It’s midnight but the sun is still shining, a prodigy widely described in travel magazines, documentaries and movies. But experiencing it first hand still left me speechless.
At a certain latitude, close to the Pole, the sun never sets and brightens the sky 24 hours a day. The exact duration of the Midnight Sun season depends on how much close to the Pole you are. In Norway, in the Nordland county, you can experience this phenomenon from June 12 to July 1. In North Cape, Finmark, from May 14 to July 29. At the North Pole it lasts for six months.
Travellers do not get used to a 24-hour long daylight that easily. You may leave a bar or a restaurant at midnight wondering why all the shops are closed and where is everyone. There really is no difference between day and night, the latter is just quieter.
In the imaginary of every traveller North Cape is Norway’s ideal destination, but many still think there is just a plaque stating it’s Europe’s northernmost place. Wrong: a modern visitor centre with a museum, a restaurant, a movie theatre and a bar welcomes the hundreds of tourists reaching this place every day to enjoy the never setting sun.
The perfect starting point to explore North Cape and the whole Nordkapp region is Honningsvåg, a small village of 2500 inhabitants. The people of Honningsvåg like to tell they are the world’s northernmost town, although Norwegian law confers this title to Hammerfest since one of the requirements is a minimum population of 5000.
Honningsvåg offers exactly what you expect from a village north of the Arctic Circle: coloured wooden houses, few shops, a handful of bars and restaurants, a couple of hotels, and a church – dated 1884, it’s the only building that survived World War II.
It’s always windy, here, and you will never have more than 15 degrees centigrade, but thanks to the Gulf Stream it never gets too cold as well (in winter the average temperature is around 5-6 degrees below zero). Few people on the street and never many tourists: a perfect place to spend a few days in peace and quietness, walking around, fishing, birdwatching and visiting North Cape.
The Perleporten Kulturhus is a small café in the city centre with a theatre stage and a nice view over the port. In summer there are small music and theatre show every day. The King Crab Safari is a trip in open sea by raft, to visit the Sarnes Fjord and take a look at the crab fishing. The Artico Ice Bar opened in 2004 and every year it is rebuilt anew with natural ice coming from Lapland. Everything is made of ice, including tables, chairs, the bar and the glasses.