Honningsvåg: Norway’s Gateway to the North Cape

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An introduction to Honningsvåg, Norway's northernmost town and known as the port for visiting the North Cape. But there's a lot more to this small town than you may first expect.

On a recent cruise to Northern Norway, I stopped off at Honningsvåg. I'd been to the town a few years ago on the Hurtigruten, and driven through on the way to the North Cape even earlier.

Honningsvåg harbour on a sunny day in Northern Norway.
Honningsvåg harbour on a sunny day in Northern Norway.

Honningsvåg is a curious place. A small Northern Norwegian fishing town that claims to be Norway's northernmost town, Honningsvåg is a surprisingly lively place thanks mainly to its proximity to the North Cape, or Nordkapp.

Visitors drive to the North Cape from all over Europe, while many others stop on ‘midnight sun' cruise itineraries. The town also receives daily visits from the Hurtigruten and Havila ships working the Norwegian coastal voyage.

This means that despite its small population of just 2,400, Honningsvåg offers more than you might expect. Although tours here focus on the North Cape, a visit there is by no means the only thing to do when visiting the town.

Introducing Honningsvåg

Honningsvåg is the main town on the island of Magerøya at the very north of Norway.

Magerøya is a rocky, desolate island notable for its almost complete lack of trees–although many gardens in the town do have them.

Honningsvåg Travel Resources: Hotel BookingBook Tours

Honningsvåg exists where it does due to the ice-free waters to the south, which provide bountiful fishing opportunities. Although tourism is important today, the town's harbour still bustles with fishing vessels.

A word on the North Cape

I do intend this article to be about Honningsvåg itself, but it's impossible to talk about the town without mentioning at least in brief the North Cape.

Nordkapp (North Cape) in summer
Nordkapp (North Cape) in summer.

Marketed as Norway's (and Europe's) northernmost point (even though it isn't), the North Cape is a clifftop overlooking the vast expanse of ocean northwards. Because of the road from Honningsvåg, it's certainly the northernmost point that's easily accessible.

For visitors, there's more than just the view. The visitor centre includes a theatre showing a film about the area's flora and fauna through the seasons, a vast gift shop, a cafe. Perhaps most importantly, it offers a place to shelter in the event of bad weather!

Most visitors want to visit the North Cape to say “I've been there” and to take a picture next to the iconic globe sculpture.

Things to do in Honningsvåg

On this visit, several coach loads of cruise visitors boarded coaches to set off for Nordkapp. But I chose to enjoy the glorious weather by wandering the town. Here's my recommended things to do.

Enjoy a harbour walk

Honningsvåg's small harbour is very much a place of work. On a glorious day such as we had, the colours of the fishing boats and waterfront buildings really popped against the blue of the water and the sky.

Fishing boats in Honningsvåg, Norway.
Fishing boats in Honningsvåg.

Several locals were about and they were happy to chat with me and some of the other tourists from the cruise ship.

West of the Moon gallery

This gallery on the main street Storgata is a must-visit when in town. All produced locally, the artwork depicts natural scenes from Magerøya including the northern lights, the road to the North Cape, and wildlife of the island, in a modern style.

Artwork in the Honningsvåg gallery.
Artwork in ‘West of the Moon'

Prices in the gallery are very reasonable. I bought three small framed prints for just 435 kroner. That's approximately $43 at the time of writing. A great deal!

If you venture out on a tour to some of the fishing villages of Magerøya, you may come across the sister gallery. East of the Sun is based in Kamøyvær.

Artico Christmas House

Don't miss this opportunity to add a Scandinavian touch to your Christmas celebration with a souvenir from Artico. The two-floor store immediately in front of the Hurtigruten quay is dedicated to all things Christmas, Norwegian style.

Honningsvåg Christmas House.
Artico Christmas House in Honningsvåg.

This also used to be the location of the Magic Ice bar, but unfortunately this is closed at the time of writing.

Visit the culture house

Perleporten is the cultural house and principal meeting place in Honningsvåg. This multipurpose performance space hosts theatre shows and concerts as well as a cafe. Downstairs is the Sjøgata pub and next door you'll find a new brewery outlet store.

The culture house is best known among visitors for the regular performances of Our Northernmost Life, a local amateur play about life in the high north. I caught a showing a few years ago and wrote all about it here.

The show is a fun summary of life in Honningsvåg and I recommend catching a performance if one is on. Check the Perleporten website for the information.

