All commercial flights from mainland Norway to Svalbard lands on Svalbard airport Longyear, but this airport is located about 5 kilometers north-west of the city Longyearbyen.
You will not want to walk these 5 kilometers by yourself (seeing as there’s dangerous polar bears on the island), so what’s the best method of getting from Svalbard airport to Longyearbyen city center?
The most common method of getting from Svalbard airport to Longyearbyen is by riding the airport express line called Flybussen for 100 NOK per adult. It’s also possible to rent a car or hail a taxi at the airport. You can not walk unarmed due to polar bears.
The airport express between Svalbard airport and Longyearbyen
The airport express (called Flybussen locally) between Svalbard airport and Longyearbyen is by far the most common method of transportation between the airport and the city.
This bus departs from outside the main exit at the airport approximately 30 to 40 minutes after the arrival of all planes. It is timed with arriving flights, so it will wait around if flights or luggage are delayed.
You should wait outside at the designated bus stop after picking up your luggage. The price is 100 NOK per adult or 40 NOK per child for the drive into the city. It’s a bit steep price for such a short ride, but it’s not like there’s any competition on Svalbard.
The travel time is around 15 minutes from the airport to the final hotel stop, so it’s only a short bus ride.
The airport express stops at all the different hotels in Longyearbyen, so you don’t have to haul your luggage around with you from the city center to your hotel.
The return times are also timed with departing flights, but check the time table at Svalbard Buss’s website to see exact depart times from each hotel and stop.
Riding a taxi from Svalbard airport to the city center of Longyearbyen
There are taxis waiting outside Svalbard airport for most of the day, especially when new flights arrive from mainland Norway. These taxis will take you the short distance to Longyearbyen for around 150 to 200 NOK.
While taxis in Norway in general are pretty expensive, you might actually save some money if you are a group or family of four that travels together (200 NOK for the taxi ride compared to 4×100 NOK = 400 NOK for bus tickets).
When returning to the airport, ask the staff at your hotel to book a taxi for you. There’s usually no waiting time to get a taxi, but you can ask them to book one in advance to be sure that you have one ready for your departure.
Read the funfact about Svalbard: Is it really illegal to die on Svalbard?
Car rentals at Svalbard airport Longyear
There are car rental agencies on Svalbard that will let you rent a car, but be aware that you might not be able to use your rental car for much on Svalbard due to the local laws.
I would not really recommend tourists to rent a car unless they have a good reason to do so, since Longyearbyen itself is small enough to walk around in, and you will need a guide whenever you leave the city perimeters, and most of these will also be able to provide with transportation.
However, if you want to, you could rent at car at Svalbard airport and drive it into the city. This is pretty nice for those of you who have gotten a weapon permit to protect yourselves against polar bears without a guide.
The drive between the airport and Longyearbyen itself is super easy. It takes around 4 minutes, and there’s only a single road, so you can’t really go wrong.
Can you walk from the airport to Longyearbyen?
You might feel tempted to walk the 5 kilometer scenic distance between the airport and Longyearbyen, and this walk should only take around an hour or so to complete for most adults. However, walking between Svalbard airport and Longyearbyen without a guide is illegal!
This might sound a bit crazy, but it’s really not. Polar bears are a huge threat to anyone on Svalbard, and you are not legally allowed to go outside of the city border of Longyearbyen without an armed guide with you at all times.
You could put yourself and your group in serious danger if you decide that you want to go for a walk, and you’re likely to get apprehended by Sysselmesteren for doing this.
If you’re lucky, you will only get a warning, but this offense could potentially get you banned from Svalbard. That sounds harsh, but it’s much better than getting attacked by a polar bear.
The exception to this rule is if you carry a weapon or the required security equipment to prevent polar bear attacks. This is mainly for Norwegians who bring their own gun, since tourists tend to rely on guides for polar bear protection. And most people would have to stop by Longyearbyen to begin with to get their weapon anyway.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.