Kirkenes is a small fishing village at the very tip of Norway as it loops above Sweden and Finland to its border with Russia. It marks the final stop on the Northern Norway coastal cruise route and its 3,000 or so locals speak a mixture of Norwegian, Russian, Sami and Finnish.
This former mining town is the capital of the remote Barents region, where beluga whales and brown bears can occasionally be sighted. It was heavily bombed during the Second World War and as a result, Kirkenes today is a modern, if somewhat unassuming place.
The surrounding region is well worth exploring, however, with opportunities for king crab safaris - the only place in Scandinavia where this can be done - as well as other popular Northern Norway holiday activities such as dog sledding and snowmobiling. Kirkenes is a good place to learn about Sami culture and also has its own Snowhotel, which is a wonderful way to experience the region in winter.