Buildings in Longyearbyen seen from on top of a mountain

Get the best view of Longyearbyen

Come along on the most popular hike among locals

A local favourite - the hike to Platåfjellet

Only 400 metres above Longyearbyen you’ll find both a moon-like landscape and the best view of the town. Many locals happily hike here several times a week all year round, both early in the morning and late at night. Join a guided hike yourself to Longyearbyen’s possibly most popular hiking mountain, Platåfjellet!

Short, steep, and beautiful

Platåfjellet, directly translated as “Plateau Mountain”, is easy to spot as it towers above Longyearbyen on the western side of the valley in which the town is settled. The most popular route to the starts in town next to the cultural heritage site Taubanesentralen in the neighbourhood known as Skjæringa in Longyearbyen. From there, it winds its way up the mountainside. It consists of to sections, the first of which will lead you 300 vertical metres up to a cairn known as Varden. By Varden you’ll find a book from the local sport’s team Svalbard Turn which hikers enter their name in to register their visit. You’ll also find a beautiful view, but be careful and don’t get too close to the edge of the cliff!

Further on, the second section of the route leads you a further 100 vertical metres up to the cairn at the top of Platåfjellet. At the top you’re rewarded with a great view of Longyearbyen and Adventdalen. If you continue further, you’ll find yourself on the plateau which the mountain is named after. From there on you can go down the way you came or cross the plateau and circle around by the glacier Longyearbreen to come back around in the uppermost part of Longyearbyen called Nybyen.

You should have average physical fitness to manage the hike, together with good shoes and a professional guide from a local activity provider which can take care of your safety during the hike. Even though Platåfjellet is right next to Longyearbyen, the hike will lead you outside of the town limits where there’s a risk of polar bear encounters all year round. A professional local guide will be equipped and trained to handle polar bear safety for your hike.

Wildlife on the plateau

Platåfjellet may seem to be a vast, flat, and desolate moon-like landscape at times. But even there you’ll find several of Svalbard’s hardy wild animals such as Svalbard reindeer, Svalbard rock ptarmigan and polar foxes at any time of year, if you’re lucky.

But the mountain truly comes to life when the birds return with spring in Svalbard. As summer draws closer, flocks of birds stream to the nearby cliffsides along the plateau to make their nests. Swarms of cute little auks may soar by you along the hike to Platåfjellet through the summer months.

Cultural heritage and local history along the hike

In addition to being an easily accessible and spectacular hike, the route to Platåfjellet also allows you to catch the sight of several cultural heritage sites and places of local historical significance. On the way up from Taubanesentralen you will pass by cableway towers that used to make up the network of cableways that brought coal from the mines to the central. If you line up with the towers and look alongside them you can make out the routes which the cableways used to run along.

From Varden you can see remnants in the hillside of the mountain Sukkertoppen after Mine 2a, and the entrance of Mine 1a just nearby which was the first mine in Longyearbyen, also known as “The American Mine”. Once you’ve reached Platåfjellet you can also see the entrance to Mine 2b in the mountainside underneath Gruvefjellet, known in local Christmas traditions as “The Santa Claus Mine”. If you go on this hike around Christmas times, it’s easy to spot Mine 2b thanks to the Christmas lights that are lit there every year.

If you do hike the extended route across the plateau you will eventually reach Ninavarden. Ninavarden is a memorial cairn raised in memory of Nina Jeanette Olaussen who was killed by a polar bear while hiking with her friend over Platåfjellet in March 1995. After being raised in 1996, Svalbard Church has put down a memorial wreath by the cairn from her family every year.

Close by all year round

No matter the season you’re planning to visit Svalbard in, the hike to Platåfjellet is close by and a fantastic hike to experience both nature and Longyearbyen. For photography enthusiasts, Varden is a very popular photo-spot for both panoramas and the iconic view of Longyearbyen seen from above. If the snow is good, Platåfjellet is also a popular mountain for ski touring and splitboarding during winter. This iconic hike is an activity that you definitely should experience yourself during your next visit in Svalbard!

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