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For many travelers, the sparsely populated settlement of Honningsvåg is nothing more than a pit stop en route to the North Cape, the northernmost point of continental Europe. (The North Cape is rightly an iconic bucket-list destination with postcard views across the open ocean.) But amidst its colorful buildings, Honningsvåg has a lively cultural life powered by local spirit and an economy driven by shipping through the Barents Sea, which is ice-free year round thanks to the warming influences of the Gulf Stream. The town's several notable cultural institutions include a museum and a busy cultural center.
Honningsvåg is also a terrific base for exploring the rest of rugged arctic Norway, whether on foot, all-terrain vehicle or on the water. Back in town, be sure to stop by the statue of Bamse, the Saint Bernard dog that became the mascot of the Free Norwegian Forces during World War II. The city was destroyed in bombing during the war and the harrowing experiences of that period are documented at the church, which gave temporary shelter to the residents.