Kirkenes - Fascinating Nowegian Town near the Russian Border

Hurtigruten costal liner at the dock in Kirkenes, Norway
Linda Garrison

Kirkenes is located in the northeast corner of Norway near the Russian border. The town can be either the turn-around port for 12-day Hurtigruten cruises or the disembarkation port for 7-day Hurtigruten cruises from Bergen. It also serves as an embarkation port for those on the 5-night southbound voyage back to Bergen.

Kirkenes is a 2-hour flight from Oslo, and visitors who love either history or outdoor activities will find plenty of things to do and see in this town of about 5,000 residents. For example, Russia bombed Kirkenes over 300 times during World War II because it was occupied by 100,000 German troops who were preparing to invade Russia. That makes this small town the third most-bombed city in Europe during the war (after Dresden, Germany and Valletta, Malta). Visitors to Kirkenes can travel to the Russian border, go king crab fishing and enjoy a feast of fresh crab, visit one of the area's museums, tour a large underground bomb shelter, or even spend the night in a snow hotel (in the winter).

I spent the night in Kirkenes before a cruise on the Hurtigruten MS Midnatsol. These photos provide a look at some of the things travelers can do and see with 24 hours in Kirkenes.

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Thon Hotel

Thon Hotel in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

The Thon Hotel chain in Norway has properties all over the country, and this one in Kirkenes was excellent. It had free WiFi, spacious rooms, and a great breakfast buffet. All this plus terrific views of the harbor.

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Dressed for a Boat Ride in Kirkenes, Norway

Dressed for a Boat Ride in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

Everyone on the king crab excursion in Kirkenes wore one of these thermal suits. Very stylish, isn't it?

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Reindeer

Reindeer near Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

We had our first reindeer spotting on the king crab excursion in Kirkenes. Our group on the Hurtigruten ms Midnatsol got lucky--we also saw reindeer at sunrise near Menhamn and more reindeer on a drive to the North Cape.

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Pulling up a Crab Trap

Pulling up a Crab Trap in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

Our guide Michael had put the crab traps out earlier, and all three we pulled up were filled with crabs. We kept enough to eat and let the others go back to be caught another day.

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King Crab Fresh from the Trap

King Crab Fresh from the Trap in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison
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Hauling up the King Crab to the Restaurant

Hauling up the King Crab to the Restaurant in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

Michael carried a pan full of crab from the traps up to the dock to clean and then cook them.

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King Crab Roe

King Crab Roe in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

Several in our group tried the fresh roe from the king crabs and found it tasty, much like caviar.

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Rainbow

Rainbow over Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

Rainbows are always a treat, and this one appeared on our first day above the Arctic Circle in Kirkenes.

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Kirkenes Cabin

Kirkenes Cabin
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

This cabin is located near the pier and restaurant where we cooked and ate the freshly caught king crab.

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Cooking the King Crab

Cooking the King Crab in Kirkenes
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

After catching and cleaning the king crab, our guide put them on to cook at the fisherman's house.

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Fisherman's House for King Crab Feast

Fisherman's House for King Crab Feast in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison
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King Crab Lunch is Served at the Fisherman's House

King Crab Lunch is Served at the Fisherman's House in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

Our excursion group tour guide/chef brings the cooked king crab into the fisherman's house, which is used by the Snowhotel in Kirkenes for summertime feasts.

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King Crab on the Table

King Crab on the Table at the Fisherman's House in Kirkenes
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison
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Pasvikelva Riverboat Safari with BarentsSafari

Pasvikelva Riverboat Safari with BarentsSafari in Kirkenes
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

The BarentsSafari riverboat takes passengers down the Pasvikelva River to the border with Russia at Boris Gleb.

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Riverboat Safari with BarentsSafari

Riverboat Safari with BarentsSafari in Kirkenes
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

BarentsSafari uses this facility for its king crab and salmon dinners. The building is within about 50 feet of the Norway/Russian border.

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Dam on the Pasvikelva River

Dam on the Pasvikelva River near Kirkenes
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

This dam on the Pasvikelva River is near the Storskog-Boris Gleb border crossing and is only a short boat ride from Kirkenes.

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At the Norway-Russia Border on the Pasvikelva River

Linda Garrison at the Norway-Russia Border on the Pasvikelva River
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

Linda Garrison stands on the Norwegian side of the Norway-Russia border on the Pasvikelva River near Kirkenes. The border is strictly enforced and fines are high for those who even take one step across into Russia.

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Kirkenes is a Long Way from Everywhere

Kirkenes is a Long Way from Everywhere
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

I always like to know where I am in the world, and sign posts like this one help pinpoint the location!

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Fjord near Kirkenes

Fjord near Kirkenes
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison
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Onion Dome in Bjørnevatn

Onion Dome in Bjørnevatn
Onion Dome in Bjørnevatn near Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

This dome was a gift from the Russian government to the citizens of the mining community of Bjørnevatn near Kirkenes after World War II. Bjørnevatn was the first Norwegian community liberated by the Russians in October 1944.

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Monument to Rallaren Engineers in Bjørnevatn

Monument to Rallaren Engineers in Bjørnevatn near Kirkenes
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

Bjørnevatn had several monuments, including this one to the Swedish engineers who built the railroad track between the mine and the pier. These Rallaren engineers were specialists in using dynamite, and many stayed to use their skills in the mine.

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Andersgrotta Bomb Shelter

Andersgrotta Bomb Shelter in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

The Andersgrotta bomb shelter is accessed from a quiet residential street in downtown Kirkenes. It was used by the citizens of the town during World War II when the city was occupied by the Germans and bombed over 300 times by Russia.

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Borderland Museum

Borderland Museum in Kirkenes, Norway
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

The Borderland Museum near Kirkenes has exhibits on the culture, nature, and history of Sør-vanger and Kirkenes. This mannequin looks real, doesn't he? As a part of the resistance, his job was to spot ships and record their numbers and specifics.

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View of Kirkenes, Norway from the Top of Prestfjellet Mountain

View of Kirkenes, Norway from the Top of Prestfjellet Mountain
Kirkenes (c) Linda Garrison

The views from Prestfjellet Mountain make it the high rent district in Kirkenes. Homes here cost as much as in cities like Oslo. You can see our ship, the Hurtigruten MS Midnatsol at the dock below.

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