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Longyearbyen

Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in longyearbyen

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Europe : Northern Europe : Svalbard : Longyearbyen

Longyearbyen, pronounced "LUNG-yer-bin", is the largest settlement on Svalbard.

A slice of Longyearbyen and the surrounding mountainsA slice of Longyearbyen and the surrounding mountains
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A slice of Longyearbyen and the surrounding mountains

longyearbyen Travel Guide :

Longyearbyen

Understand

Longyearbyen is named after American entrepreneur John Munro Longyear (1860-1922), who as head of the Arctic Coal Company founded the town and the neighboring coal mine, the first one on Svalbard. Mining is still big business here, with the roadsides and mountainsides littered with mines and their equipment, but tourism is catching up fast. With nearly 2000 inhabitants, the town is the de facto "capital" of the islands, featuring the airport, a school, a shopping center, hotels, restaurants and more.

Longyearbyen

Orientation

Longyearbyen lies at the southern side of Adventfjorden, stretched out along the Longyearelva River. The center of town lies near the coast on the east side of the river, with the district of Skjæringa across the river, the district of Nybyen 2 km to the south and the airport 3 km to the west. Adventdalen, the valley housing Longyearbyen's only currently operational mine (#7), stretches out to the east.

Be sure to pick up the free Longyearbyen 78° North pamphlet (available at the airport and most lodges), which has a detailed map of the city and listings of all its facilities.

Longyearbyen

Get in

Longyearbyen

By plane

Longyearbyen Svalbard Airport (LYR) is the largest airport in Svalbard. It fields a daily SAS flight to Tromsø all year around, and there are additional flights as well as twice-weekly services direct to Oslo in the summer high season. Chartered planes occasionally connect elsewhere in the islands as well, including bases up north for starting your trek to the North Pole.

The airport has a cafeteria/gift/tax-free shop but no other services. Shuttle buses timed to flight departures and arrivals connect the airport to all hotels and guesthouses for a flat 40 kr per person.

Longyearbyen

By boat

Longyearbyen's port is accessible only in the summer when the pack ice recedes. For dates, see the port website (http://www.portlongyear.no/arrivals.htm). There are once-weekly boats to Tromso and regular (near-daily) cruises visit Barentsburg in the summer.

Longyearbyen

Get around

There is no public transportation aside from the airport shuttle bus. Walking is a viable option, although rather tedious if you need to move around outside the center. Alternatively, you can try your luck hitchhiking, or rent a bike from Basecamp Spitsbergen. Taxi (tel. +47-7902-1305) and car rental are also available.

Longyearbyen

See

Sights in town are rather limited, and most visitors come here for the activities around instead (see Do).

  • Svalbard Gallery, Nybyen. Permanent and changing exhibitions by artists in Svalbard, entry 45 kr. The adjoining artists' workshops are free to visit.
  • Svalbard Museum, Skjæringa. Exhibits on Svalbard's history, flora, fauna and mining, including a simulated mining tunnel to crawl though. Limited explanations in English. Entry 40 kr, open 10 AM-6 PM daily.
    • Note: The museum will move to the Svalbard Science Centre once completed (est. Dec 2005).
Longyearbyen

Do

Blue ice at EsmarkbreenBlue ice at Esmarkbreen
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Blue ice at Esmarkbreen
Mining equipment outside Mine 1Mining equipment outside Mine 1
</a
Mining equipment outside Mine 1

A wide variety of activities including hiking, dog-sledding, kayaking and snowmobile safaris and even coal mining and more are offered by Svalbard's many tour companies. The largest operators are Spitsbergen Travel (http://www.spitsbergentravel.no) and Svalbard Wildlife Service (http://www.wildlife.no) (SWS). Prices are high — figure on 500 kr for a half-day activity, 1000 kr for a full day — but so are standards.

  • Esmarkbreen Glacier, across the Isfjorden (2-3 hours by boat). Scenic glacier across the bay, colored a striking blue. Drop a cube in your glass for an arctic martini. Often combined with cruises to Barentsburg.
  • Mine 3 (Gruve 3). SWS runs daily guided tours to this coal mine, which was closed down in 1996. The guides are former miners and give good insight into how arduous and difficult the work deep below the ground in crawlspaces barely a meter high must have been. It's a steady -5°C down below, so bring along some warm clothing; overalls, helmet and light are provided. 3 hours, 590kr/person, no children below 14.
  • Pyramiden, across the Isfjorden (2-3 hours by boat). Russian mining settlement abandoned in 1996, best known for its Lenin statue (the northernmost in the world).

If you have multiple days to spare then your options really open up: how about a week-long snow scooter trip (21,500 kr) or 11 days by boat around all of Spitsbergen (from €2580)? For the ultimate Arctic experience, you can even arrange to join a trip to the North Pole.

