- For other places with the same name, see Alta (disambiguation).
Alta is the largest town in the county of Finnmark, in Northern Norway. Alta is the regional hub and has some 15,000 inhabitants. The town is located at the inner or eastern end of Altafjorden. Alta town is the centre for Alta municipality (Norwegian: Alta kommune, Sami: Álttá suohkan) that includes Altafjorden and adjacents fjords, islands and valleys. Alta is an entry point to the great Finnmarksvidda and the great interior of northern Nordic area.
Alta is also known as "the Aurora Borealis city". The town centre stretches over a relatively wide area. Elvebakken area near the river mouth is also home to the airport that is virtually in the centre. The second historical part of the centre is Bossekop (sami: Bossugohppi). A new centre emerges between the two.
The tourist information seems to move around on a daily basis, so the first thing you might do is wind up traveling all over Alta looking for it. As of June 2012, the information center is in the Nordlys hotel, on the left, just as you enter town from the South. (You may notice other information signs as you travel through Alta, but almost all of them point to centers that have closed.)
Alta river is regarded as the best salmon fishing river in Norway, ahead of the great rivers of Trøndelag. The upper part of Alta river in the early 1980's was developed for hydro power and tall concrete dam was built in canyon and the flow of the river changed. This hydro power project was highly controversial and one of the most important environmental conflicts in Norway. Alta river with is canyon is still one of the finest rivers in Norway. The canyon begins some 30 km from Alta town.
During the second world war the German occupant used Alta as a base for the northern fleet. The warship Tirpitz, the largest in the German navy, were kept in Kåfjorden near the town. There were several allied attacks on the ship, the fatal one after the ship moved to Tromsø for repair. At the end of the war the German forces evacuated civilians from Finnmark and burned everything. In Alta town only the church remained, in Kåfjord, Talvik, Sopnes and Kviby churches also survived.
Jafet Lindeberg and others with experience from the copper mines in Kåfjord started gold digging in Alaska, and triggered the gold rush at Nome. Lindeberg emerged as one of the richest men in USA and was nicknamed "King of Alaska". Lindeberg and his associates originally came to Alaska as herdsmen for the live reindeer exported from Alta. The reindeer export was an attempt to create a new business for the inuits. A number of emigrants of Sami origin also traveled to Alaska along with several hundred reindeer. Among them Samuel Balto that gave name to Balto the husky. Later the Lomen family of Minnesota (who had emigrated from Valdres) established a large reindeer industry and arranged "reindeer processions" in the streets of US cities as a marketing trick. These reindeer processions may have reinforced the image of St Clause traveling by reindeer.
- 1 Alta Airport (ALF IATA). Is the busiest airport in Finnmark. Widerøe provides services from regional destinations including Kirkenes and Hammerfest while Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian has depatures from Oslo and Tromsø.
Alta sits on E6 (Norway's main road North-South) and E45 to/from Finland terminates downtown Alta. Because of Alta's northern location and long distance from continental Europe driving is usually not a viable option, except if Alta is part of a road trip through Scandinavia. The shortest drive from Copenhagen is more than 2,000 kilometers, and the full drive through Norway is also more than 2,000 km (about 36 hours drive).
- Through Sweden, Finland and Kautokeino is the fastest from south Scandinavia to Alta: E4 to Luleå, then E10 and 392 and 403 past Pajala to the border to Finland, then E8 and road 93/E45.
- From Tromsø: E6 is the only option.
- From Nordkapp: E6
- From Kirkenes/East Finnmark: E6
Search here [formerly dead link] for bus connections.
Alta is not a large city, but distances inside it are larger than might be expected. E6 is 12 km long inside the densely populated area.
- Prehistoric rock carvings - UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rock art is found in five separate areas in Alta, the largest being at Hjemmeluft/Jiepmaluokta, where Alta Museum is situated. This is the only area available to the public. In the summer season, groups are offered guided tours to the rock carvings. In the winter, the rock carvings are covered with snow, and not available to the public. The rock carvings in Alta were made by hunters and fishers in the Late Stone Age/Early Metal Age, between 6200 and 2000 years ago.
- 1 Raipas – The Raipas point on the world heritage listed Struve Geodetic Arc is not far from Alta as the crow flies, but the road there goes on the other side of Altaelva (Alta River) to the settlement of Raipas. Next to the road there's a parking, from where you will hike uphill for a couple of kilometers to the summit of Lille Raipas around 250 m ASL.
- Alta Museum Shop, Altaveien 19, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 8AM-8PM. Giftshop for the Alta Museum. Great selection of books and homewares from the region, and a decent selection of Sami handicrafts.
- Montana Alta, Sentrumsparken 4, ☏ . 10AM-7PM Mo-Sa. Unassuming luggage shop with a good selection of Sami knives and other Sami products inside, with prices slightly cheaper than the museum shop. Also stocks a wide selection of keyrings, magnets, trolls and other trinkets.
Search sites such as booking.com find around 5 places for accommodation in or near Alta.
- Alta Hostel, Kvenvikmoen, 9518 Alta, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Summer only. This hostel is about 14km from Alta, so it is hard to get to without a car. A public bus passes it once in the morning on the way to Alta, and there is one bus back in the afternoon.
- Mid range
- Best Western Nordlys Alta, Bekkefaret 3 (2 km west of city centre), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- High end
|Routes through Alta|
|Narvik ← Lyngen ←||W NE||→ (for Nordkapp) → Lakselv → Kirkenes|
|END ←||N S||→ Kautokeino → Gällivare|