As one of the best places on earth to witness the Northern Lights in winter, and experience the sensation of the Midnight Sun in summer, Alta is a truly magical destination. Originally inhabited by the indigenous Sami people, the area has a fascinating cultural history. Rock carvings in nearby Hjemmeluft are believed to date from around 4,200 to 500 BC. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the carvings on display in the Alta Museum are evidence of the existence of human activity in the far north during prehistoric times.
Alta needed rebuilding after World War II, so the buildings of this northern Norwegian port are relatively new; notable architecture includes the Northern Lights Cathedral. [ReadMoreMob]A particular highlight is the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. Everything inside and outside the hotel is made of ice, and is open to visitors from January until it melts away in spring.
The head of the Altafjord, where the Altaelva runs through the town, is said to have the best salmon fishing in the world. It’s still possible to see the fish leaping up the river, despite the construction of the 100m Altadammen in the 1970s.
Nicknamed the city of the Northern Lights, Alta is home to the Northern Lights Cathedral. This is one of the architectural icons of the north, with its swirling pyramid structure clad in titanium sheets. Inside, the new interactive centre enables you to explore the phenomenon that is Aurora Borealis. This incredible light show is caused by electrically charged particles from the sun interacting with elements in the Earth’s atmosphere. The best chance of seeing this natural phenomenon is to leave the city lights behind and go out into the wilderness.
The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel is situated just outside of Alta and each year is decorated to reflect a special theme. The first ice hotel in Norway and the second in the world, the hotel is made up of 250 tonnes of ice and 7,000 cubic metres of snow. The ice is from a still water lake in the valley, and snow is produced from local river water.
Cruises to Alta
Departs: Southampton • Fri 31 Jan 2020
14 nights • Black Watch • W2003
- Winter is one of the best times of the year to visit Norway and you’ll experience this breathtaking country in all its seasonal splendour, with chances to see dramatic landscapes at their frozen finest, explore enchanting destinations and go in search of spellbinding phenomena.
- Spending four days in Arctic Norway is sure to be a highlight – your extended call at Tromsø coincides with the city’s fantastic Sami National Day celebrations, while during an overnight stay in Alta you might be lucky enough to witness the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis.
- You can also visit Tromsø’s iconic Arctic Cathedral; embark on an exhilarating dog-sledding adventure from Alta; and discover the highlights of Ålesund, Trondheim and Kristiansund – gateway to the dramatic Atlantic Ocean Road.
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Departs: Newcastle • Wed 18 Mar 2020
11 nights • Balmoral • L2002
- Five days of unforgettable Arctic exploration filled with spectacular scenery, jaw-dropping wonders and incredible experiences feature on this 11-night itinerary, thanks to Newcastle’s convenient proximity to Norway.
- You’ll visit Narvik for an opportunity to encounter Arctic wildlife such as bears, lynx and reindeer at the Polar Park; spend two days in Alta, with time to visit the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Alta Museum and more; stop at Tromsø, with its iconic Arctic Cathedral; and take in beautiful Bodø.
- During your extended stay in Alta – considered one of the best places on earth to see the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis – you might be lucky enough to see Mother Nature’s magnificent light display in all its colourful glory, too.
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Departs: Southampton • Wed 18 Nov 2020
13 nights • Balmoral • L2029
- Revel in the early winter wonders of Northern Norway – you can get closer to dramatic landscapes, experience exhilarating adventures and even go in search of the spellbinding Northern Lights.
- Visiting Narvik affords opportunities to embark on a thrilling husky-sled ride or see Arctic wildlife at the Polar Park, while Tromsø’s attractions include Mount Storsteinen and the Arctic Cathedral.
- Stopping overnight at Alta could be the highlight of your holiday as, with luck on your side, you may get to witness the colourful, awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis illuminating the clear night sky.
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Departs: Southampton • Tue 16 Feb 2021
13 nights • Balmoral • L2104
- Exploring Arctic Norway in the winter, you’ll revel in the jaw-dropping scenes and seasonal beauty of Europe’s northernmost region at the most magical time of the year to visit.
- You can enjoy an array of authentic wintertime experiences, including a husky-sled ride through sparking snow-covered landscapes and a chance to explore the unique Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel.
- The icing on the cake will be a chance to witness the astounding Northern Lights. Stopping overnight at Alta, you may – if you’re lucky – see Mother Nature’s awe-inspiring light show illuminate the night sky.
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