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Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

Brisbane, Australia
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Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

I'm a hobbyist photographer and I've seen a number of photographs of a row of coloured houses and an area of cotton grass in front set in Longyearbyen. Can someone please say where it is, and if it is safe to walk to by myself?

Is it near a lagoon and/or dog kennels?

I've also read of a church in Longyearbyen - is it photogenic? :)

Any other recommendations for places I can safely walk to for photographic purposes?

Also - I love to pick up a souvenir of a trip. Typically something like a handmade carving - so in this case I'd be looking for a polar bear, arctic fox, walrus - an animal I hope to see on my cruise :) Is there anywhere in Longyearbyen to buy something like that? Or will I try my luck back in Oslo?

Thanks!

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Harstad, Norway
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1. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

The houses and the church are within the settlement where you can safely walk around.

Anywhere else, you would need transport.

For souvenirs, try the supermarket.

http://tinyurl.com/y9lqq7a4

Oslo, Norway
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2. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

This photo from Wikipedia covers nearly all of Longyearbyen: https:/…Longyearbyen_panorama_july2011.jpg

I'm guessing the photos you've seen are of some of the houses in this area: https://goo.gl/maps/4mWWNH6C4zG2 There isn't a lagoon, but the northern edge of town is on the Adventfjord.

The church is somewhat photogenic. Do a Google Image search for "Svalbard kirke" to get an idea.

Overall, Longyearbyen isn't terribly picturesque. It's focus is more on the functional side of things, so I find that it has a bit of an industrial feel. It's a bit more aesthetically pleasing when the snow is on the ground, but in the summer, it's a lot of grey and brown land with metal infrastructure. The draw is the natural scenery in the surroundings, rather than the town itself.

In addition to the supermarket, you can also check out Galleri Svalbard: gallerisvalbard.no/shop-cafe.253834.no.html

Rennes, France
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3. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

The hub station for the cable tranport system is also interesting to photograph (and everything related to the cable transport, the poles, the old carrying trays...). Whether you find Longyearbyen picturesque or not is very much a matter of taste, it is not a beautiful scandinavian town as indeed it has a very utilitarian feel but it has an interesting atmosphere and there can be interesting points of view. The area you can visit on foot is not that big, so just walk around.

There are several souvenir shops (of various quality) in the main street, which you can't miss. Again, they are not that numerous and you can easily visit them all.

Be sure to visit the Svalbard museum if you are interested in the history of the area, it's quite nicely done.

Brisbane, Australia
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4. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

Thank you all so much for the helpful advice and links.

I never would have thought to look in a supermarket for souvenirs.

The Gallary will be on my visit-list. And the museum (perhaps it has a gift shop...)

I'd seen some cute carved items via a Visit Oslo site

purnorsk.no/component/…

but then I converted the price! <ouch>

That panoramic photo of Longyearbyen is amazing! NOW I have a better sense of the size :)

Is the polar bear warning sign at the end of the road that goes off way to the right?

The residents of Longyearbyen don't mind if we tourists go walking around off road, in front of and behind their houses taking photos?

Speaking of off road - when walking the town, do you stay on the roads?

Or can you walk the straightest path from A to B (just curious when I saw the position of the church and wondered about short cuts).

I can see form the photos how picturesque the town is with a dusting of snow. I'll be hoping for wildlife sightings (birds, fox etc) so shall forgive the lack of snow in July :)

Thanks again!

Harstad, Norway
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5. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

The museum did not have a shop when I visited. They had fox furs for sale but they were not exactly cheap.

Of course you should be discreet when walking past and around private homes - put yourself in their situation and act accordingly.

Edited: 18 January 2018, 12:53
London, United...
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6. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

@mlg

You'll find your way around Longyearbyen no issues. You can easily visit every shop and the museum in a couple of hours. When I was first there I did two rounds - one to see what there was to buy and the other to go back and get things once I'd decided!

The supermarket is more of a small department store (the blue/green building with the grey flat roof in the middle of the shot), and it has souvenirs but is also a pretty good place to pick up anything you find you've forgotten or if you want extra snacks for on board. Opposite it in the red building is a sort of tiny mini mall with a pharmacy and more souvenir/clothing stores for outdoor gear. Also a bakery/coffee shop that make sandwiches to order on the best bread I've eaten. On that panorama the road to the dog kennels and the polar bear sign are directly under the right arrow, and depending on your speed and how often you stop for pictures, are about a 15 min walk from the town centre.

