Set between mainland Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago made up of nine islands. Spitsbergen is the largest of the nine islands, with others including North East Land, Edge Island, Barents Island, Prins Karls Foreland, and Kvit Island. As one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, it’ll come as no surprise to find that only 2650 people live on Svalbard.
The island group is also home to plenty of wildlife too, including polar bears, bearded seals, reindeer, arctic foxes, and other species of seal.
Daily flights operate from either Oslo (the Norwegian capital) or Tromso to Svalbard Airport on Spitsbergen – the largest of the islands. Brit tourists can get return flights from London to Svalbard Airport for around £180 for a return ticket – although two layovers are sometimes required. Arguably the best time to visit Svalbard is between May to September, because of the archipelago’s extreme seasons. While the sun doesn’t set in Svalbard for five months of the year, it also doesn’t rise for 90 days.
There are plenty of things to do on the Norwegian archipelago too, including Northern Lights Adventures. Other outdoor activities include ice cave visits, snowmobile rides, dog sledding, and skiing. One of the main tourist attractions on Svalbard is the Pyramiden – an abandoned Soviet coal mining settlement. The site has been preserved since 1998, and it has now been described as an “arctic time machine” by visitors. Visitors will be able to see what life would’ve been like in the Soviet period, and even watch a movie screening at an old cinema.
There are also several museums dotted on the island, including the Svalbard Museum, which is a dive into the area’s 400-year history. Other museums include the North Pole Expedition Museum, which is the northernmost aviation museum in the world Despite Norway’s reputation for being expensive, hotels on Svalbard are reasonably priced. Sun Online Travel have found overnight stays at the Svalbard Hotell Polfareren from £70 per person for a one-night stay.
Meanwhile, there’s a village in Finland that’s the official hometown of Father Christmas. Located in Rovaniemi in northern Finland, the Santa Claus Village is festive all year but really comes into its own in November and December. Heading to Norway’s Svalbard or the Finnish Santa Claus Village isn’t the only way to experience some of the Christmas magic either. Last year, TikTok user Lucy, who is known as Footluce on the social media platform, revealed the spent six weeks volunteering as a Lapland ranger at the village. In a video, she explained that found seasonal work on a website called Work a Season. As well as caring for huskies, reindeer, and guests, she was also able. And becoming a Lapland Ranger isn’t the only festive job on the cards in Lapland, other seasonal work includes planning Santa trips to the area.
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