Each season on Svalbard has its own special features to offer. For this reason, there is no one best season.
From mid-November to mid-January there is absolute darkness. The only light is provided by the moon, the stars and the dancing northern lights. In February the sun returns and with the famous light of the Blue Hours it gets steadily brighter on Svalbard and the chance of seeing the Northern Lights diminishes. March offers wonderful light moods with sunrises and sunsets lasting for hours. From the end of March it doesn't get really dark any more and from 21 April the sun doesn't set at all. Mostly stable weather and snow conditions allow long tours into the vast, deep snow-covered wilderness during this time.
In May, the snow disappears. Flocks of migratory birds populate the archipelago and the midnight sun allows tours at any time of day or night. It only starts to get darker again at the end of August. Even though the first snowfalls and autumn storms are to be expected by then, the low sun gilds the autumn landscape. Darkness sets in again at the end of October.
I would like to see polar bears. When should I go to Svalbard?
We cannot guarantee an encounter with polar bears. There is a possibility of a sighting on each of our tours. The longer you are out, the more time and patience you bring on a trip, the higher the chances of such a unique encounter.
In general, however, we can say that polar bears like to stay on ice and on the cold coasts of Svalbard. So with a tour in the north or on the East coast of Svalbard, the chances improve.
However, it is important to remember that the animals are not fed, are not GPS-tracked and we can never plan an encounter.
What clothing do I need to buy for a trip to Svalbard?
In winter as well as in summer, we recommend the "onion principle". Several layers of woolen clothing and an outer wind- and waterproof layer are sufficient. These are supplemented by a hat, gloves and good shoes.
A detailed list can be found in our packing list, which we provide at the time of booking.
For activities with the snowmobile or dog sled you will receive additional expedition clothing. This consists of a thermal suit, thick boots, warm gloves and balaclava as well as a helmet and ski goggles for the snowmobile tours.
The weather on Svalbard is very changeable and it is not uncommon to experience different weather conditions such as snow, rain, sunshine and wind during one day. Therefore, it is necessary to be prepared for any weather if you want to go out into nature.
When is the best time to experience flowers on Svalbard?
If you want to see Svalbard and its flowers, the best time to go is during the summer months. Once the snow has melted enough, the flora becomes more and more visible. Svalbards's flora is incredibly diverse and shows this most clearly from mid-June to early August. A wide variety of species can be discovered and admired.
When is the best time to travel to Svalbard for wildlife watching?
Animals can be spotted on Spitsbergen all year round. Be it the Svalbard reindeer, the arctic fox or - with a bit of luck - the polar bear.
In summer, thousands and thousands of birds and various whales fill Svalbard with life. Whether on foot, by snowscooter or on a boat - if you walk through nature with open eyes and a little patience, you will discover quite a lot. Unfortunately, we cannot give a guarantee for a specific sighting.
Is it possible to explore Svalbard by car?
Renting a car on Svalbard is only worthwhile in exceptional cases.
The road network here on Svalbard is very limited. The total distance of about 50 km only covers the city of Longyearbyen and its immediate surroundings. It is not possible to drive to neighbouring settlements by car, as there are no roads there.
In winter, the closed snow cover allows you to travel by snowscooter outside Longyearbyen, and in summer you can get around by boat to Barentsburg, or even the whole of Spitsbergen.
Can I travel to Svalbard with my motorhome?
No, there is no car ferry connection to Svalbard.
If you are travelling in northern Norway with a motorhome and plan a side trip to Spitsbergen, then the motorhome must (ideally) be parked in Tromsø. There are daily flights from Tromsø to Longyearbyen.
What kind of accommodation is available on Svalbard?
Here on Svalbard there is a suitable accommodation for everyone - whether a hostel, guesthouse, private lodge or hotel. Everyone will find the ideal accommodation for them in the various categories. In the different categories everyone will find the ideal accommodation for them.
