In and around Longyearbyen

Camping on Spitsbergen

Getting to Spitsbergen is surprisingly easy. Especially in the summer season. There are daily flights from Oslo to Longyearbyen, which take around 3 hours (see the website of SAS). The airport is located just outside Longyearbyen and there is a bus and taxi service between town and the airport.

In Longyearbyen there are several guesthouses and hotels. They differ in luxury and price and it is recommended to book in advance as they are often fully booked, especially in the summer. An overview of the different hotels and guesthouses can be found here.
Another nice option can be the Longyearbyen campsite. Located just below the airport and close to the fjord and a small lake you find the worlds northernmost campsite. The camping is simple, but with a nice community building and with a very nice atmosphere.

Longyearbyen is the “capital” of Spitsbergen and has around 1800 inhabitants. Despite its small size it has many facilities that are more common in a city. Apart from the administrative buildings there is a hospital, auniversity centre, a research centre, a shopping centre, a supermarket, a bank and several hotels.

Colourful Longyearbyen

There are also several restaurants and bars where you can eat or drink something. For a nice warm meal I can recommend Kroa, a restaurant with a very cozy atmosphere. Also Huset can be recommended. If you want to drink a cup of coffee or have something for lunch, Fruene is the place to go. Situated in the middle of town and really good sandwiches.
One thing you may not miss when visiting Longyearbyen is the Svalbard Museum. I’m not a museum person, but this one is very well set out with a lot of information about the nature, history of the area and about the peoples influence there. A visit to Longyearbyen should always include a visit to the museum.
The shopping centre consists of one supermarket, four outdoor shops and several souvenir shops.


Longyearbyen is a nice town, but after one or maybe two days most people get fed up with it. There are several things you can do in Isfjorden.
As Longyearbyen is a mining settlement there are still several mines around the village. If you are interested in the mining history of the area you can visit mine 3. This mine is not in operation anymore, but will still give you a good understanding of the life of the miners.
Other nice activities are the short walks that are offered by local tour operators. Popular ones are the hike up Plateaufjellet or fossil hunting near the Adventbreen. For more information see these websites: Spitsbergen travel or Svalbard Wildlife Services. These are the largest two tour operators, for more operators, seethis list.
Some of these organisations also offer kayaking or dogsledding trips. There is also the option to go horseback riding from Longyearbyen towards Isfjorden.

The "abandoned" Russian settlement Pyramiden

There are two other settlements that can be visited in Isfjorden. The first is Barentsburg, an active Russian mining settlement with around 500 inhabitants. The easiest way to visit is by boat trip from Longyearbyen. There is a nice museum and a bar where you can drink Russian vodka or cognac. A walk through town shows you a bust of Lenin and might show you the farm where they still have cows.

Pyramiden is also a Russian mining settlement, but was abandoned in 1998. Now there live 5 people, 4 maintenance workers and one guide. Like Barentsburg it can be visited by day trip on a boat from Longyearbyen. Even though Pyramiden is a ghost town, it looks more alive and bright than Barentsburg. The architecture is nicer and it is more spread out compared to Barentsburg.
Other small abandoned settlements in Isfjorden are Grumantbyen and Colesbukta. Both are nice places, but I don’t know about trips from Longyearbyen to visit them.
At the entrence of Isfjorden you find Isfjord Radio at Kapp Linné. This used to be the radio connection with mainland Norway, but that changed after the rise of satellites. Now it is in use as a hotel which is operated by basecamp.


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