmost holiday – travel to the end of the world

Northern Norway is possibly the northernmost place you’ll ever visit. The voyage to the furthest north also has some fascinating milestones.

Have you ever opened an atlas for no reason at all? Tried to pronounce the strange names and followed the coastlines of the continents with your finger. Unconsciously, your eyes are drawn upwards to the north. Away from the big cities and familiar names. Maybe you’ve thought; wonder what it looks like up there. To some of us, reaching high latitudes is important in itself. Northern Norway reaches far into the north. Yet it is a land where people work, travel around and enjoy life. This means you can travel here safely and comfortably, as opposed to most other locations on the same latitude. Let us explain the details of the extreme geography of the north and add some unnecessary yet fun facts.

The North Cape used to be the end of the world

At 71° 10’ 21” N degrees north, Nordkapp or the North Cape is at the end of the road. You simply cannot drive any further north on the Eurasian road network. The North American road network stops at 70° 12′ 20″ N. To get further north, you must sail or fly. However, you can hike to the neighbouring cape, Knivskjelodden, 71° 11’ 08”, extending 1453 metres further north. The North Cape is found on the island of Magerøya. The European mainland’s northernmost point is Cape Kinnarodden at 71°08′02’N on the Nordkyn peninsula, clearly visible from the North Cape on a clear day. The hike here is long, and is reserved for the outdoorsy.

The Svalbard islands are the world’s northernmost holiday destination

These days, however, you can reach even further north. The remote archipelago of Svalbard, historically known as Spitsbergen, has an airport and a population of some 3000 people, mostly located in Longyearbyen  78° 12′ 60.00″. Up here, one can stay in comfortable hotels, eat well and enjoy cultural events. Any venturing further north, though, requires staging a carefully planned expedition, best left to the outdoor experts. One exception is the research station at Ny-Ålesund at 78° 54′ 59.99″ degrees north. In a short summer season, expedition cruises call here. The northern tip of Rossøya Island in Svalbard is also the northern tip of Svalbard, at  80°49’44,41″N, but this is inaccessible for travellers.

The Arctic circle marks the beginning of the Arctic

The Arctic Circle 66°33′49.4″ defines the limit of midnight sun and polar night. Roughly. North of this, the midnight sun shines in summer, and around midwinter, the sun is below the horizon at mid-day. In Norway, this location is most easily reached at the Saltfjellet mountain crossing, just north of the Arctic Circle city of Mo i Rana. The explanation centre at 650 metre altitude is a compulsory stop. However, if you take the ferry from Kilboghamn to Jektvik along the coastal road, the metal globe on the island of Vikingen is a clear marker. If you cross the Arctic circle on the boat between the islands of Træna and Selvær, there is no marking. You just have to know.  

The world’s northernmost city is Hammerfest. Or maybe not

The 10 000 inhabitants of Hammerfest, 70° 39′ 48.10″ N, proudly call their city the world’s northernmost. Founded by royal charter in 1789, the city has a long and illustrious history. However, how do you define a city these days when kings no longer issue charters? The 2600 inhabitants of Honningsvåg, 70° 58′ 55.52″ N close to the North Cape, have unilaterally declared themselves a city. The intention was not to spite the Hammerfestonians, that was just a bonus. Settlements in Siberia, Greenland and Alaska, all smaller than Hammerfest, are also further north, as is Longyearbyen on 78° 12′ 60.00″ N. Some issues just can’t be settled once and for all.

The far north is also Norway’s far east

Vardø 31° 6′ 34.37″E Norway’s old outpost in the north-east, is in fact further east than Saint Petersburg 30° 18′ 30.9996” E, Istanbul  28° 53′ 53.7792” E and Alexandria 29° 55′ 28.2936” E. The sun reaches its highest point a whole hour ahead of Oslo here. The island of Hornøya, visible from Vardø, is Norway’s easternmost point, whereas Cape Kibergneset, immediately to the island city’s southwest, is the easternmost on the mainland. The remote island of Kvitøya, part of the territory of Svalbard, is even further east, the eastern extremety Kræmerpynten is at 33° 30′ 58.74″ E. This is well beyond reach, though.