We are happy to book your favorite accommodation together with your individually planned program.
When is the best time to see the Northern Lights on Svalbard?
To see the Northern Lights, several factors have to come together. It needs darkness, a clear sky and a solar storm that erupts from the sun, travels through space and finally hits the earth. If these conditions are met, then there is also the possibility of observing northern lights here.
From mid-September to the end of March, we have enough dark nights to admire this magical spectacle in the sky. During the dark season from mid-November to the end of January, the Northern Lights can even be seen during the day if the other two conditions are met.
Svalbard is Norwegian administered, but is outside the Schengen area. Therefore, all travellers must undergo an identity check and accordingly present a valid passport. This regulation also applies to Norwegian nationals.
What currency and means of payment are accepted on Svalbard?
The official currency on Svalbard is the Norwegian krone (NOK), but everyday life functions without cash. We therefore recommend payments by credit or debit card.
The supermarket Svalbardbutikken also accepts Euros, USD or GBP. However, as the exchange rate is unfavourable, cash payments are not recommended. Furthermore there is no bank or ATM on the island. It is therefore not possible to withdraw cash locally.
How do I get from Longyearbyen Airport to the city?
If no private transfer is organised, it is possible to get to the city by taxi or the airport bus.
The bus schedule is adapted to the flight schedule and the bus stops at almost all hotels. You can pay on the bus with NOK or credit card. No foreign currencies are accepted.
The cost of the airport bus is:
Adults: NOK 100
Students: 70 NOK
Children: 40 NOK
1-4 persons: 750 NOK
5-8 persons: 850 NOK
9-12 persons: 1,050 NOK
(Prices without guarantee.)
Can I visit the Global Seed Vault?
It is possible to marvel at the Global Seed Vault from the outside. Unfortunately, access is not possible. As it is located outside the security zone, it can only be reached in the form of a sightseeing tour.
The Svalbard Museum has a comprehensive information board with photos, sketches and a model of the seed repository, as well as an online virtually guided tour.
Where can I rent equipment?
When travelling to Spitsbergen, it is perfectly adequate to equip yourself with conventional skiing equipment. Good shoes, gloves and hats are required.
In Longyearbyen you can also buy outdoor clothing tax-free in various shops.
Additional equipment such as skis, weapons or camping equipment can be rented in various shops.
If your country is not listed here, your driving licence may still be valid with a certain addition. Please inform yourself for your individual case.
Is there a ferry connection to Svalbard?
No, there is no ferry connection to Spitsbergen. The only ways to reach Spitsbergen are by plane or by cruise ship.
You can find more information on our page about Arrival.
FAQ for expedition cruises
Do I need a visa to travel to Svalbard?
No, a visa is not required for entry to Spitsbergen. However, you do need a valid passport.
However, as the arrival by plane goes via Oslo, you must check whether your home country requires a visa for entry to Norway. If so, you must have a return transit visa for transit.
If the journey does not take place via the Norwegian mainland, these conditions do not apply.
What currency and means of payment are accepted on Svalbard?
The official currency on Svalbard is the Norwegian krone (NOK), but everyday life functions mainly without cash. We therefore recommend payments by credit or debit card.
Most shops also accept euros, USD or GBP. However, as the exchange rate is unfavourable, cash payments are not recommended. There is also no bank and no ATM on the island. It is therefore not possible to withdraw cash locally.
What kind of weather expects me on Svalbard?
The weather conditions in the Arctic are very changeable and it is not uncommon to have different weather conditions on the same day. Besides wonderfully warm and sunny hours, there are also cold and windy days. With the right preparation, however, you can enjoy the island at any time of year.
In general, it is important to remember that you should dress according to the so-called "onion principle" when travelling here on Spitsbergen. Several layers of clothing, so you can take something off when it gets warmer and put something on when the wind comes up or the sun disappears behind clouds.
How much space do I have on the ship for my luggage?
