The Svalbard Islands are located in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. Here, you will find untouched arctic wilderness and unique wildlife in a setting that is both rugged and fragile at the same time. Svalbard has fascinated travelers for a long time. Rich wildlife, arctic nature, and old mining townsare all found on the islands.
In addition to a few thousand polar bears, the islands are home to almost 3,000 human inhabitants, over 2,000 of which live in Longyearbyen, the administrative center and largest settlement of the islands. This small and colorful community has gone from a typical village town to a modern community with different kinds of businesses and industries, and with a surprisingly wide range of cultural activities and opportunities, such as concerts, shows, festivals and exhibitions. Arctic food is served at a wide range of places to eat and drink of higher standards than you might expect from a small community, among them the world’s northernmost sushi restaurant. Svalbard also has a local beer brewery.
“Svalbard” means “cold coasts” and was first mentioned in Icelandic texts in the 12th century. However, the archipelago has a relatively mild climatecompared to other areas at the same latitude. In Longyearbyen, the average temperature ranges from -14°C in winter to 6°C in summer. The most common way to travel to Svalbardis by plane.
Historically, both whaling and trapping have been major activitiesin the archipelago, but now sustainability is the guiding principle in every way: Nearly two thirds of the surface of Svalbard is protectedand consists of several nature reserves, national parks, bird sanctuaries and even a geotopical protected area.
Svalbard is one of the world’s largest untouched wilderness areas and it’s precisely this vast area of raw and untamed nature that many find so alluring. The chance to get out of Longyearbyen and explore this Arctic wilderness is many people’s main motivation for visiting the Svalbard archipelago. You can achieve this through a wide range of activities and offers involving various modes of transport – both motorised and non-motorised – and degrees of difficulty. However, one thing all the nature-based experiences in Svalbard have in common is that they are run by local guides who prioritise safety, environmental awareness and local knowledge
Svalbard has much more to offer than wonderful nature. In the settlements of Longyearbyen and Barentsburg, you will find a broad range of attractions, cultural events, festivals and activities all year round. There are also many restaurants where people from around the globe (residents and visitors) gather to enjoy great food and drinks. Longyearbyen is full of shops selling a wide range of goods at tax-free prices. Many people are surprised to discover how much is on offer in such a small place – so close to the North Pole!
The ghost town of Pyramiden is also well worth visiting. Just four people live here in the winter and eight in the summer. This surreal old mining settlement consists of abandoned Soviet era buildings at the foot of a fjord. You can visit Pyramiden all year-round.
Svalbard has something for everyone, whether you like a challenging multi-day expedition in the wilderness or a comfortable urban weekend with a good dose of culture, food and drink. The best part of all is that you can pick and choose between the various offers to create your perfect Svalbard experience!