"Unique destination above the Arctic Circle" Longyearbyen by fred98115

Longyearbyen Travel Guide: 87 reviews and 176 photos

Experience the Far North

Longyearbyen is the most accessible and largest town on the largest island, Spitsbergen, in Svalbard. This is in the Land of the Midnight Sun where the sun is above the horizon for 127 days. It is also the land of the polar bear; the number of people and polar bears on Spitsbergen are equal. We came there on a Holland America Line cruise through the Isfjorden fjord and enjoyed excursions to some unique sights.


The tundra is land with permafrost, but even it can support life. Our cruise excursion took us out of town to a Wilderness Center where we could be on the tundra. This is a new thing to a city boy and was very interesting.

Coal was the resource that brought people

The American engineer, Longyear, opened the first coal mine on the island 100 years ago. The mines were in the mountains, so he devised a ropeway system to carry the coal from the mine to the harbor. This featured hubs where the ropeways intersected. Much of the industry was destroyed in the Second World War so that the Germans would not have access to the coal resources. One mine is still open. Relics of the old system do exist.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Most accessible experience of tundra and far north
  • Cons:Short season of decent weather, polar bears are real
  • In a nutshell:Loved the raw nature of the land
  • Last visit to Longyearbyen: Aug 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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