Seven hundred and fifty kilometres north of Östersund, the Inlandsbanan finally reaches its last stop, GÄLLIVARE, two and a quarter hours up the line from Jokkmokk. Although the town is not immediately appealing, it is one of the few relatively sizeable ones in this part of northern Sweden, and it’s a good idea to spend a day or two here enjoying the relative civilization before striking out in the wilds beyond – Gällivare is a good starting point for walking in the national parks, which fill most of the northwestern corner of the country. The town is also one of the most important areas for iron ore in Europe – if you have any interest in seeing a working mine, don’t wait until Kiruna’s tame “tourist tour”; instead, take a trip down the more evocative mines here.
Located just north of the 67th parallel, Gällivare has a pretty severe climate: as you stroll around the open centre, have a look at the double-glazed windows here, all heavily insulated to protect against the biting Arctic cold.
The site the town occupies was once that of a Sámi village, and one theory has it that the name Gällivare comes from the Sámi for “a crack or gorge (djelli) in the mountain (vare)”. You may also come across the alternative spelling, Gellivare; pronunciation, though, is the same – “yell-i-vaar-eh”.Read More
The mines at Malmberget
The mines at MalmbergetTucked away at Malmberget, the other hill that overlooks the town, the modern mines and works are distant, dark blots down which the tourist office ferries relays of tourists in summer. There are two separate tours, both running from mid-June to mid-August: one of the underground LKAB iron-ore mine, the other to the open-cast copper mine known as Aitik, the largest of its kind in Europe (and also Sweden’s biggest gold mine – the metal is recovered from the slag produced during the extraction of the copper). The ear-splitting noise produced from the mammoth-sized trucks (they’re five times the height of a human being) in the iron-ore mine can be quite disconcerting in the confined darkness.