Narvik, Norway

Lying just 137 miles inside the Arctic Circle, Narvik may be one of the world’s most northerly towns, but the North Atlantic currents and the mountains that shelter the town make it surprisingly mild.

From late May until late July, the Midnight Sun often sets the landscapes aglow with intense yellows and fiery red-orange hues. One of the best spots to admire its effect on the majestic landscapes is to whisk up Narvikfjellen by cable car for sublime views over the city and the surrounding fjords.

Although its roots appear to go back to the Stone Age, Narvik really grew from the boom in Swedish iron ore mining during the second half of the nineteenth century. Narvik’s milder climate made it an ice-free port all year round and an ideal shipping point for the miners.

It has only had town status since the early twentieth century. Part of this legacy, the Ofoten Railway, makes for a sensational day out. It runs the twenty-five miles or so to the Swedish border and beyond, as far as the ore mines at Kiruna. The Norwegian section of line runs alongside the Rombaksfjord, clinging to the curves of the steep green slopes, with two departures a day running from Narvik Station.

Sitting on Ofotfjord, often just known as the Narvik Fjord, there is plenty of dramatic scenery for those who wish to explore its waters, including views of the Frostisen Glacier. Hiking is also a popular pastime for the more energetic. You can encounter the creatures that live at the very top of mainland Europe by venturing another 47 miles north of Narvik to Polar Park. Its residents include the Arctic’s main predators, including brown bears, wolves, wolverines and lynx as well as other wildlife such as moose, reindeer and musk ox.

In the town itself, there is an Occupation Museum in remembrance of Narvik’s role in World War II, which holds the Victoria Cross awarded posthumously to Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee of the British Royal Navy in 1940 and a German Enigma coding machine.