Time and time again, we are forced to cancel our travel plans because of the unending process of documentation. But what if there was a winter wonderland town you could move to, without a visa? Welcome to Longyearbyen in the Svalbard Islands, a Norwegian delight that is happy to host you without those documents. They’re in the Arctic circle, though.
If the bone-chilling weather isn’t a deal-breaker, you’ll fall in love with this place. The scattered population, ethereal landscape and rare animals make this no-visa town of Longyearbyen an Arctic heaven.
Life in the Svalbard Islands
Longyearbyen has a scattered population of 2,500 people. It is the northernmost inhabited town of the world.
If you have ever been to Norway, Svalbard Islands still hold the power to surprise you. Because of its terrain and temperature, the region remains mostly humble and close to nature, development resting miles away from the islands. The town has a single sheriff, because of the lack of crime, but who can blame the locals? All we want to do there is to drink hot chocolate out of our mugs, from our beds, in blankets.
Longyearbyen has a single hospital, and the northernmost gas station of the world.
What’s worth visiting?
For starters, there are more polar bears in the Svalbard Islands than there are people.
If a parade of snowy bears, foxes and dogs isn’t enough, the islands experience only 3 seasons, unlike the rest of the world. It is needless to say that, because it is in the Arctic circle, Longyearbyen doesn’t experience summer at all. On ‘warm’ days, the weather reaches 44°F, but that’s it. There is neither spring or fall. The three seasons it does experience are polar summer, winter and northern lights winter. Yes, between the 4 months of bright and 4 months of pitch black, Northern lights move across the sky.
The freezing weather doesn’t take away the fun. Snowmobiling, dog sledding and skiing are only some of the adventures you get when you visit the no-visa town.
No Visa for Longyearbyen, for real?
Moving to another country without a visa is only the stuff of dreams. But Longyearbyen stands as an exception. The town has residents with over 50 nationalities, not one of them having needed a visa to move here.
How is this possible?
The Svalbard Treaty allows anyone to live and work on the islands, without a visa, as long as they can take care of themselves and don’t indulge in criminal activities. The treaty has been in place since after the First World War.
The rare opportunity to leave our lives and start over in Longyearbyen is tempting. Glaciers, mountains and fjords ornament the islands to present before us a sight from God’s summer vacation.
Can you live in -19°F, though?
Don’t miss reading about Alaska’s hauntingly beautiful ice caves.