Things to Consider

  • The most common route to reach Svalbard is to fly via Oslo, Norway to Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen
  • Flying time is 3 hours between Oslo and Longyearbyen
  • Longyearbyen airport is the world’s most northerly airport to receive regular scheduled flights
  • There’s no regular boat service to Svalbard at any time of year
  • The only way to arrive by ship is as part of an expedition cruise (9 - 14 days)

Getting to Svalbard

Flying to Svalbard

Svalbard Flying Plane

Svalbard's only airport is at Longyearbyen, the main visitor hub. The vast majority of flights go via Oslo, Norway, around a 3-hour flight.

Although flights are at least daily, be aware that they can be at awkward times. On your way to Longyearbyen you may find you'll be arriving around midnight, and on your way out you may need an overnight in Oslo before connecting the following morning.

Spring and summer are the busiest visitor months on Svalbard and booking flights early is strongly recommended.

Travelling by ship to Svalbard

There is no regular boat or ferry service to Svalbard from anywhere. However there is an alternative: to get there on an expedition ship as part of a multi-day cruise.

These trips generally start from either Norway, Iceland or Scotland, and are typically 9 - 14 days in duration, only running from May to September. These cruises are adventurous expeditions, with regular excursions to hike, explore and discover all Svalbard's famous scenery and wildlife. 

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Cruising through Svalbard ice

How do I get to Svalbard?

Illustrated Guide
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The big advantage of Spitsbergen is that it’s the most easily accessible place in all the High Arctic, courtesy of regular scheduled flights from Norway.

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Flying vs sailing

For expediency, a reasonably priced flight will get you straight to Svalbard so you can get out exploring. However, while cheap international flights have made all corners of the world so much more accessible over the last 30 years, sometimes we forget that the journey can be just as important a part of travel as time in the destination itself.

If you have a little more time, getting to Svalbard’s pristine landscapes, calving glaciers and abundant wildlife by ship means the journey is part of the adventure. You'll experience the transition in habitat and climate, and can even to combine Svalbard with another region. 

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The stunning mountains and glaciers of Svalbard

Our best Svalbard trips that arrive by plane

Svalbard Explorer

Circumnavigate Spitsbergen onboard a choice of three small ships and in the company of specialist guides. Travelling in such small groups allows you more time to explore and some late season departures benefit from stunning autumn light. Ask about special…

  • 11 Days
  • $8,090
Spitsbergen Circumnavigation

Maximise wildlife sightings with the chance to circumnavigate Spitsbergen island. Search for walrus, arctic fox, whales and of course the ‘King of The Arctic'. Sail through the Hinlopen Strait and visit abandoned trapping stations and experience glaciers up close all…

  • 11 or 13 Days
  • $10,072
Svalbard Polar Bear Safari

This early season Svalbard voyage is a ‘classic’ providing ample time for near guaranteed polar bear sightings, alongside encounters with the region’s other plentiful wildlife and exploring its dramatic scenery. Phippsoya, 14th of July glacier and Hinlopen Strait are all…

  • 11 Days
  • $9,495
Kingdom of the Ice Bear

Let the midnight sun guide the way as you sail north to Phippsoya, just 540 miles from the geographical North Pole. En route you'll experience calving glaciers, teeming colonies of seabirds, walrus and whales, while keeping a sharp eye out…

  • 8 or 9 Days
  • $3,737
Svalbard - A Small Ship Expedition

Discover Svalbard on this extraordinary journey onboard a 12 passenger vessel. Ideally suited to photographers these late season voyages experience amazing light. Your expedition guides plan to take you to Ny Ålesund, the Hinlopen Strait, Bird Mountain and Edgeøya capturing…

  • 10 Days
  • $8,881
Into the Polar Bear’s Realm

This popular introduction to Svalbard is keenly priced and with early season departures guarantees plenty of ice. Sail onboard one of the newest ships in polar waters and spot bears from the plentiful deck space. Optional kayaking and hiking come…

  • 10 Days
  • $6,495
Svalbard In-Depth

Scouting Svalbard’s ice floes for wildlife by zodiac and on foot, cruising the magnificent 14th of July glacier and reaching the world’s most northerly settlement at Ny Ålesund are just some of this 10-day voyage’s many highlights. There's also the…

  • 10 Days
  • $5,036
The Land of Ice & Bears

This well balanced and well priced expedition is a fantastic introduction to the Arctic. You will take in many of the major sites of Spitsbergen Island, in a recently refurbished vessel, with huge amounts of deck space from where you…

