Narvik is a port town in Northern Norway, built in the late 1800s as a mining port serving the iron ore mines of Kiruna, Sweden. Even today the trains carrying the iron ore travel daily to Narvik, but the scenic railway called Ofoten Line or Iron Ore Line also carries passengers, through the wonderful route of the Arctic Circle Train that goes from Stockholm to Narvik passing through the Lapland villages of Abisko and Kiruna.
Narvik is one of the main gateways to Northern Norway, being located in the surroundings of the Lofoten Islands and the Vesterålen Islands. From here pass travelers from Sweden on their way to Tromsø, the Lofoten Islands and the beautiful areas of the far north. But Narvik is also a very popular destination for skiing and winter sports, making it one of the most attractive towns in the region.
What you will find in this travel guide to Narvik:
- Narvik: Interesting Facts and Things to Know
- Best Things to Do in Narvik
- Best Outdoor Activities to Do in Narvik
- Best Things to See and Do Around Narvik
- Best Restaurants in Narvik
- How to Get to Narvik
- Main Connections to and from Narvik
Narvik: Interesting Facts and Things to Know
Narvik is located in Northern Norway, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, in Nordland County. It rises at the mouth of the Ofotfjord and its branch, called Rombaksfjord, while behind it rise the mighty Fagernesfjellet and Frammeasen mountains.
Narvik was founded in 1887 as an all-year ice free port for the Kiruna Iron Mines, located in the heart of Swedish Lapland, as the ports on the Swedish Gulf of Bothnia are frozen in winter and therefore not usable for shipping iron ore. The works for the construction of the port began in 1882, parallel to those for the construction of the railway called Ofotbanen, which connects the port of Narvik with Riksgränsen, where the border with Sweden is located.
From here the railway called the Iron Ore Line continues to Kiruna, passing through Abisko, and then continues towards the mining town of Gällivare and ends in Luleå, on the Gulf of Bothnia. The railway still carries over 15 million tons of iron a year extracted from the Kiruna Mine, the largest underground iron ore mine in the world.
Some passenger trains also operate on the Iron Ore Line, in particular the Arctic Train that runs all 43 km of the Ofoten Line, from Narvik to Riksgränsen, and the Arctic Circle Train that goes from Stockholm to Narvik, passing through Kiruna and Abisko.
The works were initially carried out by an English company interested in investing in the mine and Narvik was called Victoriahavn, the Port of Victoria, dedicated to Queen Victoria. From 1898 the works passed to the Swedish and Norwegian companies, who renamed the city Narvik. In 1902 the construction of the port ended and the new town of Narvik began to welcome the workers with their families. The railway line brought great economic development to the city.
The mining port activity was interrupted during the Second World War, when Narvik was invaded by German troops and several battles were fought between the Germans and the British just off the Narvik coast. After the reconstruction, the mining port of Narvik resumed operation and still plays a key role in the local economy today.
Narvik is also an important gateway to Northern Norway, where train travelers from Sweden arrive on their way to Tromsø. But it is also one of the main starting points for visiting the Lofoten Islands and the Vesterålen Islands, which lie just northwest of Narvik.
In Narvik there are some car rental companies that allow you to rent a car to explore the beautiful surroundings, famous for being among the most beautiful in Norway. In about 3 hours of driving you reach Tromsø or the amazing Senja region. Also in 3 hours you can reach Svolvær, the largest town in the Lofoten Islands. The availability of rental cars in Narvik is quite limited, so it is highly advisable to book ahead of time, you can do so on a reputable website such as Rentalcars or Discovercars, where you can easily find the best deals.
Best Things to Do in Narvik
Narvikfjellet cable car
Narvik is a popular destination for skiers and winter sports enthusiasts. One of the main attractions is the cable car that takes you up to Mount Narvikfjellet, 656 meters above the fjord.
The Narvikfjellet Cable Car takes only 4 minutes to get to the upper station, on the top of Narvikfjellet, from where you can have a fantastic view of the fjord, the town of Narvik and the surrounding mountains.
