With Interrail and the Inlandsbanan through Sweden’s wilderness, all the way up to the Polar Circle – far away from the well-trodden paths: easily done with Interrail! The most famous section of the Inlandsbanan stretches over 746 kilometres from Östersund to Gällivare, with a travel time of roughly 14 hours. In the following blog, you will learn all about what to expect on your trip with the little locomotive and how you can include this journey in your Interrail trip.
The Inlandsbanan’s route
Northern route: Östersund - Gällivare
The most famous route of the Inlandsbanan, which I will be writing about in this article, is the Northern route from Östersund to Gällivare, with a travel time of roughly 14 hours. The route mainly runs through Lapland with its broad birch forests, passing lakes and moors. The Inlandsbanan crosses several rivers, that run from the Scandinavian mountains to the Baltic Sea. The region is only sparsely populated, and chances to spot some reindeers – or even an elk – are pretty good.
Southern route: Mora - Östersund
The Southern route runs from Mora to Östersund, for which the train will take about 5.5 hours. The landscape along the way is less rough and wild as the Northern one, and yet, you will pass through gigantic forests, along countless lakes.
On this map, you will find an overview. More information about the Inlandsbanan in general, you can find in this article here.
You will find all details about the Northern route from Östersund to Gällivare further down in this article.
Getting to the Inlandsbanan via Interrail
For your journey with the Inlandsbanan, the two starting or/and destination stations of Östersund and Gällivare are important. Both places, can easily be reached, by using Swedish Railways.
Arrival at Östersund
On the classic route from Stockholm, there are several connections per day. One direct one, with the Intercity in the morning and several during the day with a relaxed change of trains in Sundsvall. Also, there is a fast train in the afternoon and my favourite: the direct night train.
As an Interrailer, you need to know, that the direct Intercity, as well as the changing connections via Sundsvall, are free of charge. You won’t need an extra reservation with your Interrail Pass. Simply get in and get going.
For the fast train in the afternoon, you will have to purchase a reservation (€8 at the train station, with ACPRail or the SJ).
The night train will save you money for a hostel or hotel in Stockholm or Östersund. A seat in the couchette costs €26. The departure time is quite pleasant, the train leaves Stockholm around 9 pm. Arrival in Östersund is at 6.30 am, with a one-hour layover to change into the Inlandsbanan. Here, you can find more information about the night train, and how to make a reservation with Interrail. Another option is the connection from Trondheim in Norway to Östersund, with a travel time of around four hours. You also won’t need a reservation with Interrail.
Departure from Östersund
Here, I also recommend the night train, whereas the changing time from the Inlandsbanan to the night train is quite short with only 10 minutes. If you want to travel a little more relaxed, simply stay a night in Östersund and travel on the next day.
Arrival at Gällivare
To leave Gällivare at 7.45 am, you will have to stay the night. You can easily reach Gällivare with the picturesque route from Narvik via Abisko and Kiruna. Or even coming from Finland, via Kemi and Lulea. Or the classic way, with the night train from Stockholm.
Departure from Gällivare
Inlandsbanan’s arrival in Gällivare, coming from Östersund is around 9.30 pm. Meaning, you have around 20 minutes to change to the night train to Stockholm. If you want to travel in direction Finland or Norway (via Kiruna, Abisko to Narvik), you will have to stay the night in Gällivare.
You can find the Inlandsbanan’s timetable on their website. Timetables from and to Östersund and Gällivare, you will find at plan.rail.cc and the website of the SJ. You can also always ask in our forum for a suitable connection, we will do everything to help you out.
With Interrail and the Inlandsbanan from Östersund to Gällivare
The journey from Östersund to Gällivare is a full day trip. The journey time is about 13:30 h, covering a distance of 746 kilometres. Included are stops for meals and unexpected events (e.g. if an elk or reindeer is close to the railway tracks). And of course a stop at the polar circle to take a photo. :)
Östersund is a large city with about 50.000 inhabitants. Along with nearby Åre it is an important winter sports centre. You will find the national biathlon centre here, host of annual World Cup competitions. The city is an important transport hub with train connections to Stockholm and Trondheim. From Östersund Inlandsbanan will take you north towards Lapland. A first stop for lunch is at Vilhelmina Norra at a restaurant offering local fish, meat and cheese. Enjoy the break either in the restaurant or walk through the woods to the nearby lake.
