Gruve 3 Coal Mine Tour in Svalbard: How to Book + FAQs (2024)

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Throughout my few trips to Svalbard, I never opted to spend a day doing the Gruve 3 coal mine tour in Longyearbyen. However, I finally gave Svalbard’s famous coal mine tour a go on my last trip, and I am pretty glad I did!

Are you planning your trip to Svalbard last minute?

If youʻre booking your trip to Svalbard last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours, and more!

❄️  Top tours and activities in Svalbard:

  1. Historic coal mine tour at Gruve 3 (reviewed below; available year-round)
  2. Speedboat tour to walrus colony (one of my summer favorites!)
  3. Nature and wildlife tour on a boat (a Svalbard top-seller in summer)
  4. Snowmobile to the land of the polar bear (Feb-May top seller)

🛌  Top hotels and places to stay:

  1. Haugen Pensjonat Svalbard (my FAVORITE place to stay!)
  2. Radisson Blu (good base for activities!)
  3. Coal Minerʻs Cabins (budget option, further from town)

This is a recap of my Gruve 3 coal mine tour in Svalbard, including what to expect, how to book it, and if I think the tour is worth your time.

While I enjoyed this tour with Store Norske Gruve 3 AS, I don’t think it is a worthwhile experience for everyone, so keep reading to see why I feel this way!

Gruve 3 coal mine tour in Svalbard - what to expect (and more!)
Gruve 3 coal mine tour in Svalbard – what to expect (and more!)

Do you have any questions about booking a Longyearbyen coal mine tour at Gruve 3? Let me know in the comments.

About Gruve 3 in Svalbard (Coal Mine)

Svalbard’s history revolves around the mining of coal, and various nations, including Norway and Russia, had settlements on Spitsbergen to mine its rich minerals.

While most mines have been left abandoned (and many cleaned up), the Gruve 3 mine was only shut down in 1996 and has been converted into a museum.

Outside the Gruve 3 mine in Svalbard
Outside the Gruve 3 mine in Svalbard

There is a huge network of tunnels that go deep into the mine, but you will only head 300 meters (980 feet) in on your tour. There are crawl spaces that are replicas of the mine shaft that you can also go into if you are not claustrophobic like me.

The Gruve 3 mine is situated a short distance from Longyearbyen. You will also have a chance to pass the world-famous Global Seed Vault on your way up to it.

The Global Seed Vault is where over a million seeds from around the world are housed, and it was built in 1984.

Book your Svalbard coal mine tour here!

Svalbard Coal Mine Tour (A Quick Review!)

Duration: 3 hours
Meeting Point: they will pick you up from your hotel
Language: English

I don’t want to write much here regarding the history of the mine and its impact on Svalbard today only because it is super interesting and you will get to learn more about this on the tour!

But here is a short recap of my experience on the Svalbard coal mine tour.

I was picked up at my hotel, Haugen Pensjonat, and taken to the Gruve 3 mine outside Longyearbyen. There were about six of us on the trip, and once you arrive (after a short stop at the Global Seed Vault), you will get briefed in a heated room.

The briefing area before heading into the mine
The briefing area before heading into the mine

This is where you’ll learn about the mine, its workers, and the coal that they extracted. I found it rather interesting that the coal here is so different from coal elsewhere! You will also get to touch a piece of it.

Coal from Gruve 3
Coal from Gruve 3

Before heading into the mine, they will show a short documentary about coal mining at Gruve 3. To be honest, I could have done without this. It was in Norwegian and seemed super out of date. I gave up trying to follow along, despite my understanding of Norwegian.

Once we watched the documentary (which seemed like filler) and received our briefing, our group headed into the dressing room and had the option of putting on suits and other gear.

Getting dressed for the mine
Getting dressed for the mine
My helmet for the tour
My helmet for the tour
One last briefing before going in
One last briefing before going in

While I opted not to put a suit on since I wasn’t planning to crawl into any of the narrow spaces, I was still required to wear a helmet with a light.

💡GOOD TO KNOW: The mine is cold! It was just below freezing temperature-wise, and even though you’re walking inside of it, I would still dress warmly, or you will be miserable once you get deeper into the mine.

We proceeded to enter the mine, and our first stop was in a workshop before going into the dark tunnels. The guide spoke throughout and told us so much information about the history and the men and women who worked there.

