Svalbard Islands, Arctic: where they are, when to go and what to see

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Joel Fulleda

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Immense glaciers and snow-covered peaks, endless floating ice sheets and huge icebergs - these are the Svalbard Islands. A magical world in the Arctic circle, inhabited by bears, walruses, seals, reindeer and partridges, where they follow each other in winter the long arctic nights and in summer the perennial light dominates. The place of the famous polar expeditions but also the place to discover if you love silence and nature and do not fear solitude.

Here everything you need to know about Svalbard: where are they, when to go and what to see!


  1. Travel informed: useful information
  2. Where are
  3. When to go? Info on climate and best time
  4. Which island to go to?
  5. 10 things to see: attractions and places of interest
  6. What to do in the Svalbard Islands: excursions and tours
  7. How much does a holiday in Svalbard cost? Prices, offers and advice
  8. User questions and comments

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 2.700
  • Main center: Longyearbyen
  • Languages: Norwegian, English
  • Local currency: Norwegian krone (NOK) / € 1,00 = NOK 11,48
  • Weather: sub-polar and polar depending on the area (more or less far from the coast), with winters from November to February characterized by a very harsh climate, while from April to June the days are characterized by almost perennial light
  • Time zone: ex: GMT +1 (equal to Italy in both summer and winter time)
  • vaccinations: no vaccination required
  • Entry requirementsAlthough Svalbard belongs to Norway, they are outside the Shengen area, and to enter you need a valid passport, no entry visas are required. It is highly recommended to take out a medical-health insurance policy.
  • Safety info: no danger to report or safety problem, but for anything, visit the official website of the Farnesina
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Where are

    Svalbard are an archipelago of islands in the Arctic Ocean, are located in the latitude between 74 ° and 81 ° parallel to the north and belong to Norway.
    It is the northernmost inhabited area of ​​the Earth, as well as being the northernmost territory of Norway, and the largest settlement and administrative center of the archipelago is Longyearbyen.

    How to reach us

    • From the main European capitals: from Oslo and Tromso the SAS and Norwegian airlines operate direct flights to Longyearbyen and Lofoten with an average duration of 3 hours. In summer, flights are daily, in winter two a week. From other European cities you will always have to make a stopover in Oslo - Compare flights to Svalbard Islands

    When to go? Info on climate and best time

    • Weather: sub polar on the coast and polar inland. Winters from November to February with total darkness, temperatures around -30 ° and mostly snowy precipitations. Springs characterized by intense and total light, average temperatures of -11 ° and less abundant showers. In summer, although full sun days are rare and there are often clouds, temperatures rise and even reach 8 ° / 10 °. Finally, in autumn, the days get shorter, it starts to snow and the cold becomes bitter. The wind is present all year round, although in summer it drops slightly.
    • Best time: July and August as temperatures are above freezing although warm clothing is required. For those who want to discover the winter atmosphere and spot the Northern Lights we suggest the months of March, April and May when the sun is on the horizon, but there is still a lot of snow and ice and you can see many animals
    • Period to avoid: December and January due to total darkness and the coldest temperatures of the year
    • Advice: heavy, windproof and waterproof technical clothing is required. In all seasons it is recommended to dress in layers

    Which island to go to?

    The Svalbard islands cover an area of ​​60.000 square meters mainly characterized by frozen ground, mountains, valleys covered with snow. The landscape, due to the melting of perennial snows and ice, is constantly changing, but the main islands are three:

    1. Spitsbergen: the main island that occupies an area of ​​39.044 sq km and here are the only inhabited centers, the airport and basic services. The largest town is Longyearbyen and it is home to most of the archipelago's population, then there are Barentsburg, the Russian settlement with a power plant, Ny-Ålesund with an unrivaled panorama, and Svea. Those who choose to take a holiday in Svalbard, however, almost always stay in Longyearbyen
    2. Nordaustlandet: second largest island of Svalbard, north east of the archipelago, occupies 14.443 sq km and 11.000 are of perennial ice. The whole area is uninhabited. Here we make expeditions with icebreakers to admire some important glaciers such as Austfonna and Vestfonna as well as numerous reindeer
    3. Edgeøya: third largest with an area of ​​5.073 sq km, it is a completely uninhabited island of Svalbard, but can be visited during the cruise that circumnavigates Sptisbergen

    10 things to see: attractions and places of interest

    1. Longyearbyen, major center of Svalbard with many services, the starting point for various excursions. Here are also the Svalbard Church with its cemetery, the North Pole Expedition Museum, which preserves the documents of the travels made by the pioneers who wanted to reach the North Pole, and the Svalbard Museum
    2. Barentsburg, the second center of the archipelago, reachable by snowmobile in winter and by boat in summer, is a town inhabited by Russians and Ukrainians who work inside a mine. You can visit Esmark Glacier and the abandoned Russian settlement of Grumanta Coles Bay
    3. pyramids is another semi-abandoned settlement whose name derives from the pyramidal shape of the mountain that lies behind the town. Beyond a bar, hotel and café is a ghost town
    4. Adventfjorden, a branch of the main fjord, 7 km long and 4 km wide, is scenic. Also located here is an old university research station for the Northern Lights, a WWII wreck, two abandoned mines and a satellite station
    5. Magdalenefjord it is one of the most beautiful points of Svalbard, characterized by an enchanting turquoise bay surrounded by high peaks and immense glaciers. Many cruise ships dock here to allow tourists to enjoy the view.
    6. Prins Karls Forlandet is an island 86 km long and 11 km wide, facing the west coast of Spitsbergen. It has been declared a National Park and here you can spot walruses, seals and sea lions during special excursions
    7. Temple Fjords It owes its name to the temple-shaped Templet mountain that overlooks this area. The motor sled ride to get there is very beautiful and allows you to admire the Advent Valley, the wall of ice completely immersed in the sea and Fredheim, the base of a well-known Norwegian hunter
    8. East coast of Spitsbergen, characterized by an always frozen sea populated by colonies of white bears. Here is also Storfjorden from where you can observe, if the sky is clear, the island of Edgeoya
    9. Smeerenburgfjorden is a beautiful 20km long fjord which takes its name from the old whaling settlement. Here you can navigate with the zodiacs (special boats) among the icebergs and find yourself in front of the glaciers of a thousand shades of blue
    10. Moffen it is an island located on the 80th parallel north and is a protected territory inhabited by a large colony of walruses. You can admire these beautiful animals while staying on your ship as access is prohibited to ensure peace and tranquility for the species

    What to do in the Svalbard Islands: excursions and tours

    How much does a holiday in Svalbard cost? Prices, offers and advice

    Keep in mind that Norway is a very expensive destination and Svalbard due to its out of this world position, they are even more so. The highest cost is represented by excursions and transfers by snowmobile and keep in mind that to carry out animal sightings, fjord tours, boat trips at least you will spend about € 1.600,00 each.

    As for accommodation, we advise you to book a guesthouse with kitchenette which will allow you to be more independent and save money with lunches and dinners (the cost is around € 60,00 per night). There are several restaurants in Longyearbyen and the average cost per person of a main course is around € 30,00.

    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 110,00 per room -
    • starting from € 500,00 -
    • 7 days starting from € 1.200,00 per person
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