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Exploring Svalbard: Top 10 Must-Do Activities

Photo things to do in svalbard

Svalbard, an archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean, is a place of unparalleled beauty and unique features. With its stunning glaciers, majestic fjords, and abundant wildlife, Svalbard offers visitors the opportunity to experience the Arctic wilderness like no other place on Earth. In this article, we will explore the various activities and adventures that await those who venture to this remote and pristine destination. From dog sledding to witnessing the spectacular Northern Lights, from hiking through the unique flora and fauna to kayaking in the icy waters, Svalbard offers a range of experiences that will leave visitors in awe of the natural wonders that abound in this Arctic paradise.

Key Takeaways

  • Dog sledding offers a thrilling adventure through the Arctic wilderness, allowing you to experience the beauty of the landscape while being pulled by a team of dogs.
  • Witnessing the Northern Lights is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that showcases the spectacular Aurora Borealis in all its glory.
  • Snowmobiling is a great way to explore the Arctic tundra on a motorized vehicle, giving you the freedom to cover more ground and see more of the landscape.
  • Hiking in Svalbard allows you to discover the unique flora and fauna of the region, including polar bears, reindeer, and Arctic foxes.
  • Kayaking through the glaciers and fjords of Svalbard is a peaceful and serene way to experience the beauty of the Arctic landscape up close.

Dog Sledding: An Adventure Through the Arctic Wilderness

One of the most iconic experiences in Svalbard is dog sledding. This traditional mode of transportation has been used by the indigenous people of the Arctic for centuries and is deeply ingrained in their culture. Dog sledding allows visitors to immerse themselves in the Arctic wilderness, gliding through snow-covered landscapes while being pulled by a team of strong and loyal sled dogs.

The experience of dog sledding is truly exhilarating. As you stand on the sled, you can feel the power and energy of the dogs as they pull you through the snow. The silence of the Arctic is broken only by the sound of their paws hitting the ground and their excited barks. The vastness of the landscape stretches out before you, with towering mountains and frozen lakes as far as the eye can see.

For first-time dog sledders, it is important to listen to your guide and follow their instructions. They will teach you how to handle the sled and work with the dogs. It is also important to dress warmly and wear layers, as temperatures in Svalbard can be extremely cold. Remember to bring snacks and water for yourself and treats for the dogs, as they work hard and deserve a reward.

Northern Lights: Witnessing the Spectacular Aurora Borealis

One of the most awe-inspiring natural phenomena in the world is the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. Svalbard is one of the best places on Earth to witness this spectacular light show. The Northern Lights are caused by charged particles from the sun colliding with atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a stunning display of colors and patterns in the night sky.

The best times to see the Northern Lights in Svalbard are during the winter months, from November to February, when the nights are long and dark. The best places to see them are away from light pollution, so it is recommended to head out of town and find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky. It is also important to check the weather forecast and choose a clear night for optimal viewing.

Photographing the Northern Lights can be a challenge, but with some preparation and patience, you can capture stunning images of this natural wonder. It is important to use a tripod to keep your camera steady and use a wide-angle lens to capture as much of the sky as possible. Experiment with different exposure times and ISO settings to find the right balance of light and detail. And most importantly, don’t forget to take a moment to simply enjoy the beauty of the Northern Lights with your own eyes.

Snowmobiling: Exploring the Arctic Tundra on a Motorized Vehicle

Metrics Values
Duration of Tour 4 hours
Distance Covered 25 miles
Number of Participants Up to 8
Difficulty Level Easy to Moderate
Age Limit Minimum 6 years old
Equipment Provided Snowmobile, helmet, boots, gloves, and balaclava
Guide Experienced and knowledgeable
Price Varies depending on the tour operator

For those seeking a faster-paced adventure, snowmobiling is an exhilarating way to explore the Arctic tundra. With its vast open spaces and frozen landscapes, Svalbard offers endless opportunities for snowmobiling adventures. Riding a snowmobile allows you to cover large distances in a short amount of time, giving you access to remote areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

When snowmobiling in Svalbard, it is important to be mindful of the environment and practice responsible snowmobiling. Stick to designated trails and avoid sensitive areas such as wildlife habitats and cultural sites. Respect the speed limits and be aware of other snowmobilers and wildlife that may be sharing the trails with you. It is also important to dress warmly and wear appropriate safety gear, such as a helmet and goggles.

