When to go to Svalbard

The Best Time to go to Svalbard

Essentially, the best time to visit Svalbard to see polar bears is the summer, between June and September. This is when the ice melts enough for ships to be able to navigate the, still icy, waters and explore all the wildlife there is to offer.

Outside of these summer months, the archipelago freezes over, becoming solid with thick ice and, in the depths of winter, completely thrust into the darkness of the polar nights. At this time, the polar bears head out further across the ice in search of food, making is near impossible to find them, let alone get to them.

Find out more about travelling to Svalbard with our practical planning FAQs or view our free and comprehensive polar bear watching guide.

Svalbard Weather Chart & Best Time To Go

The best time to go to Svalbard

 the best time to go to Svalbard

The weather chart below shows the maximum day temperature and the minimum night temperature in Svalbard throughout the year, as well as the expected rainfall at that time.

Svalbard weather chart

June - September

These summer months are the best time to go to Svalbard. This is the warmest time to visit, and most suited to some of the outdoor activities you can enjoy such as snowmobile tours, skiing, dog sledding, hiking, and boat tours. More importantly, it is the best time to see polar bears! It is not uncommon to have periods of fog during this time and weather in Svalbard can change very quickly. This is also the period of the Midnight Sun phenomenon, when the sun doesn't dip below the horizon, resulting in constant daylight. Many of our chosen expeditions operate during these months to maximise wildlife and polar bear sightings.

November - February

During the polar nights between the months of November and February, most of the archipelago is frozen over and the area is plunged into total darkness, but this is also the best time to see the northern lights or Aurora Borealis, where you can see a unique explosion of colour and movements as a result of electrical and magnetic forces. Unfortunately this doesn't time well with seeing the polar bears, but combining the two isn't impossible if you head to Churchill in Arctic Canada.

March - May

This time is ideal for those who want to experience more light and snow, and it is a peak time for winter sports, so may be considered as an alternative time to travel. This is not a peak time for wildlife.

Wildlife

The best time to see wildlife in Svalbard is during the months of June to early September. April too is breeding season, when you are likely to see polar bears in groups rather than their more habitual solitary behaviour. There are also 11 species of whales in the region, which are found in the summer months, and during the winter they find it difficult to surface and take air, heading south instead.

Recommended holidays

Kingdom of the polar bear expedition
Realm of the polar bear
Circumnavigating Spitsbergen

View our free polar bear watching guide 

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Free Polar Bear Guide

Travel Facts: Svalbard

Flight Time from UK

7h (to Longyearbyen)

Time Difference

GMT+2

Best Time to Go

Jul - Sep

Language

Norwegian, Russian & English

Currency

Norwegian Krone

Main Airline Carrier

SAS

Capital City

Longyearbyen

Svalbard: The Arctic Pearl

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