At the northern tip of the island of Magerøya, at a place called Knivskjellodden, is the very top of Europe. You are still in Norway, but standing at the gateway to the Arctic.
North Cape, or Nordkapp, is on the northernmost Norwegian island of Magerøya. The dramatic landscape, with giant cliffs jutting straight up out of the frigid waters, fits perfectly when you consider North Cape’s home at the handshake of two seas (the Barents and the Norwegian), and the bumping of two oceans (the North Atlantic and the Arctic). For hundreds of years, travelers scaled or sailed around these rocky cliffs, some looking for the Northeast Passage, like English explorers Richard Chancellor and Steven Borough, who coined the name North Cape in 1553. Others were looking for knowledge or solace, or both like Franciscan priest Francesco Negri, who made it there in 1664 and is widely considered to be its first “tourist.” And still others were simply showing off their power and wealth—Emperor Wilhelm of Germany, King Louis XVIII of France, King Oscar of Norway and Sweden, and even King Rama of then-Siam all made pilgrimages to the end of Europe. The trip was rough and usually required both perseverance or money.
You no longer need to have the wealth of monarchs or the stoicism of a Franciscan monk to make it there. Modern roads and transportation have made it much easier than trying to find the Northwest Passage. Once there, the clifftop Globe Monument has become the meeting place of travelers who still want to see the jumping-off point of Europe into the Arctic (please don’t jump—the water is very cold).
And as long as you’re there between mid-May and the end of July, you can see the midnight sun of Nordkapp, clouds and fog permitting. Because when oceans collide, the weather doesn’t always cooperate.