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.