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Kirkenes is a city in the Finnmark region of Norway.



The region saw major battles in the second world war and this has left marks in the area. The town of Kirkenes was totally destroyed and the population was forced to relocate to Tromsø and further south, however, 3000 residents were hiding in the mines and appeared when the town was liberated by the Sovjet army. Kirkenes was the first liberated area. Kirkenes is also known as a mining town, mining for iron ore has been taken up again.

Fun facts[edit]

The mother of US actor René Zellweger was born and grew up in Kirkenes. Her parents met at the Hurtigruten ferry.

Tourist office[edit]

The municipal tourist information is at the public library downtown.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Kirkenes is at the very end of the all-through-Norway highway E6. You can also enter by road from northern Finland (via Rovaniemi about 7 hours), and northwestern Russia (via Murmansk about 4 hours + border formalities). If you want to come from southern Norway or Germany by car, cutting through Sweden and Finland is actually much faster. The normal route would be over Rovaniemi, although from Sweden there is a shortcut over Pajala and Kittilä which is shorter but slower.

By bus[edit]

  • Long distance buses: [1], with connections to most of Norway.
  • Regional buses:
  • Buses to Finland: [2] (direct connections in summer, in winter you have to transfer at Tana)
  • Buses to Russia: [3] (get a visa, make a bus reservation, and do not miss the bus on the trip back)

By sea[edit]

Kirkenes is the northern turnaround port (Bergen being the southern) of the Coastal Express [4], arguably the most beautiful sea voyage in the world, covering most of the Norwegian coast in 5-6 days.

By air[edit]

Due to its distance from the rest of the civilized world, most people choose to arrive and depart by plane, at Høybuktmoen airport[5] (IATA: KKN) some 15 km outside town. Daily flights to Oslo, Tromsø and others by Norwegian [6], SAS[7] and Wideroe [8]. Also flights to Russia and Germany (summer only). Most flights have a bus to town waiting outside[9], 85 NOK, credit cards accepted. A taxi will set you back some NOK 300. On certain occasions it is considerably cheaper to fly into Ivalo in Finland, some 240 km away, mainly if you are a small group or a family and plan to rent a car anyway. Rental cars are not cheap in Northern Norway.

By train[edit]

Although there is a railroad here, it is for ore only. Real adventurous spirits should be aware that you can connect to the Russian network in the border town of Nikel, travelling as far as Moscow, Vladivostok, Ulan Bator and Beijing.

Get around[edit]

Local buses [10]. Long distance buses leave outside the main shopping center in the middle of town. Some buses only take cash, however there is an ATM inside the shopping center.


  • The midnight sun in summer
  • The Aurora Borealis in winter
  • The Russian border, including the three-borders-mark, where also Finland joins in. Caution should be exercised; presume all movement is under surveillance near the border. It is allowed to go almost to the border on the Norwegian side, but not the Russian. But it is forbidden to cross it. The easiest place to reach the border is Skafferhullet, signposted from road E105.
  •   Grenselandmuseet (The Border Area Museum), Førstevannslia +47 78 994880. Showcases history and lifestyle of the far north of Norway including a section devoted to the devastating effects of Second World War on Kirkenes. Also has a fine exhibition of woodcuts by the Sami artist Jon Savio Entrance NOK 50,-.


Fishing, both salt and fresh water, including salmon. Hiking.

  • Arctic Adventure. A number of offers, the most desired being a King Crab Safari, catch guaranteed!
  • Local summer festival Kirkenes Days[11] around the first week of August multiplies the activity level.


Russian visitors often buy clothes and home products, which tax-free are clearly cheaper than similar non-Russian products in nearby Murmansk or Nikel. Spareland is a popular shop for this. Information about taxfree (only for non-EU/Norwegian residents) refunds are available at [12].



Try Ritz or Ofelas.



There is a camping site between the airport and town, up the hill after the bridge as you drive towards town. Also rents cabins. Summer only. Tel (+47) 78 99 80 28.




Go next[edit]

  • Go up the Pasvik valley for quite a change of fauna. Here you find the last bit of the enormous Russian Taiga, a pine forest that stretches all the way to Siberia. At the southern end of the valley (105 km of paved road, 15 km of dirt, then 1h15m walking) is the Tri-Border Mark, where Norway, Russia and Finland meets. Heavy fines for trespassing into Russia!
  • At Grense Jakobselv, the open Barents Sea washes a beautiful sandy shore. Never gets above 8 celsius, though! You can also peek at the "King Oscar II" church.
  • The highest peak around is "Øretoppen", at 466 metres. It is a 2 hour hike along a marked path from Ropelv, where buses go. Magnificent views in a landscape of large stones spread upon the hills.

Further away[edit]

  • If you plan on crossing the border into Russia, you will probably need a visa. In theory, this should be obtainable at the Russian Consulate in Kirkenes, but you might find it worthwhile to pay any local travel agency a little extra for the job. You need quite a few documents, especially if you are using car, like paid a hotel booking and insurance forms. Start the process one month before leaving home.
  • If you are heading for Finland, and feel that you need some euros, there is an ATM at the DnB bank that will hand them over.
  • Alternatively, if your travel budget allows, you can take the Hurtigruten cruise ferry to your destination of choice along the Norwegian coast. A trip to Bergen will take a full week, to places like Nordkapp, Tromsø, Lofoten or Trondheim a couple of days.
Routes through Kirkenes
' ← END ←  N Tabliczka E6.svg S  TanaNarvik
' ← END ←  N Tabliczka E105.svg S  Border crossing - RussiaMurmanskSt. Petersburg

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