I'm not sure when klimaflyktning was last at the museum (big sprawling dark red/brown building with flagpoles close to the bay), but last year it certainly had a great shop - and I bought a gorgeous locally made silver polar bear pendant there. If you want any books or maps it's also the place to be.

The coloured houses are very easy to find, and for the best light in the summer, about 10pm is ideal. You do walk on the roads in town simply because the grass is usually super boggy and damp so unless you're a big fan of getting stuck in mud, paths are easier and less sticky, also there are a couple of rivers running through there! I've found that people are pretty tolerant as long as you use common sense and don't take photos through windows or walk ridiculously close to the houses. There are also a lot of signs reminding people that taking pictures of the kids at kindergarten is not on.

For birds in July that road out to the dog kennels that looks out over Isfjord is a good place, there are nesting eider ducks, terns and skua dotted along there. You'll see snow buntings all over, there are a few pairs around the Radisson in particular that are pretty photo-friendly, and I've seen fox and reindeer up by the Spitsbergen Hotel at the top end of town.

Harstad, Norway
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7. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

Ah, progress. 4+ years ago - time flies.

London, United...
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8. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

@klimaflyktning

I think the shop has been there for ages, but it was a bit tucked away and they've since made it slightly more obvious - you have to walk through it before you get into the exhibitions - but I know I bought things there in 2012 and 14 too! I have the pendant, a lovely little hand painted miniature landscape of Isfjord and a bundle of books.

@mlg - Just thinking about it the best place for a carving or something handmade would probably be from Skinnboden (If seeing lots of taxidermy and animal skins is upsetting then maybe not the shop for you) but they do have lots of little handmade pieces http://skinnboden.no

Brisbane, Australia
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9. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

Thanks all so much again :)

@fairyG - that combined with your previous posts and I now think I will stalk your previous paths for my 1.5 days + 1.5 days in Longyearbyen :) I'm going to print out that picture and put names on buildings and paths now! (I don't suppose hotels have little tourist maps to hand out...)

Q though - can you say which building (e.g. roof colour etc :) ) in the picture is Svalbard Hotel and which is Spitsbergen Hotel?

I'm trying to use that panorama image plus Google Maps to figure out which is which but I can't figure out the streets and placements.

I've already bought

Arctic: A Guide to Coastal Wildlife (Paperback)

Tony Soper

for my wildlife identification so am hoping it will be suitable. It's not very detailed on birds but I hope it has all those I will see...

Skinnboden looks very promising! (As does the sound of the museum shop.) I can't get Google to translate the site, and I'm not good with skins and animal trophies, but I'll just avert my gaze wherever possible. (Will apply the same strategy to Kroa...)

London, United...
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10. Re: Photography around Longyearbyen (and souvenirs within!)

They actually do have maps to hand out - lk-panorama.com/svalbard/maps/map_over_longy… Honestly when you get there you'll have found your way around in two minutes flat as there's no way to get lost and really not that many options to go anyway!

You can't see the Spitsbergen Hotel in that picture, it's way over to the left sort of behind where the side of the valley is in the shot, it's basically at the top end of the main street - about a 15ish min walk into town? On that map I've linked the photo was sort of taken I'd guess from somewhere near the a in Lia. The Svalbard Hotel is right in the centre of things - you have to zoom into the image but if you find the church and then look down, it's the narrow rectangular building with the dark grey roof and blue and cream front to it. I've stayed there and it's perfectly comfortable. The rooms are super cosy and the heated floors in the bathrooms are a thing of joy! They were also in the middle of renovating when I last stayed there in 2014, so as this image is from 2011 it might look slightly different now. I've stayed at both (and the Radisson too) so if you have any other hotel questions, just shout!

The Tony Soper book is actually really great - it's might not seem detailed on birds because while there's a huge volume of birds, there isn't a massive variety in species - except for the odd vagrant. Essentially you'll want to recognise Snow Buntings (the only songbird), Ptarmigan (the only game bird), Glaucous, Ivory and Kittiwake in the gull family, Fulmar, Arctic Skua, Brunnich's Guillemot, Little Auk, Puffin and Black Guillemot. Anything else will be less likely and rarer and that's where snapping a photo and using the book and your on-board ornithologist comes into play!

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