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Longyearbyen - A travel report by Terry
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Longyearbyen,  Svalbard - flag Svalbard -  Svalbard
6304 readers

terje's travel reports

Summer in Longyearbyen

  15 votes
Page: 1 2
With my company I went to Svalbard to work and to experience the civilization that exists further north than any other in the world. I was hoping for full summer, but I came to late.

Signpost at the airport
Signpost at the airport
Longyearbyen (Longyear city) got its name from John Munroe Longyear who owned Arctic Coal Company and the community was established in 1906. Coal is essensial in the history of Svalbard. Longyearbyen is center of adminstration for the Svalbard Islands, the norwegian cultural center and has a fully equipped hospital, airport and supermarket.
The russians have a settlement at Spitbergen Island too, called Barentsburg.
Svalbard has been starting point for many arctic expeditions, among them Richard E. Byrd/Floyd Bennets controversary flight to the pole, and Umberto Nobile/Roald Amundsens flight with the airship Italia. Today, there is a arctic science center in Longyearbyen, run by four norwegian universities, that attract students from all over the world to study arctic geology, biology, geophysics and science.

Favourite spots:
Unfortunately, cluds covering the Opera Mountain. Just visible is The Tenor
Unfortunately, cluds covering the Opera Mountain. Just visible is The Tenor
If you like hiking, there is many opportunities to climb one of the summits that rises around Longyearbyen. Remember that because of the danger of encountering icebears, you must apply to Sysselmannen for a permit, and you must bring a rifle when you leave the city center. (It's possible to hire if you have a licence). It is considers best to order a hiking trip with one of the many companies that offers tours (see below).

The Opera mountain is one of the most beautiful mountain formations I know, maybe because I love classical and opera. If you use our fantasy, you can see the orchestra, the conductor, the bass and most importantly, the tenor.

What's really great:
There is many tour-operators that organizes tours and sporting activities.

As a bird-watcher, I love going on trips to the giant bird-colonies you can find along the norwegian coast, and also at Svalbard.
The Little Auk (Alkekonge) is strangly enough one of the most nomerous birds in the world, despite its arctic climate). This little tough guy and other polar birds can be seen on these trips. In the summer, people go cayaking all around Spitsbergen Island. This is possible because the Gulf Stream makes the climate warmer here than other areas at 78degrees north.
Of mammals, you can be seeing icebear, arctic walrus, arctic fox and different kinds of seals.
You can find all official information on flora/fauna at Svalbard here:

If possible, try to get along on a trip to Barentsburg and to Kapp Linné

Bear in mind that Longyearbyen has been depending on coal-mining for 100 years. You will discover this on your way from the airport to the hotel, its dirty in the summer! Nevertheless, there is some sights you must not miss.
The old transportation hub for the coal is kept as a memory. You cant miss it, its next to Sysselmannens headquarter.
Make sure you pay a visit to one of the old mines.
Svalbard museum is also somewhere to go for a visit.

Mary Anns Polarrigg
Mary Anns Polarrigg
Because of the tourist industry being the second most important business at Svalbard, there is several places offering accomodation. If you want to be complete sure about what you get, SAS Raddisson is your choice.

I stayed at Mary Ann's Polarrigg,

Being just a small community, Longyearbyen does not have a large number of drinking holes. I counted only 2, Kroa and Puben (The Tavern and The Pub).

Other recommendations:
You can learn more about Longyearbyen if you follow these links:

Published on Thursday March 2th, 2006

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Fri, Mar 03 2006 - 06:24 PM rating by mistybleu

Excellent reoprt.

Fri, Mar 03 2006 - 06:37 AM rating by marianne

Well -written report and good information. I like the opera mountain, is it always covered in clouds?

Do you have to take a rifle because there are bears?

Fri, Mar 03 2006 - 02:59 AM rating by rangutan

Excellent report on a cold and bare place not many get to, must be difficult to write! Pictures show, this place is not like Hawaii!

Thu, Mar 02 2006 - 11:44 PM rating by eirekay

Oh Terje, please do tell - why do you need to take a rifle to go on a hike? Terrific report on a far away place!

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