FAQ

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

FAQ

Are you allowed to take reindeer antlers home if you find these in Svalbard? Why are the reindeer here so short and fat? When is the best time to visit Svalbard?

We've attempted to answer these and many other questions that we're asked in our tourist information office on this page. 

But should you find that you've got a question we haven't answered here or if there's a mistake on this page that should be corrected then we'd be happy to receive an email about it from you to info@visitsvalbard.com

Travel and stay

  1. How can you travel to Svalbard?

    You can travel to Svalbard by flying from Oslo and Tromsø on the Norwegian mainland to Svalbard Airport in Longyearbyen with either SAS or Norwegian Airlines.

    More information about how to travel to Svalbard

  2. How can you travel to Svalbard in a sustainable way?

    Your trip to Svalbard will leave an environmental footprint. That is unavoidable. However, there are several steps you can take to have a more sustainable stay! We have published some tips on our website about how you can experience Svalbard and Longyearbyen with a good conscience.

    More information about how you can experience Svalbard and Longyearbyen with a good conscience

  3. How do you get from Svalbard Airport to Longyearbyen after your flight has landed, and how do you get back to Svalbard Airport from the hotels and guest houses in Longyearbyen?

    The airport shuttle in Longyearbyen corresponds with all scheduled arrivals and departures. For arrivals, the airport shuttle drives into Longyearbyen and stops at all hotels and guesthouses. For departures, the airport shuttle picks up guests at all hotels and guesthouses in Longyearbyen and then drives to the airport. It’s also possible to take a taxi from the airport to Longyearbyen or rent a car from Arctic Autorent at the airport.

    More information about the airport shuttle in Longyearbyen

  4. When is the best time to visit Svalbard?

    There is no clear answer to this question, even though we personally would say that it’s nice in Svalbard all year-round! Each season in Svalbard offers unique experiences. Svalbard’s Northern Lights Winter offers the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights in the middle of the day during the Polar Night. From April, the Sunny Winter provides opportunities for winter activities around the clock under the Midnight Sun, while the Polar Summer is the time for colourful flora and a teeming wildlife.

    More information about the seasons in Svalbard

  5. Do I need a visa, passport or other travel documents to enter Svalbard?

    All visitors to Svalbard must present either a passport or national ID card. This applies to Norwegian citizens and visitors from other countries.

    Svalbard is part of the Kingdom of Norway but is outside the Schengen area and the European Economic Area (EEA) cooperation because Svalbard was exempted from the EEA Agreement in 1992.

    This means that you don’t require a visa to enter Svalbard from mainland Norway. However, if you require a visa to enter Norway, you must have a double-entry transit visa as you usually need to travel via Norway/the Schengen Area on your way to or from Svalbard.

    As Svalbard is outside the Schengen area, travellers must clear customs and immigration when travelling to Svalbard from mainland Norway and vice versa.

    Information from the Governor of Svalbard on entry and residence

  6. What do I do if I want to live in Svalbard? How can I get a job in Svalbard?

    People wishing to live and work in Svalbard should familiarise themselves with the relevant laws, rules and schemes that apply in Svalbard. Even though a visa or separate residence permit is not required, everyone must meet certain requirements to be able to live in Svalbard.

    The following links to public agencies in Svalbard contain relevant and important information for people wishing to live and work in Svalbard:

    New in Longyearbyen, Longyearbyen lokalstyre (translation option for English is available after opening the page)

    Entry and residence, The Governor of Svalbard

    Taxes in Svalbard, The Norwegian Tax Administration

    Work and residence on Svalbard, NAV

    Available jobs in Svalbard, NAV (page only available in Norwegian)

  7. How do I get around in Longyearbyen?

    Longyearbyen is very compact. Virtually everything within the town limits is within a walking distance of 20-30 minutes all year-round. During the summer, you can borrow a town bike from the Svalbard Tourist Information Office completely free of charge to get around Longyearbyen even faster.
    We recommend taking advantage of the short walking distances and the offer of borrowing town bikes in the summer to make your visit as sustainable as possible. Apart from the airport shuttle in Longyearbyen, there is no ordinary public transport in Svalbard.

    The following taxi companies in Longyearbyen can assist with local transport: Longyearbyen Taxi (Phone: +47 79 02 13 75) and Svalbard Buss og Taxi (Phone: +47 79 02 13 05).

    It's also possible to rent a car from Arctic Autorent and Svalbard Auto in Longyearbyen.

