North Cape

Where you have to turn around and go back...




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The North Cape (Nordkapp) – for many riders the holy grail when it comes to bucket list items. This symbolic iron globe on the plateau is as far north as the road will take you on this continent. This is where you turn around – and start going back…

There has been fishermen living up north for thousands of years. And the Sami culture is at least 2000 years old. But how did the cape get its fame and recognition?

Named by a Brit

In 1553, a British expedition were out searching for a North East passage to the far East. They never found a passage, so they ended up trading in Archangel, Russia in stead… But on their way there, the navigator Richard Chancellor found that the coast line went a little South after they passed the cape. He called the plateau the North Cape – which is literally translated Nordkapp in Norwegian. The name stuck and were soon included on sea charts and world maps. It became a famous milestone to pass for sailors – be it whale hunters or traders going East towards Russia.

Tourism kicks off

It took more than 100 year from the sailors started to use North Cape as a reference till the first “tourist” showed up… It was supposedly the Italian priest Francesco Negri that was the first tourist to visit the cape. In 1664 he reached the plateau by foot and said: “My curiosity is now satisfied, and I can return to Denmark, and God willing – my homeland”.

Another funny story is about the French prince Louis Philippe d’Orléans. He was escaping French revolutionary assassins by traveling far away from France. In 1795 he came to the North Cape. According to the myth, he impregnated a local girl, so his DNA can still be found in local blood… 🙂

What probably kick-started mass-tourism to the North Cape, happened almost 100 years later. The young and adventurous King Oscar II of Sweden-Norway anchored in the bay in 1873. He climbed to the top, and soon after it became a bucket list item for the wealthy to arrive in their exclusive cruise ships and drink champagne on the plateau.

It was first in 1956 that the road was prolonged all the way to the plateau. The North Cape finally became a destination for ‘everyone’.

What?! Not the northernmost point?

Yeah, it is a bummer, but the North Cape is not the northernmost point of Norway and Europe…:-( There is a cape near the North Cape that is actually 1400 meters further to the North called Knivskjelodden. I have not been there, but it is said to be less spectacular and not as characteristic as the North Cape plateau. Nor has it been as important as the North Cape for sailors. So if the cape is not the northernmost POINT, it is the furthest north you can reach by road…

When to come?

For two wheelers its kind of obvious when to NOT come…:-) If you want to see the midnight sun, come between mid May and end of July, be aware, this is also the busiest period on the plateau. August is less busy, and from end August you might see Northern light. From mid September, they appear frequently.

The North Cape is the ending-point of the TET section 3 in Norway, and when you are this far north, why not also check out the Norwegian Scenic Route Havøysund or Norwegian Scenic Route Varanger.

For information on where to stay, what to see and do, check out Visit Nordkapp.

YouTube video by Visit Nordkapp

Have you been there on two wheels? Let me know in the comments below…

Other locations in this part of Norway:

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