The Svalbard group consists of seven large islands, home to glaciers, fjords, mountains, tundra, and an abundance of Arctic wildlife. Svalbard's largest settlements are the settlement of Longyearbyen and the mining town of Barentsburg. Longyearbyen is the administrative centre for Svalbard and offers numerous activities for both tourists and locals. Popular sites include Svalbard Museum, Svalbard Global Seed Vault, shopping outlets, restaurants, galleries and churches. You should also head to Spitsbergen National Park to explore its epic landscapes and locate polar bears, reindeer and whales in their natural habitats.
As for Jan Mayen Island, it consists of a volcano covered entirely in ice. It isn't particularly accessible to tourists and residents - there are only two permanent settlements on the island: Olonkinbyen, the capital town located on the south coast, and a small meteorological staff station called Trollaskjo located more than 60km away. Reaching Jan Mayen Island by boat or plane requires permission from Norway's Ministry of Defence.
When exploring Svalbard and Jan Mayen as a tourist you should try out a range of polar activities like skiing, snowshoeing tours, kayaking expeditions or whale-watching trips. Other options include fishing trips by sea or along one of the many rivers, trekking trails around glaciers or sampling delicious local seafood like whale meatballs (selbakt) and Norwegian bog sandwiches (kroppkaker). Wash it all down with a pint of local beer from the town pubs!
In terms of the cost of living in Svalbard and Jan Mayen, expect it to be expensive given its remote location. Goods have to be imported from far away which results in high prices for groceries and other necessities. Local transportation is limited so make sure to bring enough cash with you as credit cards are not accepted everywhere!
So if you're looking for a unique holiday experience then look no further than Svalbard and Jan Mayen! With its stunning landscape, fascinating wildlife and never-ending adventures at your fingertips, you'll want to come back again and again!