  8. How do I get to Barentsburg, Pyramiden, Ny-Ålesund or Isfjord Radio?

    In the summer, you can travel to Barentsburg and Pyramiden by boat. It’s possible to reach Barentsburg and Pyramiden by boat as early as March and throughout the winter/spring if sea ice conditions permit. You can also reach Isfjord Radio by boat in the summer. Isfjord Ekspressen has daily sailings in both directions between Longyearbyen and Isfjord Radio from June to mid-September. For visitors to Svalbard, you can normally only reach Ny-Ålesund on day trips by boat in the summer.

    In the winter, you can reach Barentsburg, Pyramiden and Isfjord Radio on organised tours by snowmobile (conditions permitting). Please note that Isfjord Radio is open to guests during the season (approx. mid-February to late September) and Pyramiden is open to guests during the season (approx. late February to late November).

    More information about Isfjord Radio

    More information about Ny-Ålesund

    More information about how to travel to Barentsburg and Pyramiden

  9. What currency is used in Svalbard?

    The currency in Svalbard is Norwegian kroner (NOK). Some shops accept payment in other currencies such as Euro, USD and GBP.

  10. Where can I exchange currency or withdraw cash?

    You cannot exchange currency in Svalbard, but businesses in Svalbard accept virtually all credit cards as a means of payment. There is no cash dispenser or ATM in Svalbard, so if you wish to use cash as a means of payment you should withdraw this from a cash dispenser or ATM in mainland Norway before travelling to Svalbard.

  11. Which Covid-19 restrictions apply for travels to Svalbard?

    We will publish all new information updates about restrictions related to Covid-19 and travel to Svalbard on our Covid-19 information page.

    Information page for Covid-19 and travels to Svalbard

  12. What significance does it have that Svalbard is Norwegian but still outside the Schengen area?

    Svalbard is part of the Kingdom of Norway but is outside the Schengen area and the European Economic Area (EEA) cooperation. Svalbard was exempted from the EEA when Norway signed the EEA Agreement in 1992.

    The reason for this was Norway’s extraordinary judicial responsibilities in accordance with the Svalbard Treaty. The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 and its purpose was to remove the border control between the countries and replace it with a strengthened border control in the joint outer borders. Norway joined the Schengen Agreement in 1996. Owing to the rules concerning access and entry in Article 3 of the Svalbard Treaty, Svalbard is not included in the agreement about the Schengen cooperation (the right of access for citizens of countries that have signed the Svalbard Treaty).

    This has several practical consequences, including that people who travel to Svalbard don’t require a visa to enter. However, if you require a visa to enter Norway, you must have a double-entry transit visa as you usually need to travel via Norway/the Schengen Area on your way to or from Svalbard. As Svalbard is outside the Schengen area, travellers must clear customs and immigration when travelling to Svalbard from mainland Norway and vice versa.

  13. Where can I get information about Svalbard and what I can do when visiting Svalbard?

    You will find the Svalbard Tourist Information Centre at the southern end of the main pedestrian street in Longyearbyen. The team there will gladly assist you with information about Svalbard and tips about activities, dining, events and much more in Longyearbyen and other parts of Svalbard.

    More information about the Svalbard Tourist Information Centre in Longyearbyen

Bookings, activities, accommodation and experiences in Svalbard

  1. Where can I book tours and activities?

    Here on visitsvalbard.com you can book tours and activities offered by all the local activity providers in Svalbard. The price of the tours and activities on our website is the same as you will find on the activity providers’ own websites. You can check which tours and activities are available for booking via our booking calendar.

    You can also see a full overview of all activities and tours offered via our activity planner, which provides information about the activities/tours and how to book them.

  2. Does Visit Svalbard sell its own tours and package holidays?

    No, Visit Svalbard does not organise tours or package holidays and we are not a tour operator. We operate the website visitsvalbard.com where we provide information about and sell activities offered by the local activity providers. A booking via visitsvalbard.com should be regarded as an agreement between the guest who books and the company that offers the activity that was booked. Visit Svalbard is not a party to the actual booking, transaction or delivery of the activity, other than as a facilitator via the joint booking portal visitsvalbard.com.

    Information about terms and conditions for activity bookings through visitsvalbard.com

  3. How long should I plan to stay in Svalbard?

    We don’t recommend anyone to plan for a stay in Svalbard of fewer than five days. The weather conditions in Svalbard are unpredictable and can change quickly. Consequently, some activities cannot be operated as planned on certain days owing to weather conditions. This can apply year-round. To increase your chances of being able to experience the activities, experiences and adventures each of Svalbard’s seasons has to offer, we recommend planning a stay of 5 to 10 days in duration. By planning a longer stay, you have more days available in case the weather conditions lead to outdoor activities being cancelled on certain days. A longer stay is also more sustainable! By travelling fewer times each year but staying longer in each destination, you leave a lower carbon footprint and contribute to local value creation.

