A short overview of when to go to Svalbard. We look at the polar nights, northern lights, polar bear tracking, and the best times to see Svalbard's wildlife!
May - 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 also the best time to see polar bears - these hulking carnivores are the main draw for all those travelling to Svalbard! Melting sea ice allows our small expedition ships - which we utilise on many of our expeditions - to navigate close to shorelines and ice floes where the bears are often found hunting. 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.
October - February
During the polar night between late October and mid-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. Snowmobile and dog-sledding safaris are a great way to experience Svalbard's interior from mid-February onwards, when the polar night comes to an end. 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 The boutique hotel of Lyngen Lodge in northern Norway is another great option for Northern Lights viewing during the winter months.
March - April
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.
The best time to see wildlife in Svalbard is during the months of May to early September. 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.