Why you absolutely have to visit Hammerfest, Norway

HammerfestPhoto: Berit Keilen / NTB
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Hammerfest, Norway is considered the world’s northernmost town with more than 5,000 inhabitants. Located in mainland Norway’s closest region to the North Pole, this frosty getaway shouldn’t be overlooked.

Hammerfest is one of the oldest towns in Norway – and also one of the most active.

Get a healthy dose of hiking the Hammerfest mountains and going on nature getaways across its coastal landscapes – and top off your adventure by munching on the town’s first-class seafood, which includes cod, halibut, coalfish, and wolffish.

There are plenty of laidback activities to do here too; like strolling through the central square and old streets, where you’ll notice the calm city has a vibrant side, to boot.

Read on to discover what serene-but-hip Hammerfest has to offer.

Exploring Hammerfest, Norway: Things to do and sights to see

Mount Tyven

There are three options to choose from to reach Mount Tyven’s 418 meters-above-sea-level peak. Once there, you’ll be able to take in a beautiful bird’s eye view of Hammerfest and the surrounding islands of Seiland and Sørøya.

The first route is suitable for beginning-level hikers and mountain bikers. Starting at the town’s Tunnelbakken Street, where a fence and map of the area is located, you’ll pass the fence and follow a gravel road all the way to the top.

Within two hours of your scenic trek, you’ll reach the mount’s peak.

Hammerfest hike
Hiking around Hammerfest is a must-do activity. Photo: Axel Holen / Unsplash

The second route, designated only for hikers, also begins at Tunnelbakken Street. After trekking a couple hundred meters on the gravel road, turn right.

From here, you’ll leave the road and traverse a small hill, next to a lake and valley, which will finally lead you to the view at the top. The second route hike is of medium difficulty and lasts 1 hour to 1.5 hours going one way.

The third and final route begins at Hammerfest’s main church, from where you’ll go around the graveyard; and take a few winding turns which will lead you to Gammelveien Street and the same-named Gammelveien hiking trail.

Following the trail, once you reach a sign reading “Tyven” it’s a direct route to the top of the mount. The third route hike is of medium difficulty and lasts 1.5 to 2 hours going one way.

The Meridian Column

Hammerfest’s beloved UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Meridian Column, part of the Struve Geodetic Arc – one of Norway’s UNESCO-designated sites. Here’s a full list of the great eight:

  • West Norwegian Fjords – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord (2005); Natural
  • Bryggen (1979); Cultural
  • Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site (2015); Cultural
  • Rock Art of Alta (1985); Cultural
  • Struve Geodetic Arc (2005); Cultural
  • Urnes Stave Church (1979); Cultural
  • Vegaøyan – The Vega Archipelago (2004); Cultural
  • Røros Mining Town and the Circumference (1980, 2010); Cultural

Hammerfest’s Meridian Column uniquely marks the northernmost point of the Struve Geodetic Arc.

The arc, a series of triangulations, was used from 1816 to 1855 by German-Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve in order to determine planet Earth’s size and shape.

The column triumphantly stands to this day and is regularly visited and admired by locals and tourists alike. 

Aurora borealis viewing locations

The Hammerfest Municipality is a prime viewing spot of the northern lights.

In Hammerfest, the best time to see the lights is from October to March, and sometimes even as early as September, when there’s an abundance of darkness hours.

Here are a few lovely locations where you can go northern lights-chasing.

A 10-minute drive away from Hammerfest is majestic Mount Salen, which offers secluded and light-pollution free views of the auroras.

A 15-minute drive away from Hammerfest is the Kirkegårdsbukt Valley and Beach, which also provides a dark and easily accessible northern lights viewing spot.

Northern Lights - Aurora borealis
The beautiful colors of the northern lights. Photo: Nicolas J Leclercq / Unsplash

If you’re lucky enough to spend multiple days in Hammerfest, it’s worth the scenic journey out to the islands of Sørøya and Seiland, which are among the best aurora viewing destinations around with minimum light pollution.

