Located on the island of Vardøya, Vardø is a small fishing town overlooking the Barents Sea in Norway’s far north-east. It grew around the Vardøhus Fortress as a trading post between Norway and Russia and was the site of several high-profile witch trials during the 17th century.
Things to do in Vardø
In the heart of Vardø is the Pomor Museum, which was established in 1894 and details the history of trade between Russia and Norway in the lead up to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Learn about the bartering of fish, flour and corn as you browse the old photographs and artefacts on display, together with several recreated dioramas.
A short walk away is the Vardøhus, a star-shaped fortress that was built to protect Norway’s northeastern border with Russia. It is notable for the observations made here by Hungarian Jesuit priest Maximilian Hell that helped to determine the exact distance between the Earth and the Sun. A small museum is housed within the barracks, with a highlight being the “Royal Beam” inscribed with King Christian IV’s initials.
Jump aboard a boat to admire the Vardø Lighthouse, a 20-metre-tall pyramidal-shaped tower rising atop the uninhabited island of Hornøya. Established in 1896, it is the easternmost lighthouse in Norway and is topped by a red lantern room that emits a white flash every 30 seconds. The lighthouse is unique in that it’s turned off during the summers due to the light from the midnight sun.
Getting around Vardø
Vardø Airport is a five-minute drive from the centre of Vardø and has flights to destinations across northern Norway. Vardøya is connected to the mainland by road while boats access the surrounding islands. The centre of Vardø is compact enough to explore on foot.