City Guide to Alta : Deriving its name from the fjord (Altafjorden), Alta with a population of more than 10,000 holds the distinct honour of being the northernmost city in the world. Located in the Finnmark state of Norway there is plenty on offer both in and around the city to make Alta a desirable location for tourism. This is a condensed city guide to whet the appetite of those considering a trip.
Despite being the northernmost city of the world Alta enjoys a sheltered climate. Precipitation is low and the often clear skies makes Alta an ideal location to view the wondrous Aurora Borealis. The valley floor is absent of permafrost and the nearby mountains provide shelter year round. Winter temperatures can drop as low as -9 degrees C in Jan and Feb and can reach 17 degrees C in June and July.
Sights and activities
There is plenty to keep the tourist occupied in Alta. With rivers such as the Altaelva abundant in salmon, Alta is a world renowned destination for anglers. If you’re a history buff then a visit to the nearby rock drawings is a must.
These date from 4200BC to 500BC and belonged to a people known as the “Komsa culture”. The most intriguing aspect to the drawings is that, its still not known how people survived here during the ice age conditions of the time. The drawings are covered by snow during winter but guided tours are offered in the summer months. The area is designated a UNESCO world heritage site. For those after more active pursuit’s, exploring the surrounding countryside will meet spectacular expectations. One of the largest canyons in Europe the Sautso-Alta canyon has been carved out by the Altaelva. This can be explored by foot or a guided boat trip. The spectacular fjords nearby with there high mountains are the ideal setting for the midnight sun. Snow sports are also a popular activity in Alta.
Alta is the transportation hub of Finnmark and as such is not too difficult to reach. Alta has its own airport, it’s likely if you are flying in from abroad then you will have to change at Tromso airport in Oslo. With port facilities in the city it also accessible by boat. The main road passing through the city is the European E6.
The Alta HI hostel is located 14km from the city, a bus passes once a day but it is a difficult location to get to without a vehicle. For those with a larger budget and desire a unique experience, Alta hosts the northernmost ice hotel in the world. It’s a good idea to search online for deals in the midrange hotels before going.
Restaurants and nightlife
Alta is refreshingly free of fast food chains. If you like salmon then you are in luck, many restaurants serve freshly caught salmon from the local Altaelva nearby. Restaurants serve mostly local fare so choice is limited in that respect but creates a more authentic dining experience. Alta has one of the youngest populations in Norway so nightlife though expensive is pretty varied.
SAS have regular cheap flights to Norway from many different locations. Check their website for more information. It’s also possible to get there from other places in Norway by bus and boat.