Svalbard Local Customs

  • Proper non-offensive carrying of a rifle
    Proper non-offensive carrying of a rifle
    by Saagar
  • Abid those signs
    Abid those signs
    by Saagar
  • A common doorsign in Longyearbyen
    A common doorsign in Longyearbyen
    by Saagar

Svalbard Local Customs

  • Carrying guns while shopping - bad taste

    If you want to go shopping in Longyearbyen, leave your gun outside - or do not enter.... Some shops and restaurants have designated areas for gun storage while you are shopping. In general, try to plan so you do not end up in this situation. It is definitely frowned upon!

  • Gun culture

    It is not allowed to carry a loaded rifle, pistol or revolver within the Longyearbyen settlement. However, if you are walking in town with a rifle, ensure there are no bullets in the gun, and that the chamber is open and ideally the loading arm and fire piston part removed. When outside the settlement, load up with four cartridges, and secure, but...

  • Local Svalbard web page

    The Svalbard Pages is a net site that links people and activities at Svalbard, mainly orineted at and run by those who live here. There are some useful sub pages and links for short-time visitors and tourists as well, especially for students at UNIS and people on job assingments.

  • Radar, but not for speed control

    You know something is not entirely normal when vechicles carry radar antennas to find their way. Seemed to be a maritime style short range radar that picks up local terrain formations. Nice to have when the road is blown over and the lights are out for another three months!

  • Small skiers, rough habits

    The main drag in Longyearbyen seem to attract little skiers. Not all of them equally steady, so watch your step...Fun to watch, though!

  • Brats on kicksleighs

    On the main street during the snowy season look out for the little brats with kicksleighs - spark, as they're called in the Norwegian. They can get a good speed, but steering and control is beyuond them, by and large...

  • Father Christmas' mine - Julenissegruva

    If you wonder why the mine up the mountainside near Nybyen is lit - a warm glow of lights come out the windows - this is the story:The mine is since long out of operation, and remains there as part of the historical museum that is Longyearbyen.But very strong local rumor has it that this mine is Father Christmas' workshop; this is where he and his...

  • Liquor quotas...

    There is cheap liquor to be purchased in Svalbard compared to the mainland due to the absence of the state tax regime.To control the situation - this being Norway after all - residents have a quota system. For travellers on a temporary stay only you will need to show your return ticket or print-out of your e-ticket in order to purchase anything....

  • Longyearbyen Blues Klubb

    Longyearbyen has a Blues Club. I guess this is excellent therapy duirng the dark months?! You may be lucky to come across one of their evenings/events there. Ask around for news or e-mail them at

  • Military vehicles

    Svalbard is a demilitarized area, so if you see any military-looking vehichles they are surplus equipment bought and brought privately from the mainland.

  • Waste management

    Dealing with waste in polar regions is hard. Thus, the hotel and most consumer trash is sorted at source - you will notice containers near hotels - and taken to the mainland for processing. Try to follow suit by sorting your trash if possible and depositing it in an appropriate place.

  • Very odd piping....

    For visitors not familar with all the difficulties with Arctic living, the pipes and construction maze in Longyearbyen and Barentsburg seems pretty weird. The thing is, you cannot bury anything in the permafrost, it will bend and crack and be forced to the surface again. Thus, all pipes that leads to a house and out again: water based heating...

  • Clear the table yourself...

    In several eateries you may find a notice asking for your helpfulness in clearing the table after you have eaten. Lazy staff or another historical surviving tradition from the mining age? Whatever, pay attention to it and follow the advice. There will be trays or trolleys set up for you to put your cutlery etc.

  • BBQ or bonfire - only with very, very...

    If you want to make a BBQ on treeless Svalbard, you have two choices: either you find 1) driftwood or you find 2) coal. Near Longyearbyen option No 1 is less likely than No 2.Coal can be picked off the cliffs or found along transport bands or roads and transshipment sites in or near Longyearbyen. Plenty of coal for your BBQ party! How many tonnes...

  • Svalbardposten, Norway's most insular...

    And how can it be otherwise, with a maximum readership of 1500 - theoretically...Here you get the local, local, local veeery local news. But the polar bear news radioed in from the neighbour may well be 100 km away at a hunting station. And with all the activities and different exciting professions hee things happen all the time. They keep a fairly...

  • Entering a house...

    You always take your shoes off.The reason is the dirt and coal dust that stick to your shoes. It is a tradition from the heyday of mining that lives on -observe it! And buy a pair of warm, woollen socks if you did not come equipped with indoor slippers!

  • Swimming

    I saw some of the local teens swimming from the beach in Longyearbyen. Water temperatur was 3 C and no, they didn’t look that well afterwards.

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Svalbard Local Customs

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