You’d be surprised to hear that tourism is one of Svalbard and Jan Mayen’s main industries. These Norwegian islands are hardly regulars on the Paris-Rome-Prague circuit of European tourism.
Sitting in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, these islands have a few thousand inhabitants, mostly by Norwegian researchers, miners, and meteorologists. More than half the land is covered in glaciers, and with no roads beyond the towns, the snowmobile is popular. Beerenberg volcano towering over Jan Mayen, while in Svalbard, seven national parks preserving the unspoilt but delicate arctic ecosystems.
These islands can be accessed by boat tours from mainland Norway, though the journey takes a few days. The payoff? Desolate and alien landscapes, amazing ice climbing, and polar bear sightings.