“Here I am at Nordkapp, at the edge of Finnmark, and I dare say the very edge of the world, since there are no other places further north inhabited by man.”

~Francesco Negri, Viaggio Settentrionale (published posthumously), 1700

Nordkapp, Norway. I had been anticipating standing at the proverbial top of the world ever since seeing photos of the striking globe monument with views out to sea. In my mind, Nordkapp would be a full-circle moment in our travels; along with Antarctica and the equator, we would have stood at the bottom, middle and top of the world. Metaphorically, at least!

Nordkapp – the North Cape in English – sits on the northern coast of the island of Magerøya and is the northernmost point in Europe connected to the mainland by road. Technically, a point called Knivskjellodden is the actual northernmost point in continental Europe, about one mile further than Nordkapp, but it can only be reached on foot on a 5.6-mile hike. Norway’s Svalbard archipelago is also farther north, but it’s not on mainland Europe.

We would be traveling to Nordkapp from Honningsvåg, a port town on the southeastern side of Magerøya. As the Seabourn Ovation sailed into port, Herb and I stood on our verandah, not quite believing our good weather fortune. In a place known for rain, wind and overcast skies, we were greeted with sunshine and bright blueness. Our tour wasn’t for a couple of hours, and we crossed our fingers that the weather would hold for the drive north.

Sailing into Honningsvåg.

A Walk Through Honningsvåg

Herb and I headed out for a walk through Honningsvåg, population about 2,500. Just outside the cruise ship dock, a Tourist Information office, Arctic Souvenir shop and an extremely large troll greet visitors. There are two main streets, one that winds along the waterfront and the other running parallel a block or so inland. Our ship of about 550 passengers was the only one in port – a great sign, we later learned, as the little town had recently dealt with 10,000 visitors in one day.

Boats along the harbor.
I loved this old telephone booth being repurposed as a library.
Honningsvåg Church, built in 1885, is the oldest building in town.
The road back to the ship.
Herb and a new friend!

The Road to Nordkapp

By mid-afternoon, it was time to board the bus to Nordkapp. It’s about a 45-minute drive past desolate brown hills, mountain lakes and grazing reindeer. A guide on board pointed out various sights along the way and further confirmed how lucky we were to have such beautiful weather. A couple of days earlier, she told us, all Nordkapp tours were cancelled because it was too windy for the buses to safely make the drive.

Cod fishing is a major industry in northern Norway. Fish are dried outside on large racks as a way to preserve them.
Our guide told us that this house on a small island had just been purchased by a family from Poland.
Honningsvåg Airport runway.
Scenery along the way.
Reindeer feeding on lichen on the hillsides below Nordkapp.

The Top of the World

Nordkapp sits on a 1,007-foot-high cliff topped with a large flat plateau. It was named by English navigator and arctic explorer Steven Borough, captain of the Edward Bonaventure, who sailed past the cliff in 1553 in search of the Northeast Passage shipping route. In 1664, Italian priest Francesco Negri became the first person known to have traveled to Nordkapp. King Oscar II, Union King of Norway and Sweden, visited in 1873, and in 1956 the first road to Nordkapp was built.

I was surprised by how vast the area seemed, and with just a couple of groups from our cruise and a few independent travelers, it felt as if we had the place to ourselves. Herb and I exchanged photo duties with another couple from the ship, taking in the gorgeous views and the experience of simply being there.

North Cape Hall entrance. Doors in the back lead to the cliff and globe monument.
The globe monument…
…and us!
Looking back at North Cape Hall.
Beyond Nordkapp, the Norwegian Sea, part of the Atlantic Ocean, meets the Barents Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean.
View of Knivskjellodden, the actual northernmost point in continental Europe, a mile further from Nordkapp and reachable only on foot.

In addition to the globe, several other monuments are scattered around Nordkapp. An obelisk honoring King Oscar II sits at one end of the plateau, and the Milestone Monument points out to sea at the other end. A series of circles called Barn av Jorden – Children of the Earth – created by seven children from different parts of the world stands near the Mother and Child sculpture.

Artist Eva Rybakken’s sculpture “Mother and Child” is encircled by the Children of the Earth monument.
Children of the Earth was created in 1988 by seven children from different parts of the world who gathered at Nordkapp to illustrate symbols of cooperation, friendship, hope and joy.
Milestone Monument.
“Not as a transitory adornment, but as a solemn sign that the kingdom of Norway reaches hither, therefore I have erected this monument at the outermost point of the North.” –King Oscar II, 2 July 1873.

