Svalbard, Norway: The World’s Northernmost Tourist Haven

Svalbard NorwayIf you are one of those rare travelers who are willing to go to the edges of the earth just to discover places that few tourists have dared to trek, consider traveling north…way north.  At the northernmost tip of Europe is a collection of islands (technically) governed by Norway where one can experience life in the Arctic.

Svalbard is one of the most spectacular places imaginable, having a bit of access from the North Pole as well as vast icebergs and floes that choke the seas.  Despite the barren-looking Arctic desert that prevails throughout Svalbard, it is home to an abundance of polar animals from Arctic foxes, whales, seals, walruses, squat Svalbard reindeer, and polar bears.

The islands were said to have been first discovered by Viking explorers in the 12th century.  However, the first recorded voyage was held in 1596 by the Dutch and since has been an international whaling base until the 18th century.  Although Svalbard is ruled by Norway, an international treaty gives absolute equality to other countries to exploit the archipelago’s mineral resources, which is why Russia continues to maintain a settlement on the island.

It is much recommended that you arrive at Svalbard during the summer, when you can still get that winter feel without the extremely low temperature.  In fact, the constant gush of warm winds from the Gulf Stream gives Svalbard comparative warmth against other Arctic islands.  We also suggest signing up for group tours because traveling alone may come at a price, a really premium price that is.  However, that does not mean that group travels come cheap, so stretch your budget over several worthwhile activities such as walking on glaciers, a boat trip, or a mine visit, then see if you can still make ends meet.

And although Norwegian and Russian public holidays are observed in their respective settlements, there are a few local festivals you may want to get into such as the Polar Jazz Festival and the celebration to end the long polar night. 

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