The sun doesn’t set above the Arctic Circle right now. It’s the magical part of the summer called the midnight sun. It’s when it never really gets dark. Days seem endless. Nights feel just out of reach. Even with an eye mask, your sleep schedule is off. So why fight it? You should use all that extra daylight to your advantage.
Northern Norway is known as the land of the midnight sun in the summer and the land of the northern lights in the winter. It makes up about 35 percent of the Scandinavian country’s mainland. Most of that lies above the Arctic Circle. So summers are short and cool. They’re also bright. From mid-May to late-July, the sun is up all day. It doesn’t begin to set before 11 pm until August. Even then, it returns shortly after 2 am. So there’s still plenty of time for long adventures this summer.
Alta is Norway’s northernmost city. It’s actually the northernmost city in the world with a population greater than 10,000. The small city sits at the end of Altafjorden. The long fjord is lined with prehistoric rock carvings. The Rock Art of Alta, made by fishermen and hunters during the late Stone Age, is now an open-air museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the 19th-century, British lords discovered the fertile fishing grounds leading into the fjord. These rivers are still considered some of the best salmon waters in the world. Alta’s location also made it a strategic position during World War II. The Germans built a naval base on Altafjorden. The Brits attacked it. Much of Alta was ultimately destroyed. Aside from a few churches, including the historic Alta Church and the new Northern Lights Cathedral, you aren’t here to see buildings anyway.
You’re here to immerse yourself in nature. The area around Alta is beautiful. It’s lush, mountainous, and sparsely inhabited. People come to go dogsledding, skiing, snowmobiling, and aurora borealis chasing in the winter. They sleep in ice hotels, too. King crab fishing is the focus in the fall. While biking, hiking, and salmon fishing rule in the summer. You plan to be active all day before spending some time in a spa and eating fresh produce from Northern Norway’s short growing season.
Bjørnfjell Mountain Lodge is the perfect place to relax—while continuing to soak up your gorgeous surroundings—after an adventure-filled day. The lodge is 20 minutes from the center of the city. It sits along the edge of SarvesAlta, an alpine resort with ski-to-door access in the winter and a climbing park, featuring 10 ziplines, the rest of the year. The lodge itself has a hygge vibe. The Old Norse word is usually associated with the Danes, though the Norwegians enjoy the cozy mood, as well. So expect lots of natural wood, soothing colors, and warm textures.
You get to choose between a cute room in the main lodge or a freestanding cabin overlooking nearby farms. The rooms have queen beds, window seats, and colorful lounge chairs. Fireplaces and lofts are added to the cabins. A jacuzzi and a sauna are in the Spa Cabin. Plus salmon carpaccio and lamb with wild herbs are served by candlelight—make that sunlight—in the restaurant. Darkness is completely overrated.