Alta - City of Arctic light
The magic of the Arctic shines bright in Alta. In the winter, this small town is a great place to hunt the Aurora, and in summer, beautiful Arctic wilderness is nearby to explore under the Midnight Sun.
Alta is a lovely small town in Finnmark county of just over 20,000 inhabitants, located well above the Arctic Circle at 70 degrees north latitude. In fact, Alta is the second northernmost city in the world with more than 10,000 inhabitants.
The climate here is considered subarctic, with daily temperatures rising above 10 degrees celsius only three months of the year. But summers are often as warm as they are in southern Norway, thanks to the area´s sheltered position.
Winter or summer, Alta is a perfect adventure destination, combining a wide range of outdoor activities with a personal, un-touristy feel. The guiding companies in Alta aren’t just selling tours – they are sharing what they love to do.
Winter activities include dogsledding, snowmobiling, snowshoe hikes, close encounters with reindeer and the Sami community, horse sleigh rides through the forest, and more. Dogsledding is taken seriously in Alta, and the town is the site of the longest dogsled race in Europe, the Finnmarksløpe. No winter visit to Alta is complete without a trip to the beautiful Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, Euorpe´s northernmost ice hotel.
Alta’s unusual weather conditions and remarkably clear skies have made it a prime location for hunting and studying the Northern Lights since the 1800s. The polar night in Alta lasts from November 26 to January 16.
In summer, from May 18 to July 27, the Midnight Sun shines 24 hours a day, creating great opportunities to visit UNESCO-listed ancient rock carvings, take excursions hiking and biking, or exploring the area by riverboat or bus. The Alta Canyon – northern Europe’s largest – is just an hour’s drive outside of town through the raw and breathtaking wilderness, a spectacular landscape under the Midnight Sun.
History of Alta
Alta’s history began 10,000 years ago, as massive glaciers covering the entire region melted and receded. Settlement remains were found on Mt. Komsa from some 7,000 years ago, when the “locals” began carving pictures onto the rocks along the shore.
Since the 1700s, Alta has been occupied by Norwegians, Sami, and Kvens, who came from Finland. During World War II, the entire region was burned down by the invading armies. Only the old church survived the destruction. After the war, residents returned to their homesteads and rebuilt modern Alta.