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Svalbard

Svalbard

The real Arctic

 

What type of traveller are you? Do you want to challenge yourself on an adventure in Svalbard’s majestic wilderness? Or would you prefer a cosy time in the tiny metropole of Longyearbyen? These four travel concepts will make it easier for you to find the Svalbard experience that suits you best!

  1. Polar City Break
    Stay in our tiny metrolpole and combine culture, history and easy outdoor activities with good food and drinks.
  2. Classic Nature Adventures
    For outdoor recreation enthusiasts who are tempted by easier full-day or half-day trips from Longyearbyen inserted in a diverse itinerary of the top things to see and do in Svalbard.
  3. Be like the locals
    Soak up advice from local ‘Svalbardians’ and experience the world’s northernmost community from the inside. The locals know this unique place better than anyone.
  4. Epic Expeditions
    Challenge yourself on a multi-day expedition in the raw Arctic wilderness on foot or by ski, kayak, dog sled, snowmobile or boat.
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Welcome to the High Arctic of Svalbard!

Those of us fortunate to live at 78˚ North feel like we’re living in a dream – a genuine Arctic fairy tale. We have experiences in everyday life in this landscape dominated by tundra, bare mountains, glaciers, extreme light variations and an exciting animal life that would be hard to match anywhere on earth. We love life here in Svalbard, and we can’t for a moment imagine a better place to live. We call this the “Polar bug”, a term indicating your constant desire to return after setting your feet here for the first time. Are you ready to be bitten by the Polar bug...?

To the uninitiated, Svalbard may seem desolate and barren with large open landscapes, sparse vegetation and endless glaciers. But if you look beyond this first impression, you will discover an eldorado of nature-based experiences – all year round. The seasonal variations this far north are enormous – the long, dark season is replaced by bright winter months, which in turn are replaced by a surprisingly mild summer with sun 24/7.

During the Polar Night, the months of darkness from October to January, the Northern Lights dominate the sky both day and night. The residents of Longyearbyen – the world’s northernmost urban community – spend a lot of time at social gatherings. We meet at pubs and restaurants, concerts or exhibitions or at each other’s homes. Good food, good drinks and varied cultural offerings are the key to enjoying this season, which many locals regard as the best time of the year.

Nevertheless, we look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel of darkness, and come February the sun slowly but surely rises above the horizon again. The play of colours we experience during this time is beyond beautiful. Blue skies and snow-capped mountain peaks provide the background for the sun’s return, and the rays of sun turn the blue colours to pink. We call this phenomenon the “blue light” and, to put it simply, it’s something you must experience to understand. As the light changes, so too do the interests of the local population. Instead of seeking cosiness indoors, we head outdoors into the winter landscape on skis, by snowmobile or on a sled behind a team of eager huskies. Sometimes we prefer short trips and sometimes longer expeditions over glaciers or frozen fjords. Maybe we see polar bears, maybe we seek shelter in an out-of-the-way cabin or maybe we don’t go far from our doorstep to experience the surrounding wilderness.

After the winter, around mid-May, a short spring awaits us, followed by a slightly longer summer. The archipelago is invaded by birds which migrate here in vast numbers to nest. On the seemingly inhospitable tundra, a minor miracle occurs at ground level as a rich flora emerges in the most unthinkable of places, offering life where you would hardly believe it was possible for plants to take root. When the landscape dries up after the snow melts, countless possibilities for hiking emerge. Many locals transform into eager hikers and head for the mountain peaks which surround Longyearbyen. Consequently, outdoor recreation still dominates the lives of the locals. Hiking boots make way for boats or kayaks when we set our sights on slightly longer trips.

Svalbard is large and diverse, boasting nature which is surprisingly rich and extremely varied. At the same time, we have personal experiences of climate change and the threats it poses here in the Arctic, and we are worried about the future. Life in Longyearbyen may be perceived both as different and perhaps extreme, but for those of us fortunate to live here, it’s hard to imagine anything else. We live as one with nature, and we work in harmony to uphold the good life that we do have throughout the enormous seasonal variations in temperature, light and darkness. We love this place and are proud to call ourselves Svalbardians. We also love to receive visitors from all over the world – all year round.

I welcome you to Longyearbyen and Svalbard – and hope you have wonderful, memorable and profound experiences as a guest in our small, local community. Please remember, if you are bitten by the Polar bug, it’s harmless even though it will remain in your body for a long time!

Arctic greetings from Ronny Brunvoll Director of Tourism, Visit Svalbard

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SvalbardInspiration

  1. Meet a Svalbard Guide, Nanna Gajic
    The guides in Svalbard have a burning desire to take guests out in the Arctic wilderness. Meet one of the here!
  2. Northern Lights adventures
    Svalbard the only inhabited place in the world where you can see the impressive Aurora Borealis also during daytime.
  3. Say hey to the dogs of Svalbard
    Cold noses and wagging tails! Say hi to the cutest locals in Longyearbyen. There are almost 1000 of them!
  4. Polar Bear, The King of the Arctic
    The polar bear is one of the world’s largest carnivores. There are around are 3000 animals in the Svalbard archipelago.
  5. Tips from a local, Lisa Djoenne
    Get inside information from a local in the world's northernmost town, Longyearbyen.
  6. Christmas in Longyearbyen
    Christmas time in Svalbard is magical. Perhaps it’s the best place in the world to experience the ultimate Christmas atmosphere.
  7. Barentsburg and Pyramiden
    Explore Russian architecture and culture in lively Barentsburg and the surrealistic ghost town of Pyramiden.

The seasonsThere are three main seasons in Svalbard: Polar Summer, Northern Lights Winter and Sunny Winter. Each season has its unique charms and characteristics.

  1. Polar Summer
    17 May – 30 September. The Midnight Sun, beautiful colours and contrasts add an extra dimension to glaciers, majestic mountain formations and the endless Arctic tundra.
  2. Northern Lights Winter
    1 October - 28 February. In late October, the sun casts its last rays over the landscape this year, and Svalbard enters the magical and mythical Northern Lights Winter.
  3. Sunny Winter
    1 March - 16 May. As the light returns, the activity level and energy increases. All you want is to be outside, to see and explore the frozen land.

Did you know?

Polar bears outnumber People in Svalbard

Polar bears outnumber People in Svalbard

Polar bears: 3000, humans: 2400

Wild Svalbard reindeer

Wild Svalbard reindeer

Love to walk around town!

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