    More information about how you can experience Svalbard and Longyearbyen with a good conscience

  4. How far in advance should you book tours and activities?

    We recommend booking the tours and activities you wish to prioritise for your visit to Svalbard as early as possible, preferably when you book your accommodation and flights. During weekends and certain periods of the year, tours and activities may be fully booked up to six months in advance.

    Find available activities and tours for your visit in Svalbard

    Find information and inspiration about activities and tours for your visit in Svalbard

  5. Do I receive a discount if I book several tours?

    Visit Svalbard does not offer a discount if you book several tours at the same time. If you want to check the possibility of a discount, you should contact each tour operator directly. However, it’s not normal practice to give discounts to guests who book several tours.

  6. Is it possible to rent equipment, clothing or a care in Longyearbyen?

    Yes, several companies offer rental services! You can rent ski equipment, outdoor equipment, cars, snowmobiles, cameras and equipment for emergency communication in the field.

    Overview of rental services in Svalbard

  7. Can you rent firearms for polar bear protection, and do you need a permit?

    Yes, the companies Longyear78 and Sportscenteret in Longyearbyen both rent out equipment (rifles and flare guns) to use for polar bear protection. Persons who do not already have a valid Norwegian firearms permit must apply to the Governor of Svalbard for a permit to borrow a firearm before they can borrow one. Private individuals over the age of 18 who hold a valid Norwegian firearms permit or valid European Firearms Pass can borrow firearms without applying for a permit.

    Information from the Governor of Svalbard about borrowing firearms

  8. Do you need to be accompanied by a guide when you go on a trip in Svalbard?

    We recommend all visitors to either book organised guided tours or rent a private guide via one of the local activity providers in Svalbard.

    The reason for this is that, owing to the natural conditions in the archipelago, travelling in Svalbard requires thorough preparation, extra safety considerations and expertise. The local activity providers in Svalbard have experienced guides with good knowledge of the local safety requirements. Throughout the year, local guides perform regular training in everything from polar bear safety and firearms safety to safe travel on glaciers and in avalanche terrain as well as rescue operations in the event of injuries on tours.

    When you head out with a professional guide from a local activity provider, you can rest assured your safety will be taken care of during the tour. Moreover, the guide will gladly share their knowledge of what it’s like to live here and Svalbard’s fascinating history!

    5 reasons why the local Svalbard guides will enhance your travel experience!

  9. Are there any activities suitable for families with young and older children?

    Yes!
    You will find many family-friendly activities year-round that allow young and old alike to experience Svalbard.

    Remember to check the age limits that apply for the various activities. Feel free to contact the local activity providers directly if you are wondering whether an activity can be adapted for children. We recommend families travelling with young children to book activities by contacting the activity providers directly.

    Here are our three basic tips for a successful family holiday in Svalbard:
    1. Bring enough warm clothes! You will find information on our website about what we recommend young and old visitors to wear during the different seasons in Svalbard.
    2. Bring a thermos! Although coffee, blackcurrant toddy and hot chocolate are served on many guided tours, a thermos of hot water can be a lifesaver. Having a packet of hot chocolate powder or instant soup in your backpack is cheap insurance for a successful excursion.
    3. Rent your own guide! Several activity providers in Svalbard offer private customised tours. This makes it easier to the adapt the pace to suit the youngest (or oldest?) in the group, you can take several breaks and as much time as you’d like to on the tour.

    Spend your autumn holiday in Svalbard!

  10. Is clothing rental included when you book an activity?

    Yes, on certain tours, clothing rental is included in the price of the activity. This typically applies to activities such as snowmobiling, ATV safaris, rigid inflatable boat (RIB) trips, dog sledding, mine visits and kayaking trips. However, we cannot guarantee that all such activities include clothing rental.
    Information about what clothing is included or what the activity provider recommends guests to bring is usually included in the description of the various activities offered. If you are unsure, we recommend you contact the activity providers directly.

  11. How do I find handicap-friendly activities?

    Activities that can be adapted for disabled guests are marked with a dedicated symbol in the form of a wheelchair in all overivew lists for activities on visitsvalbard.com.

    Check the description of the marked activities for more information about how the activities are adapted for disabled guests. Feel free to contact the provider of the activity concerned if you want more information or cannot find information about how the activity is adapted.

  12. How do I find activities offered by environmentally certified companies?

    Activities offered by environmentally certified companies are marked with a dedicated symbol in the form of a leaf in all overview lists of activities on visitsvalbard.com.

