Crossing the Arctic Circle to reach the far northernmost tip of Europe is a one-off travel experience. Not only is it an achievement few others can claim to have accomplished, but offers a touch a magic when you visit under the eerie glimmer of the midnight sun.
This natural phenomenon, where the sun never truly dips below the horizon, is also known as the ‘White Nights’, and occurs from May to July every year in the near-Arctic regions.
Getting there on a cruise, such as Saga’s intrepid small ship adventures, will begin by skirting the coasts of beautiful Norway and crossing the Arctic Circle. The first near-Arctic destination will be Tromsø, a delightful place with a lively student population.
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The polar museum and Arctic Cathedral
The local brewery produces ‘Arctic Ale’, and suitably there are more pubs here than anywhere else in Norway.
Make sure you visit the Polar Museum while you are here for an insight into the many expeditions that began from the town, and still do to this day.
Tromsø is also renowned for its unique church, probably better known as the ‘Arctic Cathedral’ – the design is evocative of icebergs and the crystal chandeliers glisten like icicles.
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The North Cape
The North Cape itself beckons from the tiny village port of Honningsvåg. Here it’s just a half-hour coach transfer to the edge of Europe.
It’s quite something, that still journey to the farthest reaches of the continent, passing tribes of the indigenous Sami, and their reindeer herds. The Cape has been a point of orientation for sailors, and attracted travellers from all over the world, for centuries.
Before the road to it was built in 1956 visitors had to be put ashore by boat and climb up on foot!
When you do get there – thankfully a much easier task today! – attractions at the small on-site museum include historical displays relating to its long history as a destination for travellers, and even ‘the world’s northernmost chapel’.
But most people make straight for the symbolic Globe monument near the edge of the cliff to look out over the compelling horizon and record their visit on camera. A quirky thing to do is to send a friend (or yourself!) a little postcard from the ‘edge of the world’.
The local Post Office can stamp your mail with a North Cape postmark for your troubles, as evidence of your achievement. Although don’t be surprised if you’re home before the postman delivers it!
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North Cape facts
- The latitude of North Cape is 71 degrees 10.21 minutes north. It stands 990 feet above the Barents Sea.
- The first recorded visitor to climb the cliff was the Italian Priest, Francesco Negri, in 1664, who wrote that this was 'the very edge of civilisation'.
- The Children of the Earth or ‘Globe’ monument was erected in 1989, and symbolises co-operation, friendship, hope and happiness across all borders
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