RIB boat tour

Fancy a bit of exhilaration? Join a RIB boat tour from Honningsvåg harbour and enjoy the Arctic landscape. Some tours focus on landscapes and others on wildlife.

RIB boat tour leaving in Honningsvåg.
RIB boat tour leaving in Honningsvåg.

Tours can be booked via independent tour companies such as Viator or through the local tourist information centre. In high season, there will be availability on the day.

King crab safari

Another option for getting out onto the water is by joining a King crab safari. Honningsvåg is one of the centres for Norway's king crab industry.

Honningsvåg Travel Resources: Hotel BookingBook Tours

On tours, participants typically head out on a fishing vessel to catch a crab, and get to have a taste before the end of the tour. If this sounds too much like hard work, the handful of restaurants in Honningsvår proudly feature king crab on the menu.

Nordkapp museum

Get some context for your visit by popping in to the Nordkapp Museum, which covers the history of the North Cape itself and Magerøya island.

Nordkapp Museum in Honningsvåg.
Nordkapp Museum in Honningsvåg.

Most exhibitions are in English in addition to Norwegian. Occasionally there may be a temporary exhibit in Norwegian only, but information booklets are usually available in English and in several other languages.


The large hill/mountain immediately behind Honningsvåg may look imposing, but there are a couple of hiking trails that will take you up for a fantastic view of Honningsvåg and the water beyond.

You can pick up a map from the tourist information office, or check the hiking trail on Google Maps ahead of time.

Have you been to Honningsvåg? How did you spend your time? Let us know in the comments below.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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2 thoughts on “Honningsvåg: Norway’s Gateway to the North Cape”

  1. We have done the same as you. Driven to the Nordkapp in Summer after staying at a hotel in Honningsvag and, last March, visited on a ship (Havila).
    When we visited Honningsvag by car we came to a crossroads and found someone lying in the middle of the road. It was not an accident just someone
    who had too much to drink.
    We were told that last year Honningsvag had two months with temperatures between 25 and 30C. That is unusual.

  2. In 1998 we decided to take a summer tour from the South West of England to the North Cape, with our own car from home. To do this we had first to drive to Newcastle some 8 hours drive from where we live, to take the ferry across to Bergen. The trip of 24 hours on the ferry was awful with very rough seas!

    However, this also turned out to be the journey of a lifetime, and we had allowed three weeks to complete the trip.

    On leaving Bergen we travelled through Voss, and cross country following the road between Sognefjell and the Jotunheimen which we had previously travelled in 1976, to Otta. Stopping just north of Otta for the night we headed on again the next day and got to Steinkjer where we stayed for the second night. On again up the E6, we arrived at a lovely caravan park just a few kilometers below the Arctic Circle at Krokstrand, where we took a cabin to break the journey. There were still three more days of driving ahead before we would be able to cross over to Magerøya, the island on which the North Cape or Nordkapp is situated. This was in the days of the ferry, not the tunnel. After the ferry crossing, we finally arrived in Honningsvåg in the early afternoon in a torrential rainstorm, and drove on to find somewhere to stay. It was good to get there, but if we were to see the midnight sun we would only be able to have a short rest, and then drive the last few kilometers to Nordkapp itself.

    Unfortunately, we had not picked the best of evenings to go there as the cloud cover was almost 100%, but after a long wait with hundreds of other people of all nationalities, a gap appeared in the clouds which let us glimpse the sun. Back again we drove to our hotel without any lights on the car at 2 am in the morning. We had never witnessed 24 hour daylight before, and it was quite incredible. We went up again during the next day to take a better look at the surrounding area, and saw many reindeer in the wild, plus snow in some of the hollows which had not melted since the winter. It is indeed a bleak place at any time of the year.

    Before I had left England I had had an unfortunate incident with a hammer, and had hit my thumb with it. The nail had gone very black and was obviously going to come off at some stage. As it happened this took place at Nordkapp, which really was quite a fitting moment. I could not allow myself just to throw part of my body away to blow in the wind, so we held a small ceremony and dug a little hole and buried it near the statue of the lady and the boy. Hopefully it is still there to this day, and perhaps I will go back sometime and retrieve it. I may be the only person in the world to have my DNA in two countries at the same time – who knows!

    All this was 25 years ago now, but it just seems likes yesterday to me, and I have got the photo to prove it!


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