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The town of Longyearbyen is the largest settlement on the Svalbard archipelago, situated in the Norway's Arctic region. The town began life as a mining district and still maintains its mining roots as the town's main source of commerce; however tourism is constantly on the rise. Longyearbyen boasts a dramatic and inspiring Arctic landscape, where craggy mountains rise up above majestic rivers to create astonishing valleys and fjords. The town is situated within one of these astounding valleys, and is home to a range of fabulous natural and man-made attractions including museums, galleries and historic structures alongside vast areas of incredible natural beauty. Despite the region's seemingly desolate environment, the town has a peaceful and friendly atmosphere, and visitors will find that there is plenty to see and do in this magnificent part of the high Norwegian Arctic.
One of main reasons tourists flock to Longyearbyen is the range of thrilling activities on offer for adrenaline junkies in this inspiring Arctic region of Norway. Visitors can attempt a wide range of exciting past-times including hiking, kayaking, snow mobile safaris and dog-sledding. Svalbard has a vast landscape filled with incredible scenery and tours of the island are a great way to appreciate the beauty of the region, especially across the magnificent Esmarkbreen Glacier. Other local attractions include:
Spitsbergen Airship Museum
This fascinating museum showcases aspects of the main era of polar exploration, housing various materials and artefacts relating to this exciting period in history. Norwegian, Italian and American Arctic explorers are all celebrated within the walls of this intriguing exhibit.
After reopening in 2006, the Svalbard Museum features a range of exhibits dedicated to the human inhabitation of the Svalbard archipelago throughout history. Displays focus on the history of mining and whaling on the islands as well as the beautiful flora and fauna found across the Arctic. Also, the nearby Svalbard Gallery houses an array of fabulous artwork created by local artists.
Svalbard's church is the most northerly church in the world. This warm and inviting building is always open to visitors, and guests will be offered snacks and drinks as well as the opportunity to by souvenirs and post cards. Located to the north east of the church is a splendid sundial. During the summer months, this quirky local monument can be used as a 24 hour sundial.
The vast majority of shops in Longyearbyen are located within the two-story Lompensenteret shopping mall and the local Svalbardbutikken supermarket, where visitors can pick up a variety of gifts and souvenirs for friends and family, such as arts, crafts and clothes, as well as a range of useful general amenities, including food and drinks.
The town centre of Longyearbyen is home to several excellent cafes and restaurants serving a variety of scrumptious meals, from traditional Norwegian dishes to delicious international cuisine. Some of the local eateries even offer Svalbard specialities such as seal and whale meat.
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