• Ice landscape, Svalbard

Why svalbard polar bear holidays are truly unique

Located in the remote northern reaches, midway between Norway and the North Pole, the glaciated Svalbard archipelago is a delightfully accessible part of the polar north, comprising a vast area of icebergs, ice-fields, fjords and unspoilt Arctic wilderness. Literally meaning ‘Cold Coast’, in Svalbard you will experience some of the most unique and dramatic landscapes in the world, with white-capped mountains fronted by desolate tundra, glittering glaciers under a constant midnight sun and brilliant blue skies in the summer months. 

The ultimate in polar exploration, a Svalbard polar bear holiday offers something truly unique to the modern day explorer.

The focus of most visitors to this frozen landscape is to see the ‘King of the North’ – the mighty polar bear. During the winter months, ice and snow cover the archipelago so the best time to see polar bears in Svalbard is between late April/early May and September, as the ice starts to thaw and allows access to the frozen north.


• Browse our Svalbard holidays
• Download our free Svalbard travel guide
• Contact our Svalbard Destination Specialist for advice

Svalbard Photo Safari - Shannon Wild

Join one of our exclusive small ship charters to navigate far into the Arctic wilderness in search of wildlife. The above video was taken aboard one of our Polar Bear Explorer expeditions during which we commonly encounter over 20 polar bears, but as this is a wildlife expedition, the beauty in this is that no trip is the same. The bears are on the move for food, so at times we will observe from a distance and sometimes we have closer encounters. Contact one of our destination specialists for more information.

Svalbard Highlights

  • Polar Bears. Witness the King of the Arctic in the wild, prowling his territory for seal. 
  • Birds. Witness the bewildering amount of nesting birds twittering from the cliffs and flying in clouds of shifting patterns. 
  • Glaciers and Icebergs. Sail past icebergs and watch as huge chunks of ice calve off the face of mighty glaciers. 
  • Still Silence. Experience the eerie, unique silence of the pack ice near the North Pole
  • Midnight Sun. During the summer months, the sun never dips below the horizon, casting a stunning light over the archipelago. 
  • Wildlife. Reindeer, arctic foxes, puffins, and piles of blubbery walruses; Svalbard has some wonderful animals that are adapted to living in the harsh Arctic conditions.

Why we like Svalbard

Literally meaning ‘Cold Coast’, in Svalbard you will experience some of the most unique and dramatic landscapes in the world, with waterfalls bursting through ice walls, and 24 hour daylight.

  • Dramatic Landscapes. Glaciers glitter under a sun that never dips below the horizon, mountains are capped with white snow and ice melts back to reveal bright and colourful flowers.
  • The Ulitmate Polar Bear Safari Destination. A Svalbard polar bear holiday offers something truly unique to the modern-day explorer and is definitely not to be missed.
  • Stunning Wildlife. Polar bears, Arctic foxes, puffins and piles of blubbery walruses; there are bewildering amount of wildlife to be encountered on your frozen adventure.
Svalbard May 2019 | © Steve Winter

The Arctic Experts

The Spitsbergen archipelago is full of fjords to explore, with each inlet revealing historical mining settlements, magnificent glaciers and a wealth of wildlife inhabiting the tundra. A voyage on one of our ships takes you around the coastline, stopping at places where you can go ashore and walk around, or survey the area on a zodiac-boat cruise.

As specialists in travel to this area, we firmly believe that our clients benefit hugely from smaller group travel on specialist expedition ships, led by experts. It is through small, intimate and like-minded groups that knowledge is better transferred, which results in a much more enjoyable and informative experience for all involved. Some of the smaller but very well-equipped expedition ships throughout this region operate with a low maximum capacity of just 12 passengers. Due to the size of these expedition ships, our Svalbard expeditions are able to access some of the more pristine and wilderness regions of the frozen Arctic, further north to the pack ice and some of the polar bears' favourite hideouts. The ships we use all provide comfortable surroundings and private facilities making for the most comfortable voyage possible, both whilst out exploring and also at night when relaxing back on the ship.

For further information on what wildlife you can see in Svalbard, what you should pack, whether you can see the Northern Lights, etc., please visit our Svalbard Frequently Asked Questions page. If you would like to book a safari to Svalbard, or would like more detail, please get in touch with our resident experts who are more than happy to assist you.

We only use small ships, meaning we can navigate further north to the polar bears' favourite spots.

Spitsbergen and the Seasons

Often referred to by the name of its largest island, Spitsbergen, Svalbard forms part of Norway and, with just 3,000 inhabitants, has a very small population. The main cause of this is the harsh weather conditions - in the winter months, thick ice and snow carpets the archipelago, covering up to 60% of its surface. The name Spitsbergen derives from the Dutch for ‘Jagged Peaks’ after the islands were discovered by explorer Willem Barentzs in 1596, whilst finding a route to the Far East.

The best time to see polar bears in Svalbard is usually in the summer months, as the ice encompassing the archipelago melts enough for us to navigate the icy waters. At this time, the midnight sun reigns over the dramatic landscapes, casting an ever-glowing, ambient light on your astonishing surroundings. We can also extend this out into the autumn when the midnight sun is replaced by some fascinating sunsets. During this time, the forbidding conditions are augmented with bright flora, melt-waterfalls bursting through glaciers, and lonely icebergs.

A variety of Arctic wildlife is there to be encountered on your frozen adventure, including walrus, seals, seabirds and puffins. Your daily forays into this stunning Arctic wilderness will provide a variety of unique and colourful discoveries along the way.

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Why book with us

We are destination specialists

Our team of specialists have extensive on-the-ground knowledge and have all lived, guided or explored in great detail the destinations that they sell. They will design your journey around you, at the right place at the right time.

We are wildlife specialists

As a leading specialist operator we have excellent partnerships with naturalists and conservationists. We know our wildlife and do what we can to preserve its natural habitat.

We really care about our destinations

At Natural World Safaris we frequently monitor the social, economic and environmental impact of our travel operations to ensure we are at the forefront of a sustainable and ethical tourism industry. 

Kate Waite, Svalbard

Your Next Steps

Talk to one of our specialists for further details on travelling to Svalbard.