10 Things to do in the Polar Night
10 Things to do in the Polar Night
text: Khristin, Gjestehuset 102
We always say each season in Svalbard is special and carries its own unique charm. Tourists and locals will surely agree with that. From the sunny winter to the midnight sun, to the combination of both day and night around the autumn time. And as we approach the last quarter of the year, it is now time to experience the ever-dashing POLAR NIGHT!
Polar night, as we call it, is the period where Svalbard experiences its darkest 2 and a half months. It begins mid-November and ends in late January when the sun is at least 6 degrees below the horizon, which gives Svalbard pitch-dark days and nights. A challenging yet enticing season, indeed!
We bet you wonder what is there to do during the dark season in Svalbard. What is there to do when all that there is, is nothing but darkness. Is the polar night worth experiencing? Is Svalbard during this season worth visiting?
Much to one’s amusement, there are still quite a few you can do during the dark season.
Here are 10 THINGS YOU CAN DO IN THE POLAR NIGHT!
Venturous Outdoor Fun
1.Ice Cave Visit – Walk your way to a frozen world down under
This season’s first organized trips for ice cave visits have already started! On this trip, you will be able to experience frozen meltwater under Svalbard’s glaciers, or ice caves as it is defined. One of the most popular ice cave tours is the hike to visit an ice cave with Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions. Before reaching the ice cave, you will have to walk 350m above sea level from Nybyen through an exciting moraine landscape that has been shaped by the glacier and up to the entrance to the ice cave. The company will provide helmets, spikes, and headlamps. And you provide all the warm pieces that you have, comfortable enough for a short hiking activity.
It is also possible to visit an ice cave by snowmobile or dogsled. Below are the ice cave activities:
2. Hiking Trips – Observe the town from above
If you want a unique hiking experience, this trip is going to be perfect for you. There are several hiking trips available during the polar night. With the typical cold temperature of the dark season and sometimes challenging weather, you must be well-prepared physically. This is a good chance to explore the surrounding mountains of Longyearbyen, and if lucky enough, hike under the beautiful daytime auroras.
One of the most hikes in the polar night is the hike up Plateau Mountain, where you’ll be rewarded with a nice, panoramic view of the town. This activity take around 3 1/2 hours. Learn more and book here.
3. Snowmobile Trips – Snowmobile your way to Arctic stillness
One great way to explore the Arctic wilderness and experience an authentic feel of Svalbard is to go far from town, somewhere away from the crowd. Leaving the town to experience the silence of the snow-covered valleys and icy fjords is really something to be on the list. And to be able to do this, you should get yourself booked on a snowmobile trip. The sound from the snowmobiles is the only sound that there is as you head your way to a still arctic nature, and as you turn off the engine, you will then feel one with nature, strangely enough, this kind of silence is never deafening. Visiting Svalbard is somehow a one-shot experience, so exploring it to the fullest should really be something to consider
4. Northern Lights Hunt – Chasing the magical auroras
If you admire the Aurora Borealis like most of us and have always had it written on your bucket list, then a trip to Svalbard in the Polar Night could tick that one off that list. Knowing the science behind the auroras, Svalbard is a good location to hunt for them. The archipelago might be located a little too north but there is still a good chance to see them specially if you know the right spot to hunt, hint: just go a bit south or east of town. Given the fact that we experience 24/7 darkness, then there is a bonus of seeing them in the daytime as well. Tour operators, and us, of course, will not give you any guarantee to see one everyday of your stay, but it’s just a combination of perfect timing, good weather, and a bit of luck.
As long as there is an aurora activity in the sky, you’ll see it when you are out on trips like snowmobile, hiking, or dogsledding trips. Also, Check out our blog about the Auroras here.
5. Dogsledding – Getting around the arctic scenery with your furry friends
If you want to experience a traditional way of travelling around the arctic landscape, you should try joining one of the available dog sledding trips. The route of the dogsledding trip is usually located in the ‘snowmobile-free’ area, so if you opt for a more tranquil vibe, this is the activity to go. This, and the cuddles from the fluffy and always energetic huskies in the dog yards will surely warm you up in this frigid season.
Photos by Greendog Svalbard
6. Sightseeing –See and explore the town like a local, by a local
Booking a 2-hr guided trip is one we always recommend as an introductory activity to know and see the town itself. Although Longyearbyen is a relatively small town, there is just so much to know about its history and the living remnants of the past that you will see as you tour around it. On this guided trip, you will also have the chance to reach landmarks that are outside of the polar bear safe zone, such as the Svalbard Global seed vault, Mine 7, and loads of other interesting stops along the way. After this trip, walking in town by yourself won’t feel touristy ever again, as you have learned insider facts about our tiny town, and feel like it is your own…for a while!
See the sightseeing trips here.
Cozy and interesting indoor activities
7. Mine Visit – Digging history
Longyearbyen, being established as a mining town has owed its very existence to this industry. You will find 7 mines in Longyearbyen in general, but there is only one mine that is active now which is in fact the source of power in the whole of the town. But Mine number three is a mine that is open for tours if you wish to get a close-up impression of the coal-mining industry, which carries so much of Longyearbyen’s history. Take the tour, hear stories, and experience being a miner yourself as you go through the depths of mine number 3.
8. Brewery Visit – Toast your way to the world’s northernmost brewery
Beer fanatic? This one’s for you. Beer-tasting in the world’s northernmost brewery has always sounded cool and a must-try, isn’t it? Get yourself on one of the tours by booking here.
9. Museum Visits – facts, remnants and stories of days gone by
Spend some time indoors by visiting two museums you will find in Longyearbyen, a day off from the outdoor fun. You can visit the Svalbard Museum and the North Pole Expedition Museum which is relatively close from one another. In Svalbard Museum, you will get insights about all possible aspects of Svalbard, from geology to history and wildlife. The North Pole Expedition Museum as the name suggests, features an exhibition based on the three airships that were used during attempts to fly from Spitsbergen to the North Pole.
10. Cafe Visits – warm yourself up with a cup of coffee or tea in hand
Take some rest and spend calm days by visiting our cafes. We have two main cafes in town, The Café huskies which just recently opened its doors to welcome guests for a cup of warm coffee, a filling lunch and cosy husky cuddles. They’re located a bit out of the centre but still relatively close by. We also have Fruene, an institution, we would say, in the very heart of our town. A typical Norwegian café with equally cosy setting, several pastry finds and some good lunch!
Stay with us
Gjestehehuset 102 is located around 2,3 kilometres away from the town, but we are still on Longyearbyen’s safe zone. It is possible to walk up and down to town and will take you half an hour one way. Taxis are also available. We have a fully-equipped common kitchen which you can use and socialize with other travelers.
Check our availability here:
Other interesting Reads about the Polar Night
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