This relaxed road trip explores an area of Norway's Arctic rarely visited by tourists. Start in fjord-side Alta and drive inland to experience indigenous culture while staying in a cozy wilderness lodge. You'll then make your way towards the northernmost tip of the continent for hiking trails, colorful villages, and breathtaking views. Spend each night looking for early glimpses of the Northern Lights—they usually start in October.

Highlights

  • Bundle up for a canoe ride surrounded by untouched scenery
  • Look for wild reindeer as you drive between towns known for Sami culture
  • Get quality time with a fleet of huskies and their adorable puppies
  • Take an autumn hike in a national park with birch and pine forests
  • Visit quaint fishing villages in the North Cape at your own pace

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Alta Alta
Day 2 Explore Alta Alta
Day 3 Visit Reindeer & huskies Karasjok
Day 4 Explore Karasjok Karasjok
Day 5 Drive to Lakselv - Continue to the North Cape North Cape
Day 6 Explore the North Cape - Return to Alta Alta
Day 7 Depart Norway  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Alta

Expect fewer tourists in this remote area of Norway
Expect fewer tourists in this remote area of Norway

Welcome to Norway! Your trip begins in Alta—the largest town in the country's northernmost county, which lies in the inner reaches of the Alta Fjord on the coast. Once you touch down at Alta's airport, you'll pick up your rental car and make the short drive to your hotel. 

Once you're settled, head outside and wander around town visiting the Northern Lights Cathedral, a modern architectural icon. From here, there are several restaurants to try for dinner, like Alta Bistro, Restaurant Havblikk, Trine og Trasti for local ingredients, and even a chic, cozy space called Du Verden Matbar that serves Nothern Norway's traditional dried fish. 

Day 2: Explore Alta

Pre-historic rock art near Alta
Pre-historic rock art near Alta

After breakfast, you'll have the entire day to explore Alta and the surrounding area any way you'd like. 

Start by visiting the Alta Museum, featuring Northern Europe’s largest concentration of rock art made by hunter-gatherers. This unique UNESCO World Heritage Site is comprised of rock carvings and rock paintings made from 7,000 to 2,000 years ago and depicts rituals, symbolism and religious beliefs from the pre-Christian ages. If there happens to be an early snow on the ground, you will not be able to view the rock art itself, but the museum still makes a worthwhile stop.

Nature-lovers' will also have their pick of forests, mountain plateaus, and dramatic coastal landscapes. With a rental car, you'll have the freedom to enjoy numerous opportunities for photo stops or short hikes along the route. Be sure to wear warm layers and plan accordingly based on the type of activity you'd like to enjoy during the autumn months (snow is also possible). Other outdoor options this time of year include canoeing down the Alta River or fat-tire biking on designated trails or roads.

After dinner, if the skies are clear, keep an eye out for the Northern Lights, which usually start making appearances in October.

Day 3: Visit Reindeer & huskies

Spend time with the huskies as they train for dogsledding season
Spend time with the huskies as they train for dogsledding season

After breakfast at your hotel in Alta, you'll drive south to Kautokeino, a vibrant little town of about 1,500 residents known for Sami culture, the indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. The drive is just over 1.5 hours, and passes through beautiful landscapes and autumn colors—you may even encounter reindeer along the route!

After lunch and a walk around Kautokeino's sites including the Sámi University College, the Nordic Sámi Institute, and the Sámi theatre, you'll head to the Engholm Husky Design Lodge near Karasjok—another 1.5-hour drivewhere you'll stay two nights in charming, individually-decorated log cabins.

This family farm in the Nordic wilderness raises sled dogs for long-distance racing. In the non-winter months, you can simply hang out with the huskies and join daily life on the farm where puppies will be learning to socialize. The property also has a library, a wood-heated sauna, and outdoor hot tub.

Homecooked meals are provided during your stay, and they'll be served in the Engholm Husky dining room.

Day 4: Explore Karasjok

The Sami Parliament of Norway
The Sami Parliament of Norway

Today, you can spend the morning relaxing at the lodge with a leisurely breakfast. If you so choose, spend more time with the huskies, perhaps taking a nature walk with them, or watching more training techniques offered by the staff.

From here, you'll have the rest of the day to explore the nearby town of Karasjok, part of the vast Finnmark Plateau where you can experience another slice of local Sami culture; in fact, nearly all the local residents speak Sami. The area is also home to thousands of reindeer, so if you haven't seen any yet, there is a good chance of sightings as you head in and out of town. 

While there, visit the Karasjok museum, called Sapmi, where you will learn about the ancient art of knife making. You can also view the oldest church in Finnmark (dating back to 1807,) and watch a film about the rituals and beliefs of the Sami shaman before Christianity came to Norway.

You'll return to the lodge in time for another homemade dinner with local ingredients before retreating to your cozy cabin.

Day 5: Drive to Lakselv - Continue to the North Cape

Village near the North Cape
Village near the North Cape

After breakfast, get ready for a flurry of goodbyes to the four-legged residents and two-legged staff at the Enghold Husky Design Lodge before you drive about an hour north to the village of Lakselv—a great stop for lunch. 

In addition to salmon, trout, and Arctic char fishing, this small town of just under 1,000 residents is known for hiking trails in the nearby Stabbursdalen National Park. Head to the park after lunch to enjoy autumn colors in the surrounding mountains sprinkled with birch and pine forests, as well as the occasional waterfall.

You'll then continue driving about three hours towards the North Cape where you'll stay overnight. This is the northernmost point of Europe and offers beautiful views, so keep your camera close!

Day 6: Explore the North Cape - Return to Alta

Views from the North Cape
Views from the North Cape

Today is a free day to explore the coastal area around North Cape on the island of Magerøya (accessed by highway E69). A good place to start is taking the trail to the natural arch of Kirkeporten, for a view of the North Cape Plateau rising 1007 feet (307 meters) above sea level. For a more challenging trail and even more rewarding vantage point, head to cape Knivskjellodden where you'll get close to the seaside cliff.

Other attractions include a visitor center with year-round exhibits and bird-watching at Gjesværstappan, home to local fowl like puffins, gannets, and cormorants. You can also stop through small, colorful fishing villages like Skarsvåg, Gjesvær, and Kamøyvær, which offer lunch spots, authentic souvenirs, and more pretty views. 

In the afternoon, you'll make the 3.5-hour drive back to Alta where you'll spend your last evening of the trip.

Day 7: Depart Norway

Vow to return soon!
Vow to return soon!

After breakfast, head to the airport and catch your departing flight. Although it's time to say goodbye to Norway, the memories from your trip will surely stay with you forever!

Map

Map of Autumn Road Trip in Norway's Arctic - 7 Days
Map of Autumn Road Trip in Norway's Arctic - 7 Days