Sailing from Svalbard and Jan Mayen
Setting sail from Longyearbyen
This is the world's northernmost city and the base for tourism in Svalbard. A bit quirky, as you would expect from somewhere that spends four months of the year in near darkness, Longyearbyen doesn't take long to explore. Its brightly coloured wooden houses are built on stilts, as the ground in Svalbard is permafrost. When you enter a building, you are normally asked to remove your shoes, and leave your gun at the door. Gun carrying is more or less essential for the locals, as with 3,000 local hungry polar bears, it is said that you never know when you might need protection. That said, we visited safely without a gun!
Don’t die here – it’s illegal. There have been no new burials for over 70 years, because the permafrost prevents bodies from decomposing.
Svalbard and Jan Mayen: Svalbard
The Svalbard archipelago is a true wilderness, a land of snowy peaks, frozen tundra and glassy seas. You’ll likely have no fixed itinerary here, due to the unpredictable nature of an Arctic expedition; be prepared to drop everything and rush up to the top deck for the chance of a polar bear sighting!
Greenland: Northeast Greenland National Park
Immerse yourself in the world’s largest national park, established in 1974 and covering some 375,000 square miles of uninhabited Arctic wilderness. The park is home to wildlife including polar bears, Arctic hares and musk oxen, and species including walrus, beluga whale and narwhal can be spotted around the coast.
Akureyri is Iceland’s second city, though with just 18,000 inhabitants it’s really more of a small town. Situated on the north coast at the head of Iceland’s largest fjord, it’s a cute and quirky place that also serves as a base from which to explore the bubbling mud pools and lunar landscapes around Lake Mývatn.
This deep fjord cuts into the northern coast of Iceland, in a tranquil region known for its horse breeding; indeed, horses outnumber humans here! There are three islands in the fjord, including the steep-sided Drangey, home to large numbers of puffins, guillemots, auks and other seabirds.
The spectacular Dynjandi waterfall is one of the highlights of Iceland’s Westfjords, cascading down for 100 metres into the bay. The waterfall is often likened to a bridal veil because of the way the water spreads out across the rocks, and the thundering noise of the falls is intense.
Arriving in Reykjavik
Capital of Iceland and gateway to this extraordinary volcanic island, modern Reykjavik is home to an impressive collection of interesting attractions and places of historic significance. Visit the impressive Hallgrímskirkja church, relax in a thermal pool, potter around the old harbour, and with 24 hour daylight in the summer months, you can play golf at midnight, or choose the perfect place to view the midnight sun such as the lighthouse at Grotta or on the waterfront by Sólfar - the Sun Voyager sculpture. If you're like us, you will find travelling out of Reykjavik by land or sea to be unforgettable.
Take a boat tour from Reykjavik’s Old Harbour to see the numerous whales of Faxaflói Bay: harbour porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, minke whales and humpback whales.
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Where to stay in Longyearbyen
There’s really not much choice! Go for the Radisson Blu.
Travel out of Longyearbyen by snow scooter or dog sled to take a look at the amazing scenery and hunt for wildlife.
Extend your stay in Reykjavik
Enjoy Icelandic design chic at the super cool 101 Hotel, with a perfect central location.
Private tours from Reykjavik
A helicopter tour is a must do here; the unforgettable spectacular day-tours will give you a completely different perspective.