Learning the meaning of the Norwegian word "Kolonnekjøring"
There we were, just 12 km from the North Cape and very excited - but the road ahead was closed! Yes, there was a lot of snow all the way from Alta (by the way: very nice drive alongside the sea), but all roads were cleared and we saw at least 5 or 6 snowplows that convinced us we could simply drive all the way up to "the end of the world". And now that. Our mood was quickly falling to outside temperature level, which were quite low, in early April.
The sign right next to the barrier said something about "kolonnekjøring" = driving in a row behind a snowplow, but only twice a day.
The friendly guy from Statens Vegvesen´s hotline confirmed that we were just an hour late for the last entry and the road would be closed for the rest of the day. But at the same time he ensured us at least, that despite the snowy weather the "kolonnekjøring" would go on and we should come back the next day at 11 am.
Well then - since "the end of the world" had to wait for the next day, we decided to change our program and enjoyed the day on the island. Luckily we had booked a hotel in advance, the Honningsvåg Vandrerhjem, kind of hiker hostel. So we checked in there and drove directly to the tourist information to get some useful tips how to spend the day and in addition some good restaurant adresses for the evening.
The North Cape itself
But this was the long Easter weekend. Not having been in Norway for very long, we were not aware that everything would be closed down that time. So what we found when getting to the tourist info was a simple, hand written letter to all tourists on the door saying "det er påske og jeg er på skitur, tilbake på tirsdag" = "It is Easter, I'm on skiing holiday, back on Tuesday". Great.
Ok, so that was going to be a cosy day in the hostel room with our crime books - reading such is a Norwegian tradition during Easter. We got us the last sausages and some slieces of pizza from a 7/11 (all restaurants were also closed, of course) and went to bed early.
The next morning we drove in time to the closed road, waited with 5 other cars until the snowplow arrived and followed it to the North Cape, where we arrived 20 min later. We walked straight through the visitor centre and to the end of Europe: At the very end of the plateau, on a cliff 300m above the sea and therefor very exposed to the nature and almost always very windy, there we saw the famous globe, that appears on all pictures from the North Cape.
It is a special place and we could not stop ourself to take lots of selfies but also to look North and reminding us that we were now on the northern most tip of Europe.
The North Cape centre as the "entrance" to the cape is a bit touristic, but it does have a nice architecture, a big souvenir shop, some exhibitions, a cinema with some videos i.e. about Northern Lights - and the northernmost post office. More importantly, there is enough coffee and waffles to warm you up after having taken millions of pictures and starred into the grey cold North Sea, wondering how the fishermen out there in their tiny boats rocking the waves can actually survive throughout the whole year. Tough crowd.
After our first visit, we came a back a couple of times, but for some reason always during winter time. The advantage being that you have the North Cape nearly for yourself.
However, in 2020 we plan to be there around the longest day of the year, so it in all its glory also in the midnight sun. Lets see if you will be lucky - or just standing in the rain or fog, which is not unlikely during that time of the year.
It was a rather windy day...
The glope at the North Cape: One of these "must have been" points
PS: The "real" North Cape
The funny thing is that, strictly speaking, the North Cape is not the northernmost point of continental Europe: There is a small, unspectacular pensinsula (Knivskjellsodden) right next to it reaching a bit further out into the sea. You can even see it from the sightseeing platform, but there is no road to this place and walking there takes a few hours each way. Even worse, there won´t be hot coffee and waffles.
Well, and if we should be really really honest, also this point isn't the northernmost point, because you are still on an island, right? The northernmost point on the European continental shelf would be Kinnarodden, which is 50 km or so further to the East, and that point one is really hard to reach: It would take 7 hours car drive from the North Cape, plus 6 hours hike.
How enthusiastic, or nerdy, do you need to be to go there??
2000 km / 25 hrs by car from Oslo
2 hrs by plane from Oslo plus 3 hours by car from Alta for example
Hurtigruten also stops near the North Cape, but only on the northbound route
Well, the globe, of course
Watch & enjoy the scenery, get blown away by it - or the hefty wind up there
Visit the little North Cape museum and cinema
Eat waffles, buy souvenirs in the shop send postcards
Overnight stay we cannot recommend :-)
Vandrerhjem at Honnigsvåg
Our extra tip
Warm clothes also for short drives; a shuffle; studded tyres / 4WD car
Book hotel in advance
Check road conditions & be prepared that there is kolonnekjøring in the winter - or that the road is closed for days
Click on the map for opening the right clipping in google maps in a new window