Right above the town
Narvikfjellet is the biggest Alpine ski centre in Northern Norway, and the side of the mountain overlooking the town has a huge selection of pistes of all grades and degrees of difficulty. With a vertical height difference of 900 metres (3,000 feet), it also has the largest vertical drops in Scandinavia. Forty minutes away, just over the Swedish border, are Riksgränsen and Björkliden, two of Sweden's most popular Alpine ski centres, where the skiing feels quite different.
Light and dark
The light conditions inside the Arctic Circle also affect the skiing. During the "blue period" in December and the first half of January, much of the skiing is in the dark. That's when you can look down on the lights of Narvik, reflected in the fjord, at the Hålogaland Bridge under construction on your right, and at the Northern Lights when they ripple across the sky. No less beautiful are the short days, tinting the southern skies with a delicate shade of pink. Achingly blue and white sunny days come later in the winter, and the pistes glow orange in the rays of the low evening sun during the long, bright evenings in April, long after the snow has melted away at the big resorts further south.
When the sun and the light return, the ski lifts in the Narvikfjellet resort offer a great short-cut for off-piste skiers. The lift takes you up to 1,003 metres (3,290 feet), saving you a tiring struggle up the mountain. From there, you can go a little higher and ski down, but remember that you are now outside the groomed pistes and skiing at your own risk. If you don't know the area, you should take an experienced guide.
A later season
When the snow starts to settle in the autumn, in November and December, the lowest piste opens; the 'førstebakken' or 'first piste'. When there is enough snow, the 'andrebakken' ('second piste') opens, which goes all the way up to the Fjellheis Restaurant. However, the resort is not fully open until the sun is back and the snow is several metres deep and safe, which is February 17. The season lasts longer than at most ski resorts, and stays open until April 30. Some people have even skied under the midnight sun at the end of May, but by then you have to get yourself to the top under your own steam.
Pistes all over the mountainside
There are pistes all over the side of the mountain overlooking the town, from easy family runs to challenging black runs. You get the best selection if you take the gondola lift up to the Fjellheishytta cabin at 656 metres (2,152 feet). From here, a relaxing green piste runs down the mountain in wide and gentle sweeps, there are several more challenging blue and red pistes, and two neck-breaking monster pistes, rated black. You can also take a ski lift further up to the link at 1,003 metres (3,290 feet), from where a red piste runs all the way down to the station at the bottom.
Après-ski with the Narvik locals
Narvik is not some tiny outpost in the Arctic; it is a working town of 18,000 people who make their living from the iron ore export harbour, technology and education. Ski tourism plays only a small role in the town's economy. If you go to a restaurant or have a beer in a bar, you will mainly be surrounded by Narvik locals. So even après-ski in Narvik is a different experience.
Narvik is a compact and pleasant town beside the Ofot Fjord, surrounded by high mountains. The town is famous for its dramatic war history, which you can learn more about at the Narvik War Museum. Museum Nord in Narvik also has an interesting exhibition about Narvik's history. And the Ofot railway line, with its dramatic natural scenery and fascinating history, is also a popular excursion.
Across the borders to Narvik
Narvik's airport is Harstad/Narvik Airport Evenes, which is a good hour from the town by bus. When the Hålogaland Bridge opens in 2018, this journey will be reduced to 40 minutes. Narvik is also the final station on the Ofot Line, which is connected to the Swedish railway network, which means that you can get to Stockholm in 19 hours. Many people also choose to fly to Kiruna in the far north of Sweden, and take the train over the border. This option allows you to combine your trip with a visit to the northern Swedish ski resorts of Riksgränsen and Björkliden, as well as the ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi.
* Narvikfjellet resort has its own website providing updated information about skiing conditions
* Visit Narvik, Narvik’s tourist organisation, provides a wealth of information about Narvik on its informative