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Wonders of Svalbard

Bird cliffs of Spitsbergen
Bird cliffs of Spitsbergen. / Rob Oo, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

The northern archipelago of Svalbard (part of Norway) contains rather many unique landmarks. Most notable are several geological monuments, including the unique northern thermal springs, unique finds of fossils, otherworldly congeliturbates, and above all – the magnificent landscape of Arctic fjords.

Notable monuments are also the numerous subglacial and glacier caves, which often are lighted by deep blue natural light protruding through the clear ice ceiling. Sometimes they may reach considerable size, like Koupaliste Cave (southern Spitsbergen, Austre Trolbreen) which houses a 120 m long and 80 m wide lake, or Glasjologer Cave (Southen Spitsbergen, Werenskioldbreen) with 80 m deep shaft through the ice.

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WorldViolet Top 18 wonders of Svalbard

Geological wonders

Troll springs

Group of six hot springs that are some of the northernmost in the world. The temperature of water up to 28.3 °C. Springs have formed impressive travertine terraces with pools of different sizes. Part of pools is dry and deteriorating.


Possibly the most beautiful fjord in Svalbard, 25 km long, with up to 1431 m high sides. Contains numerous blue icebergs because in the fiord are ending several glaciers.


This site contains numerous perfect circle-shaped stone ridges and labyrinth patterns shaped by frost (congeliturbates). Many stone ridges are arranged in long rows.

Kvadehuksletta stone ridges, Svalbard
Kvadehuksletta stone ridges / Hannes Grobe, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5, taken in 2007.

At the mouth of Isfjorden, there is an unusual geological formation – a vertical wall that looks like a fortress wall. It is a natural formation of very hard sandstone. The surrounding rock has been eroded and sandstone now stands like a wall, extending into the sea. Footprints of Iguanodons have been found here, although now this part of the rock has collapsed.


Carbonate rock here has formed an impressive double arch, rock is more than 20 meters high. The rock formation looks like an enormous spider standing on the top of the mountain (750 m).

Jotun springs

Two hot springs north of Troll springs, northernmost hot springs in the world. These hot springs form impressive travertine formations in a form of flat cones, rising 2 – 3 m high. The temperature of water at the surface is 24.5°C.


186 m tall dolostone stack rising directly from the sea.


Beautiful waterfall at the Tempelfjord, De Geerdalen. Water falls in cascades over dolerite rock.

Fløtspingo and other Reindalen pingos

Highest pingos in Svalbard and some of the highest open system pingos in the world, up to 42 m high. Pingos are giant chunks of ice covered with soil, open system pingos are basically springs fed by artesian water and frozen as they reach the surface – and thus may contain both ice and flowing water. Pingos of Reindalen most likely contain unfrozen salty water under pressure – there have been reports about up to 60 m high geyser-like spouts of water coming from similar structures further south in Svalbard.

Reindalen valley in Svalbard. On the bottom of the valley are seen several pingos.
Reindalen valley in Svalbard. On the bottom of the valley are seen several pingos../ Bjoertvedt, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

80 m tall dolostone stack rising directly from the sea.

Waterfall at the mouth of Dicksonfjorden

Impressive, thin waterfall with several drops. The beauty of this waterfall is accented by the horizontal layering of the cliff circus.

Trollosen of Stormbukta

This is the most powerful spring in Svalbard and it produces 10,000 liters of water per second. Water has formed small canyons towards the sea. To the south is another spring with a smell of rotten eggs.

Tempelfjorden thermal submerged spring

In winter in the middle part of Tempelfjord has been noticed circular hole with abnormally warm water – a possible upsurge of warm springs below the sea level.

Biological wonders

Stappen bird cliff (Fuglefjellet)

Up to 411 m tall cliffs. There live hundreds of thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots, northern fulmars, black-legged kittiwakes, glaucuous gulls, and other birds.


Very impressive, up to 100 m tall vertical basalt cliffs (in many locations seen the characteristic hexagonal columns) are inhabited by tens of thousands of Brünich’s guillemots (Uria lomvia).

Alkefjellet - there is lots of life in Arctic
Alkefjellet – there is lots of life in Arctic. / , Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Architecture wonders


Northernmost active public settlement in the world, located at 78°55’N. Here are living 30 – 35 people in winter, the village was created as a scientific station.

Ny-Ă…lesund / Christopher Michel, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Hammerfesthytta (Tobiesen’s House)

Possibly the oldest usable building in Svalbard – a wooden hunter lodge built in 1822 and 1865-1866.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

A unique project – the preserve of plant seeds in an underground cavern, serving as a "backup" in a case of the loss of seeds in other gene banks or some global catastrophe. Seeds are stored 120 m deep in sandstone cliffs in secure conditions. Capacity envisages storage of 4.5 million seed samples.

Entrance into Global Seed Vault, Svalbard
Entrance into Global Seed Vault / Mari Tefre, Global Crop Diversity Trust, Wikimedia Commons, free use allowed.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Svalbard: An Arctic Adventure

A wonderful story about a trip to the Arctic illustrated with magnificent photographs. This book is well organized, and meticulously written. It presents an informative guide to a remote and obviously beautiful part of our planet that many readers have heard of but few have actually visited—or thought of visiting until now. The approachable, friendly style of the writing and the narrative flow seamlessly to the last page. Svalbard does a fine job of bringing to life a remote and exciting part of the world in a short, neatly-packaged travelogue that should appeal to all readers—from avid travelers to armchair travelers to fans of exotic places.

Svalbard, 5th: Spitzbergen, Jan Mayen, Frank Josef Land

There is no other guide to Svalbard. This stunningly gorgeous, seriously remote Arctic archipelago is about as far from civilization as you can get in Europe. Permafrost freezes the ground up to half a kilometer in depth, while winter temperatures can drop to over 40 below zero. Svalbard’s glorious mountains, majestic fjords, and sprawling valleys are the perfect setting for journeys to the back of beyond – by snowmobile, snowshoe, or Siberian husky.

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