Major Tourist Attractions: Austfonna, Nordre Isfjorden National Park, Forlandet National Park
It is hard to find a place more remote than Svalbard, a group of islands perched on the edge of the Arctic Ocean. They are the northernmost settlements in the world, and 60% of their landmass is covered by glaciers. Less than 3000 people live here year-round, and half of them live in the capital city of Longyearbyen. The Islands are an unincorporated property of Norway.
Visiting Svalbard is a challenging and expensive undertaking. They are easiest to reach via plane from Norway, but several cruise ships visit Svalbard in the summer. There are no roads and transportation between the islands is limited to boat or plane. Most visitors will need a professional guide to safely navigate the terrain outside the settlements. Rifles are necessary as polar bear attacks are a real possibility.
Those who do make the trek to Svalbard will have the opportunity to observe the arctic at its most raw. Between April 20th and August 23rd the sun never sets, and between October 26th and February 15th it never rises. The area is overflowing with wildlife including polar bears, polar foxes, walruses and many unique bird species. For serious adventurers, Svalbard is also a gateway to an even wilder land: the North Pole.
Some of the many unique activities found only in Svalbard include:
- Spot Polar Bears in their natural habitat (from a safe distance).
- Enjoy the Polar Jazz Festival in January.
- Visit the world's northernmost church in Longyearbyen.
- Visit the area's only Russian settlement, Barentsburg, a throwback to the cold war.
- Sample local specialties like reindeer and seal.
- Photograph glaciers up close via boat.
Address: Henrik Ibsens gate 48
Phone: 2130 8787;
After hours: 21 30 85 40