On the top there are panoramic terraces and areas where you can sit and relax while enjoying the view. For this reason, the Narvikfjellet Cable Car is very popular in the summer, to admire the spectacle of the midnight sun, but also in the winter, when people come here not only to ski, but also to spot the Northern Lights.
From the upper station there are several paths for hiking or mountain biking in summer, while in winter there is an important and very well-equipped ski facility. There are slopes of different difficulty levels and ski lifts that lead up to the top of Mount Linken, at an altitude of 1000 meters, from where you can ski down a slope of medium difficulty. In addition to alpine or cross-country skiing, there are slopes for tobogganing and paths for walks with snowshoes.
At the top there is also a café-restaurant, the Fjellheisrestauranten, where you can warm up with a hot drink or try some local specialties. Locals love their waffles with brown cheese, sour cream, and jam. You can also reach the restaurant and the upper station by walking on the dirt road that starts near the lower station. It takes about an hour to get to the top and the road is open from May to November when there is no snow.
Narvik War Museum
The Narvik War Museum is located along the main road E6, near the tourist office, and traces the history of Northern Norway during the Second World War.
Its interesting exhibits cover the period from 1940 to 1945, starting with the famous Naval Battles of Narvik. In fact, on April 9, 1940, the German troops conquered the port of the city, but the next day they were attacked from the sea by the ships of the British Navy which in a few days completely destroyed the German forces.
The Narvik War Museum also chronicles the period of the Nazi invasion of Norway and the occupation up to 1945, with photographs, interactive exhibits and films. The museum also boasts interesting permanent and temporary exhibits, featuring uniforms, medals, helmets and weapons, with sections devoted to POW camps and the impact of war on civilian lives.
The Arctic Train and the Ofotbanen (Ofoten Railway)
The Ofotbanen (Ofoten Railway) is Norway’s northernmost railway, is 43km long and runs from the port of Narvik to the Swedish border town of Riksgränsen, where the railway line continues to the Swedish villages of Abisko (famous for being one of the best places in the world for sighting the Northern Lights) and Kiruna. From here it continues to Gällivare and Luleå, while a branch runs through all of Sweden to Stockholm.
The Ofoten Railway is now also one of Narvik’s main attractions, and even if you don’t feel like taking a long journey to the wilds of Swedish Lapland, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery along the stretch from Narvik to the border by taking the Arctic Train.
The train (recommended in summer or in the few hours of winter light) crosses landscapes of incredible beauty, valleys with rushing rivers and waterfalls, ancient bridges and tunnels. The railway goes up the fjord through forests and mountains to Bjørnefjell, 500 meters above sea level. Tickets can be purchased directly at Narvik Train Station.
The Narvik Museum is located near the town square and is housed in the former administration building of the NSB, the Norwegian railway company. The building is a house from 1902, with a yellow and red facade and a garden from which you have a nice view of the city and the harbor.
The museum tells the history of Narvik, its port, and the construction of the Ofoten Railway. It also tells about the local culture and the life of the locals, especially the sailors and harbor workers. You will also be able to board an old steam train and see a collection of artifacts found in the harbor.
Narvik Motor Museum
Narvik is also home to the small Narvik Motor Museum, dedicated to the history of vehicles. It is located near the Narvik War Museum, along the E6 road, and boasts an interesting collection of vintage cars, buses, tractors and caravans. The exhibition is complemented by descriptive panels and photographs of antique cars, as well as model trains and ferries.
Polar Park Arctic Wildlife Center
Located halfway between Narvik and Tromso, the exciting Polar Park is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in the region. It is located in the small village of Bardu, about an hour’s drive from Narvik, and is a kind of huge zoo dedicated to Arctic wildlife.
Don’t expect the classic zoo though, because there are no cages here, but the animals are free in their Arctic habitat. There are just several enclosures, such as the bear enclosure, the wolf enclosure, and so on. Fences are very large areas of the park, and walking along the paths between the fences you will be able to spot the different friendly guests of the park.
Here you will find many wild animals that normally live in sub-arctic regions, such as bears, wolves, lynxes, arctic foxes but also moose, deer and reindeer. The park is open all year round and also organizes guided tours, but keep in mind that in winter the bears hibernate and therefore will not be visible.
