Birdwatching: Internationally, Vardø and Varanger are well known as one of the world's foremost Arctic birding destinations. The rich Barents Sea provides all of the components needed for an impressive birdlife. The birds in Vardø are also fishermen. Hornøya bird cliff is undoubtedly one of Norway's most unique nature attractions. Nearly 100,000 seabirds live around the nature reserve, which is only 5 minutes from Vardøya. You can land in the bird colony, and experience exciting species like Puffin, Guillemot, Shag and Razorbill in large numbers. Even with a mobile you can take great nature shots.
Learn more about Hornøya and it’s birds on the website: www.hornoya.no
Timetable for boat trip to Hornøya in 2018: PDF
On the Hornøya Facebook page you will also find more news: www.facebook.com/Hornoya/
Read more about birdlife in Vardø and Varanger on the website www.varanger.net
The northern lights can be experienced in Vardø from September to April, but it's not until the nights get really dark that the best shows occur. Within walking distance of Vardø town you will find several small and simple wind shelters. These are great places to visit if you want to experience the Northern Lights. In general, it is important to get away from the street lights in the city, but the northern lights can appear everywhere. After a trip out in the evening you can warm up at Nordpol Kro.
Steilnes memorial (also known as the heksemonument) is a monument commemorating the trial and execution of 91 people for witchcraft between1060-1692. The monument consists of a memory hall designed by Professor Peter Zumthor and an installation by the French visual artist Louise Bourgeois. The memorial is one of National Tourist roads largest single projects and is an atmospheric place to visit. A path takes you to the memorial and around the area.
Blues in the winter darkness - the second week in November every year
Ever since 1997 this festival has developed and has become an annual big happening. To mark the darkest time of the year, Vardø bustles for 4 days with good music, a good mood and various cultural features throughout the city. In the evening, there is music in the centre. At Vardø's best and most cozy scene, Scene Nordpol (Nordpol Kro), the stage at Vardø Hotel and the hall at Vardø cultural house will be used during the festival. Having the festival in November was chosen because the whole island is coloured blue because of the contrast between light and dark. This is typical of the Arctic climate zone.
Yukigassen - March every year
Yukigassen is a snowball game from Sobetsu in Japan. This winter sport was developed in the mid-1980s and is today a major sport in parts of Japan where it is winter and snow. The game was presented to the locals in 1996, and the first championship in Vardø was organised in 1997. Yukigassen has come to Vardø and Norway to stay. Yukigassen Norway in Vardø has the exclusive right to develop and market this sport in Norway, and the game is now on tour to other places in Norway to show it off. Yukigassen is as much a winter festival as a competition. The whole city, including children and adolescents, marks that it is Yukigassen. Concerts and other cultural events are also taking place in different places in the city.
Gullfest - March every year
Gullfest is an annual Arctic bird festival in Varanger / Arctic Norway, set up by Biotope, which is based in Vardø. During this 4 day event, inspiring people from the international bird environment (from BBC movie folks to famous nature artists) are invited. Gullfest is about displaying the rich and unique birdlife Varanger has to offer, while focusing on global conservation, bird identification, bird art and much more. Gullfest helps to give Vardø and Varanger international recognition a birder’s number 1 destination in the Arctic. Gullfest has a great mix of international bird experts who meet locals for conversations, exhibitions, tours, bird watching and much more.
Pomor Festival - last week in July every year since the 90's
We organise the Pomor Festival to commemorate the pomoric history and to maintain friendship with Russia. For 4 days, the city is filled with different events for young and old. Concerts, art exhibitions, sales stalls, bouncy castle for the kids and much more. This is the festival in which Vardø folk who have moved elsewhere come home to be with family. So this is a festival of memory and laughter. Pomor trade has been very important for the infrastructure in Vardø and not least in anchoring the city’s place in history. The Norwegian-Russian trade has been an important contribution to the maintenance and formation of Vardø's city status and, not least, identity.
Nordpol Kro is North Norway's oldest pub, built in 1886. Vardø was the only city around the turn of the century that had a proper offer of accommodation. The Brodtkorb family who were based in Vardø begun with hotel operations in the house where Nordpol Kro is run today. Nordpol Kro was the last stop for Fridtjof Nansen before the FRAM 2 expedition continued towards the North Pole in 1889. Nordpol Kro has been run by the Bredesen family since the 60's and the current holder has been operating since 1985. The pub has a unique atmosphere and an English Style while there is also a small museum. Most of the objects and pictures hanging around the room are taken from Vardø's history. When you enter the Nordpol Kro door, you immediately feel the good atmosphere and the warmth, while giving deep respect to the place and its history in the walls. Nordpol Kro is Vardø's meeting place, concert venue and not least a centrepiece for most festivals in Vardø.
Wild Varanger is the company which offers the hottest nature experiences in Varanger. Based in Vardø harbour, they offer boat trips to Hornøya, where snorkelling with Guillemots is an experience you will never forget. Visit Wild Varanger's website to see more of their offers.
Vardø municipality also brings people to Hornøya bird cliff through Vardø Havn KF, see times, etc. at www.vardohavn.no On the website you will also find more of Vardø Havn KF's offers.
Animal life in Vardø and Varanger are known internationally for their unique and rich wildlife. Only in recent years have major TV and nature film productions been set in Vardø. The fact that famous companies like BBC Nature choose Vardø as a base for projects say a lot about the magnificent natural experiences that await you!
Hornøya Lighthouse is Norway's easternmost building. The building that was built after World War II is designated. In summer, the bird scientists work with the seabird colony on Hornøya. For the rest of the year you can rent rooms in the lighthouse. On the website www.hornoya.no you will find more information about everything from accommodation to transport and birdlife on the island.
The National Park Exhibition in Kiberg displays Varanger Peninsula National Park and adjacent conservation areas that were established in 2006. Varanger Peninsula, which is the most arctic influenced part of mainland Norway, has unique values n terms of landscapes and geology, plants and wildlife and Sami cultural monuments. In Kiberg you will find an exhibition with a 40m2 floor map where you can be inspired before you enter the National Park.
Komagdalen offers some of the finest nature in Varanger, from the tundra down to the Varanger fjord. The birdlife is especially rich in this part of Varanger, but beware, especially in spring and summer, that you do not disturb nesting birds. Komagvær is only 20 minutes drive from Vardø, but you should drive the bumpy dirt road up Komagdalen carefully. At the end of the road you will find a car park and the gate into the national park.
Hamningberg is located at the northern end of the carriageway which starts as Europavei 75 in Greece. This charming fishing village was vacated in 1965, but keen homeowners have taken care of the houses, which today are cottages for many Vardø families. The place is a favourite for visitors from all over the world, from campers to birdwatchers. In the summer, Riisbruket café opens. Hamningberg is located in the municipality of Båtsfjord, but is not connected to Båtsfjord by road. From Vardø, Hamningberg is easily accessible in 45 minutes by car. The road is spectacular and is mentioned by many as a highlight in Varanger.