Nature changes as you travel north

One of the attractions with travelling north is to see how nature changes. In Northern Norway’s mild southwestern areas, temperate, broad-leaf forests clad south-facing hillsides. The barren, wide expanses around the North Cape look entirely different, as does the tundra in Svalbard with its inch-high vegetation. Here is a list of but a few of the many plants and animals that have their northernmost habitat in Northern Norway

  • The lime tree, Tilia cordata,  grows on the slopes of Mosaksla hill near Brønnøysund 65° 27′ 45.00″ N
  • The elm tree, Ulmus glabra, grows up to Beiarn 67°0’26.09″
  • The hazel, Corylus avellana, grows up to the Prestegårdsskogen (vicarage forest) at Engeløya, Steigen at  67° 56′ 59.99″ N
  • The lobster, Homarus gammarus has its northernmost habitat in the Tysfjord at 68° 15′ 60.00″ N
  • The northernmost bat Eptesicus nilssonii colony is found at Rundhaug 69°01’12.2″N 
  • The northernmost coral reefs are found off the island of Loppa 70° 14′ 1.80″ N
  • The Scots pine Pinus sylvestris has its northernmost location at Børselv 70° 18′ 60.00″ N
  • The northernmost forest is found near Kjøllefjord 70° 56′ 59.99″ N

You travel off the beaten track

Travellers are often surprised by the normality of travelling in Northern Norway and Svalbard. You can travel safely and comfortably, mostly on time, to the northernmost settlements. Check these northernmosts on your travel north:

  • Uber: Tromsø 69°38’56.04″N is the northernmost location in the world where you can all an Uber
  • Bridge: From the mainland to Havøysund  70° 58′ 59.99″ N, the world’s northernmost bridge leads.
  • Lighthouse: The lighthouse on the island of Fruholmen 71° 5’ 37.27004’’ west of the North Cape is the world’s northernmost. Slettnes Lighthouse,   71°4’59.98″ a bit further east, is the northermost on the mainland.
  • Airport: You can simply book a flight to LYR, Longyearbyen  78° 12′ 60.00″, from either Tromsø or Oslo. Anything further north is charter to small airstrips at research stations.
  • Taxi: In Longyearbyen 78° 12′ 60.00″ there are regular taxis you can just call.
  • Bus stop: In Longyearbyen 78° 12′ 60.00″ there is a bus service from the airport into town
  • Hospital It’s good to know for travellers that there is a hospital in Longyearbyen 78° 12′ 60.00″
  • Lodge: Nordenskiöld Lodge Isfjorden 78° 40′ 0″ N offers comfortable beeds and good food, but around there is nothing but untouched nature.
  • Hotel: In NyÅlesund 78° 54′ 59.99″ you can stay in a small hotel.
  • Campsite: NyÅlesund 78° 54′ 59.99″ also offers a campsite for the tough ones

Northern Norway is the end of civilisation

People living in the north are as into culture and learning as everybody else. Given long winter nights, maybe even more. Thus, you might want to look for the following cultural, sport and scientific landmarks.

