train narvik

Inside the train from Narvik to Luleå.

I recently went up to the very north of Scandinavia, where I took one of the most iconic train journeys in Europe, from Narvik to Luleå.

I was in northern Norway, a few weeks ago, to meet some friends. I flew to Norway. But for the return journey, I decided to go overland, back to Denmark. Part of that trip included one of the most iconic train journeys in Europe, from Narvik to Boden, near Luleå in Sweden.

Narvik view

Nice view of Narvik from my hotel window.

The first part of the train journey was from Narvik, in northern Norway, to Boden in Sweden. Boden is right next to Luleå, where the train line ends.

Norway cargo train

One of the many cargo trains that are transporting iron ore from Sweden to Norway.

This journey is one of the northernmost train lines in the world. And a very important one. The reason is that northern Sweden has a lot of iron ore. Something that is badly needed around the world, for production of many things.

During the Second World War the iron ore line became very important. Germany was getting their bulk of iron ore, for their arms production, from the mines in Sweden. So the allied forces were very keen to stop that iron ore supply. And since the iron ore was all transported to the sea by train, the iron ore line became very important.


Narvik is an important harbour town, as the Gulf Stream keeps it free of ice, all year around.

Next to all the cargo trains, you also have a passenger train running, these days. It is used by a combination of locals and international travelers . I was sitting next to Dutch and American travelers, as well as some local hikers, when I got on the train.

The first part of the Journey, which took me from Narvik to the Swedish border, was very scenic. Actually the first part of the journey is the prettiest,  with dramatic mountain scenery, as you cross the border into Sweden. On the Swedish side of the border, you enter the national park called Abisko, as soon as you cross the border.

train norway

Hikers getting on and off the train, at the Swedish/Norwegian border.

At Abisko, a lot of people got on and off the train. Almost all of them were wearing outdoor gear. This is one of the prime spots in Europe for some serious mountain trekking. And the train passengers reflected that.

Scenery Norway

The scenery from the train is very nice.

Long train journeys are not for everyone. Some people think it’s boring. But I love sitting in a compartment full of random strangers that I can talk to, all while the world is passing by, outside my window. I am happy taking long train journeys, even when the scenery is not that interesting.

Train Window

Looking out of the train window.

I always try to avoid long bus journeys, if there is a train available. Long bus journeys are as cramped and uncomfortable as overseas flights, where I can barely move. Then better give me a train with a dining car, where I can go for a drink and a meal, while the train is moving. All while I talk to some new random strangers that have also chosen to take the same train journey as I have.

The dining car in this train was more of a little shop, with a few tables, where you could stand up and eat. I would have preferred a real dining car. But it was still ok. And the beer they sold me was quite good 🙂 .

Passing by the town that is about to be moved to a new location.

Kiruna is the northernmost town in Sweden. And it’s also a town that is in danger of being swallowed up by the largest iron mine in the world, that lies underneath Kiruna. Therefore, the Swedish Authorities are currently moving almost every building in Kiruna, one by one, to a location around 3 kilometers from where Kiruna is now. Pretty crazy, but very fascinating project. You can see a little video of how they are moving a town of 23.000 inhabitants, one by one, on this link.

After Kiruna, we passed the smaller town of Gällivare and the scenery started to become a little less scenic. If you like looking at trees, then the journey between Gällivare and Luleå is great for you though. I found it a little mundane. But the train was filled with passengers with interesting stories. So I socialized a bit, and also spent some time with my book and my laptop. 

How long does the train from Narvik to Luleå take?

The journey takes around 7 hours. 7 hours and 12 minutes, if everything runs on time. It’s a daytime train, so you will have a nice view of the landscape all the way. Unless you travel during the winter, where Northern Scandinavia does not see any daylight for a few weeks, due to its northern location. 

A few things about Narvik.

Narvik iis one of the main towns in northern Norway. It is still just a town of 21.000 inhabitants though. The town was bombed heavily during the Second World War. So most buildings are fairly new. The natural scenery is fantastic though. I stayed two nights in -Narvik, in two different hotels. Both of them were really nice as well as quite reasonably priced, for Norwegian standards. 

One of the hotels I stayed at was called Breidablik Guest house. The other one was Hotel Wivel. They were both very nice budget hotels, with very friendly and efficient service. I won’t really recommend one over the other, as they were both very nice. But I will certainly recommend both.

Breidablik Guest House.

Breidablik Guest House in Narvik.

While I was waiting for the train I waited some time at the train station cafe, which I have to give a thumbs up. I have been to many train station cafes around the world that are quite miserable. But the train station cafe in Narvik is really nice.

train station cafe Narvik.

The wonderful little cafe at the train station in Narvik.

How to book the train ticket from Narvik to Luleå.

I booked my train ticket on the website of the Swedish Railways. The tickets go on sale 2-3 months before departure. They sell out quick. So try to book as soon as the open for bookings on the date you want to travel. I actually had to move my journey one day, as the day I wanted to travel was already sold out. That was even if I made my booking 8 weeks in advance.

This was a little about my train journey in the very north of Scandinavia.

Feel free to ask me any question you might have about the journey from Narvik to Luleå and I will do my best to answer your question.

Happy travels.


  1. Did you dismantle our bike ?
    I read thé SJ compagny dont allow bicycles

  2. What a brilliant post and such amazing photos.. I so want to go to this place

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