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Tips from a local

Tips from a local

"The nature-based experiences up here often take my breath away"

Tips from a local

My name is Lisa Djønne and I have the pleasure of working at Longyearbyen school. Nearly a year has passed since I packed my suitcase and travelled from a small mountain village in the middle of Norway to the Arctic in search of new adventures. I have had the joy of experiencing every season and, if you’re adventurous, there’s always something exciting to do here. I have chosen 10 of my all-time favourites to date, but I haven’t managed to rank them from 1 to 10. They are all wonderful expeditions in their own way! I use the term expedition about everything we do here so every experience is a fantastic expedition! And that’s what I love.


Isfjord Radio 
Isfjord Radio is luxury in the middle of nowhere, a location where it’s hard to imagine anyone could live. It’s a remote former radio station about 100 km from Longyearbyen which has been converted into a hotel. In winter, you can get there by snowmobile and in summer by RIB. Perhaps you will get a few photos of the magical creations of the sea. The whales aren’t so shy up here. As for the food, it’s incredibly fantastic. You will end up rolling back from Isfjord Radio.  

The moose burger at Kroa 
I’m a real foodie and I love a good burger! Kroa serves a moose burger and sweet potato fries that are so good that I rarely try anything else on the menu. I often dream about the burger, sweet potato fries and lingonberry sour cream on Sundays, but fortunately I don’t live far from Kroa. Remember to book a table! I’m not their only fan.  

Hike up to the cairn with the amazing view
On bright summer days when there’s no snow, I often take an afternoon walk up to Varden on Platåfjellet. There are a couple of reasons I like this walk up to the cairn on the mountain overlooking Longyearbyen. One is that I need to prepare my snowmobile body for the coming season and the other is that I love reaching the top to enjoy the view of Isfjorden and, not least, of the great place where I live. You can also sign your name in the book at the top. 

Photo privateLarsbreen glacier and it’s countless opportunities 
If you walk to the Lars glacier right above Longyearbyen you can pick and choose between unbelievable hikes. You can continue to Trollsteinen, Lars Hierta mountain or my favourite – Sarkofagen. It’s hard to match the view up there. My next goal is to ski up there – and then down again.

Test yourself as a musher 
I don’t know if anything has made me so silent and observant of the surroundings as the times I have driven a dog sled. The only things you can hear is the snow crackling and the paws almost silently springing up from the snow. It’s so silent and beautiful to enjoy the surrounding nature. It’s also incredibly fun to experience driving these dogs yourself!

The clothes store Frost
I have bought a lot of new outdoor clothing and gear up here. Things I never thought I needed actually! How many places do you need a quilted jacket that reaches down to your knees and may confuse you with the Michelin Man? Anyway, all the sports stores here have everything you need. And then there’s what you don’t really need but is fun to have. And that’s where my favourite, Frost, comes in. A wonderful breath of fresh air which can supplement my wardrobe with something other than GoreTex and wool. I think if I find a man who wants me in a snowmobile suit, it will be "for life", but a snowmobile suit isn’t appropriate for every occasion. That’s why it’s so nice to smarten up a bit with clothes from Frost.    

Northern Lights – both day and night 
Oh my god, I must mention the Northern Lights. I have sprung outside in my pyjamas and slippers several times because I’ve received a message that there’s a Northern Lights bonanza over Sukkertoppen. And I keep looking up until my neck cracks. But I must say that the best Northern Lights I have experienced are well away from the bright lights of town. And the emotions the Northern Lights provoke differ from time to time. There’s something incredibly mythical about it all. I think magical is the right word.

Snowmobile trip to the East Coast 
This is a great day trip. It’s fun (and a long way) to drive there. You drive through moraines and over glaciers. When you reach the East Coast, the first thing you see is a huge glacier front. Blue ice everywhere! Huge ice sculptures have pressed their way up from the sea ice and the view is pretty spectacular. If you’re really lucky, you might see a seal! And perhaps the other animal on the East Coast – the polar bear.

The ghost town of Pyramiden
This old abandoned Russian mining settlement north of Longyearbyen is one of the strangest and most unique places I have visited. All the buildings remain just as they were left. If you look through the windows, you’ll see curtains, cups on the table and books scattered round. It’s like the people who lived there got up from the sofa and just disappeared. Yes, there’s lots of cool stuff to see there. It’s also possible to stay there at the hotel or in the barracks. Remember to order Russian food because that’s what they do best.

In conclusion, I would like to mention that the nature-based experiences up here often take my breath away. I’ve been moved to tears too. It’s so raw and majestic up here.

Remember that when you head out of the settlements, it’s recommended to be accompanied by an experienced guide who will protect you from polar bears. Remember to take a thermos of coffee. It’s much cosier then.

Enjoy!
Arctic greetings from Lisa  

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