Spitsbergen is the biggest island of the Svalbard archipelago and one of the coldest places on earth regular tourism is possible. Temperatures below minus 30° Celsius are common during the wintertime so close to the North Pole. It also lies in one of the most remote corners of the earth where everything from internet connection to watching TV becomes a challenge. Politically it is associated with Norway, but technically speaking it is just an unincorporated area above the Arctic circle.
Go polar bear watching in Svalbard:
When people think of Spitsbergen only two things come to their minds: Snow and polar bears. While the first thing is quite trivial to cover (and in fact unlikely to avoid) the latter is almost impossible to achieve. That should not let you keep from trying. There is nothing more majestic that spotting the biggest carnivore on this planet in its natural habitat.
Ride a snowmobile:
There are hardly any cars on Spitsbergen. The reason is quite easy: few motors are fit enough to start at the bone-freezing temperatures so common on the island. Also, Spitsbergen is snow-covered most of the year and there is basically just one major road. All traffic shifted to snowmobiles. Everyone has at least one parked in front of their doors. If you really want to experience what Svalbard is like, you should definitely go and ride one. To be frank: In winter, without a snowmobile, you won’t be able to go anywhere except on a short stroll around the main settlement Longyearbyen.
Visit the church in Longyearbyen:
Up on a hill behind Longyearbyen, you will find the world’s most northern church and the only church on Svalbard (excluding a Russian orthodox chapel in Barentsburg). Apart from being able to attend a mass, the church also runs a little café. Especially in the winter time the hot coffee and warm waffles are more than welcomed by the chilled-out visitors. The interior of the church might not be comparable to things you will see in the Vatican, but it is still worth a visit and will only require a small detour on your way through the town.
Lapskaus. A traditional type of Norwegian stew, you’ll find this dish both on mainland Norway as well as the Svalbard archipelago. Made with meat (usually beef), potatoes and other vegetables, this thick stew is the ultimate comforting dish on an icy Arctic day.