Finnsnes is referred to in documents from before 1400, and a farm in the area was recorded as existing in 1567. By 1666, two men and four boys lived there (with women not included in censuses at the time). By 1950, there were 1,182 people in the area. Finnsnes came into its own in the 1880s, when a steam ship stopped there three times a week. In 1893, Hurtigruten started regular service to the little town. Today, Finnsnes is a center of industrial, commercial and communications activities rather than a farming community.
Finnsnes is a small town located on the mainland in the municipality of Lenvik. Every summer, the community prepares for the one-week summer festival, aiming to put Finnsnes on the map. The central park offers the rare attraction of a natural lake within it. Fishing and agriculture are still important, and fish farming is of increasing economic importance. Several small boroughs surround Finnsnes, forming one large urban area. It is an important hub for transportation both on land and sea. Tromsø and Harstad can be reached within a little more than an hour by speedboat.
There are several attractions in Finnsnes and for tourists this is the reference point when sightseeing in the region. Finnsnes has become known as the gateway to Senja - also known as the island of adventure, and "Norway in miniature" with mountains and fjords, small communities, hospitality and go-ahead spirit - and all kinds of weather.
The large municipality of Lenvik, for which Finnsnes is the administrative center, was established in 1838. It has its name from Lenvika, which from the Middle Ages until 1879 was the spiritual center of the parish. During the 12th century a church was built in the bay south of Malangen, and the Icelandic saga “Rimbegla” states that the church of Lenvik was the northernmost in the world. Perhaps it was meant to mark the northern boundary of that time for Norwegian jurisdiction and church law. When the municipal laws were instituted in 1837, municipal boundaries were the same as between the churches, so that each parish constituted one municipality. Lenvik had been a parish from 1759, and the name was transferred to the municipality.