Best Outdoor Activities to Do in Narvik
Hike along the Rallarveien
The Rallarveien of the Ofotbanen is one of the most popular hiking routes from Narvik, and is an old construction road built in the early 1900s. The Rallarveien, which means “The Navvy Road”, runs from Narvik to Kiruna and was used for the works of the Ofotbanen.
The road is about 50 km long and after the end of the works it fell into disuse, only recently has it been rediscovered as a hiking route. Although the entire route starts from Abisko (in Sweden), the most famous stretches are from Bjørnfell (15 km long) and from Katterat (7 km long). Along the way it is still possible to see some remnants of old workers’ villages, including an old power plant and former dynamite warehouses.
The Rallarveien should not be confused with a similar hiking route called Rallarvegen, located along the Bergensbanen, near Bergen.
The old village of Rombaksbotn
The two most famous sections of the Rallarveien trail lead to the old village of Rombaksbotn on the Rombaken fjord. About 500 people lived here from 1898 to 1903, mainly Ofotbanen workers, and there was even a hotel, a grocery store, a police station and a bowling alley. It is said that there was even a brothel.
After the end of the Ofot Line’s works, the town was gradually abandoned, and destroyed first by a fire and then by a flood. It was never rebuilt and today only ruins remain. Although there is practically nothing to see, it is the arrival point of the most popular excursions in the area.
Hike from Bjørnfjell to Rombaksbotn
The trail starts from Björnfjell Station, near the Swedish border, accessible by Arctic Train (or any other train along the line between Narvik and Abisko). The trail is 15 km long and passes through a beautiful natural landscape, with waterfalls and beautiful views of the fjord and the surrounding mountains. Along the way there are several information panels on the history of the railway line and its construction.
The excursion is easy and suitable for the whole family. In Rombaksbotn you can choose whether to go back on foot, or take the boat which takes an hour to return to Narvik.
Hike from Katterat to Rombaksbotn
The trail starts from Katterat Station, accessible by train from Narvik, and is about 7km long, mostly downhill. Here too you can enjoy beautiful views of the fjord or the mountains, what you will see is practically the same as on the previous route. There are also information panels on the various historical remains you will encounter along the way, mainly remains of buildings used in the early 1900s for the construction of the railway.
Upon arrival, you can decide to go back, or take the boat that takes you back to Narvik in an hour.
Boat from Rombaksbotn to Narvik and Other Practical Information
The Rallarveien hiking trail is doable all year round, but it is advisable to do it between May and October, when the snow has melted, there are more hikers along the way and it is possible to go back by boat.
In summer there are some boats that go from Rombaksbotn to Narvik or from Rombaksbotn to Sildvik and from there you can go by bus to Narvik. This saves you from having to walk back along the Rallarveien to a train station. Prices start at NOK 600 per person. For more information and reservations you’ll ask to the Narvik tourist office.
While sailing the fjord you will also be able to see the remains of the famous German destroyer Z2 Georg Thiele, who was shipwrecked during one of the epic Narvik Naval Battles of 1940.
If you decide to go in the months of October to May keep in mind that the terrain will be difficult and the weather is unpredictable. Plus you’ll have to walk back, with little or no daylight hours. So make sure you are very well equipped.
If hiking isn’t your thing, you may want to opt for a more comfortable cruise on the Narvik fjord, called Ofotfjorden. The boats that connect Narvik with Rombaksbotn in fact make a round trip, so they are an excellent opportunity for a nice fjord cruise.
Norway’s Best’s (a local tour operator) boats operate the Fjord Cruise Narvik from May to September. The cruise lasts a couple of hours (round trip) and it is also possible to bring your own bike on the boat. It is a great way to comfortably admire the beauty of the fjord, surrounded by high mountains and picturesque coves.
Skiing on the Narvikfjellet
In winter Narvik is one of the main ski destinations in Norway. On the top of Mount Narvikfjellet there are top-level ski facilities, easily reachable with the cable car that leaves right in the city center.
