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Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway
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ABOVE: You may get an opportunity to eat polar bear in Longyearbyen--but then again, a polar bear may get the chance to eat you.

Restaurants in Longyearbyen

You might expect Longyearbyen to be a gastronomic desert, but you'd be wrong: The two leading hotels have upscale restaurants that wouldn't be out of place in Oslo or Bergen.

Check the "Food and Drink" section of Spitsbergen Travel's Web site for descriptions of the Restaurant Nansen at the Radisson SAS Polar Hotel Spitsbergen and the Funktionaermessen Restaurant ("Employee's Mess") at the Spitsbergen Hotel, which has come a long way since the days when it served as a dining hall for coal-mine managers and office staff. The two hotels also have bars where you can get snacks or light meals along with your drinks.

I had excellent and imaginatively prepared meals at both hotels' restaurants during my stay. I can also testify that the Radisson SAS bar serves great cold sandwiches on baguette rolls, and the club sandwich that I had in the Spitsbergen Hotel's bar was a full-fledged meal with a roasted chicken breast, egg, bacon, tomatoes, and other items between slabs of bread with French fries on the side. (It would have been the perfect finish to a day of snowmobiling; for me, it was merely a cure for hunger and jet lag.)

Kroa, a.k.a. Steakers Svalbard, is a fully licensed bar and restaurant in the center of town. It's owned by Basecamp Spitsbergen and often has Arctic specalties on the menu.

Mary-Ann's Polarrigg has The Vinterhagen Restaurant, where "the midnight sun floods through the glass roof in the summer and where the amazing northern lights mysteriously wave in the winter." The restaurant serves Thai food and Arctic dishes.

In the Lompensenteret shopping mall downtown, photoClassic Pizza is a relatively low-cost option for dining in or pizza delivery to your hotel. Other restaurants in Lompensenteret include Kafé Busen (lunch and dinner at moderate prices) and the Fruene Kaffe & Vinbar (lunch at midday, wine bar and dinner from late afternoon and into the evening).

Huset is off the tourist track: It's a long bike ride or walk up the valley, on the opposite bank of the river from Nybyen. Huset's services include a café, a restaurant, a nightclub, a 25,000-bottle wine cellar, and a tax-free kiosk where you can buy tobacco, souvenirs, and cook-at-home meat from Argentina.

If you have access to a refrigerator or kitchen during your stay, you can save money on lunch and the occasional dinner by purchasing groceries at Svalbardsbutikken, a.k.a. the Coop Svalbard.

Finally, if you're looking for a unique apéritif or nightcap, choose from the vast liquor selection at Karls-Berger Pub, which offers everything from an 1802 cognac to rare malt whiskies and rums.

Next page: Shopping in Longyearbyen

Longyearbyen tourist information:
History, background
Sights, excursions
Cruises, boat trips
Hotels, guesthouses, camping
Arrival and departure
Planning tips, Web links
Photos with captions

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Bird Cliffs of Spitsbergen - Fuglefjellet boat trip
MS Nordstjernen - Spitsbergen Adventure Cruise