Ny-Ålesund is a tiny settlement on the west coast of the island of Spitsbergen, Svalbard.
At 78°55′N 11°56′E, Ny-Ålesund is by most measures the northernmost permanent settlement in the world (except for a few military bases, e.g. Alert, in Nunavut). Founded in 1916 as a coal mining town, the town housed 400 people at its peak, until it was shut down in 1962 after an explosion killed 21 people.
Ny-Ålesund reopened in 1968 as a research base. Today owned and run by Kings Bay AS [formerly dead link], the tiny town is home to 30-35 people year-round, but the population can swell to over 120 in the summer. Practically all inhabitants are scientists.
Ny-Ålesund can be visited fairly easily as a cruise stopover, but spending any more time there is difficult, to say the least. Bona fide scientists interested in running a research project at Ny-Alesund may contact NySMAC to apply.
Lufttransport operates semi-regular flights all year round (2-3 weekly) from Ny-Ålesund Airport to Longyearbyen (25 minutes), albeit subject to weather conditions. Reservations can only be arranged via Kings Bay, and seats must be booked well in advance. From Longyearbyen, there are flights to Europe, such as to Tromsø and Oslo.
For most non-scientists a cruise stopover is the only way of reaching Ny-Ålesund. The cheapest and fastest way appears to be Spitsbergen Travel's 3/4-day cruises from Longyearbyen, with rates starting at 7900 kr (c. US$1500, cheapest cabin, twin sharing). Cruises operate only from May to October.
Effectively the only way a visitor can get around is on foot, restrictions are made to protect the visitor and the local bird population . Do not walk off the paths, keep to the established 'roads' (tracks), and do not leave the settlement. A circuit of the settlement is possible in under an hour. Watch out for the local bird population as they may attack you if you are too near their ground level nests.
- Mining Museum. Yes, there's one of these in every settlement on Svalbard.
- The Engine. The remains of a narrow gauge engine, and some wagons
- Amundsen Monument.
Cruise boat visitors will only get one option - walking, limited to the settlement. Visits can be made to the hotel, the cafe, the post office and the museum/information building
Winter or summer
- Snowmobile trips
- Skiing expeditions
There is a shop run by the Company which is open to tourists whenever a cruise boat is visiting, but certain items are reserved only for residents. All major currencies and credit cards are taken. The post office is likewise open during cruise boat visits, with special cancellation and cachets that can be affixed to envelopes and postcards by visitors. At other times these facilities are open for short periods daily.
The hotel serves limited food. There is also a cafe close to the dock.
The hotel and the cafe are the only sources
- North Pole Hotel (Nordpol Hotellet). Opened in 1936 to house fishermen.
- There is a free camping ground located near the Zeppelin launch tower and the Italia Memorial.