Spitsbergen - the Northwest
Some of the world's best whale watching
A trip along the northwestern coast of Svalbard is always worth it if ice conditions allow. This is because it's one of the best places to see whales anywhere in the world. In the early 20th century, this part of Svalbard was a huge center for whaling - with the main target being the oil-rich bowhead whales, the arctic's only full-time resident baleen whale species.
The "town" of New Ålesund is on the shore of King's Bay ("Kongsfjorden") and well worth a visit. With a summer population of 120 and a hardy winter population of about 35, this is the most northerly permanent civilian settlement in the world. As such, it has played roles in the history of arctic exploitation and exploration, including coal mining, whaling, and research. Don't miss the chance to send a postcard from the world's most northerly Post Office.
Interesting facts about Northwest Spitsbergen
Our expert says: "Most people aren't aware that this part of Svalbard was home to the world's first 'oil boom'. But it didn't involve drilling, rather the hunting in huge numbers of bowhead whales for their whale oil. Huge numbers used to be found off the coast here, and together with Spitsbergen's role in the golden years of arctic exploration, human history here is as rich as the natural history."
Pictures of Northwest Spitsbergen
Our trips to Northwest Spitsbergen