The train then continues towards Sorsele where you will meet the southbound train and have the chance to visit the nice Inlandsbana museum in the station building. In the afternoon the train reaches one of the highlights of the line - the combined rail and road bridge across the wide Pite Älv. If you want, you can get off the train and walk across the bridge, while the train slowly follows you and picks you up on the other side of the bridge. It is really impressive to see the torrential river, bringing water from the mountrains to the Baltic Sea.
One of the last highlights of the journey is the stop at the Polar Circle. The circle is clearly marked across the railway tracks and you can take some souvenir photos. Then the train continues to a last longer stop at Vaikijaur for dinner. Maybe try a reindeer burger? Finally you are close to the terminus of the line, Gällivare. Since the line now runs north of the Polar Circle, you can enjoy the midnight sun if you are travelling in June and July, and even in August it is still not dark when you arrive in Gällivare.
Even though it is a really long trip, it is possible to travel the whole route within one day.
Our videos of the Inlandsbanan
Inlandsbanan trains and meal options
Inlandsbanan uses classic comfortable diesel railcars on its services. The trains are 2nd class only with four seats per row (2+2 seats). A few windows can be opened so you can enjoy the fresh, clean air and take pictures. At the end of the carriage there is a small buffet area where you can get drinks and snacks from the conductor. The conductor will also give you all the information you need about your journey, including stories (in Swedish and English) about interesting sights along the railway.
The Inlandsbanan make several longer stops along its route to have meals. You can pre-order different packages already onboad the train. You can find the complete menu here.
Interrail reservations for the Inlandsbanan
For €5 you can purchase an Interrail reservation online, using the Inlandsbanan’s website. This is not mandatory, though. I recommend it if you do the whole trip from Östersund to Gällivare in just one day, or in larger sections. For short trips, a reservation is not really necessary.
Include the Inlandsbanan in your Interrail tour
You have to take into account, that the Inlandsbanan only operates from early June to mid-August. You also need to make up your mind, if you want to the whole route of the Inlandsbanan in just one day, or if you want to stop in between. At every stop along the route, you will find campsites with huts, small supermarkets, and outdoor hiking trails.
For the following Interrail routes, the Inlandsbanan fits just perfectly:
Blog posts around the Inlandsbanan, which could be interesting for you:
- Night Train from Stockholm to Narvik
- Getting to Lofoten: By Train, Bus, Ferry and Plane
- Oslo and Bergen, and the train in between
- From Kemi to Luleå by Bus
- A Trip From Helsinki to Rovaniemi
- Night Train From Rovaniemi to Turku Port
- From Turku to Stockholm On a Ferry
- From Stockholm to Helsinki by Sea
- Snabbtågging from Stockholm to Copenhagen
Staying a night in Östersund, Gällivare and along the route
You will find campsites all along the route. If you’re not bringing a tent, you will also find inexpensive huts there. Usually, you should be able to set up a tent close to the station, if you like it cheap. Hotels in Sweden are rather expensive.
Östersunds Stugby & Camping
Lits Camping & Kanot
Saiva Camping & Stugby
Kolgårdens Stugby & Camping
STF Hostel Vilhelmina Kyrkstad
Arctic Camp Jokkmokk
Gällivare Bed & Breakfast
Quality Hotel Lapland
Inlandsbanan with Interrail – bottom line
For me personally, the Inlandsbanan is one of my favourites in Europe. I always try to incorporate it into my Interrail tour, when I’m travelling through Scandinavia during the summer. I was also quite astounded to find out about the number of Interrail passengers of the Inlandsbanan: it’s two to three on average per day. If the lunch packs are too expensive for you, remember to pack food and snacks for the whole day and evening. In sum: I can absolutely recommend it for Interrailers.
If you have any further questions, simply write me in our friendly forum.