Fishing spots

Hammerfest is a fishing aficionado’s dream. In this seafood haven, cod, arctic halibut, coalfish (some of which have broken size records), and other fish abound in the surrounding lakes, rivers, and sea.

Keep in mind that Norway does have regulations for both sea and freshwater fishing.

In the sea, no license is needed in most cases (though certain locations and fish species require a permit – check with a local information center for fishing if you’re unsure).

Either way, there is a limit to how many fish you can take away. Ask a local tourist office or boat rental company for help reaching the fishing areas.

If you’d rather try your hand at freshwater sources, you’ll need a license if you’re not from the county – anyone living outside of Troms og Finnmark must have a fishing license. 

Walk-through guides

Be your own tour guide by taking part in a self-guided walk through Hammerfest.

The local tourist board has a downloadable map that’ll lead you on a dreamy and informative town walk; which will include the Polar Bear Society’s headquarters, the Museum of Reconstruction, the 1960s-era town church, and the Mount Salen viewpoint.

This easy-breezy (literally; take a jacket with you!) 2.5-km walk takes around an hour.

Where in the world is Hammerfest, Norway?

Our starting point is Troms og Finnmark County, the northernmost county in Norway.

Within Troms og Finnmark is Hammerfest municipality, where lovely Hammerfest – also the administrative center of the municipality – is situated.

Hammerfest map
A Hammerfest, Norway map. Photo: Google Maps

Hammerfest is nestled between snowcapped hills on the western coast of the island of Kvaløya.

The town is encircled by a picturesque harbor, a handful of fishing villages also belonging to the municipality, and stunning mountains.

Hammerfest’s population is around 10,000.

The Hammerfest, Norway weather

What makes this town a prime viewing spot for the famed northern lights? Hammerfest’s latitude, to begin with: the town sits on the 70th latitude north. You’ll also catch the midnight sun here if you’re visiting around the summer season.

July is Hammerfest’s hottest month, with a temperature average of 10.5 degrees Celsius, while temperatures vary anywhere from 8 degrees Celsius to 14 degrees Celsius. In July, there is no sunrise nor sunset.

Due to the town’s location north of the Arctic Circle, the sun simply doesn’t set – which makes for all the more time to explore. January is Hammerfest’s coldest month, with a frigid average of -5 degrees Celsius, and temperatures ranging from -7 to -2 degrees Celsius.

The sun is down all day in January, making for 24 hours a day of total darkness – and plenty of chances to see the aurora! This makes the Hammerfest, Norway winter especially magical.

Hammerfest’s climate falls under the continental subarctic type due to its proximity to the Arctic.

How to reach Hammerfest

We’ve got you covered with all of the distance information on other Norwegian cities you might be traveling from, to, or via car or plane to Hammerfest, Norway.

The roadway distance from Hammerfest to the North Cape is 207 km, from Hammerfest to Tromsø 520 km, from Hammerfest to Henningsvær 822 km, from Hammerfest to Bodø 910 km, from Hammerfest to Trondheim 1,551 km, from Hammerfest to Molde 1,767 km, from Hammerfest to Lillehammer 1,814 km, from Hammerfest to Ålesund 1,846 km, from Hammerfest to Oslo 1,866 km, from Hammerfest to Flam is 2,009 km, from Hammerfest to Bergen 2,174 km, and from Hammerfest to Kristiansand 2,185 km.

Or maybe you prefer flying to Hammerfest, Norway, instead? 

Hammerfest airplane
A plane flying over Hammerfest, Norway. Photo: Chris Vom Deich / Unsplash

Hammerfest has a local airport with domestic-only flights. The Hammerfest Airport is connected to the following cities where you can catch a connection flight: Alta; Berlevåg; Hasvik; Honningsvåg; Mehamn; Sorkjosen; Tromsø; and Vadsø.

You can find the full lowdown on all of Norway’s airports here for more information.

Have you visited Hammerfest and fallen in love? Tell us about your trip! If you haven’t yet, let us know what you’d like to experience the most in this northern Norwegian town.

Source: Norway Today

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