Are you looking for the best things to do in Alta, Norway? This is our guide to the best Alta activities, attractions, and more!
Alta kind of gets overshadowed by its big northern sister, Tromsø. But, this Norwegian city has plenty to offer and you won’t come up short if you’re looking for what to do in Alta.
This guide contains iconic Alta landmarks and tours to carry you through the year – covering all seasons.
Did we miss any of the top Alta tours and things to do? Let us know in the comments!
Best Things to Do in Alta, Norway
1. Zoom Around on a Guided Snowmobile Safari
➡️ CHECK TOUR RATES & OPTIONS
Explore the stunning arctic nature by joining a guided snowmobile safari on Finnmarksvidda. You’ll drive over frozen lakes in the breathtaking mountain plateau during this adventurous tour.
Starting points include Alta Airport, Alta Center, Alt Harbor, or the central bus terminal. After pick-up, you’ll be driven to their office, where the staff will provide the required gear and warm outdoor clothing.
Furthermore, instructions about the day’s schedule and a safety briefing will be provided. Then, participants will be taken to the place where snowmobiles are parked.
Just before starting, the staff will explain and demonstrate how to drive your vehicles. Driving snowmobiles is quite easy and fun. The activity includes two options with different prices.
Single driver, where you drive a snowmobile without a passenger. And, shared snowmobile, which offers driving in pairs, with possible place switches throughout the route.
During the tour, participants will have stops to soak up the majestic landscapes, as well as listen to the historic narrations of the guide. As a bonus, you’ll be offered warm beverages and snacks. The adventure lasts about 5 hours.
2. Chase the Northern Lights with a Small Group Guided Tour
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Dive into the exciting tour of Northern Lights hunting in the stunning landscapes of the Alta Fjord.
Your tour will be directed by experienced guides who’ll show you how best to notice the Northern Lights as well as give camera instructions.
The tour offers a 90 percent chance of seeing this astonishing natural phenomenon.
Feel the atmosphere of coziness and togetherness by lying down on the reindeer’s skin and watching the magical lights in the night sky.
Learn about Norwegian life and listen to the stories about Stone Age, reindeer-herding, wildlife, and Sami culture.
During the tour, you’ll be offered cold and warm snacks and beverages, including vegan options. In addition, you’ll get warm suits and boots- just send your sizes in advance.
Therefore, it’s recommended to take very warm layers with you, preferably wool. Pick-up and drop-off options include Alta Harbor, Alta Airport, or Thon and Scandic hotels.
This trip isn’t available for children under 12, pregnant women, or people with injuries or heart problems.
3. Take a Thrilling RIB Boat Adventure on Altafjord
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The two-hour extraordinary journey will reveal the hidden secrets of the historic naval base of Alta.
The RIB boat will take you to the Altafjord. You’ll have a chance to discover the ruins of Finnmark’s World War Two naval base, and still stationing big battleships.
The trip will also show you Altafjord’s rich water life diversity. Depending on the season, visitors can spot whales, seals, and sea eagles in the cold Norwegian waters.
The tour starts in the Explorer Store. After a short briefing, the participants will get safety equipment and warm thermal suits.
Next, you’ll be transported to the harbor where their RIB is located.
You’ll drive past historical venues, and lovely nature scenes in the inner parts of the Altafjord. Passengers must be at least 120cm tall.
The trip isn’t recommended for those having health problems or who are pregnant.
The journey is organized with a minimum of four participants. Don’t forget to take your camera.
4. Go Horseback Riding in Alta (Any Time of the Year!)
If you’re looking for an adventurous thing to do in Alta during your trip, you can join a horseback riding tour with Flatmoen Natur!
They offer trips throughout the year, including an awesome northern lights horseback riding excursion during the winter months.
If you book the winter northern lights trip, you will be out for 4 hours. The tour offers pickup in Alta before taking you out to the Flatmoen Farm where you will get to ride Norwegian Fjord Horses. This is offered from November until March.
If you opt for the summer horseback riding trip, you will be out for 2.5 hours and you will get to enjoy a trip through the stunning Norwegian nature. This is offered from May until September.
5. Visit the Iconic Northern Lights Cathedral
This striking church opened in 2013 and is the primary parish church of Alta. With its unique and modern architectural design, the church is considered an architectural gem in the area.
The monument’s exterior features a swirling pyramid structure clad in shimmering titanium sheets. The daringly designed circular cathedral symbolizes nature’s greatest light show. The interior is similarly captivating, with oak moldings, chairs, and floor.
The impressive organ with 29 stops and 1,800 pipes and an utterly modern 4.3m-high bronze statue of Jesus complete the extraordinarily eye-catching interior of the church.
In addition, visitors may head downstairs to explore an interactive exhibition, Borealis Alta, devoted to the magic and science of the Northern Lights.
The Northern Lights Cathedral occupies a significant place in the local community life, not only holding the Sunday services but also hosting regular piano concerts and even a language cafe for students.
The best time to visit this architectural icon of the north is winter, alongside the Aurora Borealis in the sky behind.
Address: Markedsgata 30, 9510 Alta
6. Fish for Salmon on the Alta River
This river, with great natural surroundings and recreational opportunities, is a dream destination for every salmon fisher. Beginning in the mountains, the river lakes in Kautokeino Municipality.