Mount Narvikfjellet is very popular with families, as it offers slopes of various difficulty levels, including those for children and beginners. There are chairlifts and ski lifts that take you to the top of the summit, where you can also find restaurants and bars.
Spot the Northern Lights
Narvik is located at roughly the same latitude as the Lofoten Islands and the famous Swedish resorts of Abisko and Kiruna, renowned for being among the best places in the world to spot the Northern Lights.
Although Narvik does not have the same excellent weather conditions as the latter, because being on the coast it is more likely to have cloudy skies, it is still a good place to spot the Northern Lights. The only precaution is to get as far away as possible from the city center and the coast.
From November to March it is possible to spot the Northern Lights in Narvik, perhaps from the summit of Mount Narvikfjellet or from the more remote areas of Ofotfjorden. The best solution in Narvik is to stay overnight at Narvik Adventures AS, which offers an unforgettable experience in wonderful transparent and heated domes located in one of the most scenic places in Narvikfjellet, with a crazy view of Narvik and the fjord.
Otherwise you could enjoy a great stay in remote areas of Norwegian or Swedish Lapland, just a few kilometers from Narvik. Guesthouse Huskyfarm Innset is located about 100 km from Narvik, on the banks of a beautiful lake set in a breathtaking landscape. It offers great accommodations in a typical Norwegian mountain farm. You will also get to know their 80 sled dogs and maybe join one of their expedition style dogsled tours into the north norwegian wilderness.
If you have enough time to explore the region, you might want to take a trip to some of the beautiful villages of Swedish Lapland, which are just 40km from Narvik. In Riksgränsen, just past the border between Norway and Sweden and easily accessible by the E10 road, is the beautiful Arctic Lodge, which offers excellent apartments in an area perfect for winter sports and for spotting the Northern Lights.
Or you could spend a few nights in the beautiful village of Abisko, the heart of Swedish Lapland, famous for being one of the best places in the world to spot the Northern Lights, thanks to the abundance of clear skies and perfect weather conditions in the area. Here is also the famous Aurora Sky Station, an observatory located on the top of a mountain, which is reputed to be the perfect place to spot the Northern Lights. It can be reached by cable car from the STF Abisko Turiststation, which is a wonderful mountain retreat that has been active for over 100 years and offers excellent accommodation in private rooms or cottages.
Best Things to See and Do Around Narvik
Narvik is an excellent gateway to the Lofoten Islands and the Vesterålen Islands, famous for being one of the best places in the world for whale watching. However, to visit these wonderful regions of Norway it is advisable to travel with your own car.
Narvik Airport is located just halfway between the city center and the first towns of the Lofoten or Vesterålen Islands, just go west along the E10 road, which passes right in front of Narvik Airport. Many travelers choose to rent a car directly at the airport and then explore the stunning landscapes around Narvik on their own. You can find the best deals on reliable sites like Rentalcars or Discovercars, so you can book your car and find it ready for pickup upon your arrival at Narvik Airport.
There is also a convenient and inexpensive hotel close to Narvik Airport, the Sure Hotel by Best Western Harstad Narvik Airport, which offers good accommodation with breakfast and free private parking.
Narvik is also well connected with Sweden, both via the E10 road and the Ofot Line, which is mainly operated by Swedish railways. In fact, the station operates trains only to and from Sweden, in addition to the Arctic Train that goes as far as the Norway-Sweden border and back.
For this reason it might be a good idea to take a few-days trip to the beautiful places of Swedish Lapland, such as Abisko and Kiruna, where there is also one of the most famous Ice Hotels in the world. Abisko is located about 80 km from Narvik, while Kiruna about 170 km from Narvik. Both Abisko and Kiruna can also be reached by the famous Artic Circle Train, a night train that runs from Stockholm to Narvik and vice versa.
Abisko is 80 km from Narvik and is well connected both by road E10 and by train (about 2 hours). Abisko is one of the most famous resorts in northern Sweden, it is famous for cross-country skiing, for its enchanting hiking trails and for being one of the best places in the world to admire the Northern Lights, being in the center of the Aurora Oval and boasting the clearest sky in all of Scandinavia.