    You'll also find an overview of environmentally certified companies in Svalbard on visitsvalbard.com

  13. When can I see the Northern Lights, and when is the best opportunity to see them?

    The best time to chase the Northern Lights in Svalbard is during the Northern Lights Winter and the dark season from 26 October to 16 February. Longyearbyen and Svalbard are situated so far north that it’s possible to see the Northern Lights both day and night during the Polar Night, which is the darkest period of the Northern Lights Winter in Svalbard.
    The Polar Night in Svalbard is from 14 November to 29 January. Local activity providers offer a wide range of different Northern Lights adventures and activities throughout the Northern Lights Winter.

    Will we see the green beauty today? Useful tools and tips to find the Northern Lights in Svalbard

    How to photograph the Northern Lights

    Northern Lights Adventures in Svalbard

    10 things you should know about the Northern Lights

    10 spectacular Northern Lights experiences in Svalbard

  14. Which activity should I book to see polar bears? Are there polar bear safaris?

    No, there are no polar bear safaris or other types of tours that seek out polar bears or guarantee that you will see polar bears. In Svalbard, it’s prohibited to lure, pursue, seek out, feed or disturb polar bears, and severe punishments apply for violation of these regulations.

    Polar bears can be anywhere in Svalbard year-round, so you may come across or observe polar bears on guided tours in Svalbard’s nature. In the event of polar bear encounters and polar bear observations on guided tours, the guide will always take care of the safety of the tour participants and avoid close encounters with polar bears. If the guide considers it safe for the group and, providing it’s in line with the current laws and regulations, it may be possible to observe polar bears from a distance.

    Safety in Svalbard

    More information about polar bears in Svalbard

  15. Can you rent cabins in Svalbard?

    No. As a visitor, you cannot rent cabins in Svalbard, but you can go on an organised guided tour to a wilderness cabin. The wilderness cabins in Svalbard are cabins visitors can stay overnight in when participating in multi-day guided tours run by the local activity providers who own and maintain the cabins.

    Overview of wilderness cabins in Svalbard

  16. What type of driving licence do you need to drive a snowmobile or ATV in Svalbard?

    If you are going on an organised tour that involves driving a snowmobile or ATV, you need to produce a valid driving licence for a car or light motorcycle/motorcycle/tractor. Passengers don’t require a driving licence.

  17. Are there any museums and galleries in Longyearbyen?

    Yes! Longyearbyen has several galleries and museums that you may visit. You will find an overview of these on our website.

    Overview of museums and galleries in Longyearbyen

  18. Can you visit Svalbard Global Seed Vault?

    The Seed Vault is not open to visitors, but it’s possible to go on organised guided tours that stop outside the Seed Vault so you can see the iconic entrance.

    More information about Svalbard Global Seed Vault and guided tours to the vault

  19. Which age limits apply for the various activities?

    The age limits for different types of activities can vary from company to company and depend on factors such as the duration and content of the activities. Information about age limits is generally published for all activities on visitsvalbard.com. However, in cases where this is not stated, you should contact the activity provider offering the activity to check this.

    Families travelling with children who are younger than the stated age limit for a specific activity should contact the activity provider before booking to check whether an exception can be made so that they can take part in the activity.

  20. Are there activities in Longyearbyen I can do on my own without a guide?

    Yes, there are several activities within Longyearbyen’s town limits that you can do on your own. A local favourite is walking the town circuit, which offers a nice roundtrip of the settlement. At various points along the town circuit, you will find sign stations that inform you about what you see around you, the various historical sites and cultural heritage sites in Longyearbyen, as well as a lot of other interesting information.

    If you walk up to the elevated reservoir to the east in Longyearbyen, you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the valley Adventdalen. The iconic cableway central station is also a fascinating attraction within walking distance of the town centre. It’s also nice to go for a short walk on the footpath along the banks of the river Longyearelva. If you are lucky, you may even find a fossil among the rocks there!

    In Longyearbyen, you can also go on a “town safari” to spot wildlife. Svalbard reindeer are peaceful creatures and are a common sight between houses and along the streets in Longyearbyen. If you are really lucky, you may also spot an Arctic fox lurking around the corner of a house. Consequently, we recommend taking your camera even if you are only going on a short walk. Always ensure you keep your distance from wild animals, so you don’t disturb them unnecessarily.

    More information about the town circuit in Longyearbyen

    Map of Longyearbyen

Nature, wildlife, cultural heritage and travel

  1. Where can you walk on your own in Longyearbyen without polar bear protection?

    If you stay within the town limits in Longyearbyen and don’t pass the polar bear warning signs, you can walk on your own without the need for polar bear protection. The polar bear warning signs are situated along the roads leading out of Longyearbyen by the Port of Longyearbyen in the west, Svalbard Villmarkssenter in the east, in Nybyen or by Huset to the south.

