Hotels in Svalbard are located exclusively in Longyearbyen. True, there is one hotel each in Barentsburg and Ny-Ålesund, but in the first case we are talking about a very old Soviet building with an appropriate level of comfort, and in the second – a base for scientists.
According to wholevehicles, there are about a dozen hotels in Longyearbyen, ranging from simple guesthouses to the Radisson. The accommodation options are very exotic: a former radio station converted into a hotel (the satellite dish in front of the entrance remained as a monument), a sailing schooner frozen (or rather, frozen) in the ice with nice cabins-numbers, a lodge on the shore of the Arctic Gulf… Well, the comfort of the highest class (at a hefty price tag, of course) you’ll find at the gorgeous Radisson Blu Polar Hotell.
Accommodation in Longyearbyen bites noticeably – for the simplest room in an ordinary boarding house, get ready to pay at least 100-120 EUR “from the nose”.
Cuisine and restaurants in Svalbard
Due to the remoteness of Svalbard from the “mainland” and location almost at the North Pole, the local cuisine is full of amazing features. Fruits and vegetables are practically non-existent here (with the exception of “long-lasting” potatoes, carrots, etc.), and perishable foods are extremely scarce and very expensive. The basis of Svalbard cuisine is canned, frozen and dried ingredients, from which local chefs manage to make really delicious dishes.
From the “pasture” and fresh in the menu of restaurants, you can find dishes from walrus, seal and reindeer. But you won’t be able to taste bear meat: only a few white clubfoot are shot a year on special instructions from the governor.
Despite the apparent detachment of Svalbard from the modern world, the restaurants here are able to “do” the pompous Parisian establishments. Restaurant Huset, for example, boasts the best wine cellar in all of Scandinavia – there are more than 22 thousand valuable bottles! And the Karls-Berger pub is ranked sixth in the ranking of drinking establishments in the world.
Shopping and shops
Shopping in Svalbard is pleasant and in many ways profitable: the entire territory of the archipelago is a duty-free zone. First of all, this applies to alcohol, tobacco products, cosmetics, perfumes and sports equipment. Here you can get branded Arctic workwear and shoes with great profit for your wallet. Alcohol is sold at the Nordpolet wine market. Most shops are open from 10 am to 6 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to 3 pm on Saturdays, closed on Sunday.
Typical Svalbard souvenirs are all kinds of images of polar bears, from photo postcards to plates and toys of various sizes. “Norwegian” goods are also popular here – sweaters and other knitwear with deer and snowflakes, warm winter shoes.
The best selection of souvenirs is in the “duty free” 78 Grader and in the boutique at the Svalbard Museum in Longyearbyen.
Entertainment and attractions of Svalbard
Excursions and entertainment in Svalbard have snow and ice as their primary components. Tourists can enjoy cross-country skiing from an hour to a full day, dog sledding and snowmobiling. For physically prepared tourists, expeditions are offered inland, lasting from 5 to 14 days – also on skis, dog sleds and snowmobiles. During the night excursion on snowmobiles, you can admire the northern lights and the deserted snowy area away from Longyearbyen. It is also worth going hiking through the ice caves located right in the thickness of the glaciers, or conquering one of the peaks of Svalbard, for example, the 850-meter “troll stone” Trollstein.
In summer, cruises around the archipelago, kayaking, horseback riding, quad safaris and hiking are added to this list. Tours are also offered for paleontologists: on the slopes of the Lars and Longyearbyen glaciers, you can find many fossils with imprinted silhouettes of plants and animals, which are between 40 and 60 million years old. Their number is so great that what is found is allowed to be freely exported from Svalbard.
You should also definitely visit the Svalbard Museum, which tells interesting stories about the geology and history of the region, its unique flora and fauna, and human activities. Longyearbyen is also home to the northernmost church in the world. At the Svalbard Aeronautics Museum you can learn about the heroic attempts of aviation pioneers to reach the North Pole. And in the Store Gallery you can see the work of a local artist.
Among other things, helicopter tours to the North Pole start from Svalbard.