One of Svalbard's largest fjords, on the west coast of Spitsbergen
Information about Svalbard Isfjorden
Isfjorden is the second-largest fjord in Svalbard at 66 miles long. An important anchorage and shelter from the earliest times of human habitation here, most of the largest settlements on Spitsbergen have grown up along its shore. The largest is Longyearbyen, that started as a mining town and is the transport hub for those flying in and out of Svalbard, and the Russian mining town of Barentsburg.
Another key attribute of this fjord is that it very rarely ices up, thanks to the warm current of the Gulf Stream that is able to enter the fjord from the west. This not only makes it attractive to human settlers, but also for the wildlife that can't feed under fast ice.
Zodiac trips over the calm waters are a highlight, exploring the glacier fronts, and landings to explore the tundra and the chance to visit some spectacular bird cliffs. Do bear in mind that many cruise ships spend less time in the fjord (often sailing out the first evening and doing landings and exploration of the are on the last full day).
Therefore, for those that spend some extra time in Longyearbyen, it is highly recommended to spend more time exploring the area around the town, and activities like dog sledging, and also to visit other parts of Isfjorden fjord system, from day tris to camping. If you did not visit it on the cruise (and quite a few chose not to), a real highlight is to visit to the eerie and disused Russian mining town of Pyramiden. It used to be the biggest settlement in Svalbard and it feels like it belongs in Siberia, having the most northerly bust of Lenin in the World!
Interesting facts about Svalbard Isfjorden
Our expert guide says: 'Isfjorden offers the chance to see both the human and the wildlife that call Spitsbergen home. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement on the whole archipelago with a permanent population of over 2,300 - although the average time people stay here is only 6 years! Landings might not be possible depending on polar bear activity, but your guides will get you as close as it is safe to be.'
Pictures of Svalbard Isfjorden
Highlights in Svalbard Isfjorden
The outer bay can be a very good area for whale watching and an area where Blue Whale can be seen for cruise ships departing or arriving at the mouth of the fjord.
Isfjorden is the largest fjord system in Svalbard with spectacular geology, such as the Devonian sediments along Dicksonfjord and Ekmanfjordat. Most cruise ships sail out the first evening, a chance to enjoy the scenery, to explore the rest of Svalbard, before coming back to consider landings and explore parts of Isfjorden on the last full day.
Disembark in Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen is the biggest settlement in Svalbard. Seat of the Norwegian administration, it also has the best services and infrastructure in the archipelago. Located deep in the Adventfjord, a sidearm of the Isfjorden (Icefjord), Longyearbyen’s airport can be used all-year round, but its harbor is blocked by ice in winter.
Most shops, hotels, restaurants and a hospital are within easy walking distance of the port. One of the most prominent buildings in town is the UNIS center, where several Norwegian universities have joined forces to operate and offer the northernmost higher education to both Norwegian and international students. Adjacent to UNIS, and well worth a visit, is the Svalbard Museum, covering the natural history and exploitation of Svalbard. Remnants of the former mining activity can be seen all around Longyearbyen and even in town.
A range of wildlife can be seen around the town and the mudflats on the road to the dog kennels. There is an Eider colony here and Ivory Gulls can sometimes be seen. If you can dodge the diving Arctic terns, the mudflats attract birds like Barnacle Geese, and a range of waterbirds and shorebirds that are scarce in other parts of Svalbard.
Arrival at Longyearbyen
The transport hub for Svalbard with the airport. Once just a mining town, it is now involved with tourism and scientific research and has various services, accommodation, shops and cafés, and some interesting museums.
There is also the chance to check out wildlife within town, including Snow Buntings and even reindeer, and to walk along the road through the mudflats to the dog kennels, dodging the Arctic Terns on route. There is an Eider colony next to the kennels and Barnacle Geese and other birds on the mudflats. If you are very lucky, you might see an Ivory Gull near the kennels.
Longyearbyen is the biggest settlement in Svalbard. Seat of the Norwegian administration, it also has the best services and infrastructure in the archipelago. Located deep in the Adventfjord, a sidearm of the Isfjorden (Icefjord), Longyearbyen’s airport can be used all-year round, but its harbor is blocked by ice in winter. Most shops, hotels, restaurants and a hospital are within easy walking distance of the port.
Animals in Svalbard Isfjorden
Our trips to Svalbard Isfjorden