Alta is famous for viewing Northern Lights and in fact the first Northern Lights observatory was built here. It is also the largest city in the Northernmost county along the Altafjord. We visited Alta and Tromso for a week to see the Northern Lights and we were not disappointed.
This blog is my own personal experience and has all the information that you should know before visiting Alta.
Alta is very far north and the best way to get there is to fly from Oslo. Norwegian airlines have direct flights from Oslo and also from Tromso. Widerøe also has flights to nearby small towns and Tromso. We flew from Oslo to Alta and from Alta to Tromso before flying back home from Tromso. To get around we rented a car at the airport.
The town itself is very small and the surrounding landscape is very beautiful. The main tourist's attractions in and around the town are
After our unsuccessful attempt to see the Northern Lights in Iceland we decided to visit Alta for 3 nights after doing some research about its climate.
We landed around 10 am in Alta and the weather was terrible. It snowed the whole day but luckily in the afternoon the weather got better and the sky was clear. During the day we drove around to scout some beautiful locations to see Northern Lights but we found it very hard to find someplace with little or no artificial lights. Almost every corner in and around the city had big street lights and it is extremely difficult to see the Northern Lights with so much light pollution. We decided to drive out of the city and after driving approx. 10 km towards the Finnish border we found plenty of beautiful locations with little or no artificial lights. We found a parking lot and decided to come here later during the nights for Northern Lights.
After dinner, we drove from our hotel and came to the same parking lot. The sky was full of stars but it was an extremely cold night. Even though we had good winter clothes but still couldn't stand for more than a few minutes outside and were very happy that we had a car to keep us warm. After waiting for approx. one hour we spotted the first display of Northern Lights but it was very faint.
Unfortunately, the parking lot was turned out to be a disappointment due to the big street lamps as you can see the light in the above picture on the right side. So we decided to drive further ahead in search of a better place and parked the car along the road on an emergency parking as we couldn't find a better place. It was a nice place and due to cold, we didn't want to be far away from the car.
After a few minutes, the Northern Lights intensity had increased and now the sky was full of dancing aurora borealis. It was our first time watching this incredible natural phenomenon and it was just perfect. We stayed there for approx. 4-5 hours taking pictures.
We stayed in Alta for 3 nights but only the first night we saw such incredible Northern lights display and during the next 2 nights it was not that spectacular even though the weather was good.
We visited during the first week of March and there are few reasons why I would recommend to visit during this time of the year. From the end of February, there are more than 8 hours of daylight which is perfect to explore the surrounding polar landscape, the solar activity is high and weather is relatively stable which increases the chances of seeing the Northern Lights.
The Sorrisniva Ice hotel is approx. 20 minutes drive from Alta and well worth visiting if you are in the area. The Igloo can be visited on a day tour or by staying overnight inside the Igloo. The Igloo management offers a number of activities and for more information visit their website.
It is a beautiful small igloo with stunning architecture all made from the Ice. We spent a couple of hours and to be honest, we couldn't stay longer due to cold. Here are some pictures from inside the Igloo
A lot of people will ask this question, should you visit Alta or some other place. In my opinion, if you are only interested in seeing Northern Lights then it is absolutely worth coming here but if I have a choice between Alta and Tromso, I will definitely visit Tromso. The chances to see Northern Lights are almost the same in both cities but Tromso is one of the most beautiful city with stunning Landscape and if you want to stay in the city then you don't need to rent a car either.