Although the fishing and slate-quarrying town of Alta lies at latitude 70°N, it enjoys a relatively mild climate. The Alta Museum, with its ancient petroglyphs, is a must-see and the lush green Sautso-Alta canyon, a quick hop away, is simply breathtaking.
The river Altaelva, which runs east of town, was once a Sami fishery and a popular haunt of sporting 19th-century English aristocrats. In the late 1970s, it became an environmental cause célèbre when, despite fierce local and national opposition, a 100m-high dam, the Altadammen, was built to exploit this rich salmon-spawning stream for hydroelectric power.
Alta, stretching along some 15km of coastline, has a large footprint. Its two main centres are about 2km apart: hilly Bossekop to the west, and Sentrum in – well, just that, with its uninspiring blocks and parking lots and a pleasant enough traffic-free central square.