Being a small village, there is no light pollution, and there is also the opportunity to admire the aurora from the Aurora Sky Station, located on top of a mountain accessible by cable car, from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view.
Abisko National Park is one of Sweden’s most famous and boasts hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails, many of which are open all year round. With a little luck, you can also spot some wild animals, such as arctic foxes, reindeer and moose.
The best place to stay in Abisko is the legendary STF Abisko Turiststation, one of the first mountain huts built by Swedish explorers in these remote lands of Lapland. It offers excellent and comfortable accommodation, a restaurant serving Lappish specialties, and is the best starting point for excursions in the area.
The city of Kiruna is located about 170 km from Narvik, but it is the very reason that Narvik was built. In fact, the largest iron ore mine in the world is located here, which is why the railway and the port city of Narvik were built.
Kiruna is a desolate mining town in the heart of Lapland, connected to Narvik and Stockholm by the Arctic Circle Train (approximately 3 hours) and the E10 road (2.5 hours by car). There is also the local bus 91 operated by Länstrafikens which goes from Kiruna to Narvik (and back) in about 4 hours, only in the months between June and September and between February and April.
There are not many tourist attractions in Kiruna, but it is the base for a large number of excursions in the surrounding region. It is also a unique opportunity in the world to see a still active mining town in the far north. Here most of the inhabitants are mine workers, and mining influences the fate of the city. Just think of the fact that in recent years they have been dismantling the city and moving it, house by house, several kilometers further north west in order to enlarge the mine.
Some buildings are torn down, but most, especially the historic ones like the town hall and the church, are simply dismantled piece by piece and then rebuilt a little further. The mine is active, but it is possible to visit a small part of it by participating in an organized tour that can be booked at the tourist office, located in the main square of Kiruna.
Kiruna is also the gateway to the wonderful Swedish Lapland, here you can taste delicious Swedish and Lappish meat or fish specialties. While in the surrounding villages it is possible to spot the Northern Lights, visit Sami camps, and enjoy plenty of outdoor activities, such as dog sledding or reindeer sledding. Around Kiruna there are several traditional reindeer herds of the Sami people, which are the perfect opportunity to discover their traditions and culture, hear interesting stories and take a reindeer sleigh ride.
In the nearby village of Jukkasjärvi, reachable by local bus from Kiruna or by taxi or car, is the fabulous Icehotel, one of the most famous and scenic in the world. This ice hotel boasts wonderful ice suite accommodations, featuring hand-carved ice design and sculptures. Plus there are ice restaurants and bars, as well as great heated Nordic rooms and chalets. It is the ideal place for an unforgettable stay in the heart of Lapland.
Another wonderful place is the Arctic Gourmet Cabin, located in the village of Kaalasjärvi, about 20 km from Kiruna. It offers wonderful accommodations in rooms with lake view, surrounded by nature, in a perfect place to spot the Northern Lights. But the highlight here is the cuisine of Jhonas, the owner, who can be your personal chef and will cook excellent specialties of the traditional local cuisine.
Arctic Circle Train from Stockholm to Narvik
Narvik is directly connected to Stockholm by the Arctic Circle Train, a night train that departs from Stockholm Central Station at 5pm and arrives in Narvik at 1pm the next day.
This 20-hour journey is undoubtedly one of the best experiences to do in Sweden, making it very popular with travelers exploring Swedish Lapland. The Arctic Circle Train is included in the Interrail Global Pass, so if you are considering an Interrail trip in Scandinavia you may want to include this route on your itinerary.
The Arctic Circle Train also stops in Kiruna and Abisko, so you could interrupt your journey and spend a few days there, then catch the train or bus to Narvik a few days later. The Arctic Circle Train passes through landscapes of indescribable beauty, and is worth doing in any season. In winter, however, bear in mind that due to the few hours of light you won’t see much, but it’s still worth it.
Arctic Train from Narvik to Bjørnfjell
Another popular tourist route is the Arctic Train, the train that runs along the railway line from Narvik to the Swedish border town Bjørnfjell, located over 500 meters above sea level. This 43km train journey passes through beautiful landscapes and offers stunning views of the fjord and surrounding mountains along the historic Ofotbanen railway. The same section is covered by the Arctic Circle Train of the Swedish Railways, but this train only runs on the Norwegian section of the railway.
