It’s midnight but the sun still shines as it was four in the afternoon. Magazines, documentaries, blogs and even Hollywood movies widely dealt with this phenomenon, but experiencing first hand is a completely different matter. It is a unique experience, it leaves you speechless and flabbergasted.
How can there still be the sun at midnight?
At a certain latitude northwards, beyond the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets for the whole season and can be seen 24 hours a day (when weather conditions allow it). How long the midnight sun will last depends on how much north you are. In Norway, at the Polar Arctic Circle – Nordland county – you can enjoy it from the 12th of June to the 1st of July. In Cape North, Finnmark, the phenomenon is visible from the 14th of May to the 29th of July. And at the North Pole the sun lasts in the sky for six full months.
Travellers do not adapt easily to 24 hours of light. You might leave a bar or a restaurant at midnight and wonder why all shops are closed and the streets empty. There is no difference between day and night but for the stillness.
One of the many reason to travel to Northern Norway during summertime is this incredible experience, the Midnight Sun. Cape North is the dream destination of all travellers, and some of them arrive here in quite fancy ways: by motorbike, bike, camper, car and even walking. Thousands of kilometres to reach this legendary place.
You might think that Cape North is but an empty spot, an engraved stone to point the northernmost place in Europe. Wrong! A modern visitors centre with a museum, a restaurant, a movie theatre and a bar welcomes the hundreds of tourists arriving every day to enjoy the magic of the Midnight Sun.
Honningsvåg is the perfect starting point to explore Cape North and the whole Nordkapp region. A small village of 2500 souls. Honningsvåg prises itself for being the northernmost town in the world, although the Norwegian standards awarded with such title Hammerfest, since a population is required of no less than 5000 people.
The village of Honningsvåg is exactly what you would expect from an hamlet north of the Polar Circle: wooden coloured houses, a few shops, even less bars and restaurants, a couple of hotels, a church – dating back to 1884, the only building which survived the Second World War bombings.
Even in summer and under the sun, temperature never pass 15 degrees, but thanks to the gulf stream they never get too chilly either (average temperature in winter are about 5-6 degrees below zero).
Few people roam the streets and there never are many tourists. Honningsvåg is the ideal destination for a few days of solitary relax, to enjoy birdwatching or a trip in the surrounding area, and obviously to visit Cape North.
If you come around, a place worth a visit is Perleporten Kulturhus, a small cafe with a stage hosting performers and a nice view over the port. In summer, music and theatre shows are held every day, most of them focusing on how life is in the northernmost village in the world. Don’t miss it!
King Crab Safari is a trip on a lifeboat in open sea. It hits the Sarnes Fjord and allows to take a look at the traditional hunt for king crabs, which may grow up to two metres and weigh up to ten kilos. The trip is organized by Destinasjon 71° Nord and continues to the lavvu camp, where the freshly caught crabs are cooked.
The Artico Ice Bar, instead, is a relatively new highlight. It opened in 2004 and every year it is built with natural ice coming from the lakes in Lapin, a real and fully functioning club made entirely of ice. Tables, chairs, bar… even the glasses are made of ice. At the entrance the staff provides stuffed jackets to the customers, but there always is some daring adventurer coming in with just a sweater or a t-shirt, although the temperature hovering around 5 degrees below zero.
To find out how they build the Ice Bar every year, check the video below…
Where to sleep – In Honningsvåg’s town centre you will find the Rica Hotel Honningsvåg, a comfortable solution about 30 kilometres from Cape North.
Where to ear – Just a few kilometres from Artico Ice Bar, King Crab House prepares excellent local dishes at affordable prices.
For more information about Cape North and the Midnight Sun: Midnight Sun in Norway.
Artico Ice Bar – The making of