Longyearbyen

Buy

Svalbard's shopping is concentrated in and around the two-story Lompensenteret shopping mall. Beware the limited opening hours: most shops are only open 11-18 weekdays, 11-14 Saturday and closed Sunday.

Longyearbyen

Eat

Eating out in Longyearbyen is expensive, with the simplest sit-down meals costing over 70 kr (equivalent to $11 US).

Longyearbyen

Budget

The only remotely budget option is self-catering.

  • Svalbardbutikken, opposite Lompensenteret, 1 (http://www.svalbardbutikken.no). Svalbard's sole supermarket and department store rolled into one. Has a surprisingly wide selection, but prepare for sticker shock, especially for anything perishable: half a cucumber costs 10 kr and a kilo of bananas on sale is 20 kr. Open weekdays from 11 to 20, reduced hours Sat/Sun.
Longyearbyen

Mid-range

  • Classic Pizza, Lompensenteret. Pizza and kebabs from 79 kr. Open from 1700 to 0500 daily.
  • Huset, Nybyen. Daily dinner menu 72 kr weekdays (open 16-18 only).
  • Kafé Busen, Lompensenteret. Generous portions of basic fare for 70-100 kr, open for lunch and dinner with a menu that changes daily.
Longyearbyen

Splurge

  • Kroa, Basecamp Spitsbergen.
  • Restaurant Nansen, Radisson SAS.
Longyearbyen

Drink

Svalbard's tax-free status makes alcohol a lot cheaper than on the mainland.

  • Nordpolet, in Svalbardbutikken. Sells a full range of beer, wines and spirits, but quotas apply and you must show your plane ticket to purchase. Also note the restrictive opening hours: 11 AM to 5 PM weekdays, 11 AM to 1 PM Saturdays, closed Sundays.
Longyearbyen

Sleep

Staying in anything other than a tent is outrageously expensive. Rates given here are for the summer peak season, they are generally around 20-50% lower in the October-May off season.

Longyearbyen

Budget

  • Longyearbyen Camping, near airport (4 km to Longyearbyen), tel. +47-79021444, 2 (http://www.longyearbyen-camping.com/). Promises an "intensive experience of nature" at the northernmost full-service campsite in the world. Stays per night start at 80 kr, not including tent rental (100 kr/day) or even warm showers (10 kr/5 min). Open only during the summer.
Longyearbyen

Mid-range

A number of guesthouses and homestays offer basic accommodation. Read the small print carefully, as you're often charged extra for breakfast, linens, towels and perhaps even use of the bathtub!

  • Gjestehuset 102, Nybyen, tel. +47-79025716, email mailto:102@wildlife.no, 3 (http://www.wildlife.no/en/index.php?objectId=93). Miner's lodge converted into a basic but comfortable guesthouse, with shared bathrooms and lounge/kitchen; the main downside is the location, a 20-min hike from downtown. Singles/doubles 475/790 kr, shared unisex dorms 280 kr, including linens and breakfast.
  • Mary-Ann's Polarrigg, tel. +47-79023702, email mailto:riggen@longyearbyen.net, 4 (http://www.polarriggen.com). Former miner's barracks converted into a bed and breakfast. A bit pricier than the competition at 595/850 kr for a single/double not including breakfast (an extra 95 kr), but the selling point is the central location.
Longyearbyen

Splurge

  • Basecamp Spitsbergen, tel. +47-79024600, 5 (http://www.basecampexplorer.com). The most atmospheric of Longyearbyen's luxury hotels, this attempts to simulate a trapper's lodge with seal skins and driftwood aplenty. Don't let the humble name fool you though: 'camping' here will cost you from 1590 kr/night in peak season (but only half that in winter).
  • Radisson SAS Polar Hotel, tel. +47-79023450, 6 (http://longyearbyen.radissonsas.com/). This hotel claims to be the northernmost full-service hotel in the world, with restaurant, pub, sauna, and a computer with free internet access, but it's rather characterless. Peak season rates start from 1450 kr and go up, up and away.
Longyearbyen

Cope

Sparebank1 in the post office building has an ATM and currency exchange facilities.

Longyearbyen

Contact

  • Library (Bibliotek), Lompensenteret 2F. This surprisingly comprehensive library has an excellent selection of books on Svalbard (some in English), a rather more limited selection of English fiction and, most useful of all, three free Internet-connected PCs. Beware the eccentric and limited opening hours: 11-17 Mon/Wed/Thu, 11-14 Tue/Sat, closed Fri, Sun.
  • Svalbard Reiseliv, Næringsbygget (next to Lompen), tel. +47-7902-5551, email mailto:info@svalbard.net, 7 (http://www.svalbard.net)). The official tourist information office, a mine of information for Longyearbyen and the rest of Svalbard. Open 8 AM to 4 PM weekdays, 10 AM to 12 noon Saturdays.
Longyearbyen

Get out

  • Barentsburg — Svalbard's solitary remaining Russian settlement, easily visited on a day trip
Longyearbyen

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