Haldde Northern Lights Observatory

Halddetoppen is a peak at 905 meters above sea level located in Kåfjord, in Alta municipality. This location has a rich history of the first Norwegian space scientist Kristian Birkeland’s observatory for researching northern lights. Today, June 15th 2017 it is exactly 100 years since he passed.


Getting there is a bit of a long walk from sea to summit, perfect for a full day of hiking with a lunch break at the very top.


There is a large building at the site, the main house. The original house was lived in by over a dousin adults and children.


The observatory is the result of Birkeland’s decision to make a permanent base for making records of aurora borealis, magnetic disturbances and atmospheric parameters (Burke & Egeland, 2005:77).


Haldde is the worlds first permanent northern lights observatory site, built in 1912 and run until 1926 (Wiki). During the second world war the county of Finnmark was hit hard and most buildings including these were burnt down to the ground. Only the walls remained. It was however restored in the 1980’s and today the main building on Haldde is undergoing renovations as a new addition to the Norwegian tourist organizations huts (DNT). I didn’t go inside any of the buildings, but it is possible to stay overnight now for those who wish to.


Practical Facts:
Meters above sea level: 905
Time: 5-6 hours
Distance: 18 km
Level: Medium
Note: Parts are very tough and steep. But also flat landroad for much of the distance. This is a long hike with some river crossing.
Map: KartHaldde (Source: Alta kommune)


The reason that Alta is called “the city of northern lights” (nordlysbyen), is because of the clear weather that supplies great conditions for observing northern lights. Haldde mountain is easily seen from the otherwise low and flat terrain in this part of Finnmark as one of the highest points around.

If you’re looking for activities to do in Finnmark, this is a great way to experience nature near the city.

– Sunni


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