  • 8 Days
  • $4,290

Our best Svalbard trips that arrive by ship

Three Islands Adventure: Iceland to Svalbard

Setting sail from Iceland’s capital, journey northwards across the Arctic Circle via little visited Jan Mayen before arriving in Svalbard where you’ll spend 6 full days exploring. Experience three very distinct islands in a single voyage with optional kayaking for…

  • 13 Days
  • $6,395
Across the Arctic Circle: Scotland to Svalbard

Join this spring journey from historic Edinburgh in Scotland all the way north to finish in Svalbard, deep inside the Arctic Circle. En route explore in depth Norway’s dramatic glacially sculpted coastline, UNESCO sites and the charming villages of the…

  • 15 Days
  • $5,056
Arctic bound: Scotland to Svalbard

Beginning in Scotland and finishing in Svalbard, deep inside the High Arctic, experience the changing habitats as you push into the Land of the White Bear. At every step of the way the richness of the local history and wildlife…

  • 15 Days
  • $9,615
Arctic Journey: Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland

This comprehensive Arctic triumvirate encompassing Svalbard, East Greenland and Iceland offers the best of the Arctic: some of the best wildlife viewing with spectacular scenery, unspoiled fjords, gigantic icebergs and Inuit communities. You may also be lucky enough to see…

  • 14 Days
  • $8,844
Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland Polar Quest

Introductions to the High Arctic don’t come much better. Traverse the High Arctic between wildlife-rich Svalbard, via East Greenland’s towering icebergs and autumnal tundra then onto Iceland. Aurora sightings are possible at any point. The longer trip also includes Jan…

  • 15 - 18 Days
  • $10,495

Arriving in Svalbard

Visas

On arrival visitors will need to go through passport control. While Norwegian authorities do not require a visa for visiting Svalbard, as you will be transiting through Norway, nationals with visa requirements for Norway or the Schengen area will need a valid visa. No visa is required for EU passport holders.

Getting around Spitsbergen

Getting to your hotel

The airport itself is conveniently located only 1.6 miles (3km) to the northwest of Longyearbyen and there are frequent shuttle buses and taxis available to make the 7-10 minute journey.

Shuttle bus: This departs as soon as all arriving passengers have collected their luggage. You can purchase tickets on board, which cost NOK 75 for adults and NOK 25 for children.

Taxis: Approximate costs for guidance: Airport to Spitsbergen Guesthouse NOK 170 (1-4 people) Airport to the town pier NOK 100

Getting to Svalbard

View across the Arctic tundra

Getting around

There are only around 46 kilometres of road on the Svalbard Islands. Driving off-road is strictly prohibited.

Winter & Spring: As there are no roads outside of the settlements of Longyearbyen, Barentsburg and Ny-Ålesund and also no roads actually interconnecting them, snowmobiles are the main mode of transport on Spitsbergen when there is snow on the ground. Snowmobiles can be rented in Longyearbyen.

Summer: During high summer, when western Spitsbergen becomes largely ice free, smaller boats and RIB’s provide access for visitors to remoter places outside Longyearbyen, including Isford Radio, and the Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Pyramiden.

Snowmobile

FAQs on how to get to Svalbard

  • How long is flying time to Longyearbyen?

    Flights from the Norwegian capital, Oslo, take 3 hours.

  • How much do flights cost?

    Flight prices can vary quite significantly between different dates and flight prices typically only increase with time, which is why booking early is strongly recommended. Return flights Oslo/ Longyearbyen can start from as little as £126/ USD $165 per person with Norwegian airlines, but more typically are around £400/ USD $520 per person

  • Do I need a visa?

    Not for Svalbard itself, but as you will be travelling through Norway non-EU nationals should check what the visa requirements for that country are.

  • Are taxis available on arrival?

    Yes, both shuttle buses and taxis are at the airport and available to transfer you the short journey (less than 10 mins) into Longyearbyen, or to your hotel.

Plan your trip

Svalbard Cruises

Svalbard Cruises

North of the Arctic Circle and halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard’s dramatic coastline and fjords are largely ice-free during high summer providing incredible …

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When to visit Svalbard

When to visit Svalbard

While Svalbard may be an almost year round destination, the changing weather, number of daylight hours, amount of ice and snow conditions through the year all have a marked effect …

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SPITSBERGEN(1) (3)

Spitsbergen & Longyearbyen

The largest and only permanently populated of Svalbard’s islands, Spitsbergen is where all the activity and life happens. The beating heart of Spitsbergen itself is the town of …

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Help Me Choose

Help Me Choose

We're all clear on where the Arctic is located and why we want to visit, but its vastness and the sheer variety of experiences on offer can be a real challenge when deciding where …

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