The space for your luggage varies on the different ships. In principle, however, it can be said that in each cabin there is enough space to accommodate the clothes you bring. If the suitcase or bag can not be stored directly in the cabin, then there is the possibility to store it somewhere else in the ship, so that you have more space in your cabin.
Each cabin is equipped with a closet, there is smaller storage space in drawers or compartments and there are various hooks distributed in the room.
Are there rubber boots on board the vessel?
No, there are generally no rubber boots on board that can be borrowed. The ships we work with are too small for that. The exception is the Ship Expedition with the SV Meander. There, rubber boots are included.
Rubber boots are the ideal footwear for expedition cruises and are highly recommended for such a tour. With a good, insulated and solid sole, they will get you ashore dry-footed and you can also manage hikes with this footwear.
If you don't have room in your luggage, you can also rent them from us.
No, formal dress is not required at any time on the expeditions we organise.
What kind of insurance do I need on an expedition cruise?
It is important to have sufficient travel insurance for an expedition cruise. This is the responsibility of the traveller.
We also recommend that travel interruption insurance and travel cancellation insurance is taken out. This will also cover you in the event of an unexpected trip interruption during the expedition.
Do I have to be extremely physically fit to join an expedition cruise?
Above-average fitness is not a prerequisite for our ship expeditions.
However, good health is essential for this trip. In order to participate in all activities, it is important to be able to get on and off a Zodiac boat without any problems and to be able to walk well in different terrain.
In addition, there are various options on land, so that instead of a strenuous hike, an easy walk can always be chosen.
Will I get seasick in the Arctic?
When travelling by boat on Svalbard, it is quite possible that the sea will be a bit rougher. This will mostly be when navigating between the individual islands. Once we are in a sheltered bay, we escape heavy seas.
If you are prone to seasickness, we recommend that you equip yourself with tablets or at least acupressure bands for this trip.
Is there any medication on the ship?
A small first-aid kit is available on the ships, which is needed for first-aid operations.
Personal medicines must be brought on board by the passengers themselves. It is possible to obtain specific medicines from the pharmacy or hospital in Longyearbyen, but this is very inconvenient.
Is there a doctor on board the vessel?
No, on the smaller ships we travel with, there is no doctor on board.
However, the treatment of minor incidents is not a problem. Both the crew and the guides have extensive first aid training.
As soon as a simple scare is not sufficient, the hospital in Longyearbyen and the SAR team are contacted and if necessary a helicopter evacuation is initiated.
Is there wifi on board the vessel?
No, it is not common for the smaller ships to have Wi-Fi on board. In addition, as soon as we leave Longyearbyen, we are no longer connected to the mobile phone network.
It is advisable to check out with your loved ones at home before the journey and enjoy the trip under the motto: "No news, good news".
Are all activities included on a ship expedition?
On expedition tours, all activities are included in the tour price.
Expedition tours differ from cruise tours mainly in these activities. The ship is your accommodation for the duration of the voyage and there are several daily activities, such as Zodiac rides, hikes or visits to a settlement, which do not have to be booked separately.
Additional costs on board may be incurred for alcohol consumption, souvenirs or tips for the crew and guides.
If an additional pre- or post-cruise programme extends your trip, this must be booked separately.
Can I avoid a single room surcharge?
If you would like to share a single cabin on the cruise, you will have to pay a supplement.
If you would like to share a cabin but do not have a travel companion, most tour operators offer the option of sharing a cabin with another traveller of the same sex. In this case, there is no price surcharge. Most of the time, these encounters with like-minded people are very enjoyable and with a bit of luck, you will even have the cabin to yourself if no other guest with the same wishes could be found.
Will I see polar bears on the boat tour?
Although our experienced guides will do everything possible to fulfil this wish, we cannot guarantee this.
Polar bears are at home on Svalbard and there are various sightings throughout the year. On a boat expedition, the chances of seeing a polar bear are higher if everyone on board is on the lookout.
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