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The City of Northern Lights, Alta is a great choice for visitors seeking to experience the magic of the Northern Lights. Also called the Aurora Borealis, visitors have always been delighted by the Northern Lights, and there are many myths associated with them. When visiting Alta, you can learn more about what the Northern Lights actually are, and the best way of seeing them, and obviously, more about the myths and stories associated with them.
Alta's history as a Northern Lights city goes back to the days when Birkeland built the world's first Northern Lights observatory, on the top of Mt. Haldde, in 1899. Alta has a stable climate and is therefore one of the best places in the north for viewing the Northern Lights.
The largest city in the county of Finnmark, Alta is a modern city offering all the services that you might require: hotels, restaurants and cafés, shops, cultural services and experiences. Norwegian and SAS both provide direct flights between Oslo and Alta, so the wonderful experiences available in Alta are just a couple of hours away! Alta is also the perfect overnight location and launch pad, when you’re visiting Nordkapp - both on the way there, and on the way back south!
The most beautiful winter wonderland experience is Finnmarksløpet (the Finnmark Dog Sled Race). This annual race, which starts in Alta every March, is a public celebration and a fantastic experience for visitors. Guests with an interest in dogs are able to visit local kennels throughout the year, and can even try driving their own team of dogs, during the winter.
It is not always easy to find the Northern Lights, and that is why there are a number of providers of Northern Lights hunting services. Being in the right place at the right time is essential, and our local guides are experts at finding them. They will also be able to help you take perfect photos and, not least, explain more about the phenomenon.
The location of Alta in the inner reaches of the Alta Fjord means that the municipality is able to offer forests, mountain plateaux, and coastal and mountain landscapes. This provides numerous opportunities for anyone interested in the outdoor life to experience several aspects of the natural Arctic environment, within a short time frame. It’s also a paradise for motorcycle and other two, three and four-wheeled tourists.
Alta has beautiful mountains, and apart from Mt. Haldde, which rises to a height of 904 metres, there are many peaks surrounding the city which are easily accessible to both the fit and healthy, and anyone wanting to go for a short afternoon walk. If you would like to experience the mountain plateau, this can be reached by foot. The Finnmark Mountain Plateau may seem to be endless, and any cabins and houses are separated by vast distances, so it is important to ensure that you are properly equipped before setting off on your own. If you are interested in fishing in one of the rivers or mountain lakes, you are welcome to bring your fishing rod with you!
The history of Alta covers the period ranging between the 7,000 year old rock carvings at the Alta Museum, and the court case relating to Sami rights, which was played out during the 1980s. The countryside around Alta is diverse and imposing, and includes the largest canyon in Northern Europe, the Sautso Canyon, and the vast tundra on the Finnmark Mountain Plateau. Local guides will enable you to experience the history and natural environment of Alta, during both the summer and winter seasons, offering snowmobile safaris, snowshoe hikes and guided coach trips.
The Northern Lights city of Alta, which lies in the innermost reaches of the stunningly beautiful Alta Fjord, is blessed with a great climate. During the winter the temperature can drop to below -30°C, but the dry climate makes the cold all part of the experience. The Arctic winter light and Northern Lights are fascinating aspects of the dark polar nights. During the summertime the sun shines at midnight, and the temperature rises to above 20°C. It is impossible to describe the contrasts which exist between the exotic polar nights, and the long, sunny, summer nights. They simply have to be experienced!!
The latest addition to the Northern Lights city of Alta is the cathedral - a modern cathedral in a modern city, as elegant as the Northern Lights themselves. LINK, an architecture firm based in Stavanger designed the cathedral, which is shaped like a spiral coiling upwards towards the building's clock tower. The Northern Lights provided one of the sources of inspiration for the design, which, when observed from all angles, gives the appearance of cascading waves, just like the Northern Lights. The cathedral was consecrated on 10 February 2013.
Alta's unique history and natural environment can be experienced throughout the year, but particularly during the summer, when it is possible to get out into the countryside and engage in individual activities. You can also book experienced guides to accompany you on excursions. A wide range of activities are available, including river boating trips, canoeing, motorcycle tours, off-road cycling, snowmobile tours, and ATV trips.
Both the Tirpitz Museum, and the Alta Museum with its rock carvings at Hjemmeluft, are open during the summer. Visitors can gain an insight into Sami culture along the Alta River, or simply enjoy a cup of coffee outside, at one of the many restaurants in the centre of the city. The long, light summer nights, the midnight sun, the beautiful natural environment, and a timeline which almost stands still, all help to make Alta a lovely place during the summertime. And sleeping? Well that's something you can do during the winter!
One of the most beautiful excursions available is to the Sautso Canyon where the views are absolutely fantastic. Sautso is the largest canyon in Northern Europe and can be accessed by both cycle and on foot. It is also possible to book a guided coach trip for groups. Sautso can also be seen from a river boat and by canoeing up the Alta River. Local experts are available to accompany you up the rapids, and to tell stories about this famous river.
For anyone planning a company trip to Alta, there are plenty of local tour organisers, who specialise in providing exciting experiences within the framework offered by the fantastic Finnmark landscape. The countryside is exactly what makes Alta a perfect destination for experiences outside the conference room. So treat your colleagues and employees to some revitalising teambuilding days in Alta!