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Once isolated, Kirkenes connected with the rest of Norway with the introduction of the Hurtigruten Express Service and this charming town has gone from strength to strength ever since. Read more...
Capital of the Barents region, Kirkenes is a small town that boasts a wealth of activities in both the summer and winter. Given its position 400km north of the Arctic Circle, it is a long way from anything and experiences the Polar Night with the Northern Lights (November to January) and the Midnight Sun (May to July).
During WWII, Kirkenes experienced over 320 air attacks, second only to Malta for the most amount of air raids of any European city. As such, only 13 houses in Kirkenes actually survived after the German Occupation and today there stands a monument for the eleven local freedom fighters who died in their fight against occupation. The Andersgrotta, the underground bunker used to protect the townspeople during the war, is now a fascinating museum to visit, that depicts life during those difficult years.
The biggest reason to go to Kirkenes however remains nature. In the summertime, Bentours can help you organise boat trips, hiking, King Crab safaris, quad bike rides through the tagia and even diving trips in the Barents Sea. There are also many spots for birdwatching around Kirkenes, such as Varanger, home to many rare birds and Hornøya Island, the largest nesting site in Norway with over 150 000 nesting puffins, sea eagles and more.
In the wintertime, popular activities include snow shoeing, reindeer safaris, indigenous Sami cultural excursions, ice fishing, skiing and snowmobile safaris. The nearby Vardø has a large monument for the 91 people killed during the with trials of the 1600s. ATV rides to the Russian border and the Grenselandmuseet (Border Area Museum) run year round and give an interesting insight into Norwegian-Russian relations over the years.
Perhaps the most famous thing at Kirkenes is the Arctic SnowHotel, built from scratch every year entirely out of snow. Each room has unique decorations carved into the walls by artists as well as a bed, covered with reindeer hides and a thermal sleeping bag. The SnowHotel operates from December to April each year. Now there is a way to experience the SnowHotel even in the summer months in a large purpose built temperature-controlled complex that houses a gallery space and bar.
Bentours runs a number of tours that incorporate a stay in the hotel and various outdoor activities or we are happy to tailor-make an itinerary just for you. Hurtigruten runs a Classic Coastal Route that terminates (or turns around on the roundtrip) in Kirkenes. Direct flights also run from Oslo and Tromso.