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 in the winter months 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
In Search of the Northern Lights • L2230
- Overnights in Alta and Tromsø to spot Aurora Borealis
- Spend time with the Sámi people in Tromsø
- Cross the Arctic Circle
In Search of the Northern Lights • S2228A
- Visit Tromsø for a chance to seek-out Aurora Borealis amongst the Arctic wilderness, away from light-polluted skies.
- Experience a taste of Sami community life at Alta; and explore the unique 'blue town' of Sortland.
- Scenic cruise by Torghatten and the Seven Sisters mountains too.
Borealis Searches for the Northern Lights • S2301
- Search for the Northern Lights in Alta & Tromso
- Spend time with traditional Sami people
- Sail across the Arctic Circle
White Christmas in Norway • T2232
- Experience life with the Sami people
- Go in search of the Northern Lights
- Experience a Norwegian Dog Sled tour
In Search of the Northern Lights • T2304
- Enjoy a thrilling husky ride from Bodø
- Seek out the breath-taking Northern Lights in Alta
- Explore the 'Gateway to the Arctic' city of Tromsø
In Search of the Northern Lights in Nine Nights • T2305
- Seek out the enigmatic Aurora Borealis from Alta
- Visit the iceberg-shaped Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø
- Explore Alesund to the full as Bolette docks close to the city centre
In Search of the Northern Lights in Nine Nights • T2306
- Spend time with the fascinating Sami people in Alta
- Take the cable car up Mount Storsteinen in Tromsø
- Revel in the stunning scenery in Bodø
Exploring Northern Norway - the Land of the Midnight Sun • S2312
- Experience an unforgettable discovery of Northern Norway
- Cross the Arctic Circle, visit the North Cape and witness the Midnight Sun
- Explore Tromsø; learn of Sami traditions; and see the beauty of Bodo too
In Search of the Northern Lights • L2328
- Revel in Arctic Norway’s winter wonders, from its snowy landscapes to the astonishing Northern Lights
- Go husky sledding from Narvik and, in Alta, seek-out Aurora Borealis and connect with Sami culture
- Experience unforgettable scenic cruising on Christmas Day, and celebrate New Year’s Eve at Ålesund
In Search of the Northern Lights • L2404
- An incredible Arctic adventure packed with memorable experiences
- Mush a team of huskies on an Arctic sledding adventure
- Capture the beauty of Arctic wilderness and stunning natural landmarks