    One of the most popular walks in Longyearbyen where you don’t need to think about polar bear protection is the town circuit. This circuit is about 8 km and passes some of the most iconic buildings in Longyearbyen.

    More information about the town circuit in Longyearbyen

  2. Where can you encounter polar bears?

    You can encounter polar bears anywhere in Svalbard year-round, so you must be especially cautious when moving outside the settlements. You should always travel with a professional local guide who has equipment for polar bear protection (scaring devices and a firearm) and proficiency in using these. The professional Svalbard guides have good knowledge of how to handle encounters with polar bears. They conduct regular training in how to handle encounters with bears in a safe way with the aim of resolving such situations without injuries to either humans or polar bears.
    You can walk around within the Longyearbyen town limits without the need for a guide and equipment for polar bear protection.

    More information about polar bears in Svalbard

    Your safety in Svalbard

  3. Where can you go fishing? When are fishing trips offered?

    As a visitor in Svalbard, you can fish with a rod and jig fishing gear as permitted by the provisions of the regulations concerning fishing for char in Svalbard and until the seasonal quotas are filled. Please note that visitors are not permitted to fish with certain gear or in certain types of lakes/areas.

    Sea fishing trips from boats are offered as organised trips for visitors mainly towards the end of the Polar Summer season from August until October.

    Overview of organised fishing trips in Svalbard

    More information about hunting and fishing in Svalbard

  4. What sort of animals can you see in Svalbard?

    Svalbard has a rich wildlife in the sea and on land. Mammals include the indigenous Svalbard reindeer, the Arctic fox and the polar bear, which is iconic for the archipelago. Several species of seals, walruses and whales are also found in Svalbard, along with a varied bird life. The indigenous Svalbard rock ptarmigan is the only terrestrial bird species that resides in Svalbard year-round.

    More information from The Norwegian Polar Institute about fauna in Svalbard

  5. What is the dark season and the Polar Night? Can you see anything during the Polar Night?

    The dark season in Svalbard lasts from 26. October to 16. February. This is the period when the sun is below the horizon 24/7. At the start and end of this period, there is still twilight in the middle of the day. However, there is never full daylight as the sun is below the horizon.

    The Polar Night in Svalbard is what is known as a “Civil Polar Night” and occurs when the sun drops 6 degrees or more below the horizon. This lasts from 14. November to 29. January. During this period, there are only a few glimpses of twilight in the middle of the but is often experienced as being completely dark around the clock.

    You can still see a bit during the Polar Night. On cloudless days when there is a full moon, you may be lucky enough to see mountains and landscapes from a long distance. It’s practical to use a headlamp and you should always wear a reflector or high visibility vest when wandering around Longyearbyen during the dark season.

  6. Are you allowed to take reindeer antlers home if you find these in Svalbard?

    Moving wildlife found dead, or parts of wildlife found dead, in Svalbard is prohibited. Antlers that are still attached to the skull of a dead Svalbard reindeer are considered as wildlife found dead and consequently cannot be taken home. However, naturally shed reindeer antlers are exempt from this prohibition.

    For more information, see section 94 of the Svalbard Environmnental Protection Act and the Governor of Svalbard's guidelines for researchers in Svalbard

  7. Can I use a drone in Svalbard?

    The use of drones is prohibited in a zone with a radius of 5 km from the airport in Longyearbyen and Svea. The use of radio transmitters and drones is prohibited in a 20 km zone around Ny-Ålesund. In practice, this means that the use of drones is prohibited in Ny-Ålesund and in the entire area of Kongsfjorden.

    If you are planning to use a drone outside the prohibited areas, you must familiarise yourself with the rules for using drones in Svalbard. The most important rules are:
    - Disturbing wildlife is prohibited in Svalbard
    - Never fly higher than 120 m above the ground
    - Keep a distance of 150 m from people, buildings, buildings and boats etc.
    - Always keep the drone within your sight
    - Familiarise yourself with the rules concerning photographing and filming of other people
    - The use drones is prohibited when it’s dark unless lights are mounted on the drone

    More information about the use of drones in Svalbard

  8. How should I dress in the cold?

    The average temperature during the summer months (mid-May to September) is 3-7 ˚C. You will need a windproof jacket and pants, woollen underwear and mittens, scarf and hat. In the summer, snow and ice melting leads to increased water levels in rivers and streams. You will need rubber boots or mountain boots and gaiters if you plan to go on a hike or cross such rivers and streams during the summertime. During the winter months (October to May), temperatures can drop as low as -30 ˚C. But the average temperature in the earlier parts of the winter may usually stay around -12 ˚C, and can increase to around -5 ˚C on average towards the end of the winter season.

