Alta, Norway – Town of the Northern Lights

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Alta, Norway – Town of the Northern Lights

Alta, is located in Norway’s Finnmark county more than 375 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. The fjord town has a population of just under 15,000 inhabitants and I definitively worth a visit!

You should make a stay at the world’s northernmost Ice hotel, the Iglo Hotel, found on the banks of the Alta. It’s built each year in January and melts away in the spring. The hotel offers tours and more heat-round. There’s also an ice chapel, and an excellent restaurant.

Alta, Norway – Town of the Northern Lights
Dogsled ride through in Alta

Alta is also the starting point for the annual Finnmarkløpet, the longest sled dog race in Europe, first arranged in 1981. Every year approximately 130 entrants participate in the Finnmark Dogsled Race.

Alta, Norway – Town of the Northern Lights
Alta is also known for its slate production, and some ancient rock carvings are recognized by UNESCO.

Alta is also known for its slate production, and some ancient rock carvings are recognized by UNESCO. However, not many rocks are visible in the winter, (see below). And of course, Alta is known for its Northern lights. The world’s first observatory dedicated to studying the Northern Lights was built in Alta in 1899.

Alta, Norway – Town of the Northern Lights
Hadde – The Northern Lights Observatorium in Alta

Being in Alta, we recommend that you immerse yourself in the local Sami cultures. In the Boazo Sami Slida, a settlement of reindeer herders, visitors can try activities based on Sami culture and traditional food. It’s open from mid-June throughout the summer.

Alta, Norway – Town of the Northern Lights
Holmen Husky Lodge, a cozy modernized lavvu (traditional Sami tent)

Stay overnight at the Holmen Husky Lodge, a cozy modernized lavvu (traditional Sami tent). Included in the price is a nighttime dogsled ride through the forest, a delicious dinner, and the the lavvu glamping.

Alta, Norway – Town of the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights Cathedral is a huge modern church, finished in 2013

Due to its location on the inner part of the Alta fjord and the Gulf Stream, the are doesn’t actually get bitterly cold during the winter months.

In the center of the town you cannot miss the Northern Lights Cathedral. It’s a huge modern church, finished in 2013. The architecture is not surprisingly supposed to represent the falling sheets of the Northern lights.

Alta, Norway – Town of the Northern Lights
A traditional sami village

Alta museum was voted Europe’s best museum when it opened back in 1993. It still offers an excellent insight into the region’s history. In autumn, visitors can explore the UNESCP-listed Rock Art Center, 2 kilometer of footpaths that connect a field of rock carvings from 6,000 years ago.

If you like some action, you should join a Snowmobile safari into the wilds of Finnmark, or do a snowshoeing / Ice fishing trip. Join one of  GLØD Explorer’s trips.

If you’re looking for an intimate experience, there are less tourists in Alta than in many other parts of Northern Norway, except on days when a cruise ship is in the port.

Alta, Norway – Town of the Northern Lights, written by Tor Kjolberg

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