Shoes of past workers
Shoes of past workers

It was pretty fascinating, and it didn’t involve the greenwashing I had to suffer through on other mine tours (i.e., Kiruna, Sweden).

We spent an hour or so in the mine, walking around and learning about it. Once we were done, we regrouped in the briefing room for a quick chat and were then driven back to our accommodation.

Inside the Svalbard Gruve 3 mine
Inside the Svalbard Gruve 3 mine
In a workshop in the mine
In a workshop in the mine
You'll also see things preserved inside the mine
You’ll also see things preserved inside the mine

Svalbard Gruve 3 Coal Mine Tour FAQ

When is the best time to visit Gruve 3?

You can visit the Gruve 3 mine in Svalbard at any time of the year! The temperature and darkness stay the same inside it, regardless of when you visit.

During the winter months, you will possibly need flexibility with your dates if you are booking alone. They will not run the tour for one person.

I visited in fall
I visited in the fall

Once you book, Get Your Guide will confirm the time and date with them and come back to you with additional information. If you’re booking in the summer, you should have no issue getting confirmed on the tour, as the high season is usually pretty busy.

Is the Gruve 3 mine wheelchair accessible?

No, this is not a tour for those with mobility issues or in a wheelchair.

Is the Gruve 3 mine suitable for people with claustrophobia?

So, I am claustrophobic. But I am not the most extreme version of it, so I still can do things (here and there) that perhaps the average claustrophobe wouldn’t be able to do. I would say that this tour is not for those with claustrophobia.

BOOK HERE: Gruve 3 coal mine tour in Svalbard

While the tunnels are ‘narrow’, they are still large enough that you won’t particularly feel claustrophobic from them.

Inside Gruve 3 coal mine
Inside Gruve 3 coal mine – very hard to see!

I believe it is more the darkness that will inflict that feeling of anxiety and make you feel like you’re in a narrower space than you are actually in.

What should I bring with me?

Warm clothing is the most important thing! You will be spending a couple of hours in an area that is below freezing, with no chance that it will warm up. If you get too cold, you can always head back to the briefing room, but you will miss the more interesting parts of the tour!

It is pretty dark in there!
It is pretty dark in there!

If you’re into photography, you must bring your camera and lenses that are good for low light. It is still too dark to score good photos inside of the mine, so you can bring a tripod, but you won’t have too many chances to set it up throughout the way.

An iPhone or phone that has night vision (or long exposure capabilities) can capture the mine easily, however. Just hold still and set it to 3-5 seconds.

Should you take the Gruve 3 tour in Svalbard?

While I thoroughly enjoyed this tour, I do take a lot of tours simply for the sake of this blog. This was one of those. I have been to Svalbard four times, and this was a tour that allowed me to try something different and unique for the day.

Do I think you should book this tour? Maybe.

If you’re visiting in the summer months, no, I don’t think you should book it unless you need an activity for a bad weather day or need a day on land and off the boat.

I think you can learn a fair amount about Svalbard’s mining at the Svalbard Museum, which I highly recommend.

The start of the Svalbard coal mine tour
The start of the Svalbard coal mine tour

If you are visiting outside of the summer months, yes, I think this is a cool tour to take.

There are fewer options for things to do during the winter, which can fill up a few hours easily and give you a glimpse into some of the archipelago’s history.

With that being said, I am not looking to deter anyone from booking this tour. I just think the wildlife of Svalbard in the summer months is far superior to what you will see on the Gruve 3 Mine tour. I mean, c’mon, there are walruses.

Book your Gruve 3 mine tour here!

Do you have any questions about the Gruve 3 mine tour in Svalbard? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!

More Svalbard Travel Guides

Pin this Guide about the Gruve 3 Mine Tour

Are you looking to learn a bit more about the mining history on Svalbard? The Gruve 3 coal mine tour in Svalbard may be a good option for you - this guide tells you what to expect and how to book one! | Coal mine tour Svalbard | Coal mine tour Longyearbyen | Spitsbergen history | Things to do in Svalbard | What to do in Svalbard | Summer in Svalbard | Svalbard in summer | Winter in Svalbard | Svalbard in winter | Svalbard itinerary | Best Svalbard tours


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