This is the world's northernmost town of significant size and a port of call for North Cape coastal steamers. Sami from nearby camps often come into town to shop. Count yourself lucky if they bring their reindeer.
The port is free of ice year-round, and shipping and exporting fish is a major industry. The sun doesn't set from May 12 to August 1, and it doesn't rise from November 21 to January 23.
For the best panoramic view of the town, take a zigzag walk up the 72m (236-ft.) Salen "mountain." Atop Salen is a 6m-tall (20-ft.) square tower, with walls built of gray and blue stones. The old tower was torn down during World War II but was restored in 1984. On a clear day, you can see the offshore islands.
There is also a Sami "turf hut" here, Mikkelgammen, which can be booked 2 days in advance if you'd like to have a Sami meal here. Guests gather around a campfire for a traditional three-course meal, or bidos. You'll get reindeer soup as well as reindeer meat for your main course, followed by Arctic cloudberries in whipped cream. The cost of the meal is NOK245 ($49/£25) per person. It is followed by a Sami program called Joik, including singing (more like chanting) and stories about life in the far north.
Why not take time to do as 150,000 others have and join the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society (tel. 78-41-31-00) here? Apply in person while you're in Hammerfest. Membership costs NOK180 ($36/£18) annually, and the money is used to protect endangered Arctic animals through conservation programs. The society's building is filled with stuffed specimens of Arctic animals. The Society has moved into a new building next to the Coastal Voyager Docks on Havnegata 3. Entrance is 40NOK ($8/£4). There's a small museum devoted to the hunting heyday of Hammerfest, which lasted from 1910 to 1950, when eagles, arctic foxes, and polar bears were trapped by the English, and by German officers during World War II. It's in the basement of the Town Hall, on Rådhusplassen. The center is open only June to August Monday to Friday from 6am to 6pm.
Gjenreisningsmuseet, Söröygatan (tel. 78-42-26-40), commemorates the cold, bleak years after World War II, when local residents, deprived of most of their buildings, livelihoods, and creature comforts, heroically rebuilt Finnmark and north Norway in the wake of Nazi devastation. Entrance is NOK50 ($10/£5) for adults, NOK30 ($6/£3) for students, free for children 15 and under. It is open June to September daily from 10am to 3pm; in the off season, it's open daily from 11am to 2pm.
Lying a 5-minute walk from the harbor, Hammerfest Kirke (Church), Kirkegate 33 (tel. 78-42-74-70), was consecrated in 1961 and is known for its avant-garde architecture. Unusual for a church, this kirke doesn't have an altarpiece. Instead, you get a large and detailed stained-glass window that is quite beautiful. The altarpiece is found in a hall lying to the right of the main sanctuary. Local carver Knit Arnesen carved the friezes, depicting the history of Hammerfest. Note the chapel across from the church. Dating from 1933, it is the only structure in Hammerfest to survive the Nazi scorched earth retreat. Admission is free, and the church is open in summer from Monday to Friday 8am to 3pm, Saturday 11am to 3pm, and Sunday noon to 1pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.