Svalbard and Jan Mayen are two separate parts of Norway, but they have different jurisdictions. They are combined for the purpose of the International Organization for Standardization, but they are not related as far as the administration is concerned. Svalbard and Jan Mayen are both located in the Arctic Ocean, but you would be surprised to know that they are inhabited by a few thousands of people, and travelers actually choose them as a vacation destination. You would think that such rough places would not attract tourists, but a lot of people go there in the summer.
If you are thinking of taking a trip to Svalbard and Jan Mayen, below you will find some valuable information that should help you better your vacation. Further research may be required, but at least you can find out a few things about this remote location.
First of all, you may be concerned about the visa. Lucky for you, you should not think about it at all. Why? Because Svalbard is entirely visa-free. It does not matter your country of origin or which country of residence you come from. Svalbard allows anyone to enter its premises, and everyone can stay and work there indefinitely. The citizens of treaty countries (countries who signed the Svalbard treaty) even have the right to abode. But as far as staying and working in Svalbard is concerned, everyone is welcome without limitations.
One thing that is worth mentioning is that you may still need a visa if you travel passing through Norway. You need to apply for a Schengen Visa, and in Norway, there is immigration, so someone will check your document. In Svalbard, that will not happen.
The first thing we feel compelled to let you know is that going to Svalbard and Jan Mayen is a challenging experience. The weather is unforgiving, and most of the islands are covered with glaciers. In the winter, the temperatures can go below -30 degrees Celsius, and in the summer, it can go only as high as 5 degrees Celsius. Since the location is so close to the North pole, starting mid-November, the sun is absent 24/7 until March. Svalbard literally translates to cold edge, so you can only imagine how the climate is.
Getting to Svalbard and Jan Mayen is very expensive and time-consuming. You can arrive by boat if you want, but do not think that many vessels go to Svalbard and Jan Mayen. A plane may be more suitable, even if the cost of a flight ticket is quite high. You can fly from Norway, but other European cities have flights to Svalbard and Jan Mayen as well. When you arrive, you will land in Longyearbyen, the largest airport around.
In Svalbard and Jan Mayen, getting around is not what you think. There are no roads, but people use snowmobiles for long distances. Of course, there are no roads anywhere out of Longyearbyen since the entire place is a nature reserve.
Communication should not be an issue. The official language in Svalbard and Jan Mayen is Norwegian, but people speak English. Some local use Russian and Ukrainian, but that is only in Barentsburg.
One thing that you must protect yourself against is polar bears. They are quite common in Svalbard and Jan Mayen, and they can give you a real scare. That is why you should never leave the city alone. Plus, you should carry a firearm for protection. Not unless you have a permit, of course. You can rent a gun for about 150 Kr per day. However, you need to also have the means to scare the polar bears since it is illegal to kill them unless they are an immediate threat to your life. Do not be a hero and think you can run faster than a polar bear. They are faster than they appear, and they will attack you if hungry.
All in all, Svalbard and Jan Mayen are worthy of a trip. It may be expensive, and the weather can wear you down if you go there in the winter, but the landscapes, the glaciers, and the polar bear sightings are worth the trip. Just make sure to pack warm clothes and listen to the tour guides when outside Longyearbyen. Other than that, you should create unforgettable memories.