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
Getting to Svalbard
Flying to Svalbard
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.
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.
Help me choose
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.
Our best Svalbard trips that arrive by plane
This 11-day 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 popular…
Our best Svalbard trips that arrive by ship
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…
This comprehensive Arctic triumvirate encompassing Svalbard, East Greenland and Iceland offers the best of both worlds: some of The Arctic's best wildlife viewing with spectacular scenery, unspoiled fjords and gigantic icebergs. Plus, you may be lucky enough to see both…
Arriving in Svalbard
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
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.
FAQs on how to get to Svalbard
Flights from the Norwegian capital, Oslo, take 3 hours.
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
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.
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
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 …
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 …
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 …
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 …