Is it at all possible to visit Svalbard on budget? Well, it is. We did it last year. We went there for just 3 days and spent great time.
How To Get There on Budget
In fact it’s not hard especially if you are already in Europe. The cheapest way to Svalbard is by plane from Oslo. The low cost carrier Norwegian flies there for about $100 – $200 (varies) for a round trip. It’s surprising so many Norwegians have not visited the place thinking that flights are too expensive!
You can also fly from Tromso or even from London or Berlin, but honestly the easiest and most affordable route is through Oslo.
Once you land at the airport in Longyearbyen in Svalbard, take the Svalbard bus to the town. The cost at this time is NOK 75. It is possible to walk as well if you are a bit adventurous. We didn’t do it with heavy backpacks as we had enough to walk from the town center to our hostel in Nybyen anyway.
Where to Sleep
The older guides about Svalbard mention just a guesthouse and hotel, but nowadays there are more places to sleep. We stayed in Spitsbergen Guesthouse and it was great. You will be in old miners cabins which are rather comfortable, with free wi-fi and history pictures on the walls. There was excellent all you can eat breakfast too. The main downside of this hostel is that it’s in Nybyen which is about 2-3 km away of the Longyearbyen center. So you’ll have to walk a bit.
There are also hostels and guest houses in Longyearbyen but the prices are a bit higher. Whenever you stay, everything is at a walking distance so don’t worry about location that much.
What To Eat
If you are on budget, restaurants are out of reach. The only reasonable option is to buy food at the supermarket and eat it in your hostel. The supermarket provides good choice of sausages, cheeses, bread, eggs, and even some fruits and vegetables. The prices are… well, good for this part of the world 🙂
If your hostel or guesthouse has cooking facilities you can always get some pasta and eggs and go really really cheap.
I highly recommend you to prepare at least some cash for drinking tea outside. The weather is cold most of the time and you’ll need it.
What To Do and See
The typical guide will tell you to go to Pyramiden and Barentsburg and go on a snowmobile trip. This is all good, but not if you are on budget and for 2-3 days there. Here’s what you can do instead:
- Just walk around. It’s an amazing place with amazing nature. Enjoy. Spend some time outdoors without hunting for specific attractions.
- Go to the beach (no, you won’t be able to sunbath or swim).
- Svalbard Museum is not expensive and well worth a visit
- Walk up to the church and have a look at the abandoned mining buildings
- Walk to Nybyen if you are not staying there.
- If you have the chance to take a cab or time to walk you can go all the way to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (you won’t be able to enter though)
Don’t rush things, you are at one of the most interesting and unique places on Earth. Just experience it. It’s not a disaster if you don’t go to Barentsburg. Lonyearbyen is pretty interesting by itself. You’ll remember this visit forever.