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.
MONTH BY MONTH GUIDE
Spitsbergen Weather Chart
If you'd like to chat about Spitsbergen or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
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 Spitsbergen articles
Our comprehensive Spitsbergen travel guide looks at the extreme nature of the Svalbard archipelago.
Where to go for wildlife watching, husky sledding and Northern Lights.
Land-based trips on Spitsbergen take place all year round for many activities.
Taking a small ship cruise around Spitsbergen is the most enjoyable way to go.
People who have been to Spitsbergen are always keen to share their tips and their experiences.
Giant cruises to polar bear safety, all the issues pertaining to Spitsbergen.
Our micro cruises in Svalbard take no more than 12 adventurous passengers on epic Arctic voyages.