Safety is paramount when snowmobiling in the Arctic. Always follow the instructions of your guide and never venture out alone. Be aware of the weather conditions and avoid riding in extreme weather or poor visibility. Carry a communication device with you in case of emergencies and make sure to inform someone of your plans before heading out.

Hiking: Discovering the Unique Flora and Fauna of Svalbard

Svalbard is home to a unique ecosystem, with a surprising variety of plant and animal species that have adapted to survive in this harsh Arctic environment. Hiking is a great way to explore this diverse flora and fauna, as well as to experience the stunning landscapes that Svalbard has to offer.

There are several hiking trails in Svalbard that cater to different levels of difficulty and interests. From short walks along the coast to multi-day treks through the mountains, there is something for everyone. Some popular hiking destinations include the Adventdalen Valley, the Billefjorden Valley, and the Nordenskiöld Glacier.

While hiking in Svalbard, it is important to be prepared for changing weather conditions. Dress in layers and wear sturdy hiking boots to protect your feet from the cold and rough terrain. Carry a map, compass, and GPS device with you, as well as extra food, water, and warm clothing. It is also important to be aware of polar bears, which can be encountered in certain areas of Svalbard. Always hike in groups and carry bear deterrents such as flares or bear spray.

Kayaking: Paddling Through the Glaciers and Fjords of Svalbard

For a truly unique and immersive experience in Svalbard, kayaking is an excellent choice. Paddling through the icy waters of the Arctic allows you to get up close and personal with the stunning glaciers, fjords, and wildlife that call Svalbard home.

Kayaking in Svalbard requires a certain level of skill and experience, as the conditions can be challenging. It is recommended to join a guided tour or take a kayaking course before venturing out on your own. Your guide will teach you the necessary skills and safety procedures, as well as provide you with the appropriate gear, such as a drysuit and a life jacket.

Respecting wildlife is of utmost importance when kayaking in Svalbard. Keep a safe distance from animals such as polar bears, walruses, and seals, and avoid disturbing their natural behavior. It is also important to be aware of your surroundings and the changing weather conditions. The Arctic can be unpredictable, so always be prepared for sudden changes in wind, waves, and temperature.

Wildlife Watching: Spotting Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes, and Walruses

Svalbard is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including polar bears, Arctic foxes, reindeer, walruses, and various bird species. Wildlife watching is a popular activity in Svalbard, but it is important to do so responsibly to minimize disturbance to the animals and their habitats.

When wildlife watching in Svalbard, it is important to keep a safe distance from the animals and avoid approaching them too closely. Polar bears, in particular, should be observed from a distance of at least 300 meters to ensure their safety and yours. Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to get a closer look without disturbing the animals.

It is also important to be aware of the guidelines and regulations regarding wildlife watching in Svalbard. Certain areas may be off-limits or require a permit to access. Always follow the instructions of your guide and respect any restrictions that are in place. Remember that you are a guest in the animals’ natural habitat, and it is your responsibility to ensure their well-being.

Cultural Tours: Learning About Svalbard’s History and Traditions

Svalbard has a rich history and cultural heritage that is worth exploring. From the indigenous people who have inhabited the region for thousands of years to the European explorers who ventured into the Arctic in search of new trade routes, Svalbard has a fascinating past that is waiting to be discovered.

Cultural tours in Svalbard offer visitors the opportunity to learn about the history, traditions, and way of life of the people who have called this remote archipelago home. Visit museums and historical sites to gain insight into the whaling industry, mining operations, and scientific research that have shaped Svalbard’s past. Participate in cultural events and festivals to experience the vibrant traditions and customs of the local communities.

It is important to approach cultural tours with respect and an open mind. Be mindful of local customs and traditions, and always ask for permission before taking photographs or entering private property. Remember that cultural preservation is essential for maintaining the identity and heritage of a place, so support local artisans and businesses that promote traditional crafts and practices.

Ice Cave Tours: Exploring the Stunning Ice Formations of Svalbard

Svalbard is home to some of the most breathtaking ice formations in the world, including glaciers, icebergs, and ice caves. Exploring these frozen wonders is a unique experience that allows visitors to witness the power and beauty of nature up close.

