Kirkenes Norway.  Photo: Monica Horn / Hurtigruten Archive

Kirkenes is a small town in the municipality of Sør-Varanger, in the county of Finnmark, with a population of about 3,300.

The Sør-Varanger municipality has about 7300 inhabitants.

Kirkenes is located in the extreme north eastern part of Norway on the Bøkfjorden, a branch of the Varanger Fjord, which is a vast bay connected to the Barents Sea near the Russian-Norwegian border. The town is situated about 240 miles (400 km) north of the Arctic Circle.

Photo: Monica Horn / Hurtigruten Archive

Coat of Arms

This is the Coat of Arms for the Sør-Varanger municipality, and was designed by Sissel Sildnes.

It is symbolizing the following:

3 tribes meet

3 Kingdoms meeting - Norway, Finland and Russia

3 main sectors - agriculture, mining and fishing

3 border rivers - Border Jakobselv, Paatsjoki and Neiden River.

The Coat of Arms was approved by Royal Decree on April 16th 1982. Because of the municipality location at the country border, Sør-Varanger found it natural to choose the same color as the Norwegian Royal Standard.

Kirkenes and Hurtigruten

Kirkenes  Hurtigruten Richard With - Ines Schwartze HRarchive

This town and harbour is the turning point of the Hurtigruten , and from here it returns on the same route back to Bergen .

Many tourist takes the round trip, meaning the whole tour Bergen - Kirkenes - Bergen, while others choose to go by airplane to Oslo before returning home.

Photo: Ines Schwartze / Hurtigruten Archive

The town is served by Kirkenes Airport, Høybuktmoen. The airport was opened in 1963, at the same time as the opening of Alta Airport and Lakselv Airport. It is located about 10 kilometers from the town. There are non-stop flights to Oslo and Tromsø.

Kirkenes was one of the most bombed areas during the WW II, with as many as 320 air attacks and more than one thousand alarms. In October 1944 only 13 houses were left in Kirkenes.

The town was liberated by the Red Army in October 1944. Just outside town is the Andersgrotta, a vast underground bunker built during WWII which provided shelter to the town's 9,000 residents.

Tourist usually visits the Grenselandsmuseet (The Border Country Museum), which shows the history of war and peace along the Norwegian-Russian border, Sami art exhibitions and a history of the mining industry in the area.

The secretaria of the Barents Region is located in Kirkenes. One of its tasks is to create cross-border cultural, educational and business relations in the Barents Region.

There is now substantial optimism in the town as a consequence of the increased petroleum drilling activity in the Barents Sea,including the Russian activity.


The municipality of Sør-Varanger is one of Norway’s driest areas when it comes to rainfall.

The climate inside the municipality changes noticeably from the far south of the Pasvik Valley to the far east of Grense-Jakobselv.

The Pasvik Valley has a typical inland climate with little rainfall, short summers and long cold winters. The coastal climate has a lot more rainfall, with less temperature changes than the inland areas when it comes to winter and summer.

- Lowest measured temperature in winter is -52 C (-61 Fahrenheit) in the Pasvik Valley.

- The highest summer temperature measured is +32 C (89.6 Fahrenheit).

- Average temperature in Kirkenes:jan -13 C, april: -1 C, june +8 C, july +14 C, august +11 C, des -11 C.

July 2004 was the warmest month on record, with a mean temperature of 16.9°C (62.4°F).

The Midnight sun is visible from the 17th of May till the 21st of July. The dark period when the sun is below the horizon is from 21st of November to the 21st of January.

Go from Kirkenes to read about other coastal towns.

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