  • European Capital of Culture: In 2024, Bodø 67° 16′ 49.2852” N will be the European Capital of Culture.
  • Zoo: Polar Park, Bardu is a safari park with northern animals 68° 40′ 45.12″ N
  • 18 hole golf course: Tromsø Golf Park, facing the Lyngen Alps 69° 39′ 30″ N
  • University: Headquartered in Tromsø 69°38’56.04″N , The Arctic University of Norway also has campuses in notably Alta and Longyearbyen
  • Symphony: The Arctic Philarmonic is located in Bodø 67° 16′ 49.2852” N and Tromsø 69°38’56.04″N, and is the world’s northernmost symphonic orchestra.
  • Botanic garden: The Arctic-Alpine botanic garden in Tromsø 69°38’56.04″N
  • Aquarium: Polaria in Tromsø 69°38’56.04″N  has seals and fish from the arctic regions Tromsø
  • Top-division football team: Tromsø IL got some press from beating Chelsea in the snow in 1997 at 69°38’56.04″N
  • Theatre: Samovarteatret, Kirkenes 69° 43′ 37.42″ is the northernmost professional theatre
  • Fortress: Vardøhus fortress 70° 22′ 19.56″ N from 1734 is the world’s northernmost historic fortress
  • Newspaper: Svalbardposten, Longyearbyen 78° 12′ 60.00″, is a weekly which is also read extensively on the mainland
  • Cinema: In Longyearbyen you can also see the latest Hollywood blockbusters in the world’s northernmost cinema or movie theater
  • Art gallery: The “Nordover” Art Centre has both permantent and temporary exhibits in Longyearbyen 78° 12′ 60.00″
  • Library: Longyearbyen 78° 12′ 60.00″ has a well-stocked public library
  • School: The school in Longyearbyen 78° 12′ 60.00″ teaches from elementary to high school level
  • Kindergarden: There are several kindergardens in Longyearbyen 78° 12′ 60.00″ N

 God works in mysterious ways – up north too

Among the northernmosts, there are several notable sacred sites for many faiths in Northern Norway and Svalbard:

  • Medieval church: The 13-15th c. church of Trondenes is the northern outpost of medieaval church architecture. St. George’s chapel at Neiden 69°41’59.99″ from 1565, but that is technically later than the middle ages.
  • Pilgrimage route: The Hålogalandsleia from Trondenes leads the faithful and the philosophically disposed to Saint Olavs grave in Trondheim
  • Cathedral: Vår Frue (Our Lady) Catholic Cathedral in Tromsø 69°38’56.04″N is found just a few hundred metres north of the Lutheran Tromsø Cathedral, which thus is the world’s northernmost protestant one. Both are of modest size.
  • Mosque: Alnor moské Tromsø 69°38’56.04″N serves an international muslim congreation
  • Catholic church: St. Mikael’s church in Hammerfest 70°39’48.10″ a small, international congregation in the far north. In Hammerfest, the Saint Elisabeth sisters also run the world’s northermost monastery.
  • Parish church: Svalbard church in Longbyearbyen 78° 12′ 60.00″, part of the Lutheran Church of Norway, is the world’s northernmost parish church.

Fun facts can spice up your voyage

Some northernmosts are just fun to know.

  • Three-country cairn: The cairn where Norway, Sweden and Finland meet, Treriksrøysa, 69°03’21.60″ N, is the northernmost tri-national meeting point in the world. It is most easily reached from the Finnish border hamlet of Kilpisjärvi, but some exciting paths also lead from Norway.
  • Whisky destillery: Aurora Destillery at Årøybukt  69° 38′ 24″ N on the Lyngenfjord destills the world’s northernmost whisky.
  • Hard Rock Café; This chain of iconic burger joints has its northernmost café in Tromsø’s main street  69°38’56.04″N
  • Burger King: A drive-in outlet in Tromsø 69° 40′ 28 N the world’s northernmost. But burger lovers shouldn’t hesitate to go further north, burgers are served even in Svalbard.
  • Subway: The northernmost of these sandwiches can be enjoyed in Alta’s main shopping centre 69° 58′ 7.93″ N. Otherwise, fear not, if you find a Norwegian, sandwiches are always close by.
  • Chocolate factory: Æventyr Sjokolade leads you into temptation in Alta, with chocolate made with Arctic berries.
  • Brewery: Svalbard Bryggeri brews beer on melted glacier water in Longyearbyen, of course the northernmost in the world.
  • Department store: Shopaholics will love the world’s northermost department store in Longyearbyen, 78° 12′ 60.00″ , Svalbardbutikken (“The Svalbard Shop”), with just about anything your heart desires.
  • Coffee shop: Fruene (“The ladies”) in Longbyearbyen, 78° 12′ 60.00″ , is where you pick up the latest gossip

Is this a complete list?

We believe it’s not. There are surely many more northernmosts, and we would be grateful if you would share a few more with us. Locations in the north of Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Siberia might also inaugurate cathedrals and burger joints, so feel free to give us some feedback on the development. is the correct address.