Wild, beautiful and exotic

Wild, beautiful and exotic

Summer in Svalbard

Wild, beautiful and exotic

Many of us associate exotic destinations with long flights, unknown food and languages we don’t understand. That just proves how wrong we can be! The most exotic destination of them all is only a 90-minute flight from Tromsø, there are world-class restaurants and the menus are all translated to English. Welcome to Svalbard this summer!

Despite its geographic location just a stone’s throw from the North Pole, the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard offers far more than snow and ice. Summer is the perfect season to experience this unique and exotic destination. However, like with all unknowns, it may be difficult to know what awaits you on a summer holiday in Svalbard. The purpose of this page is to share a few facts about Svalbard and dispel a few myths.

Cover me in sunshine

The Midnight Sun shines around the clock, which makes it difficult to go to bed. During the summertime, the sun shines at full strength all night and never gets close to the horizon. This provides you with endless opportunities to explore Longyearbyen and the surrounding areas but remember to get some sleep to ensure you are ready for more action the following day.

Myth: Residents of Svalbard develop thicker eyelids so they can sleep in the summer. No that’s wrong, but many people set alarms in the evening to remind themselves to go to bed.

Fact: The Midnight Sun season in Longyearbyen stretches from 19 April to 23 August. When you wander around Longyearbyen, you will soon notice that some windows are covered with tinfoil. This is an ingenious way to block out the light and it usually indicates that it’s a bedroom.

You need to bring your children... 

Perhaps you thought that Svalbard was only a place for hardened polar explorers? On the contrary, Svalbard is a wonderful holiday destination for children. The short distances around town are perfect for short legs, you won’t encounter any queues, and waiting is a concept that belongs on the mainland. Seeing their parents relaxing and taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life will also benefit the children.

Myth: Anyone can give birth in Svalbard. That’s wrong. Although very few heavily pregnant women go on long trips, it’s worth noting that the medical services in Svalbard are not set up to handle childbirth. Pregnant women are sent to the mainland no later than two weeks before their due date.

Fact: Svalbard offers many child-friendly summer activities: boat trips, fishing trips, summer dog sledding trips by wagon, bike rides and fossil hunting. Children also enjoy visiting the museums and the gravel mound at Svalbard Museum where they themselves can excavate a dinosaur skeleton. Round off your visit with a lunch. After a day like this, you will have happy and well-behaved children for the rest of your holiday!

...but you can leave your snowmobile suit at home

While (hopefully!) there will never be Mediterranean temperatures in Svalbard, most Svalbard locals describe a sunny, calm day with a temperature of 18 ˚C as a beautiful summer’s day. Longyearbyen has several restaurants and bars with outdoor seating, and it can get quite crowded on the warmest days.

Myth: Leave your woollen clothes at home. That’s wrong too. Just like hiking in the mountains on the mainland, woollen garments can come in handy in Svalbard, so remember to bring some along with you.

Fact: The highest temperature ever recorded in Svalbard was 21.7 ˚C on 25 July 2020.

Explore Longyearbyen on foot

Don’t forget to pack your walking shoes. Enjoy a morning walk around town or go on a guided hike up one of the nearby mountains. You don’t have to go far to experience the rich bird and animal life. Seeing reindeer in the town centre is not unusual, and the majestic Fuglefjella bird cliffs are just a short boat trip away out on Isfjorden.

Myth: The animals in the Arctic are domesticated. That’s not correct. Although reindeer, Arctic foxes and rock ptarmigan may seem fearless, they are wild animals. Keep your distance and don’t feed the animals.

Fact: You can walk safely around Longyearbyen without polar bear protection, but if you plan to venture out of town you should be accompanied by a local guide with a firearm. 

Culinary experiences

Longyearbyen has several excellent restaurants. Huset, Funktionærmessen Restaurant and Gruvelageret all have impressive wine cellars and world-class food. The popular KroaVinterhagen Restaurant, and many more, all serve delicious food in pleasant surroundings.

Myth: All the food eaten in Longyearbyen is canned. But when visiting Svalbard Museum, check out the story about Svenskhuset (The Swedish House) which is an unfortunate and tragic story about canned food.

Fact: Several restaurants use locally sourced ingredients: Svalbard reindeer, cod from Isfjorden and Svalbard rock ptarmigan are among the delicacies you will find on the menu.

Your dream holiday – and you will want to return here

Svalbard has always been incorrectly placed on the weather map just west of Tromsø. Perhaps it’s about time to experience what this archipelago has to offer, apart from a “westerly fresh breeze on Spitsbergen”.

The truth is that most Norwegians – not to mention those who travel from further afield – are extremely surprised by how exotic Svalbard is. As well as having close-up experiences with the animal life and being surrounded by mountains and glaciers, you can eat delicious food and find some tax-free bargains in the local shops. Combine these factors with the fascinating history, pleasant and enthusiastic locals and the short flight from mainland Norway, you have the recipe for an incredible summer holiday.

Ready for departure?

Myth: You must present a passport to travel to Svalbard. That’s actually correct if you’re a non-Norwegian but, even though you need to go through passport control at the airport, Norwegian citizens can also present their driving licence or national ID card as documentation.

Fact: Norway has sovereignty over Svalbard, and the destination is regarded as a domestic trip, which is important to know in this Corona era.

Welcome to Svalbard! 

Visit Svalbard Eco-Lighthouse

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