24 Hours of Daylight in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

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Longyearbyen is charming and offers a lot of history. The town is named after John M. Longyear, an American businessman who began mining operations in 1906. While officially part of Norway, Svalbard is a self-governing municipality, which means they have their own tax laws, and are not officially part of the EU.

This is why I received a second Norway stamp on my passport while leaving mainland Norway to enter Svalbard. When you land it literally feels like you have arrived at the ends of the earth.

Several years ago, I visited Iceland, never expecting to venture further North. I was foolishly misguided, as this was nothing compared to Longyearbyen, Svalbard. In fact, Longyearbyen is only 950 kms away from the North Pole.

I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be able to sleep at night with 24-hours of daylight? How would it affect my mood? Surprisingly, a person adapts to never-ending daylight shockingly fast. For some reason, the evenings were always sunny and less windy than the mornings, which resulted in many late-night walks. We watched as skiers hiked up a mountain to ski back down, something that would not be abnormal if it wasn’t 1:00 AM.

We chased Arctic foxes and reindeer to get pictures. We walked around exploring the town. I got lucky with the weather, when I had initially viewed the forecast it showed -10 Celsius, but it lingered around the 0 Celsius mark. This was warmer than growing up in Canada. What makes the cold biting, similar to Iceland is the wind off the ocean. You felt this stinging wind every time you approached the water. Somehow, I managed to survive the cold, and this included some day trips such as dog sledding, where I spent eight hours outside.

As I walked around the town I could not help but wonder how it would be like to grow-up in this community. To be literally the Northernmost town in the world, to have months on end of beautiful sunshine, followed by brutally cold winter months with endless darkness. I give the people credit as I am not sure how well I could handle the isolation, and the cold.

Nonetheless, there is something magical and awe inspiring about being so far away from the rest of humanity. To be able to gaze upon a clear sky, with pure air, and with majestic surroundings that few of us will view in our lifetimes. I felt blessed to be given such an opportunity.

I would absolutely recommend that if possible, that you visit this part of the world. For people who live in Europe, it’s not that difficult. There’s a daily flight from Oslo, and once you visit this majestic terrain, you will realize that it’s a once in a lifetime experience.