Minner i fra gruvetiden på Svalbard. Foto Anne Månum

Explore Longyearbyen

Longyearbyen tips & triks

What can I do in Longyearbyen?

Planning a stay in Longyearbyen before or after the sailing expedition? Here are some tips for this small, strange city, located almost at the North Pole. 

Get the Svalbard feeling

Dive into strange and interesting facts about Svalbard; how does polar bear safety actually work? When did coal mining start on Svalbard and is it still operational? How many people live here – and why do they actually live here? Why do people take off their shoes when entering restaurants? Our crew will answer all your questions and more during the expedition, but it’s a good idea to take a moment to acquaint yourself with Longyearbyen pre-adventure. Go shopping at the Svalbard shop together with the other locals, visit Nordpolet (the liquor shop), have a long and delicious lunch at the town’s cafe, Fruene, and listen to the local stories at the neighboring tables. If an opportunity arises, always say yes!

Fun facts Svalbard

Did you know that cats are prohibited? That Longyearbyen has no street names or that you have to take off your shoes before entering the hotel? There are many strange things about Svalbard! Check out the fun facts about Svalbard and test yourself with our quiz!

Brief insight into history

The discovery of Svalbard

Svalbard, an arctic archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole. It was the Dutch explorer Willem Barentz who, in search of a passage to the East in 1596, discovered Svalbard. With its mountainous topography, glaciers and rich whale population, Svalbard became an important place for exploration and later resource exploitation.


Svalbard consists of several islands, islets and reefs, the largest of which is Spitsbergen. The glaciers cover around 60% of the land mass, while vegetation and bare mountains make up the rest. Highlights include Newtontoppen and Perriertoppen, the two highest mountain peaks, and the majestic Wijdefjorden, stretching an impressive 108 kilometers, making it the longest fjord in this Arctic region. 

Coal Industry and Mining

Already in 1610, coal was discovered on Svalbard, but it was not until 1899 that commercial operations began. The mining industry took off in 1906 with the opening of Amerikanergruva, and in 1916 the company was sold to Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani A/S. The coal industry has been the only lasting and profitable mining operation on the archipelago, and Mine 7 is still operational today.

Hunting history

Since the 17th century, Svalbard has been an important area for whaling and hunting, including polar bears, walruses, and other animal species. Norwegian hunters intensified their presence from the 1850s, and wintering became common towards the end of the 1800th century. The story of the polar bear hunter Henry Rudi, who hunted around 750 bears, and other hunters such as Hilmar Nøis, helped shape the archipelago’s early history.

Eating out

Go to Fruene, have a coffee, buy “Svalbardposten” and read the latest news from Longyearbyen. Have a pizza at Kroa. Eat the Saturday steak at Huset. Have a beer at the mining pub Karlsberger. Hang out with the locals at Svalbar. 

Longyearbyen has a variety of dining options, and to ensure a delightful experience, consider booking a table in advance, especially during peak seasons or for larger groups. Check out the restaurants here. Here are some of our personal favorites:

  • Kroa. A restaurant located in the heart of the city with an interior that will take you on a historical journey. Sea food, meat and pizza. 
  • Stationen. One of the city’s hippest (and newest) restaurants. International cuisine. 
  • Funken. Fine dining with a view of the city. 
  • Nansen. Nordic cuisine with the best view of the most photographed mountain in the city, Hiorthfejllet. 
  • Huset. One of the city’s finest restaurants with local food and one of the biggest wine cellars in Scandinavia. 
  • Gruvelageret. Cool and rustic restaurant, must book a table in advance, limited opening hours. Arctic cuisine. 
  • Barentz Gastropub. Nice to pop in here for a pizza, burger or sandwich.
  • Svalbar Pub. A meeting point both for locals and visitors. Tapas, pasta, burgers, pizza and drinks. 

Mountain trips in the local area & activities

Short hikes in the nearby mountains is a wonderful experience, but always prioritize polar bear protection. Ensure your safety by booking a trip with a local operator or joining someone equipped with the necessary safety equipment. 

  • Sukkertoppen
  • Varden
  • Blomsterdalshøgda
  • Lindholmshøgda
  • Hike to Trollsteinen 
  • Hike to the ice cave at Larsbreen
  • Camp Barentz’s Villmarksaften (an evening in the wilderness) is a nice way to ease into Svalbard mode. Dinner, drinks, and an interesting lecture on Svalbard’s history make it a great evening activity. The activity is provided by Hurtigruten Svalbard.
  • This sightseeing tour is a nice way to get to know to Longyearbyen. This activity is provided by Svalbard Buss & Taxi.

Summer Activities

The midnight sun shines on Svalbard from April to August. Summer activities kick off when the snow melts, and therefore the various activities start at different times. For a detailed schedule, refer to Visit Svalbard’s activity calendar.

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Dog sledding

If there is still snow in Longyearbyen in May, it may be possible to do some winter activities. Check out Visit Svalbard’s activity calendar in advance, or contact Visit Svalbard. Normally the snow disappears during May, and then the summer activities begin.

  • Snowmobile tour
  • Ice cave tour and snowcat tour
  • Dog sledding


We recommend booking activities directly with a local operator or with Visit Svalbard. Check out Visit Svalbard website here.


There are many hotels in Longyearbyen, get an overview here. Some of our favorites are:

  • Radisson Blu Polar Hotel. The hotel has a great location in the city center with a fantastic view of Hiorthfjellet. Enjoy the views from your breakfast table, when chilling in the jacuzzi outside or from the Barentz Gastropub. 
  • Funken Lodge. Fantastic hotel with exclusive and modern facilities. 
  • Svalbard Hotel. A boutique hotel with great service. 


Norwegian and SAS fly to Longyearbyen. Some departures are direct and some have a stopover in Tromsø. If you stop over on the way home, luggage must be taken out in Tromsø and checked in again, due to customs.

The famous polar bear sign

Behind the sign you can’t go unarmed and without polar bear protection on Svalbard! The picture is from the study trip to Svalbard, with SeilNorge, autumn 2023.

A picture from the study trip to Svalbard with SeilNorge, autumn 2023. Photo by Anne Månum.
A picture from the study trip to Svalbard with SeilNorge, autumn 2023. Photo by Anne Månum.

We're here to answer your questions!

Feel free to contact us +47 412 97 900 if you have any questions or want to book a trip.