Located at the inner reaches of the Altafjord, Alta is a lively commercial centre that’s a popular destination for viewing the aurora borealis. It’s home to the contemporary Northern Lights Cathedral and prehistoric rock carvings and offers easy access to the dramatic Alta Canyon.
Things to do in Alta
Discover the region’s natural beauty in the Alta Canyon, which is the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. Carved by the Altaelva River, it stretches from the plateau of Finnmarksvidda to the Altafjorden, with pine, birch and aspen trees dominating its wooded surrounds. Stretch your legs on one of the hiking trails or marvel at its plunging walls during a cruise on the salmon-filled Altaelva River.
Don’t miss a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed rock carvings of Hjemmeluft, which provide evidence of human existence in the region since prehistoric times. Follow the three-kilometre-long pathway that links some of the site’s 3,000+ carvings, many of which depict hunting and fishing scenes or geometric figures. Also at Hjemmeluft is the Alta Museum, which showcases exhibitions about the region’s industrial and cultural past.
Visiting in the winter months? You can explore Alta’s natural surroundings by dog sled or on a snowmobile safari, accompanied by the brilliant blue light that’s unique to the Finnmark region. During the winter nights, you may be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights dancing across the sky. Named after this natural phenomenon is Alta’s Northern Lights Cathedral, which is topped by a striking, spiral-style belfry.
Getting around Alta
Alta Airport is a five-minute drive from Alta’s city centre and has flights to destinations across Norway. Buses are the main means of getting around the region, although having your own vehicle will give you greater freedom to explore.