Things to Consider

  • Which month you decide to travel will affect the activities & cruises available
  • Spring (April & May) & Summer (June - August) are the most popular times to travel
  • July is the warmest month with average temperatures of 3 - 7 °C (37.4 - 44.6 °F)
  • The Midnight Sun can be experienced between mid April and the end August
  • During the winter temperatures can drop to between -20 and -30 °C (−4.0 °F)

When is the best time to go?

Spring

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March - May

March marks the transition between winter and spring on Svalbard and this twilight period is characterised by an eerie, blue light. Temperatures are still fairly chilly, typically between -10 and -20 °C (14 to −4.0 °F), but the local people look forwards to the return of the sun after the dark winter.

Spring is the best time for snowmobiling and dog sledding across Svalbard’s pristine snowscapes, and subsequently its a busy time in Longyearbyen and you need to book ahead.

As spring progresses, temperatures rise and days become longer, until there is constant daylight 24 hours of the day - the return of the Midnight Sun.

By May the coastal ice is breaking up allowing safe passage for the first ships of the season and the archipelago’s summer wildlife visitors - walrus, whales and breeding birds in their millions.

Summer

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June - August

High summer in Svalbard is prime time for a Svalbard cruise onboard an ice strengthened ship exploring Spitsbergen’s dramatic coastline. As summer progresses, new areas become accessible again as the ice melts. Walking the snow-free tundra is a real highlight. Plus, the Midnight Sun’s constant daylight helps to maximise wildlife sightings.

These summer months are busy times for Svalbard’s wildlife - every cliff is packed with a frenzy of bird activity, whales have returned to the ice-free fjords, walrus collect together in ‘haul-outs’ and opportunistic polar bears and arctic fox are on prowl for food.

July is the warmest month with average temperatures of 3 - 7 °C (37.4 - 44.6 °F). By mid July, ice-choked Hinlopen Strait between the islands of Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet normally becomes navigable allowing circumnavigations of Spitsbergen.

Winter

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October - February

By the middle of September all of the expedition ships have left the archipelago and the summer visitor season is at an end. The weather is markedly deteriorating and with dropping temperatures, ice is beginning to reform.

By October, Svalbard’s summer wildlife visitors have departed south where they will overwinter at more benign latitudes, leaving Svalbard to settle back into its icy winter girdle.

The Polar Night - the period of 24 hours of darkness - has set in by November and Svalbard will remain cloaked in low light until mid February. While the cold and darkness limits activity, it’s a great time to simply stay cosy indoors, looking out for the Northern Lights.

During the winter temperatures can drop to between -20 and -30 °C (−4.0 °F) for sustained periods. February is the coldest month, ahead of the onset of early spring again in March when life springs anew again in Svalbard.

Swoop Says

Alex says

FAQs about when to visit

  • When’s the best time to visit for wildlife?

    Wildlife activity reaches its peak on Svalbard during high summer - June, July & August - making these months the best time to travel for wildlife enthusiasts.

  • When is the Midnight Sun?

    The term used to describes the phenomenon of 24-hour daylight, the Midnight Sun is experienced on Svalbard from 15th April to 26th August each year.

  • How long is flying time to Longyearbyen?

    Flights from Oslo take 3 hours and may stop in Tromso en route.

  • 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.

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