Journey to the Arctic Circle on Norway’s Northernmost Railways

Known as The Arctic Train, this remarkable feat of engineering whisks travelers through a breathtaking vista of untamed wilderness. Sustainable upscale tour company Up Norway offers this unique train ride as part of an itinerary to Lofoten and Narvik.

In addition to spectacular scenery, travelers can immerse themselves in local culture and cuisine along the route. For example, in Mo i Rana, visitors can step aboard Saltstraumen, the world’s strongest whirlpool, for an incredible thrill.

Narvik – Bodo

As the train winds its way northwards, you’ll hear a message over the speakers that you have officially crossed the Arctic Circle. This moment is a true milestone and a reminder of how the natural landscape along this route continues to change and evolve. Take a look outside the window and keep your camera at hand to capture the stunning landscapes, snow-covered mountains, charming villages, and more. It’s recommended to pack warm winter clothing, including a hat and gloves, for this part of the trip.

After you pass through the Namsen valley corridor, the Nordland Line enters the fjord of Vefsna. This is a fascinating fjord with a dramatic story to tell. It was once used as an export route for Europe’s largest iron ore deposits, and was also the setting for some of Norway’s most intense warfare during World War II. In fact, two concrete blocks in the fjord are all that remain from the anchorage of the battleship Tirpitz, which was sunk here during the war.

The train will then head on to the Hardangervidda plateau, which is both an astonishing geological formation and a magnificent piece of engineering. It was carved out over millennia by glaciers, and the rail builders managed to get a mainline railway over it in less than 20 years.

From here, the track will head into more mountain areas and tunnels. Then the train will enter Nordland county and arrive at Bodo. The trip to Bodo is about 6 hours, and there are many cool things to see and do in this city on the edge of the fjords.

If you’re planning a multi-city journey with the Nordland line, consider adding on an extra day to your itinerary to explore Lofoten and Salten. We can create a curated itinerary for you that includes accommodation in one of our favourite ‘rorbu’ lodges and a private guided tour of the War Museum to learn more about the important events that shaped this region. It’s an amazing experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

Narvik – Trondheim

The journey from Narvik to Trondheim on Norway’s Northernmost Railways combines nature and culture in a way that will enchant any traveler. Park guide Benny Saetermo, who works at Nordland National Park Center, says the route showcases a huge diversity in landscape and climate. It’s also a chance to spot reindeer and other wild animals. “When you reach the large Saltfjellet mountain range, it’s like a botanical border. The southern side of the mountain has spruce forests, while the northern part has pine forests,” he explains.

On the way up to Saltfjellet, the train passes through tunnels cut into the mountains and along a scenic coastline, which is as rugged as Maine’s. The landscape is awe-inspiring in all seasons. “During winter you can often see the magical northern lights, and in summer it’s a great place to watch the sun come up over the Arctic Circle,” Benny says.

Ahead lies Mo i Rana, a hardy town on the edge of a glacier and surrounded by towering mountains and a fjord that looks as ice-blue as the sea. You can spend the night here or head a bit further north into the wilderness to Arctic Circle Center (Polarsirkelsenteret), a monument where you can take photos and get a certificate that proves you have crossed the Arctic Circle.

The next day, you’ll continue north to the ice-free port of Narvik, which was destroyed in World War II but has been rebuilt and now attracts cruise ships and private yachts. There’s plenty to do in this chilly, evocative city, from prehistoric rock carvings to the emerging street art scene and a restaurant scene that is all about local ingredients. You can also visit the famous whirlpool Saltstraumen and dive under the waves to witness its raw power.

There are many ways to reach Narvik from Trondheim, and Vivanoda makes it easy to find the best option for you. Use our travel planner to compare fares and travel times, and book your tickets online in advance to save money on the trip. Then, sit back and enjoy the ride!

Trondheim – Bodo

Trains from Trondheim to Bodo traverse tranquil landscapes peppered with majestic mountains, fjords, and waterfalls. Alight at select spots to inspect nature from close quarters – on foot, by boat, or even in a kayak – or discover the best cultural highlights and local cuisine. Cross the Arctic Circle and enjoy never-ending summer nights beneath the midnight sun.

The Nordlandsbanen (Nordland Railway) is a journey of unsurpassed beauty. The muted beauty of the landscape doesn’t demand neck-craning concentration, but if you are lucky enough to travel at night, it is truly an experience like no other. Watch the rocky outcrops, skerries, and communities like Majavatn, Mosjoen, and Mo i Rana fade away as you head further north and see the landscape change from rock to forest and from fjord to skerry.

After a few hours you’ll hear the announcement over the loudspeaker that you have crossed the Arctic Circle. Keep your camera ready to capture the stone pyramids beside the railway which mark this magical milestone. You’ll also have a good chance of spotting reindeer as you pass through this kingdom of the midnight sun.

Arriving in Bodo, you can either relax at your hotel or go for a stroll in the historic town center. It’s a great place to take in the city’s street art and vibrant emerging restaurant scene. Or, if you feel adventurous, you can take a RIB-boat to the Saltstraumen, the world’s strongest whirlpool and witness nature’s raw power firsthand.

With so many incredible attractions, it’s easy to make the most of your time in Bodo. If you want to do it all, consider extending your stay and adding on an adventure on the legendary Ofoten Railway, which is a highlight of this rail-centric itinerary. You can explore Norway’s stunning fjords and mountains along the rugged, untamed landscape from Narvik to Ofoten. It’s a trip of a lifetime you won’t want to miss. Plan your journey to Bodo today! It’s easy to find cheap flights from TRD to BOO on Expedia. Whether you’re looking for a round trip or a one-way ticket, there’s plenty of affordable options to fit your budget.

Bodo – Narvik

The journey from Bodo to Narvik on Norway’s northernmost railways is one that many ardent travellers hope to take. It showcases a huge variety in landscape, culture, and climate. “It’s really beautiful and interesting to watch the landscape change as you travel north,” says Benny Saetermo, a park guide at Nordland National Park Center. He also adds that it’s easy to spot plenty of wildlife on the train.

The 729-kilometre Nordland Railway connects a variety of small villages with the rest of the country, and it’s an important link for local businesses. For example, seafood exports run south of the line to Sortland, and they’ve grown by 217% in recent years. Environmental campaigners say that moving some of this traffic from road to rail will help protect the environment, and improve traffic safety.

As the train chugs northwards, you’ll enjoy jaw-dropping views of deep fjords and towering mountain peaks. During your journey, be sure to download the Voice of Norway app for free audio guides that will reveal the stories behind the places you pass by.

When the Arctic Train was first built, it helped bring life to isolated communities. Today, it continues to play a vital role in the region’s economy, connecting remote communities and opening new opportunities for business growth.

It’s also a symbol of Norway’s long history of co-operation with other nations and peoples. In fact, tens of thousands of Soviet and Yugoslav prisoners of war built the stretch from Mosjoen to Dunderland during World War II, working with the NSB under German occupation. The story has been thrust back into the spotlight with a new book, Fangene som forsvant (The Prisoners Who Disappeared).

Whether you’re looking to make the trip from Bodo to Narvik on your own or as part of our extended Northern Lights in Lofoten itinerary, you’ll certainly be impressed by this stunning region. It’s a perfect place to recharge your batteries, and experience the beauty of nature, the rich cultural heritage, and the warm hospitality of the people who call this area home. So sit back in your comfortable train seat, relax, and prepare for a truly unforgettable journey.

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