Panorama view of the harbor in Kirkenes

How to travel to Kirkenes in Northern Norway

The perfect gateway to the Barents region and a uniquely multi-cultural gem of a town, Kirkenes lies around 400 km north of the Arctic Circle, just a few kilometers away from the Russian and Finnish borders. But although it seems like a very “off the beaten path” destination, Kirkenes is actually quite easy to reach: there are daily flights from major Norwegian cities, and interesting options for longer trips by sea or by road.

Here’s a few different ways you can travel to Kirkenes in Northern Norway:

By boat

MS Kong Harald cruiseship sailing in Raftsundet
Photo: Hurtigruten | Stian Klo

Reaching the northeast corner of Norway on a boat may sound strange at first, but Kirkenes is actually an important port city, and the turning point for two major sea cruise routes. If you want to make this a bigger trip, you could start from Bergen, Norway’s second largest city and the gateway to the fjords: the scenic route will take you from coast to mesmerizing coast, through the breathtaking Lofoten and cosmopolitan Tromsø, all the way up the Arctic circle until you reach Kirkenes!

This kind of trip takes roughly around 12 days, but with the fjords and their serpentine shores on display, it will certainly be worth every day! If 12 days is a bit too long for you, we offer a 6-day return trip from Oslo to Tromsø with a cruise.

By plane

Plane flying over Bodø city at sunset
Photo: Ernst Furuhatt |

Yes, Kirkenes also has a regional airport! So if you want to make this a shorter trip, or be more flexible with your accommodations and planning, you totally can. You can fly from the Norwegian capital of Oslo to Kirkenes on a direct flight that lasts three and a half hours, or choose to have a layover in Tromsø (that usually lasts about an hour) or Alta. The good news is that there’s flights every day, several times a day, so you have options!

By road

Family taking a break on a cartrip in Lofoten
Photo: CH | Visit Norway

Driving in Norway in the winter might sound scary if you’re not used to the weather conditions, but Norwegian roads are of good quality and are open all year (with the exception of some small mountain passes). So if you want to make a road-trip out of your journey to Kirkenes, that’s definitely an option!

You could rent a car from any major city, or take some long-distance express buses as needed, and drive the rest of the way.

Make your own trip

You know what they say: it’s the journey as well that matters, not just the destination. If you’re looking to get creative and have a bit of an adventure, you could take a scenic train route from Oslo to Trondheim, an overnight train from Trondheim to Bodø, and catch the boat to Kirkenes from there. You could also start your journey from Finland, by flying from Helsinki to Ivalo, and from there it’s just a matter of renting a car to get you through the border and into Kirkenes.

If you want a ready-made package tour where the itinerary is well thought out and planned, we have a ready-made 4-day package tour to Kirkenes from Oslo.