    Bring your warmest winter clothes when you visit! You need windproof outerwear and several layers of wool and/or fleece. Remember to bring warm winter boots and a windproof hat, mittens, gloves and a scarf to keep your hands, face and head warm and dry. We recommend a balaclava that covers your head and neck, along with a windproof hat. A high visibility vest can also be useful during the Polar Night. Regardless of the season, it’s also practical to bring a daypack to use when wandering around town or on excursions. We also recommend bringing spikes for your boots, as the road is often icy.

    We recommend bringing the warmest clothes you have so you are prepared for the extreme weather that can occur in Svalbard.

    More information on how to dress in Svalbard

  9. When can you experience the Northern Lights? When can you experience the Midnight Sun?

    The Northern Lights season in Svalbard is from late September to mid-March. The best time is between 18:00 (6pm) and midnight. There may also be good opportunities between 04:00 and 08:00 (4am and 8am). During the Polar Night from 14. November to 29. January, you may be able to see the Northern Lights around the clock, even in the middle of the day. It's important to remember that there is no guarantee that you will be able to see the Northern Lights during these periods, as it depends on having the right weather conditions and stronger solar winds than normal.

    You can experience the Midnight Sun in Svalbard from 20. April to 23. August. This extends from the Sunny Winter to the end of the Polar Summer.

    10 things you should know about the Northern Lights

    The Sunny Winter season in Svalbard

    The Polar Summer season in Svalbard

  10. Are you permitted to enter and/or explore cultural heritage sites such as old mines, industrial buildings, trapping huts and other cultural heritage sites in Svalbard?

    In Svalbard, it has been decided that a security zone shall extend for 100 metres in all directions from the visible or known perimeter of automatically protected cultural heritage sites. Movable historical objects are classified as structures and sites if they are associated with a specific locality. The following are automatically protected:
    - Structures and sites dating from before 1946
    - Movable historical objects dating from before 1946 or earlier that come to light by chance or through investigations, excavation or in any other way.

    The houses in Pyramiden, as well as some of the cabins around Barentsburg, Pyramiden and Coles Bay, are privately owned by Trust Arktikugol. It is requested that people don’t enter cabins and houses that are not open to the public. Any cases of people entering these buildings will be reported to the Governor of Svalbard.

    For more information, see section 39 of the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act

  11. Is it true that you are not allowed to pick flowers in Svalbard?

    Yes, it’s true that you are not allowed to pick flowers in Svalbard. The Svalbard Environmental Protection Act states that no person may damage or remove flora in Svalbard. However, damage resulting from lawful access, passage or approved activities is excepted from this provision.

    The collection of fungi and seaweed for private use is permitted. The collection of flora for research or teaching purposes is permitted providing this does not make significant interventions into the local populations of the flora involved.

    For more information, see sections 28 and 29 of The Svalbard Environmental Protection Act

  12. Can you drive by car from Longyearbyen to Barentsburg, Pyramiden, Ny-Ålesund or Isfjord Radio?

    No. There are only about 50 km of roads suitable for cars in and around Longyearbyen. There are no roads connecting Longyearbyen with Barentsburg, Pyramiden, Ny-Ålesund or Isfjord Radio. However, you can get to these destinations by other means of transport such as by boat or snowmobile.

  13. How do I get to and from the airport in Longyearbyen?

    The airport shuttle in Longyearbyen corresponds with all scheduled arrivals and departures. It stops at all hotels and guesthouses in Longyearbyen. You can pay by card or cash (Norwegian kroner), and you can buy a one way or return ticket. It’s also possible to take a taxi from the airport to Longyearbyen or rent a car from Arctic Autorent at the airport.

    More information about the airport shuttle in Longyearbyen

  14. How close can I get to the wildlife in Svalbard?

    As a general principle, it’s desirable to avoid animals changing their behaviour due to the presence of humans in Svalbard. Disturbing wildlife can lead to immediate behavioural changes and physical injuries as well as long-term effects that impact the animals’ ability to survive.
    Different animals behave differently in encounters with humans, and we must behave differently in encounters with different types of animals to avoid disturbing them.

    More information about traffic and wildlife in Svalbard (only available in Norwegian)

  15. Is it true that you can get rabies in Svalbard?

    Yes, rabies occurs in Svalbard in animals such as the Svalbard reindeer and Arctic fox. Consequently, to be on the safe side, you should not approach or be in close contact with wildlife or wildlife found dead.

Food & drinks + Shopping

  1. Is it necessary to reserve a table at restaurants in Longyearbyen?

    Yes, we always recommend reserving a table at restaurants in Longyearbyen, especially during weekends, public/school holidays and the peak season.