North Cape Hall

When it comes to visitor centers, North Cape Hall is truly first-rate. The lower levels feature a museum with exhibits about Nordkapp’s history, a most unusual chapel and a film about the seasons at Nordkapp which friends had raved about and we had forgotten to take in – waffles and postcards are my only excuse for missing what clearly was a wonderful film! The gift shop is worth visiting, if for no other reason than buying stamps and postcards and dropping them into a special mailbox. The North Cape Hall staff collects the mail and hand-stamps each postcard with a special Nordkapp stamp before mailing them.

The restaurant is also a great diversion, with views looking out over Nordkapp. Our guide had recommended the waffles, which were made to order at station with various jam toppings. It seemed like the perfect way to end our day at the top of the world.

An exhibit aglow in blue lights tells the history of Nordkapp.
St. John’s Chapel, built in 1990, is considered the world’s northernmost chapel.
Can’t forget to include these two!
The contemporary-looking restaurant, with windows to the globe and beyond.
My Nordkapp waffle, served on a globe-themed plate!

Later That Night

As we sailed southward, the Seabourn Ovation slowly passed Nordkapp, offering a chance for photos from a different perspective as well as a moment to say farewell. It was a spine-tingly feeling to look up and see the globe where we had stood and the people who were now taking our places. Herb zoomed his long camera lens on the plateau to get a better look. Lights were on at North Cape hall, and a crowd had gathered just beyond the globe at the edge of the cliff.

And then suddenly, as if on cue, the midnight sun decided to put on a show of its own.

The top of the world on a summer evening.
Oh, Norway…

14 Comments

  • It’s spine tingling just to read your post. Thank you for these wonderful photos. That last photo is my favorite. What an evening!

  • Absolutely wonderful Mar! I so love experiencing the world through your beautiful narratives and photography! And, seeing you and Herb looking fabulous… ((:

    • That is so sweet, Mar, and really means a lot. Many thanks! It makes me truly happy to share these travel stories and photos. Our day at Nordkapp was especially meaningful and one of those “I can’t believe I’m here” moments.:)

  • You were so lucky to have just one ship in port. I remember there being quite a crowd around the Nordkapp Monument when we were there in 2019. It is a special place and I enjoyed the chance to see it one last time from the ship as you did.

    • We were so grateful, Erin, especially after hearing there had been five ships and 10,000 people in port a few days earlier! I’m glad to hear you also saw Nordkapp from the ship as you sailed away. It truly is a special place and an awe-inspiring experience.

  • Mary, I so enjoyed seeing through your eyes the sights we missed! Yes, we got the “atmosphere” but really, being able to enjoy the view of the whole of the Nordkapp in such conditions is magical. Thank you for all the detail and such beautiful photographs too. I love that you and Herb are as thrilled by such places as we are!

    • Gill, enjoying that view really was magical and completely unexpected. With only one day, you just never know what the weather has up its sleeve. Because of Nordkapp’s location, I was prepared for wind, rain and gloomy skies – although it hadn’t even occurred to me that the trip there could be cancelled due to weather! I’m happy to have offered some photos of the view, and I’m glad to know that we’re in such good company of people who are hopelessly thrilled by travel destinations!

  • I appreciated your perspective of seeing the globe top, bottom, and in between. Will include Seabourn in our possible ships to view Norway! As always, well done!

    • Great to hear from you, Sue! I’m happy to know you enjoyed the post. We had a great experience with Seabourn on this trip. If I can help in any way with questions about Norway, please don’t hesitate to reach out! 😊

  • Mary,
    I just reread all your posts on Norway. We were there this summer for 2 1/2 weeks. We spent almost a week on the Lofoten Islands with a car. We absolutely loved it and I wish you would have posted before we were there because you did some things we missed. We luckily had perfect weather. One rainy day when we needed to do laundry. Your pictures are wonderful. Thanks. Audrey (friend of Dixie Berg)

    • Audrey, so nice to “meet” a friend of Dixie’s! Many thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed the Norway posts. It must have been wonderful to spend a week on the Lofoten Islands. I was hooked after just one day! It sounds like you were as lucky as we were with the weather. What a treat we both had to see that beautiful country on such gloriously clear days. Please feel free to stop by again and share your thoughts and experiences!

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