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Svalbard and Jan Mayen

Culture & history

Our most recommended Svalbard and Jan Mayen Culture & History

Longyearbyen: Cruise to Billefjorden & Nordenskiöld Glacier

1. Longyearbyen: Cruise to Billefjorden & Nordenskiöld Glacier

Take a cruise to Nordenskiöld Glacier on an eco-friendly catamaran trip, with lunch included. During the trip, your knowledgeable onboard guides will share the history of the area with you, and point out sites of interest and any wildlife they may spot along the way. See the highlights and listen to expert commentary as you speed across Isfjord towards the ghost town. Once you have entered the Billefjord, scenic highlights will be seen from the ship, including the picturesque Skansbukta, the ghost town of Pyramiden, and the towering mountains carved by prehistoric glaciers. With the hybrid electric capacity of the ship, you will be able to sail in complete silence in glacial areas, or if there are wildlife sightings. At the Nordenskiöld Glacier, you can listen to the ice as it pops and crackles in the water, before heading back towards Longyearbyen. Along the way, learn about wildlife beneath the surface, and feel free to ask the onboard guide team any questions you might have.

Longyearbyen: Historic Coal Mine Tour at Gruve 3

2. Longyearbyen: Historic Coal Mine Tour at Gruve 3

Start with pickup at the hotels and guesthouses in town before a short drive to the outside facility of Mine Number 3. On the way there, you will pass the world-renowned Global Seed Vault where over 1 million seeds from around the world are stored. The first seed bank on Svalbard was opened in Mine no. 3 in 1984. This is where the ideas to build the Global Seed Vault on Svalbard started — by storing seeds in the permafrost with no need for electricity.  Enter the facility and explore maps over Longyearbyen and Svalbard. Enjoy a historic coal mine and listen to the stories and anecdotes of what was the last mine in town where thin-seam production was applied. Expect in-depth information about the town’s history and why some men decided to settle here some 100 years ago. A model of the mine is used to illustrate how the coal was extracted using thin-seam techniques. Walk through the workshops and see machines and equipment that was left behind when the mine was shut down in 1996. Put on a miner’s overall and crawl through a replica of a mining shaft and get a feeling of how a miner spent his days. Towards the end of the tour, discover the mine itself by walking 300 meters in and entering two different side tunnels.

Longyearbyen: Northern Lights Evening with Dinner

3. Longyearbyen: Northern Lights Evening with Dinner

This tour combines a delicious rustic dinner with knowledgeable local hosts, an informative presentation on the aurora borealis and an excellent location for spotting the lights for yourself. This tour begins with a bus transfer from the hotel, taking you out into the Advent Valley to Camp Barentz, which is literally located at the end of the road. Your host for the evening will meet you at the bus, rifle over their shoulder, and provide a quick safety briefing before you head to the cabin. A shot of akevitt will be offered to warm you up as you enter, and the crackling open fire place will ensure you are comfortable in no time. The evening will begin with a little introduction to Svalbard and the discovery of the archipelago in 1596 by Willem Barentz, the namesake of the camp. One of the cabins here is actually a replica of the cabin he and his crew built on Novaya Zemlaya when they got stuck in the ice there after visiting Svalbard. Beer, wine and soft drinks will be served, and you may start to notice a delicious aroma in the cabin, coming from the pot bubbling over the open fire. This pot contains Bidos, a traditional Sami soup consisting of reindeer and root vegetables. The hosts will serve this at your table—and feel free to ask for seconds! A presentation about the northern lights will follow, including how they are formed and why, as well as local information on research that has taken place in this area. During the evening the hosts will be keeping an eye on the night sky, so don't be surprised if the evening is disrupted by a call to head outside and enjoy the show. A delicious chocolate brownie will be served for dessert, together with campfire coffee. The bus will arrive to collect you at about 9:30 PM, at which point you will return to civilization full of delicious food, interesting facts, and incredible local stories.

Longyearbyen: Wilderness Evening Experience with Dinner

4. Longyearbyen: Wilderness Evening Experience with Dinner

Your Arctic adventure begins with pickup from Longyearbyen and travels out into the Advent Valley to Camp Barentz, in the midst of the tundra. Upon arrival, meet your friendly guide and listen to a brief safety induction about the camp before heading inside the cozy log cabin where an open fire creates the most blissful atmosphere. Enjoy a delicious welcome drink, then settle in for story time as you listen to your hosts share unique tales and anecdotes about life in the Arctic. Learn about the discoverer of Svalbard, Willem Barentz, then watch an informative and interesting presentation about the King of the Arctic, the polar bear. Throughout the evening, the smells of a traditional reindeer and root vegetable soup will fill the cabin as its cooked over an open fire. When it’s ready, tuck into this hearty dish and don’t be afraid to ask for second servings! Beer, wine, and soft drinks are also served, as well as a delicious chocolate dessert and bonfire coffee. At the end of the evening, the bus takes you back to civilization, bursting with new knowledge and a full belly.

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What people are saying about Svalbard and Jan Mayen

It was an absolutely amazing trip. We were fortunate to be sharing the hybrid catameran with only 8 fellow travelers so it was a totally relaxed trip. We were lucky enough to see a family of polar bears eating a whale. Just impressive. In addition, smaller lectures were held again and again during the trip. The staff was very friendly.

Absolut empfehlenswerte Tour. Die Tiere und die Eisstücke im Wasser haben mir sehr gut gefallen. Der Guide namens Fred war auch super. Er hat mit großer Begeisterung über die Region erzählt. :D

Great tour with amazing views. Competently explained and accompanied. The food was good, the drinks available were perfectly adequate. A total of 6 hours at the highest level. Any time!

The visit is great, the place is well preserved and the guide very friendly!

It was a really great experience, and the food was delicious!