Alta was named the ‘Northern Lights City’ or Nordlysbyen Alta at the beginning of the 21st century.
This far-northern outpost belonged to Finland for years and was inhabited by 18000 people and was inherited virtually only by the Sami, who held a well-known fair in autumn and spring until the end of the 1960s. Because of Nazi destruction and fires at around World War II, you can see virtually everything new and quite dull.
Alta is the mercantile and commercial capital of Finnmark. Alta has had patronage in its heyday during the 19th century by British lords who are here to fish Altafjord, famed for having the world’s best salmon waters.
Explore this travel guide, which tells you about the best things to do in Alta. This way, you can easily plan your long vacations or weekends.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Quick information andAlta travel tips
- 2 Experiences and top things to do inAlta
Quick information andAlta travel tips
- Currency? Norwegian krona
- Languages? Norwegian and English
- Where is this place? Located in Southern Norway
- What is Norway famous for? Skiing, The Royals, fjords, and architecture.
- Best time to visit Alta and Norway? All year round. But if you’re not a fan of winter, come in summer, spring, or autumn. The weather won’t be extreme but mind that spring and autumn might be wet from the rain. Just make sure to bring a good winter jacket and travel shoes with you!
- Other famous places in Norway? Oslo, Tromsø, Åleslund, Trondheim, Svalbard, Bergen, West Fjords, Bodø, Fredrikstad, Røros, Helgeland, and Jotunheimen National Park. You can check all the top places to visit in Norway, click this to read the post.
- Famous neighboring countries? Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland
Do you need a visa for Norway?
Norway is part of the Schengen area and citizens of EU group of countries can freely enter this Baltic state while citizens of USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia can enter the country just with their passports and stay for 90 days.
You can check our guide on how to get a Schengen visa and as well to see if you’re eligible to enter the country with just your passports or if you’ll need to apply for a visa prior entry – read it here.
Where to book your flights to Norway?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need insurance?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Experiences and top things to do inAlta
Enjoy the snowmobiling experience in the wilderness and observe the natural beauty of Arctic landscapes uniquely. Both of the trails here are around 30 to 35 km. You can also visit the Igloo Hotel for about 1.5 hours.
There is also tour guide available to escort you to Sorrisniva. You will get all the necessary types of equipment before safari starts. You will also learn driving snowmobile and rules about driving.
Sorrisniva is one of the first snowmobile providers in Norway. You will get a safe driving experience while exploring beautiful and mystic Northern Norway. You can drive to Finnmark plateau through Alta Valley to experience the beautiful arctic light.
Sleep in an igloo
From icy bed to chain hotels, Alta has a vast range of accommodation options on offer. Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel is built every year from ice and snow from scratch.
Guest rooms are equipped with super-warm sleeping bags and reindeer leather sleeping bags, where the temperature remains constant around -4C to -7C. You can get two hot tubs and a sauna if there is too much cold.
You can get changing rooms, showers, luggage storage, and restaurant in the central building. You can also walk across the hotel and have a drink in the ice bar if you are getting here in the daytime.
The hotel remains open from the mid of December to end of March, and you can book the rooms directly.
You can visit the power plant and dam only on guided tours as the road is currently closed. You can bike, walk the last 7-8km, or take hiking tour from Gargia Mountain to the Canyon. You can also paddle the riverboat from Sorrisniva to Alta River.
Catch the Northern Lights
Located on Haldde, the Northern Lights Observatory was the first to catch the Northern Lights. The restored buildings show the life of the ones who studied and lived the northern lights over there. From the highest peak in Alta, you can catch a beautiful view. It is a great spot to catch the Northern Lights in winter.
You can also find the beautiful scenic view of the fjords and mountains around. You cannot access the observatory by driving. You have to walk for 2 hours down the road. You can combine the trip with the ruins of first copper industrial works of Scandinavia.
Observe one of the largest rock carving sites in Northern Europe and UNESCO World Heritage, Alta Museum. It has carvings made by gatherers and hunters, and the oldest of them were dated back to over 7000 years. You can also access the rock art park here in the snow-free period.
It remains open all the year round and shows exhibitions on rock art along with various exhibitions of cultural history. You can also observe temporary exhibitions on themes like angling, Northern Lights, and art exhibitions. There is also a café with a beautiful view of souvenir shop and Alta fjord.
This war museum is located off the city of Alta in Kafjord in Finnmark county of Norway. You can spot one of the most extensive exhibits of artifacts and photos from the battleship.
Tirpitz is a battleship of Bismarck class built during the Second World War for the German Kriegsmarine. Tirpitz is the battleship, which served as a significant threat to supply convoys to Murmansk.
During the Nazi’s reign in Norway, there was a German naval base in Altafjord to stop the conveys heading from the Western Allies against delivering supplies to the Soviet Union, which were known to be critical to war’s outcome on Eastern Front.
Alta was one of the largest naval bases for Germany during the war. Hence, Tirpitz was one of the largest battleships in the world and the most powerful of them. It was anchored in Kafjord for over two years. A lot of German warships were based in Altafjord.
Alta Church is a parish church in Alta, which belongs to the Church of Norway in Finnmark county of Norway.
It is located in the town of Alta in the Bossekop area. It was the main church for Alta. This wooden and white church was built in 1858, the long church style by Stephen Henry Thomas, the famous architect. The capacity of the church is around 230 people.
It was the main church until 2013, during the construction of Northern Lights Cathedral as another main church for deanery and municipality.