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I'm looking for an adventurous budget trip to do by myself. I've been looking around and somehow found out that a flight to Longyearbyen (Norway, Spitsbergen) is surprisingly cheap (around €250) from where I live!

After looking up some info, this seems like a place I feel like I have to visit at least once in my life. Since I don't have any plans yet for this summer, I figured this might be a cool idea.

However, I do have some doubts. I would have to go by myself. Also if possible, I'm not planning on getting a rental car since I just have my drivers license for a short time and I'm not very familiar with driving in other countries.

My question is: is it a reasonable plan to go to Longyearbyen alone, without a car? I'm planning on walking a lot and taking public transport if possible. I would be going for a couple of days only.

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    Since you seem to be on a budget, note that accommodation is not cheap and food is really expensive. If €200 a day for food and board is too much for you, the only option (AFAIK) is gjestehuset102.no They also have a kitchen for self-catering.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 23:25
  • @Relaxed my plan was staying on the Longyearbyen campground or staying in a hostel :-) hotels are fairly expensive indeed!
    – Markinson
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 8:14
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    Oh yeah, I forgot about the campground. I can recommend the hostel.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 9:58
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    For accommodation on a budget you might want to look at couchsurfing or airbnb, too. Couchsurfing is great to really get to know the locals.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 10:20

3 Answers 3

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Longyearbyen is a very small town with a population of not much more than 2,000. Within the town centre, you can reach everything easily by foot and even the outskirts of the town are only 2-3km from the centre. The area is quite steep though. The Nybyen district in the southern part of the town is about 100m higher than the city centre.

The only public transport in Longyearbyen is the airport shuttle. If you intend to visit the other settlements or abandoned towns on Svalbard, you will have to go by air or boat. There is no road network connecting the towns.

Also remember that Svalbard is not part of the Schengen area. Domestic flights from the Norwegian main land to Svalbard are subject to passport control. If you should need a Schengen visa, you will need a multiple entry visa if you intend to enter and stay in the Schengen area on your way in and out of Svalbard. As Crazydre comments, you can if travelling with a direct flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen transit between extra-Schengen and the Svalbard flight in Oslo without going through immigration.

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    "If you should need a Schengen visa, you will need a multiple entry visa to transit Norway twice (in and out)." Not if connecting at Oslo to a direct flight to Svalbard on the same calendar day - then no visa is required other than for ATV nationals
    – Crazydre
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 22:19
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    I'm from the Netherlands with a Dutch passport if that makes any difference
    – Markinson
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 22:31
  • @Crazydre Are you sure about that? Don't you have to go through customs and recheck your luggage when transferring from an international to a domestic flight in Oslo, meaning that you also will have to pass immigration? Or are transfers to flights to Svalbard exempt from customs control in Oslo? Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 22:38
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I'm 100% sure. Direct Svalbard flights are treated like any other non-Schengen flight. If using a flight with an intermediate stop in Tromsö, however, you clear immigration in Oslo, board from a domestic gate, get off at Tromsö for passport control and then re-board.
    – Crazydre
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 23:01
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    @Markinson If you're Dutch, a passport or identiteitskaart is all you need no matter what
    – Crazydre
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 23:02
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As others have said, a car is not needed and not that useful. But there are in fact a few roads and a taxi service beside the airport shuttle. Nybyen, where the only hostel is located, is a bit outside the rest of Longyearbyen, maybe a couple of kilometres up Longyear Valley. That's perfectly doable by foot (that's what I did most of the time last winter and most people do the same) but getting a taxi is also an option (and at the end of the day probably cheaper than hiring a car, even if you make two-three return trips a day).

The thing is that getting out of the town without a guide – even on the road along Adventdalen – is not recommended, due to the presence of polar bears. People have died hiking on the mountains immediately next to Longyearbyen without proper equipment (gun, etc.) and a bear and her two cubs walked right in the middle of town last winter.

So even if you go somewhere reachable by land (visit to mine 3, snowmobile trips – even in summer, hikes, drive up Adventdalen, etc.), you should hire a guide and they will arrange transfer (pick you up from your accomodation and drive as far as the road goes). Car or no car, that's what you'll need to do if you want to do anything else than walk around the town and see the museum.

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Apart from the airport bus, Longyearbyen has no public Transport, but is small enough for you to walk from end to end.

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