Alta, the city of the Northern Lights, is the largest town in the thinly populated county of Finnmark. It's also home to the Sami, the indigenous people of Norway. It's common to see the Sami herding their flocks of reindeer here - there are roughly 100,000 reindeer in Norway's Lapland.
The town lies on the banks of the Alta River. If you enjoy fishing, this is the place to be. The river is known for its abundance of salmon. Even though its latitude is 70° north, Alta has a mild inland climate. The midnight sun can be seen from Alta from May 16 to July 26 and the clear skies make it Norway's ideal location to observe the aurora borealis, also known as the famed northern lights.
Activities in and around Alta are almost endless. Enjoy a snowmobile safari, dogsledding adventure or trip aboard a deep-sea fishing vessel. Visit the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel for a one-of-a-kind overnight adventure. Or view world famous rock carvings from days long since past.
Rock carvings of Alta
See the protected rock carvings at Alta's Hjemmeluft Museum. The museum is adjacent to the rock carvings, which are 2000 to 6200 years old. In the 1970s, seven areas with some 3000 carvings were discovered. The carvings were added to the UNESCO list of specially protected world heritage monuments in 1985.
A short drive from Alta lies Sápmi Park in Karasjok. This Sami theme park showcases the daily lives of Norway’s indigenous people. Here you'll experience many aspects of Sami culture, mythology, food traditions and arts and crafts in an engaging and entertaining way. Visit Stálubákti, the "magical theatre" that combines modern film and theater effects with Sami mythology and history. See the Siida—Sami settlements featuring reindeer and a live presentation of the Sami way of life. You'll also find Sami shops that sell handicrafts and traditional Sami food.
Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
This chilly, overnight adventure is a very popular tourist destination. Located about 9 miles (15 kilometers) from Alta on the banks of the Alta River, the hotel opens for business every year in January and remains open until it melts away in the spring. It features a bar, chapel, gallery and 30 bedrooms. You'll get a warm, comfortable sleep in beds lined with reindeer fur and sleeping bags. The bathrooms are found next door to the hotel, along with a hot tub and sauna. There's an on-site restaurant that features great local fare like reindeer stew and a variety of fish dishes. Find out about flights to Alta with SAS today.
What's up in Alta
Alta Igloo Hotel
Stay warm under a fur in this all ice and snow Igloo Hotel. It's a stay you will remember.
Rock carvings at Alta, dating from circa 4200 BC to 500 BC, are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites
Hunt for the Aurora Borealis! October, February and March are the best months for auroral observations in northern Norway.