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 • T2202A
- See dramatic landscapes on this Arctic discovery
- Join in the celebrations of Sami National Day
- Visit the iceberg-shaped Arctic Cathedral in Tromso
In Search of the Northern Lights • S2204A
- Visit remote and dramatic lands of Norway
- Unmissable sights of the regions scenic beauty
- A chance to witness the remarkable Northern Lights
In Search of the Northern Lights • T2205
- Get closer to the wintertime scenes of Arctic Norway
- Seek out the remarkable Aurora Borealis
- A cable car ride to the peak of Mount Storsteinen
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
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.
White Christmas in Norway • T2232
- Experience life with the Sami people
- Go in search of the Northern Lights
- Experience a Norwegian Dog Sled tour
Borealis Searches for the Northern Lights • S2301
- Search for the Northern Lights in Alta & Tromso
- Spend time with traditional Sami people in the wilderness
- Sail across the Arctic Circle
In Search of the Northern Lights • T2304
- Enjoy a thrilling huksy 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
- Marvel at 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