Vardø is the oldest town in northern Norway and the easternmost in the country.
Vardø has the best viewpoint towards the Norwegian-Russian Arctic and the Northeast Passage. It will thrill you with its location on a windy island, connected to the mainland with Norway's oldest underwater tunnel. It will freshen you up with its climate (this is the last stop before the North Pole). And it will amuse you with its good-humored and friendly people. Vardø municipality has approximately 2,200 inhabitants. It is the only town in Norway situated in the Arctic climate zone. This of course means a lot for vegetation and animal life.
In Vardø you should visit the local Varanger Museum as well as the Pomor Museum, the Vardøhus Fortress and the Witch-burning monument. If you extend your stroll, experience the seaside promenade and the Brodtkorbsjåene buildings. From the eastern side of the island, you will have great views towards Hornøya, the easternmost island in Norway and also the easternmost point of the country. The Vardø Lighthouse, built in 1896, is erected on the island's peak. The island is now uninhabited and in the steep mountainsides around 40,000 pairs of birds have their nesting place. Hornøya is, because of this, a preserved wildlife reserve. When you turn south, you will see the southern side of the Varanger Fjord behind the Globus-II radar. In Vardø you can enjoy wind from all directions, waves splashing, snow in large amounts and - in clear weather - truly fantastic northern lights.
Vardø is the oldest town in northern Norway, and also one of the oldest in the whole circumpolar Arctic. Archaeological finds indicate settlements between 900 and 9,000 years old, based around fishing. The town is named after the island on which it is located: Vardøya. The Old Norse form of the name was Vargøy: vargr, meaning 'wolf' and øy, meaning 'island'. The first element of the name was later replaced (around 1500) with varða, meaning 'cairn'. The village of Vardø became important thanks to the Vardøhus Fortress, built in the early 1300's. The village grew up around the fortress and became a major trading post between the Norwegians in Finnmark County and the Russians. During the 1600's, Vardø was the scene of several witch trials. Trading with the Russians - also called Pomor trade - was very important in the 1700's, and because of this trade Vardø was granted town status in 1789.