  2. Which restaurants and cafés are there in Svalbard? What can you recommend?

    You will find a complete listing of restaurants and cafés in Svalbard on our website under Food & Drink.
    You will find something for every taste in Svalbard, and we can recommend checking out our culinary guide for Svalbard and Longyearbyen as “a Mecca for foodies”.

    Food & Drink in Svalbard

    Longyearbyen - "a Mecca for foodies"

  3. Which shops are there in Longyearbyen?

    You will find an overview of shops in Longyearbyen on our website by clicking on the link below.

    Overview of shops in Longyearbyen

  4. Are there places in Longyearbyen where vegetarians and vegans can eat?

    Yes, all the restaurants and cafés in Longyearbyen have or can offer vegan and/or vegetarian alternatives to their guests. Please let them know in advance or ask when you reserve a table.

  5. Where can I have breakfast?

    Several hotels serve breakfast to their guests and other visitors who wish to pay to eat there. Please ask at the hotel reception for information about prices and when they serve breakfast.

  6. Where can I have lunch?

    You can eat lunch at a café or restaurant as several of these have lunch menus. You can also buy a hot lunch in the fresh produce section at Coop Svalbard.

  7. If you have food allergies, is it possible to find allergy friendly food in Longyearbyen?

    Coop Svalbard, which locals refer to as “Svalbardbutikken”(the Svalbard shop), has a wide selection of gluten free and other allergy friendly food products. The cafés/restaurants will also be able to adapt their menus/dishes to meet special needs. If you let them know in advance or when you reserve a table, they will do their best to find a good solution.

Good to know in Longyearbyen and practical information when you are in Svalbard

  1. Which emergency numbers apply in Svalbard?

    The emergency numbers used in the rest of Norway also apply in Svalbard.
    These include:
    - 110 – Fire
    - 112 – Police
    - 113 – Medical emergencies
    - 1412 – Emergency calls for hearing-impaired users

    Please note: If you observe a polar bear in or near Longyearbyen, you must notify the Governor of Svalbard by phone at 112 as soon as possible.

    If this happens in Longyearbyen, you should:
    - Move away from the bear – with calm movements, if possible
    - Get to a safe place
    - When you are safe, try to observe the polar bear until a representative of the Governor of Svalbard arrives

  2. Can you rent winter clothing in Svalbard?

    No businesses in Svalbard currently offer rental of ordinary winter clothing. However, it’s possible to rent snowmobile clothing from the snowmobile dealers Ingeniør G. Paulsen (IGP) and Svalbard Snøscooterutleie if they have such clothing available.
    Snowmobile clothing usually includes a warm snowmobile suit, well-insulated winter boots, insulated snowmobile mittens, a balaclava and helmet. Although this clothing is intended for snowmobiling, it’s quite possible to use it if you need good and warm clothing for other outdoor activities during the winter.

  3. When do the various shops, cafés, restaurants and attractions in Longyearbyen open?

    You will find the opening hours for the businesses in Longyearbyen in our opening hours guide, which is updated monthly.

    Opening hours guide for Longyearbyen

  4. Why is it necessary to wear a reflector in Longyearbyen?

    When it’s dark outside, it’s always a good idea to use a reflector or high visibility vest because it can be difficult for motorists to see pedestrians on the side of the road. Since there are few footpaths in Longyearbyen, pedestrians often need to walk on the side of the road. Ensuring you are clearly visible in traffic during the long dark season helps avoid accidents.

    If you don’t have a reflector or high visibility vest and wish to go out for walk in Longyearbyen in the dark, you can ask the reception at your hotel if they have one that you can borrow. You will also find reflectors and high visibility vests for sale at several of the sports shops in Longyearbyen and at Coop Svalbard.

  5. Do I need to show my airline ticket to buy alcohol at the shop?

    Yes, visitors must present an airline ticket to buy beer or liquor. When residents of Svalbard buy alcohol, they have “ration cards” that must be stamped. This dates back to when Longyearbyen was a mining town and certain types of alcohol were rationed out to the workers. Quotas still apply for how much beer, strong wine and liquor you can buy per month at Nordpolet in Coop Svalbard in Longyearbyen.

  6. Why do I need to take off my shoes when entering some buildings in Longyearbyen?

    You will notice that at several restaurants, hotels, the tourist information centre and public buildings such as museums, the hospital and the library people remove their shoes and boots in the hallway. This tradition dates back to when Longyearbyen was a mining community and people took off their shoes/boots to avoid spreading coal dust everywhere. Many places have preserved this tradition. Some have slippers you can borrow, or you can bring your own.

