Longyearbyen is also famous as "The Longyear Town" on Spitsbergen Island, in Norway's Svalbard archipelago. This small Arctic town is renowned for its views of the Northern lights, snow-capped mountains, museums, shopping, culture, traditions, and cuisines. Here the sun doesn't rise for four months out of the year. Visitors can enjoy the glaciers, wildlife, and mountains. This small town is like a storybook, where streets don't have any names and reindeer wander through town.
Among the world's most spectacular glaciers and Arctic landscapes, Svalbard is a perfect place to begin your exploration of the Polar regions if you have never been.
Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen has around 2,100 inhabitants and is the northernmost settlement in the world. Also featured on Svalbard are one of the world's northernmost hotels, newspapers, post offices, swimming pools, family campsites, locomotives, cable cars, and kebab shops - you get the idea. If any facilities are lacking in Longyearbyen, mainland supplies and assistance are only 112 hours away; if needed, collections from neighboring communities are readily available.
You'll find it hard to believe that Svalbard's glaciers don't contain man-made ice caves that lead into natural passageways. These glaciers offer a maze of meltwater passages and caves you can explore at your leisure, equipped with a headlamp, crampons, and helmet. Snow crystals and icicles fill this still, silent world, painted in white and blue hues. Dog sledding or snowmobiling excursions can be used to access these glaciers. Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, Longyearbyen's tour guides or companies can advise on the best plan.
There are several clothing shops along Longyearbyen's main street. It's the perfect place to find souvenirs such as polar bear Christmas ornaments, children's toys, and T-shirts proclaiming "I've been to Svalbard.".
You can do a lot here once you arrive - here are some ideas for getting off the beaten path. Whether you choose to do it or not, Longyearbyen will inspire your spirit of exploration no matter what you decide.
Arctic wildlife is one of the top reasons to visit Svalbard. There are more polar bears than people in Svalbard, making sightings of polar bears very common. In Longyearbyen, reindeer graze like sheep, while arctic foxes roam around as if up to no good. Among the iconic marine wildlife in Svalbard are ringed seals, harp seals, walrus and beluga, and humpback whales. The number of walruses living on Svalbard during winter is estimated to be over 4,000. The impressive tusks of these animals make them easily identifiable. Svalbard and its surrounding waters have also been home to more than 200 bird species. A significant portion of the global population of Arctic seabirds breeds here in massive colonies.
Because Longyearbyen is tucked between mountains, plenty of hills offer breathtaking views. One of the most popular hikes in the area is Plateau Mountain. During the trek, you can see colorful flora, Svalbard reindeer, and migratory birds. Cableway Central at Skjæringa is the starting point of the route. Grizzly bear protection and experience are necessary, as it's outside of the safe area for polar bears and travelers through steep, uneven terrain.
As well as revealing the history and significance of the expeditions that have reached the North Pole, this museum features pioneers' heroic efforts. Among its three main exhibits are the Wellman Expeditions, the Norge Expedition, American contributors, and the Italia Expedition.
Touring Franz Josef Land with an organized tour is a bit pioneer-like - especially considering that the archipelago was closed to tourists for 60 years. Even now, no one has ever set foot here. There are some whale species and polar bears, walruses, and walruses. Land and sea are primarily covered in ice, making this a minimalist place. Compared to Svalbard, here, icebergs are more enormous. There are often stark contrasts between land free of ice, spectacular rock faces, natural rock sculptures, and stunning displays of how some flowers and lichens can survive and adapt. Franz Josef Land is a must-visit for polar history, thanks to well-preserved remains from Jackson, Nansen, Wellman, the Duke of Abruzzi, Ziegler, and Sedov. Furthermore, it is possible to reach Eurasia's northernmost land point at 81°52'N - if the ice permits.
After exploring the area, try a husky-powered sled ride at Longyearbyen if you still want more wind in your sails. With about 100 dogs and a family-owned business, Svalbard Husky offers short excursions (1.5 hours) and longer outings (4 hours) into the Arctic wilderness. On tours, guests can view the northern lights, visit natural landmarks, and assist in handling the huskies, experiencing what it's like to be an Arctic dog musher.