The Alta River is known as one of the world’s best salmon rivers, especially famous for its large-scale salmon. The river boasts fish over 50 lbs in weight in most seasons.
Despite its legendary fame, the river isn’t available for everyone to fish. Seven-hundred fishing licenses are given to the locals, and about 4000 people from three municipalities apply for the fishing license throughout the year.
However, visitors have a chance to fish in the river at certain periods. The permits are distributed by lottery system as the demand is always high. About 1,200 salmon fishermen from around the world sign up and take part in the draw for 70 cards.
Besides fishing permits, visitors must also pay the national fishing fee.
7. Stay at the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta
Have an icy experience at this special igloo hotel located along the Alta River. The extraordinary 21,528 ft² structure is made completely from snow, and ice, offering a unique staying venue.
Each Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel guest room provides reindeer leather sleeping pads and warm sleeping bags. The room temperature is between 20 – 25°F.
Visitors are recommended to bring their own thermal undergarments. Guests can make use of the modern service building located nearby, featuring changing rooms, showers, and a luggage storage room.
For relaxation and warming up, the hotel offers a sauna and two outdoor hot tubs. In addition, Sorrisniva restaurant provides delicious dining opportunities with local produce and specialties.
At the ice bar drinks are available, served in ice glasses. The hotel offers activities like skiing, hiking, cycling, and walking tours.
You can book a snowmobile safari at the hotel and explore the surrounding landscapes. Outside the hotel, guests can enjoy artistic ice sculptures.
This is actually the most iconic Norwegian ice hotel… and it is definitely worth a stay (or just a tour of!).
Address: Sorrisniva 20, 9518 Alta
8. Check out the Ancient Rock Art at the Alta Museum
The Alta Museum is a famous cultural center with exhibitions covering various periods and a wide range of themes.
But the pearl of the center is one of Northern Europe’s largest rock carving sites.
Located nearby the museum, the 2000 to 6200 years old rock carvings reflect the life of hunters and fishermen. Walking on pathways, visitors can explore figures depicting natural surroundings, beliefs, rituals, elements of myths, hunting, gathering, and dancing.
The rock art is registered on the World Heritage List and is considered the only prehistoric cultural monument in Norway. The museum also offers a Digital Rock Archive, covering detailed materials on rock art.
In addition, visitors can stop at the museum’s cafe with scenic landscapes or shop at their souvenir shop. Audioguides in English, German, and French are available.
Guided tours for groups should be reserved in advance. The museum is year-round open, however, the carvings can be seen in snow-free seasons, from May to October.
Address: Altaveien 19, 9512 Alta
9. Visit the Historical Research Buildings at Halddetoppen
Don’t miss your chance to explore the building where the world’s first Northern Lights observatory was located.
Mount Haldde used to be a center of northern lights research, bearing the historical and cultural heritage of the area.
You can climb up to the most prominent peak of the area to relish the panoramic views and reveal the historic buildings on the summit.
Also called Sukkertoppen, it consists of two parts, the observatory building, operated by Kristian Birkeland in 1899, and a residential construction, built between 1912-1915, a dwelling place for the workers.
The observatory is now led by Alta and is furnished for accommodation. Visitors can have the rare experience of staying at the old observatory building for the night. Whereas, the residential construction isn’t suitable for accommodation.
The trip to Mount Haldde launches from Kåfjord, on a T-marked path, it takes about 6 hours and is steep in some areas.
Though Northern Light research of the same caliber isn’t conducted here anymore, tourists from all over the world come here to catch dancing lights across the sky.
Address: 9540 Talvik, Norway
10. Take a Weekend Trip to the North Cape
Every year, many thousands of tourists visit the northern end of continental Europe. People come to watch the midnight sun in the summer or the Northern Lights in the winter.
The most northerly point in Europe is a plateau rising 307 meters up from the Arctic Sea. Down the mountain slope, the rock formation known as North Cape Horn is located.
It is considered the site of sacrifice for the ancient Sami people. The name North Cape was given by an English captain, Richard Chancellor. Seeking the North-East Passage to Asia, the captain discovered this high headland.
Since the end of the 18th century, tourists have been traveling to the North Cape by cruise ship. But when the road to the plateau was constructed in 1965, it became much easier to reach the end of Europe.
The midnight sun can be best experienced from 14 May until 29 July. Sometimes, there’s a good deal of fog arriving from the Arctic Sea, and visitors may have an opportunity to see the sun hanging above a bronze-colored sky.
The best time to explore the Northern Lights is from October to March on clear nights.
Where to Stay in Alta
There are a fair number of options for places to stay in Alta and here are some of our top picks!
- Bjornfjell Mountain Lodge (has a beautiful view!)
- Holmen Husky Lodge (cozy place!)
- Sorrisniva Alta Wilderness Lodge (with river views!)
- Thon Hotel Alta
Did we miss any of the best things to do in Alta, Norway for first-time visitors? Let us know in the comments!
More Northern Norway Travel Guides
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- Lofoten in winter
- Lofoten travel tips
- Tromsø travel tips
- North Cape travel tips
- Svalbard travel tips
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- Things to do in Honningsvåg
- Things to do in Bodø
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