The northernmost city in the world, Longyearbyen, is located more than 2,040 kilometers north of Oslo, the capital of Norway. It lies approximately on 78°13′ north latitude on the west coast of the Norwegian island of West Spitsbergen, the archipelago of Svalbard (also known as Spitsbergen). The city has a population of just over 2,000 residents, 80% of the total population of Svalbard, and is comfortably nestled on the south coast of the tranquil and cold bay of Isfjorden. It is surrounded by barren and devoid of vegetation beige mountain slopes and impressive glaciers. The mountain peaks are often covered with gray clouds or thick fogs.
Though located beyond the Arctic Circle, Longyearbyen is like any other European city. People get up early in the morning and begin to deal with their daily activities such as going to work, studying, meeting friends and having fun, shopping, atc.
There are many disadvantages of living so far north, but undoubtedly there is also a number of benefits.
Positive aspects of living in Longyearbyen. The natural environment in the vicinity of Longyearbyen is clean and truly wild. The air is crisp and cold, and contact with nature is a way of life.
The rich waters of the Atlantic are an important source of healthy food, and the vast coal reserves provide a large number of well-paid jobs.
The income tax is lower in comparison with other cities in Norway, and the average income per capita is among the highest in the world.
The glory of Longyearbyen as the northernmost settlement in the world brings a large number of curious and enthusiastic tourists. In recent years, the number of cruise ships whose itinerary includes the islands of Spitsbergen increases.
Among other things, the city is also an important educational center. Here you will find the northernmost university on the planet – UNIC (University Centre of Svalbard).
The fact that two thirds of the archipelago is a protected area makes the place a real paradise for scientific research activities.
Disadvantages. Among the negative aspects of living for a longer period in Longyearbyen is that there are no trees and greenness.
In general, Longyearbyen does not develop agriculture, and almost everything needed for your healthy everyday diet must be imported from elsewhere.
This is the main reason why most food products here are too expensive. It is also hard to get used to constantly cold weather, and the lack of sunlight for several months of the year can be really painful.
Longyearbyen looks like a typical Scandinavian city. It is dominated by small, unpretentious, one or two storey high, wooden buildings that are, however, constructed to resist the strong polar winds and heavy snowstorms and to maintain the temperature inside comfortable.
Usually the buildings are painted in bright pastel colors such as red, orange or dark blue and have strongly sloping roofs that do not allow accumulation of snow.
For most of the year snowmobiles are the most popular and fast mean of transportation. The only exception is the short summer season when the snow is insufficient.
Longyearbyen has an extremely cold polar climate. The weather, however, is strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean.
Due to the softening influence of the warm Gulf Stream, the average year-round temperature in the city is relatively high in comparison to other spots lying on the same geographic latitude.
Thermometers show negative daytime temperatures at least 8 months a year. Summers in Longyearbyen are very short and cold with temperatures between 3 and 7°C in July, the warmest month, and offer 24 hours of daylight a day from late April to late August.
At the height of summer the snow that covers the archipelago almost completely melts in open low lying areas under the conditions of constant daylight and positive temperatures. Winters are dark, with no sunlight for months.
The average winter temperatures in the city fall to about (-13) – (-20)°C, although temperatures of about (-30) – (-40)°C are not uncommon. Although relatively mild, the weather here can get worse very quickly, only within a few hours.
What not to miss while in Longyearbyen? The most popular landmark in the city is the Svalbard Museum, located in the building of the Svalbard Science Center.
You will have the chance to learn a lot of interesting facts about the history of Longyearbyen and all about the islands over the last few centuries.
This is the best place to visit if you really want to get to know the local culture, way of life and all the interesting facts about the wildlife in the region.
Another landmark is the church, a nice place to drink a cup of hot coffee with Norwegian waffles. Be sure to walk around the city with a camera in hand and something to eat in your bag.
Don’t miss to take the time to visit some of the mines that are no longer exploited and turned into a tourist attraction.
ATTENTION! Be very careful going beyond the confines of Longyearbyen, because polar bears roam in the vicinity and all across the island!
This is the most dangerous and powerful land predator in the world. It is really necessary to carry a rifle for self defense, and it is recommended to do everything possible to avoid encounters with these large predators.
Upon arrival in the city of Longyearbyen, it is advisable to visit the nearest tourist information center and to request for information about how to stay safe when you are outdoors.
When to visit Longyearbyen? The best time of year to visit Longyearbyen is July. It offers the most sunshine and the mildest weather. Warm winter clothing, however, is required!
Remember that summers in Longyearbyen are often colder and harsher in comparison with winters in many parts of Europe.
How to get to Longyearbyen? The quickest and easiest way to get to Longyearbyen is by plane from Oslo, Norway.
The average flight duration is about 3 hours, and the airport is situated less than 3 km from the city.