The train leaves from Narvik Central Station twice a day, at 12.00 and 5.15pm. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes one way. To return to Narvik from Bjørnfjell there are two trains, at 1.15pm and 6.25pm. Going from Narvik to Bjørnfjell secure a seat on the left and return to the right for the best views.
The ticket price starts from 520 NOK per person and can be purchased at Narvik Train Station or onboard the train. Alternatively, you could buy a ticket for the Arctic Circle Train from Narvik to Bjørnfjell on the Swedish Railways website, for less than half the price of the Arctic Train. The two trains travel exactly the same route.
Best Restaurants in Narvik
The Fiskehallen Restaurant is located in the city center of Narvik, next to the AMFI shopping center, near the main road E6. The restaurant offers excellent fish specialties, including delicious fish soups and even whale steaks. There are also less daring dishes, such as Fish & Chips and mussels.
Linken Restaurant & Bar
The Linken Restaurant & Bar is located along the E6 near Bromsgård and is the restaurant of the Quality Hotel Grand Royal. It is an elegant, refined and modern restaurant, located on the rooftop of the hotel with a beautiful view of the city. It serves excellent local specialties in a refined way, with also vegetarian and international cuisine options. They also have a good choice of wines.
The Fjellheisrestauranten is located right on the top of the Narvikfjellet mountain, accessible by cable car from Narvik. It is open all year round, and is very popular in winter, when people come here to rest and relax after a day of skiing. It boasts good city views and serves good international cuisine including burgers, pizza and sandwiches.
How to Get to Narvik
Getting to Narvik by Plane
The nearest airport is Harstad-Narvik Airport which is located 60 km from the city, in Evenes. There are several flights from Oslo, Trondheim, Bodø and Tromsø. Approx. 100 km from Narvik there is also Bardufoss Airport, which mainly operates domestic flights.
To go from Narvik Airport to the city center there is a bus operated by Flybussen (approximately 1.5 hours) which leaves right in front of the terminal. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. There is a Flybussen bus also from Bardufoss Airport to Narvik city center.
Getting to Narvik by Bus
Narvik Bus Station is located on the west side of the city, near the AMFI shopping center. There are connections with Tromsø (4 hours), Bodø (6 hours) and Fauske (5 hours). There are also buses to the Lofoten Islands, to Svolvær (4 hours) or to Å (with change in Leknes).
There are also direct buses to Abisko (1.5 hours) and which continue onwards to Kiruna (3 hours from Abisko).
Getting to Narvik by Train
Narvik is the last railway station in Northern Norway. It is not served by trains from Norway, only from Sweden. There are trains arriving from Luleå (7 hours) or there is the night train (Arctic Circle Train) which goes from Stockholm to Narvik in 20 hours. Both trains stop in Kiruna and Abisko. The route runs along the Ofotbanen scenic railway.
Main Connections to and from Narvik
From Tromsø to Narvik
From Tromsø to Narvik there is a direct bus N.100 which leaves from Tromsø Prostneset Bus Station and takes 4 hours to get to Narvik Bus Station.
From Bodø to Narvik
You can go from Bodø to Narvik (and vice versa) with Bus 100 operated by Reis Nordland, which takes around 6.15 hours from Bodø Central Bus Station to Narvik Bus Station.
From Narvik to the Lofoten Islands
From Narvik Bus Station there are some direct local buses to Svolvær (4 hours) or to Å (changing at Leknes).
From Kiruna or Abisko to Narvik
Kiruna and Abisko are connected with Narvik by the railway line. From Kiruna to Narvik it takes 3 hours and the same train stops in Abisko (2 hours).
From Oslo to Narvik
The best way to get from Oslo to Narvik is by plane. There are direct flights operated by Norwegian and SAS and others with a stopover in Tromsø. An alternative could be to take the train to Trondheim and from there to Fauske, from where a bus to Narvik leaves (5 hours).