The scattered islands of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago lie in the distant wilderness halfway between the far tip of Norway and the North Pole at 78 degrees north. Floating in the Arctic Ocean, the landscape encompasses rugged, snow-capped peaks, piercing blue ice and the world’s most unique wildlife. More than 3,000 wild polar bears roam freely in Svalbard, which you may spot on a wildlife hike or expedition cruise. Home to just over 2,000 people who also share the islands with reindeer, seals and arctic foxes, Svalbard remains one of the world’s last untouched destinations.

Over 60% of Svalbard is made up of glaciers, fjords and ice flats where total silence and dark skies await, making it one of the best locations for witnessing The Northern Lights. Its far-flung location north of the Arctic Circle means Svalbard experiences endless Midnight Sun during the summer months, and Polar Night throughout winter. The archipelago’s 60-million-year-old mountains hide ancient fossils, its cliffs shelter millions of rare bird species and more than half of Svalbard is covered in glaciers, including one of the largest on earth. These snowy landscapes provide the perfect terrain for Svalbard’s array of adventurous winter activities: explore the icy tundra on a snowmobile, take a husky ride through the snow-dusted pine forests or climb through untouched crystalline ice caves.

With an almost endless coastline, Svalbard has some of the freshest Arctic seafood on earth, with delicacies such as reindeer and whale featuring alongside diverse international restaurants. The world’s northernmost settlement of Longyearbyen, perched on the tip of Spitsbergen Island, is well set up for visitors. Accommodation ranges from luxury hotels to off-grid cabins and remote campsites, all of which offer a comfortable base for a journey through this remote and secluded region.

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Jan Mayen

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