Generally regarded as the northernmost town in the world at 78° north, Longyearbyen, is the largest settlement in the stunning Svalbard archipelago. Located deep in the incredible Norwegian Arctic wilderness on Spitsbergen, it is the largest of the Svalbard islands.
Set at the end of the Advent Fjord, and framed by flat-topped, snow-covered peaks, Longyearbyen is home to some 2000 inhabitants, several reindeer and the odd polar bear. The town Longyearbyen was only established as a permanent settlement in 1906 to exploit local coal reserves, and is named after American mining specialist, John M. Longyear.
Only one mine remains working, but Mine 3, which was turned into a living museum in 1996 on its closure, can still be visited. The museum guides are all former miners who give first-hand accounts about life underground. The Svalbard Museum also provides insights into the life of miners, and the other local industry, whaling. The 24-hour sundial reminds visitors that the sun doesn’t set for months during summer, and the Spitsbergen Airship Museum, which has exhibits from the era of polar exploration, is worth discovery.