Longyearbyen, with a population of around two thousand, is Svalbard's main town, with colourful wooden houses and a distinctly frontier feel. Accommodation is in cosy guesthouses and former trapper lodges full of furs and Arctic memorabilia, or upmarket hotels with modern comforts. There are a handful of shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants serving Arctic flavours, all of which give the little town a little bit of buzz.
Most visitors use Longyearbyen as a base from which to explore the ice-clad mountains nearby, or venture further into the Spitsbergen wilds with an experienced Svalbard guide. The town was founded when John Longyear, an American mine owner, established the Arctic Coal Company here, and the entrances to several disused coalmines can be visited.
Longyearbyen is well equipped for adventure tourism - camping, hiking, snow mobile tours and dog sledding are some of the activities that can be tried in this remote but beautiful region of Norway.