Alta Cruises, Norway
- Don’t miss Alta Museum. This World Heritage Site is home to tonnes of rock carvings, dating back to 4,200 BC – proving that humans did venture this far north in prehistoric times.
- Check out the Northern Lights Cathedral. If the lights don’t show outside, this place has an interactive exhibition devoted to the elusive Aurora Borealis.
- Hike around Northern Europe’s biggest canyon, just outside of town. This is real back-to-nature stuff, so you’re likely to pass waterfalls, reindeer and leaping salmon.
SHORE EXCURSIONS View all excursions
There’s almost as much art in Alta as there is in the Tate Gallery. But there’s not a canvass or watercolour in sight in this town, on the edge of the Altafjord. Instead, the drawings and murals are all done on rock, and they were created in prehistoric times. You’ll begin this trip with a visit to the Alta petroglyphs. There are more than 2,500 carvings and paintings on the rocks here, and the earliest were brought to being in 4,200 BC. As you walk around this World Heritage Site, you’ll see carvings of reindeer, fishermen, and hunting scenes. Even today, no-one agrees on the exact purpose of the petroglyphs. Some say tribes used them to mark their territory, others say they’re a Stone Age Bayeux Tapestry, used to record history. When you’ve formed your own opinion on their purpose you’ll move on to the second part of this trip – the Paeskatun Slate Quarry. The industry of this place has helped to keep Alta’s home fires burning for the best part of 200 years. The graphite-coloured stone is still exported all around the world. There’s plenty to look at in the slate souvenir shops.
The 21st century looks different in Maze. You’ll see this for yourself on this trip. A drive will take you along the Finnmarksvidda Mountain Plateau, and after about an hour, you’ll arrive at Maze. This place is populated by the traditional Sami people. Nature sets the timetable for these people’s lives. They spend their days herding reindeer and, when the ice gets thinner, fishing through pot holes. This trip includes an invitation into a traditional tent. These structures are called Lavvo and they look like wig wams. Once inside, you’ll do as the Sami do. You’ll sit on cosy reindeer pelts on the ground and try typical Sami refreshments. A Sami host will join you inside and, as a log fire crackles in the background, he’ll recount stories of Sami culture and history.
You’ll head into the heart of Norway’s wilderness during this riverboat tour up the Alta River. It starts off in Sorrisniva, a remote waterside spot surrounded by woodland. After a quick safety briefing, you’ll board your traditional riverboat and set off. The canoe-like vessel’s thin enough to access the narrower sections of the river that a cruise ship just can’t get to. Keep your eyes peeled, because the wooded hills around here are home to lots of different animals, including reindeer, moose and hundreds of bird species. Your local guide will tell you stories about the area and its history, as you make your way through one of Europe’s largest canyons to a popular salmon-fishing spot. You’ll stop for a chance to snap some photos of the landscape, before heading back to Sorrisniva. When you arrive, the guide will get a bonfire going, and you’ll warm up with a cup of tea or coffee. After, you’ll then hop back on the coach for a return journey to the port.