Svalbard

Explore under the midnight sun in the summer, whilst in winter the northern lights reign supreme View All Svalbard Holidays

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Laura Dickinson
Svalbard Travel Specialist

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 both our short breaks and annual winter Svalbard group tour makes the most of the aurora-viewing opportunities. 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. Polar bears are best seen on an Arctic Cruise, while our summer short breaks and group tour offer fantastic land-based adventure. 

Holiday Types


Map

Longyearbyen
Top Destination
Longyearbyen
Located at 78 degrees north, Longyearbyen is officially the world’s northernmost town and also one of its most fascinating. Just 1300km from the North Pole, Longyearbyen has become a vibrant, modern settlement, and yet still retains the spirit of a frontier town. As the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, in the Svalbard Archipelago, the town is a gateway to the wonders of the high Arctic region.
Barentsburg
Top Destination
Barentsburg
Barentsburg is the second largest settlement on Svalbard. Its 500 inhabitants, mostly Russian and Ukrainian mine workers, are employed by the Russian state-owned mining company Trust Arctikugol. This Russian occupied town has recently become a popular tourist destination for travellers to visit, and the best way to do so is is on a scenic catamaran cruise from Longyearbyen.
Spitsbergen
Top Destination
Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen is the island hub of the Svalbard archipelago, located halfway between Tromso and the North Pole, and fantsatic to explore all year round. During the summer, witness the midnight sun above rugged mountains, mighty glaciers, spectacular coastline and endless icefjords. During the first part of the winter, the sun sits six degrees below the horizon, offering all-day darkness and a very good chance of seeing the northern lights. As winter blends into spring, the days begin to get longer and through the thawing snow flowers appear, offering a magnificent landscape where reindeer, polar foxes and even polar bears roam freely.
Isfjord Bird Cliffs
Emma Brown's Recommendation
Isfjord Bird Cliffs
After a long winter, the archipelago is inundated in the spring by birds which migrate here in vast numbers to nest. The best way to get up close to these birds is on a small, high-speed 'polarcirkel' boat trip to the Isfjord bird cliffs – just a 30-minute trip from Longyearbyen harbour. The cliffs rise vertically from the sea so a boat trip enables you to get extremely close to the nesting birds.
Camp Barentz
Andrea Godfrey's Recommendation
Camp Barentz
Out on in the icy plains of Adventdalen, the warm and cosy wooden cabin at Camp Barentz is a replica of the dwelling that Willem Barentsz and his crew made from their ship’s timbers when it became stuck in the ice off Novaya Zemlya following their discovery of Spitsbergen. Away from the light pollution of Longyearbyen, this is also a brilliant spot to watch out for the northern lights.

Popular Destinations in Svalbard

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   Longyearbyen
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   Barentsburg
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   Spitsbergen



Specialist Recommendations

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   Isfjord Bird Cliffs
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   Camp Barentz


Regent Svalbard Specialist


Emma Brown
For the most incredible wildlife experiences on Svalbard, travellers should think about taking an Arctic Cruise. The reinforced expedition vessels take you around the coast to reach remote glaciers, bird nesting sites and well-known polar bear haunts which can't be reached easily from the land. Wildlife and nature experts on board are joined by professional photographers, all on hand to ensure you've got all the insight and information available to make the most of your experience.

Emma's Tips
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Spend a night in the stunning Funken Lodge, which offers an impressive panorama of Longyearbyen.
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Sample the world's most northerly-brewed beer at the Svalbard Brewery, made using 2,000-year-old glacial water from Boge Glacier.
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Head to Camp Barentz and enjoy dinner in a cosy wooden hut, popping outside when the aurora performs.




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