Svalbard is an odd place. There are only 40 kilometres of road, and it is completely normal to see people walking around in town with rifles on their backs. Below you will find some general information and practical tips that can be good to know about.
POLAR BEAR SAFETY
On Svalbard we live with the knowledge that polar bears can show up at any time. Polar bears rarely attack humans, yet they can be dangerous. Warning signs have been placed at several spots around Longyearbyen’s city limit. We do not go beyond these signs without bringing polar bear protection. That is, everyone who travels outside the settlement must bring – and know how to handle – suitable deterrents and a firearm. As a visitor this means that you cannot move outside the city limit unless you are accompanied by a local guide with appropriate equipment. The safest way to experience the fantastic landscapes of Svalbard is to go on organized trips with experienced guides.
Did you know that Svalbard is a duty-free zone? All products on the archipelago are offered at tax free prices. In Longyearbyen's many outdoor shops you can make good deals on clothing and equipment. There is also an extensive selection of souvenirs, jewelry, and assorted products from exclusive Scandinavian brands. Alcohol and tobacco are priced lower as well, compared to mainland Norway. Please note that you must show your boarding pass when buying alcohol. All shops are open throughout the entire year.
LEAVE YOUR SHOES AT THE DOOR
You might want to bring slippers or thick socks for indoor use when you visit us. On Svalbard it is conventional to take the shoes off when entering a building. This applies not only when visiting someone’s home, but also in hotels and other public offices. The tradition dates back to the times when the coal mines near the city still were active. By taking the shoes off, the miners avoided bringing black coal dust indoors.