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The archipelago of Svalbard is located halfway between the northern tip of the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole. This is a place of mountainous and unspoilt Arctic wilderness with a unique fauna.
The name “Svalbard” means “the land with the cold coasts”. It is true; this group of islands has an Arctic climate. However, the temperatures here are significantly higher than other areas at the same latitude. The average temperatures in Celsius in the main town, Longyearbyen, are minus 14 in winter and plus 6 in the summer – perfectly acceptable for a range of activities.
And these are numerous: from Longyearbyen, you can go boating, kayaking, snowmobiling or horseriding. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even explore the area by ski or by foot. In the summer and autumn, you can combine hikes with boat trips and cruises. No matter what type of trip you choose, it is always important to bring a rifle. On Svalbard, there is one polar bear for every third inhabitant.
The colourful town of Longyearbyen is the administrative centre of Svalbard. It has a wide range of cultural activities, including concerts, theatre, festivals and exhibitions. There are a good selection of restaurants serving local produce, which features seal, whale, reindeer, grouse and Arctic char.
For security reasons, the Global Seed Vault on Svalbard is not open to the public, but Svalbard Museum has exhibits and a model of the seed vault.
Before visiting Svalbard, we can recommend the film Orion's Belt. This is a fascinating thriller based on Jon Michelet's book of the same name, and the theme music has become known as the Svalbard anthem. Partly based on evocative whale and Inuit song, it is the perfect accompaniment to a trip to Svalbard.