When you come to the Norwegian town of Alta, prepare to be amazed. Here in the northernmost part of the country, you have the chance to see a remarkable natural event and a fascinating example of ancient human creativity.
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The Aurora Borealis is a fantastic natural light display. It takes its name from Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, and Boreas, the Greek word for north wind. You can see the Aurora Borealis at its best only from certain locations. Alta, with its reliably clear skies, is one of these few in the world.
A trip to Alta is worth the journey for the Aurora Borealis alone. There is really nothing like the visual splendour of these magnificently huge lights in the sky. When you've seen the Aurora Borealis, Alta will have a place in your memory forever.
In addition to the Aurora Borealis, Alta has another amazing sight for you: the petroglyphs of Hjemmeluft at the western edge of town.
Petroglyphs are engravings in rock. Alta is the site of approximately 5000 such carvings made between 4200 BC and 500 BC.
The Alta carvings depict boating expeditions, hunting scenes and fertility symbols as well as bears and reindeer. Generations of late Stone Age craftspeople added more and more of these rock pictures as the sea level dropped following the end of the last ice age. And when each picture was complete, the artists picked it out in red ochre paint.
The cliffs of Alta that display the incredible petroglyphs are now a Unesco World Heritage Site. You can view the carvings up close, however, from specially constructed walkways.
There are two tours along these walkways. The first is 3937 feet (1.2 km) long and lasts around 45 minutes. The second is 1.3 miles (2.1 km) and incorporates a beautiful stroll by the edge of the sea.
When you’ve completed the tours you can visit the award-wining Alta Museum next to the cliffs. Here you’ll discover a host of fascinating displays and exhibits covering topics such as the Aurora Borealis, local military history and the culture of the indigenous people of the Alta area, the Sami.
Other places of interest
While you’re in Alta, you should also make time to visit the Sautso-Alto Canyon. This is the largest canyon in Scandinavia and is truly spectacular. Along the bottom, you can just see the River Altaelva coursing through it.
Another place to head for is the Altaelva's tidal outlet. The wetlands here are a favourite haunt of many different species of bird.
Back in the town of Alta, you might fancy a drink and perhaps an overnight stay in the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Europe's northernmost ice hotel. The owners rebuild the hotel annually with blocks of ice and a mortar called snice, a substance that's halfway between snow and ice. If you do stay in one of the 30 rooms, you'll find yourself in a sleeping bag placed on reindeer hides.
Book your trip to Alta now with SAS. You'll never forget the wonders of this unique destination.
What's up in Alta Alta Igloo Hotel
Stay warm under fur in the all ice and snow igloo hotel. It's a stay you won't forget
Rock carvings in Alta dating from circa 4200 to 500 BC are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list
Hunt for the Aurora Borealis! October, February and March are the best months for auroral observations in northern Norway
Tel.: +47 78 43 26 00
Snowmobile safaris are good fun. Ongajok is located not far from Alta and offers day trips, as well as overnight tours out in the wilderness of Arctic Lapland.
A great way to get in touch with nature without exhausting oneself. After skiing, hiking and more, this proves to be a most rewarding and relaxing experience.
Boazo Sami Siida
Tel.: +47 78 44 95 55
A nice insight into Sami culture. They produce some lovely handcrafts. We got to see the reindeer and hear some traditional chanting, or jojk as it's called by the Sami. /Gudrun