Best time to travel to Svalbard

Northern Lights in Svalbard

Nothing compares to an aurora borealis vacation in Svalbard

Northern Lights
Northern Lights

Svalbard residents are lucky to indulge in a magical experience called the aurora borealis more often than anybody else in any inhabited place in the world. This is also one of the few areas on the planet where you can watch the northern lights in the daytime during polar nights!

Northern lights have enchanted people throughout entire history and have always been the subject of legends and myths. It was once considered to be a messenger of disaster, war, or a sign of deceased ancestors. This natural phenomenon, caused by strong solar winds, attracts thousands of tourists and photographers to the Arctic regions. You can witness this magic during the Polar Night. The magnetizing light dancing above the archipelago creates an exceptional atmosphere.

The best time to see northern lights

The most important thing about observing aurora borealis is being in the right place at the right time. Darkness, clear skies and intense solar activity are the most favorable conditions. These factors are especially present in Spitzbergen, where aurora appears from mid-September until March.

Your best chances of witnessing aurora borealis are during the darkest period from late October to February. At this time, there is no daylight at all, only a bit of twilight for daytime activities. October in Svalbard is also the time when accommodation becomes substantially cheaper.

Northern lights tours

Once you are in Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard, you can just hop on a northern lights bus that will take you away from light pollution into the Arctic night. The tour usually lasts for three hours. More interesting options include spending the night at Trapper's Cabin, outside Longyearbyen, which will give you more time to photograph the phenomenon and enjoy the silent beauty of the place. You can also explore Longyearbyen vicinity on snowshoes, dogsled, or snowmobile.

Dog-sledding and hiking

Advent Valley, a 19-mi (30-km) river valley surrounded by picturesque mountains on Spitsbergen, as well as Bolterdalen, located in 7 mi (12 km) outside Longyearbyen, are the main locations where you can experience dog-sled riding along with northern lights watching. You can start your adventure at Green Dog, near Longyearbyen. From there, you can explore ice caves, go on a hike, and even see polar bears.

Northern lights cruises

To see aurora borealis from a boat is a special experience. Try The Northern Lights cruise towards the ghost town Pyramiden that will take you through picturesque fjords. The boat leaves from Longyearbyen, and the trip lasts for about three hours.

Practical info

During which months is the best time to visit Svalbard to witness the northern lights?

The ideal time to see the northern lights in Svalbard is from late October to February when the skies are dark, and there is less daylight. During this period, the chances of seeing a vibrant aurora borealis increase due to intense solar activity. Additionally, accommodation prices in Svalbard drop during October making it an excellent time to visit. Show more

What locations in Svalbard provide ample opportunity for viewing aurora borealis?

Advent Valley and Bolterdalen are two common locations for dog sled riding and northern lights watching in Svalbard. These valleys are surrounded by mountains and serve as a picturesque background for witnessing the natural phenomenon. Alternative options include taking the northern lights bus around Longyearbyen, spending a night at Trapper's Cabin outside the town, and exploring the surrounding areas for an all-inclusive experience. Show more

What are some fun activities you can do while observing the northern lights in Svalbard?

In Svalbard, in addition to observing the Northern Lights, visitors can go snowmobiling, dog sledding, and snowshoeing. Explore ice caves and go on hiking trips near Longyearbyen. Take a northern lights cruise to the ghost town Pyramiden for a unique perspective of the northern lights while enthralling in the scenic beauty of the archipelago, which is home to several wild animals, including polar bears. Show more

How long is the Northern Lights cruise from Longyearbyen to Pyramiden?

The cruise from Longyearbyen to Pyramiden, an excellent viewing spot for the northern lights, lasts approximately three hours. The journey takes you through stunning fjords, with the possibility of observing some wildlife on the way. Whether on a guided cruise or self-exploring, it's an excellent way of experiencing the northern lights from a distinctive perspective while admiring the natural beauty of the Norwegian archipelago. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin