Known as ‘the town of the Northern Lights’ and home to the world’s first Northern Lights observatory, Alta is one of the very best places on earth to head in search of that elusive rainbow glow. The largest town in Norway’s northernmost county offers a relatively mild climate, despite its position in the north, and is equally as appealing at any time of the year. During the winter months, darkness brings with it the possibility of an appearance by the aforementioned Northern Lights, whilst summer brings the Midnight Sun, lighting up the land all-day long. Whatever the season, make sure that you fill your time in Alta with outdoor tours, exploration and dog sledding, not forgetting to immerse yourself in the destination’s interesting past by experiencing the Sami culture up close.
Alta’s position along the inner regions of the Alta Fjord gifts the municipality with spectacular forest and mountain scenery, with such surroundings providing endless opportunities for those who are interested in the outdoor life and Arctic beauty that the region has to offer. Located less than 30 miles from Alta is the Alta Canyon, the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. Several hundred metres of dominating cliffs cascade to form foaming rapids, the tales of which have formed the plot of many-a folklore story. The best way to appreciate the views of Alta Canyon is on a traditional riverboat, your experienced pilot negotiating his way through the shallow white water and deep into the canyon’s core. Ready your camera for a photograph or five, as the sights are truly unforgettable and will leave you awestruck long after you have left.
Did you know that Alta is responsible for two of the seven Norwegian entries into the UNESCO World Heritage List? During the summer months, when the snow has melted away, a visit to Hjemmeluft is a must. Here you will find over 3,000 protected rock carvings, the oldest of which dates back around 7,000 years. Also worth a visit is Alta Museum, which is open all year round and hosts temporary exhibitions about everything from the Northern Lights to salmon fishing in the Alta River.
Alta is a true winter wonderland and amongst the experiences it offers its trepid explorers is a chance to spend a night or more in an igloo ice hotel. Grab your winter woollies, climb into your sleeping bag and bed down in a room at the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. The hotel is made entirely of ice, both inside and out, and opens its doors in early January each year before melting away in the spring. Thanks to its location away from the bright lights of the city, the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel is ideally positioned for spotting the Northern Lights, so long as luck is on your side.
Alta offers countless activities for adrenaline junkies too, from hitting the ski slopes to embarking on a snowmobile safari and even ice fishing; local guides taking you through dense woodland to well-known lakesides, whilst regaling you with countless facts along the way.
Finnmarksløpet is one of Alta’s main attractions. As the longest dog race in Europe, Finnmarksløpet is now bigger than ever before and engages thousands of people to visit year after year. 146 team members bring with them 1,500 dogs, taking on a great test of strength as they travel over 600 miles through the snowy terrain of Finnmark; an adrenaline-fuelled journey that takes 5-6 days. Visitors to Alta can experience the same thrill themselves, taking their pick of the various dog sledding excursions that are on offer.