The city of Alta lies in an area with a relatively mild climate in the otherwise cold north. Here you can experience Sami culture up close, see UNESCO protected rock carvings, spend the night in a ice hotel or hunt for the northern lights.
Alta is the largest town in Norway’s northernmost county and lies at the inner reaches of the Altafjord. Although located far north, Alta is fairly easy to reach by plane or by road. The area offers forests, mountain plateaus, and coastal landscapes, and you have numerous opportunities to spend the days – and nights – outdoors and go hiking, biking and fishing.
In the winter, you can try dog sledding or join a snowmobile safari, framed in the brilliant blue light that is so distinctive for Finnmark. The blue season in Alta lasts from November to January, after which the days get gradually longer. During winter nights you can often see the aurora borealis dancing across the skies, and the world’s first northern light observatory was actually built here at the end of the 19th century.
In beautiful nature surroundings at the bank of the Altaelva river lies the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, a luxurious hotel where everything both inside and outside is made of snow and ice. The hotel opens its door in January each year and melts away in the spring.
In the summer you can visit the rock carvings in Hjemmeluft, which bear the traces of a settlement dating from around 4,200 to 500 BC. The rock art constitutes the most important piece of evidence documenting the existence of human activity on the fringes of the Far North in prehistoric times – hence its status as a UNESCO world heritage site.
May to August have midnight sun and 24 hours of daylight, which gives you plenty of time to explore Northern Europe’s largest canoyon, bike across Finnmarksvidda mountain plateau or go fishing in Altaelva river, one of the world’s best salmon rivers.
Find more inspiration on Northern Norway’s official website.
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Careful planning is essential when travelling by bus in Finnmark. There are buses connecting most communities in the region, but departures may be infrequent.
From Hammerfest to Alta there are 1–3 daily departures, and the travel time is 2.5 hours. From Honningsvåg, there are 1–2 daily departures, and the travel time is 4 hours.
Kirkenes to Alta will take 11 hours by bus, and there are 3 weekly departures. From Tromsø to Alta there is one daily bus, which takes 6 to 7 hours. Find more information on travelling by bus to Northern Norway.
Alta Airport has direct connections to Oslo, Tromsø and several towns and communities in the region.
From Oslo, the flight time is just over 2 hours. From Tromsø, the flight time is 40 minutes.