Varanger in Northern Norway not only offers a physical experience. On this Norwegian national tourist route leading to the Arctic Ocean, you will also find serenity as you drive through the long lines in the landscape. The route also reveals the long lines of history.
National Tourist Route Varanger is a 160-kilometre (99 miles) long stretch of road far to the north and furthest to the east in Norway, where the sky meets the sea. It’s one of the most famous scenic drives in Norway. It goes along Varangerfjord and the coast of the Barents Sea, showing you an incredible scenery on the way, from birch forests to marshlands and a dramatic lunar landscape.
It is difficult to explain this stretch other than by saying that this is a place where you feel as if time stands a bit still. The light is special and the bird and animal life are unique. Species of birds that you can’t see anywhere else in the world are relatively easily accessible here.
Snow tires may be required
National Tourist Route Varanger between Smelror and Hamningberg is normally closed from November until May. The surface of the road is asphalted, and chains or snow tires can be required throughout the year. The road along the Varanger Peninsula begins among the sheltered birch forests and bogs of Varangerbotn and ends in a lunar landscape of jagged cliffs at the world’s end.
The scenery is characterized by the Arctic climate. The Varanger National Tourist route was designated in 2012 and it includes the Norway roads E75 and 341.
Related: National Tourist Routes in Norway
History of witchcraft
History is not always pretty and at the Steilneset memorial you’ll encounter episodes of history that may be difficult to comprehend. The witch trials in Finnmark in the 17th century claimed 91 victims and it was here that the greatest number of people were found guilty of witchcraft and burnt at the stake. Its closeness to Russia, immigration from Finland and Sámi traditions pervade this area with an exciting cultural diversity.
Related: Spectacular Driving in Norway
Following this road, you will get to Norway’s farthest northeastern place. Here is where the hard rock meets the Barents Sea. Along the way, you will drive on some steep sections where there are no marked central lines. You will also come across some narrow stretches of road that barely leave enough room for two cars to pass. There are no protections or guard rails in some areas of the route adding some thrill to this adventure.
Along the seashore you will see driftwood logs from Siberian rivers that have ended up here after travelling for many years with drift ice and the Gulf Stream.
National Tourist Route Varanger is one of 18 national scenec routes in Norway.
Feature image (on top): Steineset memorial. Photo: Andrew Meredith
The Norwegian National Tourist Route Leading to the Arctic Ocean, written by Tor Kjolberg