The topography around Narvik is more than a little crazy. The mountains soar 1,800 metres (5,905 ft) straight up out of the Ofotfjord to form some of our country's wildest and most rugged landscapes. And not only is this spectacularly beautiful, it is also ideal for Northern Lights safaris. This is because Narvik's Northern Lights guides can study the wind direction to work out where the best place is for a chance of clear skies. If snow clouds are looming in the north west, the skies might be clear in Skjomen. If the southerly wind is blowing clouds in over the city, the weather could be clear north of Gratangsfjell. When mild weather from the south west starts to melt the icicles on the roofs, Sweden might be the solution. Cold snow from the east means that you can stand on the beach just outside the city and see the Northern Lights above the peaks on the other side of the fjord. Or for a more relaxing alternative, you could visit the Sami of Njalasuoka, drink coffee beside the camp fire in a 'lavvo' tent, and look for the Northern Lights high up in the mountains.
Winter sports city in the far north
Narvikfjellet is Northern Scandinavia's highest ski resort, and runs from a height of 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) all the way down into the city centre beside the Ofotfjord. The runs vary from very family-friendly to extreme black challenges, and many people like to combine Narvikfjellet with a trip to Riksgränsen, a few hundred metres across the border with Sweden, a one-hour drive east. Real adventure-seekers prefer alpine ski touring, or off-piste skiing, in the wild mountains of this beautiful region.
Second World War focal point
Narvik is a small town with a big name. In April and May 1940, the first major battle of the Second World War was fought in Narvik, where Hitler suffered his first defeat. Soldiers from Germany, Austria, Great Britain, France and Poland took part in this battle. In 2016, Narvik's new War Museum will open, to tell us the dramatic story. In Narvik's city centre, you can also see a stone from Hiroshima, a gift from one city destroyed by war to another.
Rompostei cake and sky bars
Modern Narvik is a small but lively city with a compact city centre. Life in Narvik revolves around Kongens Gate street, known by the locals as 'Gate 1', and Torget. Places worth visiting include the colourful Fish Market and Myklevold Bakery, which serves 'rompostei', a heavenly cake made with marzipan and rum-flavoured cream. Narvik's night-life ranges from the cosy, traditional 'Narvikguten' pub to the elegant sky bars – which are also ideal places to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
The Ofotbanen railway line
Narvik Station is the northernmost railway station in Western Europe, and the short stretch of line up to the Swedish border is Norway's most profitable, because of all the iron ore that is transported from the mines in Kiruna in Sweden. It might also be Norway's most beautiful railway line, because the hour's journey up to the border is a kaleidoscope of craggy mountains, fjords and snow-covered winter landscapes.
Meet the wolves
Bardu, a good hour north of Narvik, is on the edge of the wilderness. The huge Altavatn lake freezes solid in winter, and you can drive snowmobiles on the ice, far inland towards the Swedish border and the remote Rohkunborri National Park. For a less demanding trip, you could visit the Polar Park, where you can put spikes on your shoes and stroll among the animals of northern Scandinavia, like elk, reindeer, lynx and wolverine. But the most special animals are the packs of wolves. At the Polar Park, you can stay overnight in a cabin inside the wolves' enclosure, and go on guided tours of the enclosures, where you can socialise with the wolves and enjoy a wolf's sloppy kiss.
Journey of discovery in the Narvik region
Tysfjord, one of the deepest fjords in Norway, is rich in wildlife such as sea eagles and killer whales. Here you can go on a nature safari beneath Norway's national mountain, the anvil-shaped, 1,392 metre (4,567 ft) high Stetinden. Arran is a Lule Sami cultural centre with an exhibition about this special Sami ethnic group. The international road to Sweden passes through a landscape of high mountains which are excellent for skiing. At the boat museum in Gratangen, you can learn all about Nordland boats and the tradition of building wooden boats.
Visit Narvik, the local tourist organisation, provides an excellent introduction to all the facets of Narvik and the surrounding region.