The first tourists who came to Svalbard were rich Europeans who came to hunt, and often wrote books about their experiences. These reports created interest, and paved the way for cruise tourism to the archipelago. In 1896, three years after he established Vesteraalens Dampskibselskap (which later became Hurtigruten), Richard With started the Sportsman’s Route, which was a voyage from Hammerfest to Svalbard.
The same year, the company sat up a prefabricated hotel in Longyearbyen. The building had accommodations for 30 guests, and was the northernmost hotel in the world. Here the cruise tourists could have their postcards stamped, and read the local newspaper, Spitsbergen Gazette, which was printed in Norwegian, English and German. Two years later the tourist route was put on pause, and the hotel was sold to the new local miners, Arctic Coal Company. The building was used as a shop, until it was burnt down by the Germans in 1943. Even if the hotel did not exist for long, it was an important part of Norwegian industry on Svalbard, before the mining industry really took off.
The area where the hotel once stood is still known as Hotellneset, ‘The Hotel Point’, and is located close to the airport. Tourism is today one of the three main industries on Svalbard, and the establishment of Spitsbergen Travel in 1989 (today known as Hurtigruten Svalbard) made this possible. Another important turning point in the tourism industry occurred in 195, when the Svalbard Polar Hotel opened. This hotel is still going strong, today under the name Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen, and is to this day owned by Hurtigruten Svalbard. The circle was completed in 1992, when Hurtigruten purchased Hurtigruten Svalbard.
Hurtigruten Svalbard is a full service provider of fantastic experiences, accommodation and dining. Long story short, this means that we can help you make your Arctic dreams a reality. With us you can experience panoramic views from snow-covered glaciers, the sunset over soaring peaks, dog sledding, kayak paddling, hiking, ice caving, skiing expeditions and so much more. Our office is located in the heart of Longyearbyen, and is open all year round. We are the local experts, no matter the season.
Unforgettable experiences should be combined with memorable meals. At our restaurants you will find something for every taste. We have three very different and unique hotels, and ever visitor has a different favourite. What makes them similar is happy, friendly guests, and a service team who are their to help you.
We recommend guided tours, so that you are ensured the best possible experience and a safe and comfortable adventure. On our tours you will have a tour leader who knows Svalbard, and who has a focus on safe and secure travel. In addition, we hope that every participant will have the opportunity to learn something new about this amazing area. Svalbard is beautiful, but it can also show a stark and savage face. This is part of a reason why we at Hurtigruten Svalbard continue to be fascinated day after day, month after month, and year after year.
Welcome to our world, and on an adventure with Hurtigruten Svalbard!