Often flying under the main tourist radar, Svalbard is a pristine frontier land of incredible arctic exploration. This is a destination for intrepid travellers looking for experiences like no other. Norway’s far-flung northern archipelago is a hub for arctic wildlife, unspoiled nature, and rich with a history of mining and early polar expeditions.
During the winter, temperatures drop and the sun hides below the horizon for a matter of months, bathing the archipelago in an inky darkness and deep dusk in December and January; the Polar Night. Here the northern lights dominate holidays. So far north, displays are extremely frequent and intense and, during the Polar Night, can occur at any time of day (or night). Set off across frozen valleys to watch the lights from a motorized, all-terrain Snow Cat, try your hand at mushing a pack of husky dogs on a sledding adventure or give snowmobiling under the aurora borealis a go.
Typically thought of as a winter destination – thanks to it’s unrivalled northern lights sighting opportunities – even fewer visitors make their way to Svalbard in the summer months. Those that do, however, are rewarded with crowd-free explorations of the staggeringly beautiful islands under the midnight sun. Between April and September, the sun never dips below the horizon, keeping the snowy landscapes illuminated for activities all day (and night) long. Boat trips take visitors to see steep cliffs covered in nesting seabirds, often watched closely by an arctic fox, dog sleds are modified with wheels for scenic mushing journeys across snow-free open roads and arctic cruises watch polar bears roam wild and free from offshore during the summer.