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Practical information

A trip to Svalbard is an amazing experience. Here you'll get some useful tips and tricks before your journey.

1. Food and drinks

Longyearbyen is a mecca for great food and drinks, and considering the number of inhabitants, you may be quite positively surprised by the number of great eateries. Why not try the delicious social dining ‘sharing’ meals at Funktionærmessen Restaurant? Here you can order generous portions which can be shared by many, so you can taste a bit of everything. Or perhaps a juicy hamburger at Coal Miners’ Bar & Grill, to help you get build up your energy for the next action-packed day in the wilderness. Maybe you would like to start your evening with a bit of cocktail artistry at Funken Bar? Or stop by Rabalder for a couple of cinnamon buns, so that you can whip them out to celebrate the most amazing northern lights display together with a friend.

2. Equipment

When it comes to clothing we have to important tips: 1) Wool is cool! 2) Layer by layer! In January the average temperature is -16 degrees, and it is important to dress really warmly for the activities you are planning on joining. The layer by layer principal is also great on snowcat tours, so you can easily keep a comfortable temperature as you go in and out of the heated snowcat. On snowmobile tours it is important with wool against your skin, followed by thicker layers, so that you will stay warm when you turn the motor off, lay down in the snow and look up for the northern lights. If you are missing a piece or two, don’t worry! Our sports shop Longyear 78 as everything you might need at great tax-free prices, with a large selection of high quality options.

3. What's up with all the slippers?

On Svalbard, several restaurants, hotels and offices expect that people will take off their shoes at the entrance, and go in wearing just their socks or slippers. Why? Well back in the day it was a tradition here to take your shoes off before entering a building, to avoid spreading coal dust everywhere. This tradition is still followed, so at most hotels, museums and workplaces it is normal to take your shoes off. Some places have house slippers or Crocs for loan - or you can take your own.

4. Polar bears and safe travels

Polar bears are one of the most exotic - and dangerous - things on Svalbard, and due to them travelling around Svalbard is a little different to what you might be used to on Lofoten or Gran Canaria. Seeing a polar bear is often high up on the wish list for many visitors, but - and it's probably just as well to put this out there - many people do not see them. It is nearly impossible to see a polar bear on a northern lights activity, since it is completely dark, and the areas which we visit for the best chance of northern lights are not necessarily places with a high density of polar bears. However, polar bears can wander around and turn up just about anywhere, even in Longyearbyen, so your guide will always have weapons and flares, so you can feel 100% safe if a polar should choose to take a wander out and look for the northern lights too.

5. Stay warm

The easiest way to be uncomfortable during an activity is if your're cold, so be sure to stay warm when you go out. If you are going on a snowmobile- or boat trip we'll lend you cover suits to keep warm, but it is important to have enough clothes underneath as well. Go a size up when you borrow snowmobile shoes, and add an extra pair of woolen socks. You can also head over to Longyear 78 and buy "heatpacks" that will heat up cold hands or feet along the way. These can also be used to keep your mobile alive in the cold.

6. Take care of our vulnerable nature

During the summer of 2018, Hurtigruten Svalbard took some important steps forward in regard to plastic waste, and banned all single use plastics throughout the company. This means that on your trip with us, you won’t find a straw in your drink at Funken Bar, and you will get a knob of butter instead of one of those tiny plastic packets with your bread at Rabalder. This will save the environment from massive amounts of single use plastic every single year. Thank you in advance for helping us to keep the high environmental standards we set for ourselves. If you see an opportunity for improvement, don’t hesitate to let us know. If you are out on a trip with us, be sure to make you footprint as small as possible, so that we can work together to take care of the ocean and our planet.

7. Book activities and make table reservations in advance

As we mentioned in points 1 and 9, you will find a great selection of tempting dining options and exciting activities in Longyearbyen. Many of these have limited places, and to avoid disappointment, we recommend that you book your meals and activities in advance. That way you will ensure that you get to go on the snowcat safari on the day of the full moon, or ensure that you have the best table in the restaurant.

8. Reflective gear and eye masks

Total darkness means that you, as a pedestrian, are not particularly easy to spot. Do yourself (and those driving the cars) a favour, and use heaps of reflective gear. Why not set up a little competition with your travelling friends - who can be seen in the dark? It is also a very good idea to have a headlamp too, as electricity blackouts are not uncommon, and they are very, very dark. In summer, bring an eye mask if you're a light sleeper. Because the sun doesn't set until August!

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Packing list
Check out some useful tips on what to bring to Svalbard.
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Difficulty levels
Find a trip that's suited for your fitness - and thrillseeker - level!
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Missing anything? Rent or buy high quality gear at our shops!
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