Ice cave tours in Svalbard take you deep into the heart of these frozen formations, where you can marvel at the intricate patterns and colors that have been sculpted by thousands of years of ice and snow. It is important to join a guided tour when exploring ice caves, as they can be dangerous and unpredictable. Your guide will provide you with the necessary safety equipment and knowledge to navigate the caves safely.

Responsible ice cave exploration is essential for preserving these fragile formations. Avoid touching or damaging the ice, as it can take centuries to form. Follow the instructions of your guide and stay on designated paths to minimize your impact on the environment. And most importantly, never venture into an ice cave without proper training and equipment, as they can collapse or become unstable.

Skiing: Enjoying the Thrills of Skiing in the Arctic Mountains

Svalbard offers excellent skiing opportunities for both beginners and experienced skiers. With its rugged mountains, deep valleys, and wide open spaces, Svalbard is a paradise for those who love the thrill of gliding down pristine slopes surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

There are several ski resorts in Svalbard that offer a range of slopes for all skill levels. From gentle beginner slopes to challenging off-piste terrain, there is something for everyone. Skiing in Svalbard also offers the unique opportunity to ski under the midnight sun during the summer months, when the sun never sets and the slopes are bathed in a soft golden light.

Responsible skiing is important to ensure the safety of yourself and others, as well as to protect the fragile Arctic environment. Always ski within your abilities and follow the rules and regulations of the ski resort. Be aware of changing weather conditions and avalanche risks, and carry appropriate safety equipment such as a beacon, shovel, and probe. Respect wildlife and avoid skiing in sensitive areas such as reindeer grazing grounds.

Boat Tours: Cruising Through the Arctic Ocean and Discovering Svalbard’s Hidden Gems

Exploring Svalbard by boat is a unique and unforgettable experience. Cruising through the Arctic Ocean allows you to discover hidden gems and remote locations that are inaccessible by land. From towering glaciers to secluded fjords, from bird cliffs to walrus haul-outs, Svalbard’s coastline is a treasure trove of natural wonders.

Boat tours in Svalbard offer a range of experiences, from leisurely sightseeing cruises to adventurous expeditions. Whether you choose to join a guided tour or rent your own boat, it is important to practice responsible boating to minimize your impact on the environment and wildlife.

Respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance and avoiding disturbing their natural behavior. Be aware of any restrictions or protected areas that may be in place, and follow the guidelines set by your guide or the local authorities. It is also important to be prepared for changing weather conditions and carry appropriate safety equipment such as life jackets, flares, and a communication device.

Svalbard is a destination like no other, offering visitors the opportunity to experience the wonders of the Arctic wilderness in all its glory. From dog sledding through snow-covered landscapes to witnessing the spectacular Northern Lights, from hiking through unique flora and fauna to kayaking in icy waters, Svalbard offers a range of activities and adventures that will leave visitors in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds them.

It is important to approach these experiences with respect and responsibility. The fragile Arctic ecosystem is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and human activity, so it is crucial to practice sustainable tourism and minimize our impact on the environment. By following guidelines, respecting wildlife, and supporting local communities, we can ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the wonders of Svalbard for years to come.

So pack your warmest clothes, grab your camera, and embark on an unforgettable journey to Svalbard. The Arctic wilderness awaits, ready to reveal its secrets and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.


What is Svalbard?

Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean, situated between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

What are some popular things to do in Svalbard?

Some popular things to do in Svalbard include dog sledding, snowmobiling, visiting glaciers, exploring abandoned mines, and viewing the Northern Lights.

What is the best time of year to visit Svalbard?

The best time to visit Svalbard is during the summer months of June to August when the weather is milder and there is 24-hour daylight. However, winter months offer unique experiences such as viewing the Northern Lights.

What is the currency used in Svalbard?

The currency used in Svalbard is Norwegian Krone (NOK).

Do I need a visa to visit Svalbard?

No, you do not need a visa to visit Svalbard if you are a citizen of a Schengen country or a citizen of a country that has a visa-free agreement with Norway.

What is the official language of Svalbard?

The official language of Svalbard is Norwegian, but English is widely spoken and understood.

What is the time zone in Svalbard?

Svalbard is in the Central European Time (CET) zone, which is one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+1). During daylight saving time, Svalbard observes Central European Summer Time (CEST), which is two hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+2).

What is the climate like in Svalbard?

Svalbard has a polar climate, with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. The average temperature in winter is around -16°C (3°F), while the average temperature in summer is around 5°C (41°F).