Svalbard, Norwegian archipelago, with a name that literally translates to “cold edge”, is the only visa-free zone in its entirety in the world.
Between the Greenland Sea, the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, these little islands are barely inhabited. Still, every citizen of every country can live and work here without a visa.
The only grounds for deportation are a lack of means of support or violation of laws and regulations.
There are only 5 settlements and they are all on the main island, called Spitsbergen.
- Longyearbyen – the capital
- Barentsburg – Russian settlement;
- Ny – Alesund;
- Hornsund – Polish research station
Although it is a part of Norway, Svalbard is a neutral territory. They are not a part of Schengen Area, even though Norway is. So, you will need a Schengen visa when travelling from Norway and if you are coming from a country that is outside of the Schengen Area.
Svalbard Fun Facts
There are no trees. The only vegetation is moss, including some Arctic flowers.
Even though the population is scarce, there are four holidays. They are mostly celebrating the end of the polar night, which is the standard occurrence here. There is Polar Jazz – jazz festival, Sunfest Week – celebrating the end of the polar night, Dark Season Blues – blues festival and KunstPause Svalbard – arts festival.
The currency used in Svalbard is Norwegian krone (NOK). Even though they are using the same currency as Norwegians, Svalbard is expensive. Accommodation can be a couple times more expensive than the Norwegian ones.
Polar bears are an actual threat here. Tourists are not advised to leave the settlements and in rare cases when they need to, they should bring a gun or a rifle.