  7. Why are the pipes in Svalbard above the ground, and why are the houses built on pillars?

    When you walk around Longyearbyen, you may notice that the houses are placed on pillars and all the pipes are above ground. The reason for this is simple – permafrost. When the permafrost melts in the summer, it would put a strain on houses with foundations in the ground. The pillars are knocked down into the permafrost to stabilise the houses and prevent maintenance work every single year. The pipes are above ground for the same reason. When the permafrost melts and freezes, it pushes things upwards. Consequently, the water pipes would not remain underground.

  8. Why are snowmobiles parked outside in many places in Longyearbyen?

    Although we don’t have exact figures, we can safely say there are more snowmobiles than people in Svalbard. Longyearbyen is a compact settlement where it’s uncommon to have your own garage. Consequently, snowmobiles are often parked outside. There are also several parking zones in Longyearbyen where locals can park their snowmobiles. Locals put their snowmobiles on wooden pallets to minimise damage to the tundra where the snowmobiles are parked during the summer and to prevent the snowmobiles from being frozen in the ground.

  9. Where can I find a laundry service to wash my clothes?

    Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg and ISS in Longyearbyen both offer laundry services. Some hotels and guesthouses in Longyearbyen also offer their guests access to a washing machine.

  10. Where is the post office?

    The post office is situated in the middle of the pedestrian street in the centre of Longyearbyen. In Barentsburg, the post office is also in the main street in the centre of the settlement.

  11. Where can I post my postcards?

    You will find post boxes at the post offices and at the airport. Several hotels and the tourist information centre in Longyearbyen also accept postcards, which they post on behalf of guests.

  12. Are there public toilets in Longyearbyen?

    Yes, you will find public toilets at Lompensenteret in the middle of the main pedestrian street in Longyearbyen and in the harbour of Longyearbyen.

  13. Where can I find a weather forecast for Svalbard?

    You will find local weather forecasts for Svalbard through services such as yr.no. You will also find specific weather stations for Longyearbyen and the surrounding areas on the website of The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS).

  14. Can you buy photographic/camera equipment in Svalbard?

    Yes, Coop Svalbard sells some camera equipment. It’s also possible to rent cameras, lenses and other camera equipment at Svalbard Camera Rentals.

  15. Where can you buy SIM cards in Svalbard?

    You can buy SIM cards at Coop Svalbard or at Telenor’s Svalbard branch.

Unique Svalbard questions

  1. How do I avoid being pecked in the head by angry terns?

    The Arctic terns you encounter along the seafront in Svalbard in the summer may seem very angry, but they are simply protecting their nest, which is probably nearby. They are known for pecking unsuspecting passers-by (people and animals alike) in the head with their distinctive red beaks to get them away from their nest.

    Thankfully there is a simple trick to avoid being pecked in the head and, at the same time, avoid injuring the birds! The terns generally attack the highest point of the animal/person they want to scare away, so if you stretch an arm, camera tripod, stick or the like in the air, they will dive for that instead of your head.

  2. I checked Tinder when I arrived in Svalbard, but people who don’t live in Svalbard appeared in my search. Why does this happen?

    Even if you have not activated that you can search for a match on Tinder outside the maximum search range, people from mainland Norway may still appear in searches on Tinder when you are in Svalbard.

    This is because mobile phones in Svalbard often show your position incorrectly. You will often be shown as if you were on the mainland even if you are in Longyearbyen and using a short search range.

    Just try switching from mobile data to Wi-Fi or vice versa. Your position on Tinder will then generally appear correctly again so you can continue searching for a Svalbard flirt!

  3. Why are the reindeer here so short and fat?

    If you have seen reindeer on the Norwegian mainland, you will quickly notice that the reindeer in Svalbard look a little bit different. The Svalbard reindeer is an indigenous subspecies of reindeer that is only found in Svalbard.
    Given its short legs, neck and ears, small head and compact body, the Svalbard reindeer looks different from other reindeer. But this makes it well adapted to the arctic climate in Svalbard! The thickness of their winter coat makes them appear fat and ready to endure the winter season, though that’s not always the case.

    More information about the Svalbard reindeer

  4. Is it true that it’s illegal to die in Svalbard?

    No, that’s an urban myth. However, there are statutory restrictions concerning burials in Svalbard.
    Coffin burials are not permitted in Svalbard. One of the reasons for this is the permafrost. As well as affecting the decomposition of corpses, the repeated thawing and freezing throughout the seasons can cause coffins to be slowly pushed upwards. Urn burials, on the other hand, are permitted for certain people. Pursuant to Norwegian law, people who were resident in Svalbard at the time of their death are entitled to have an urn burial at Longyearbyen’s cemetery.

    For more information, see the regulation for cemeteries in Longyearbyen and the spreading of ashes in Svalbard (only available in Norwegian)

Visit Svalbard Eco-Lighthouse

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