Roundtrip: Follow the Arctic Coast from Alta to the North Cape

Writen by: Visit Hammerfest

This round trip stretches from the woody fairytale landscape around Alta and all the way up to the Northernmost tip of Europe, through the raw and naked arctic coast. Along the way you will pass mountains, rivers and waters, adventures islands, a national park, towns, charming fishing villages, museums with cultural inputs and some scenic detours that you will thank us later that you did not miss out on.  


The route is not suggesting the shortest cut. It is suggesting that you take your time to stop and explore the region as you go. We have mapped out accommodations, attractions, activities, such as hiking possibilities, and last but not least – where you will find the best culinary experiences. 


If you click on the different icons on the map, you can read more information and or/see pictures in some of them. The map is made as a collaboration between Visit Alta, Visit Hammerfest and Visit Northcape. 


The gate to the Arctic – Alta 


Between the majestic mountains, the beautiful Altafjord and the legendary Finnmarksvidda lies Alta, the city of Northern Lights. Within minutes from the city center you can experience silence like you never did before. Alta is a natural hub and stopping point in the Arctic region. Good infrastructure, high-end accommodation and world-class cuisine are all good reasons why we can call ourselves good hosts. At the city center, you will find the Northern Lights Cathedral, which is a well known landmark. Alta is also well known for the rock art, which can be found at Alta Museum among others. 

Hiking and biking is a part of everyday life for the locals in Alta. Smaller hikes like Komsatoppen are easy to reach from the city center and offer a great view of the city and the fjord. Alta Canyon and Orvvos Waterfall are exciting gems worth a visit. You can even rent an e-bike to reach the canyon! Get in touch with locals and ask them for trail tips, they will happily share some options with you.  

You will find a lot of restaurants and places to eat, both in the city center and the surrounding areas. Whether you are looking for a quick meal or want a fine dining experience, Alta has something for you. The restaurants offer a large selection of local and international cuisine. Did you also know that Alta has its own chocolatier? It is a must try when visiting the city center.  

Since the Stone Age, Alta has been a meeting place for several indigenous people groups. The “three tribes meeting” is an expression that conveys that the settlement in an area or place has mainly consisted of Sami, Kven and Norwegians. Get to learn more about the culture in our area, taste reindeer meat or go for a reindeer ride!  

Before going further to Hammerfest and Northcape, we recommend that you spend the night at an exciting accommodation in Alta. During fall you can spot the first glimpse of the northern lights for the season while laying in a bed with a view, such as a northern lights cabin or glamping dome.  


Hammerfest - an urban, arctic gem


Going by car from Alta, passing the beautiful plateau Sennalandet, via Skaidi – where the rivers meet, you will take left and reach the arctic coast again. The Kvalsund bridge will then take you to the island Kvaløya. The word “Kval” means “Whale”, so keep an eye open for whales as you drive by the coast (and during summer, you also need to watch out for gracing reindeers along the roads). After two hours you will reach the Northernmost city in the world - Hammerfest. 


- Well, at least the northernmost city with more than 5000 inhabitants! Hammerfest has a surprisingly urban vibe for such a small “city”, with shopping streets, cafes, bar, restaurants, and a lot of cultural offers. Here you will find the Museum of Reconstructions that tells the post WWII history of the whole county Finnmark, and that will help you appreciate to boxy and colourful houses from the 50s all around town. They have their own charm! Hammerfest has been multi-cultural for decades, and a lot of nationalities are living here. You will find a wide collection of restaurants with local food mixed with international flavours, as well as bars and a buzzing nightlife in the weekends.  


Hammerfest is surrounded by mountains that offers scenic and quite easy hikes, such as the zig-zag path to the viewpoint on Mt. Salen. “The Tyven stairs” is perfect if you want a more challenging hike with an even more regarding view on top! For adventurers, the neighbour island Seiland and Sørøya are also worth mentioning. More than 50% of Seiland is a National Park, and Sørøya is known as “The green island in the North” (at least during summertime). Locals from Hammerfest loves to explore these islands in their spare time, by traveling with the local ferry or speedboat. Hiking and birdwatching are the most popular activities on these islands, and if you like to go fishing you are officially in paradise. For an off-the-beaten-track arctic experience, head to Seiland or Sørøya for at least a daytrip! There are also accommodation to be found.  


The Norwegian Scenic Route to Havøysund  


After visiting Hammerfest and passing Skaidi once again, on your way to Northcape – you should “swing by” Havøysund first. It’s a detour, but one of those you will be glad you did not miss out on. Because sometimes the road itself is the destination, and in Norway we have 19 spectacular roads just like that. One of them is The Norwegian Scenic Route 889. The starting point is close to the small sea Sami village Kokelv. During summertime you can visit the Sea Sami Museum there, to learn about the old Sami traditions along the arctic coast. Heading back on the road again, you will pass a variety of landscapes. Strange, rocky formations – one of them looking like the Egyptian Sphinx, waterfalls and white sandy beaches to mention some. In the end of the road, the lively fishing village Havøysund awaits. There you will find windmills, the already familiar reconstruction box houses, accommodation, and restaurants. The campervan parking by the lake is also quite nice. Why not spend the night. 


Heading to the final destination – North Cape  

Road tripping to North Cape is one of the most beautiful ways to discover hidden gems, and to get an understanding of real arctic living. One gem worth exploring is Tamsøya, a private owned island located in the Porsangerfjord, with a bounty of cloudberries, wildlife, and history – really a journey back in time. 

Travelling further towards destination North Cape, you will find out that we are situated on Magerøya. An arctic island with alluring fishing villages, a bounty of wildlife, and a variety of adventures awaits you. Our destination is located above the tree line, which makes the journey itself different, and the contrasts bigger. Take a minute to enjoy the raw beauty, the naked nature, and the amazing autumn colors.  

Honningsvåg is the largest town in the North Cape area. Our small town is a great hub where you can wander along the harbor promenade, shop in the local stores, visit a gallery or learn more about the local history at North Cape Museum. Top it off with a meal at one of the many cozy dineries. Here you can meet and chat to locals. It has been suggested, that the natives here are the most hospitable and curious in all of Norway. Try out the local cuisine, and ask for fried cod tounges, the island's specialty. Don´t miss out of having a drink at Nøden Pub, a well-known pub with great history and local heroes.  

Take time to explore the island together, and let the romance blossom. On the way to North Cape stop by Skarsvåg, the world´s northernmost fishing village. A short hike from the fishing village will take you to Kirkeporten, one of the small miracles along the coast of Northern Norway. This natural arch provides a very special view of the North Cape, and a great location for instafriendly pictures.  

Let´s face it, when travelling above the arctic circle and to 71 degrees north, it´s worth exploring the iconic North Cape Plateau. At North Cape we recommend a visit to the North Cape Hall. Here you can learn about the history of North Cape, watch a fantastic panoramic movie from Magerøya, go shopping, before enjoying a good meal while you admire the unique landscape.  

At the end of day, nurture the relationship with a sauna and jacuzzi at The View Hotel. Perhaps you will be lucky to see the northern lights showing off. We have a variety of experiences for you to choose from. Here you can enjoy being alone, together. Its time take your loved one on a journey of exploration to the far north of Europe, to the North Cape. 

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