Best time to visit Spitsbergen
From late October to early March, Spitsbergen is plunged into perpetual twilight as the sun abandons the Arctic for the long, winter night.
The best time to visit Spitsbergen is midsummer, when the sun never dips below the horizon – though it never quite warms the chilly landscape, either. The ice floes disperse, allowing ships to cruise right around the island, and July-Aug is prime polar bear viewing season. The endless days allow for plenty of wildlife watching amid the wildflowers, plus activities such as kayaking or diving – though there is little snow. For winter sports, choose April or May, when the island is still ice-clad, days are longer and there are few other visitors; the Northern Lights make their appearance from late Sep.
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Tips on when to visit Spitsbergen
Linn Tove from our supplier, Basecamp Spitsbergen:
“My personal favourite aspect of Spitsbergen is June and July when there are plenty of birds and wildlife in the area. For example, Isfjord Radio has a bird sanctuary right outside the door, which also means the foxes coming by every morning and evening to hunt for eggs. During summer we also have the midnight sun.”
Charlotte Caffrey, marine scientist and co-founder of our supplier Aqua-Firma, advises on when to go on a cruise to Svalbard:
“The seasons are very different. In June, there’s a lot of snow and ice, so you’re able only to visit parts of Spitsbergen. As the season goes on, you get a melting of the ice so you can do a circumnavigation. It’s a longer trip and you’re getting very different aspects of the Arctic. By September, there’s no longer 24-hour daylight; you’ll get more evening time. The birdlife stays from around June into early September – there’s a lot of food around and the breeding activity is really high. So you have to think: what do I want to see? How long do I want to be there? Which parts do I want to explore?”
Andrew Appleyard from our supplier Exodus, on the advantages of the midnight sun:
“Our summer voyages to the Arctic are in 24 hours of daylight! This makes for stunning wildlife viewing – but expect to get woken up at 3am if we see polar bears on the horizon or a pod of whales emerging from the bows of the ship.”
More about Spitsbergen
Our Spitsbergen travel guide takes a look at the extreme nature of the Svalbard archipelago - the next stop is the North Pole. With many glories in between…
Our Spitsbergen map and highlights are not only about great wildlife watching opportunities around Spitsbergen, but also some amazing winter wilderness activities…
Land based trips on Spitsbergen take place all year round. Whether you are going for the Aurora, adventure or awesome trekking, Spitsbergen is always sublime...
Taking a small ship cruise around Spitsbergen is the most popular way to go, and another world from giant cruise liners taking over Longyearbyen. Read on to cruise, not bruise...
People who have been to Spitsbergen are always keen to share their tips. We have some great ones here, so do read on…
From giant cruise liners to culture, wildlife watching to polar bear safety, we have plenty of issues to discuss when it comes to Spitsbergen. Do read on...