Svalbard is a Norwegian Archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, making it a popular luxury destination for holidays or luxury Arctic cruises. It is considered to be one of the world’s most Northerly inhabited areas. The area is renowned for its wild and untouched landscapes which are dominated by tundra’s, mountains and glaciers – as well as abundant Arctic wildlife. The country has a total population of 2600 people, the majority of which live in and around the largest settlement of Longyearbyen. The town includes everything you would need to for everyday living and includes a hospital, school, university and various shops. There are also a couple of fascinating museums based here.

Svalbard is heavily seasonal and due to its Northerly location it has a polar Summer of midnight sun. This generally lasts from mid May until end of September and gives almost 24 hours of light. Between October and March the renowned Northern Lights can be seen over the glaciers and majestic mountains. Svalbard is one of the best places in the World to take advantage of this incredible natural light display.

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Svalbard is considered to be one of the leading untouched wildernesses and offers endless opportunities for exploring. The opportunity to get out of the towns and cities and explore its untouched landscaped is the main motivation for many visitors to the Norwegian island. There are various ways to take advantage of this including dog sledding, ATVs, kayaks, horse riding and boats which are the ideal way to explore the wonderfully raw Arctic nature.

Svalbard is also renowned for its amazing wildlife. It is home to one of the world’s largest mammals, the whale, which are often seen off the coast and offer spectacular insights into the incredible size and scale of these majestic animals. Seeing these is often combined with another one of the islands residents, the Walrus. These generally congregate on the beaches and shores and are best seen from a boat where you get a truly panoramic view. On land the Arctic Fox always attracts visitors and is native to the island. They are well adapted to Arctic conditions and have a stable population on the Archipelago.

There are also two breweries in Svalbard. One in Longyearbyen and the other in Barentsburg. These are the two most Northerly breweries in the World and they make for an interesting visit to see how and why these have become such a large part of the modern culture on the islands.

For those passionate about photography a Svalbard photographic safari is a wonderful way to make the most of the majestic landscapes which are on offer. Longyearbyen is surrounded by beautiful mountains all of which offer photographers different opportunities and depending on the time of year there is always unusual flora and fauna to see along with incredibly diverse Arctic light conditions.

Food and drink are a large part of the life on Svalbard. There are a wide range of restaurants and two of Norway’s leading restaurants, Huset and Funktionaermessen are both located here. Huset serves traditional Scandinavian food with local ingredients and has one of Scandinavia’s largest wine cellars containing approximately 20,000 bottles. Funktionaermessen is a stunning and newly renovated restaurant with panoramic views from its first floor dining room. The restaurant is famed for its use of local ingredients such as the king crab and dry aged beef from the surrounding area. Longyearbyen is also home to the World’s most Northerly chocolaterie, Fruene.

March 8this the start of the annual Sun Festival which has been a vital and long standing tradition for the residents of Svalbard. It marks the return of the sun from a long winter and includes various attractions such as art exhibitions, concerts, lectures and an outdoor church service. It is largely considered that the whole island takes part in this event and it is a unique and memorable experience for all.

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