Spitsbergen, Norway, the main island in a group called Svalbard, lies 500 mi/800 km north of Tromso and 800 mi/1,300 km north of the Arctic Circle. Seldom described as a well-known tourist destination in the past, this island has become more popular with Norwegian tourists.
Visitors seem to be attracted to the tranquility and remoteness of the island. Despite its mining population, Svalbard remains one of the few great untouched areas of the earth. Ice safaris there will take you through polar landscapes you might have thought only imaginable. Specialty cruises sometimes stop on the island.
Spitsbergen has two major ports: Longyearbyen (coal mining, seals, whales, walruses and seabirds) and Magdalena Bay (impressive glaciers, mountains and coastline).
The island also has a large population of polar bears, which are both very dangerous and protected. Wildlife-viewing tours are available, though there’s no guarantee you’ll see any bears. Between the mainland and Spitsbergen lies bird-filled Bear Island. One of the three main populations of Barnacle Geese can also be found in Svalbard, where they breed before heading south to spend the winter months in the Solway Firth, near Dumfries in Scotland.
Top 5 Reasons to go to Spitsbergen
1. It’s the Crown of Arctic Norway.
Remote, mysterious, extreme and located on the southern fringe of the frozen Arctic Ocean, Spitsbergen is a land forged by ice, wind and sea. Expedition style landings take you close to the wildlife, the ghost towns of early whaling stations, remote mining towns and spectacular fjords and icebergs.
2. The Wildlife is incredible!
Called a biological hot spot because of the extraordinary diversity of Arctic wild life and unique nature. Species like the Arctic fox, Svalbard reindeer, polar bear and thousands of seabirds live here – and you have the chance to see them all!
3. It’s the Arctic Desert.
In terms of precipitation, Svalbard may be described as an “arctic desert” with annual rain and snowfall at a mere 7 – 8 inches.
4. It’s warmer than you think.
Despite of Svalbard being so close to the North Pole, the archipelago has a relatively mild climate compared to other areas at the same latitude. In Longyearbyen, the average temperature ranges from 6.8°F in winter to 42.8°F in summer.
5. It has one of the World’s best Pubs and a Scary Ghost Town!
The pub Karls-Berger has been rated the #6 best pub in the world and the abandoned Russian mining settlement, Pyramiden, was rated the #9 scariest ghost town in the world by National Geographic.
How would you like to explore Spitsbergen?
For more information or to book your Spitsbergen Trip-Of-A-Lifetime, contact Brad Martin at Anywhere Anytime Journeys.
[Cover Photo: The Svalbard archipelago is the northernmost part of Norway. Of the islands, Spitsbergen is the largest and is host to Svalbard’s Administrative center, the settlement of Longyearbyen (population in 2008 was 2,040). Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons]