Best time to visit Svalbard

Polar Bear Watching in Svalbard

Witness magnificent polar bears in their natural environment

Best time: May–August

Polar Bear Watching
Polar Bear Watching
Polar Bear Watching
Polar Bear Watching
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Spitsbergen is home to around 2,000 polar bears, the most significant of land carnivores. The island covers an area of roughly 40,000 km², meaning there is one polar bear for every 20 square kilometres. Polar bear spotting is now very popular amongst tourists, for Svalbard is a truly ideal place to see these iconic residents of the Arctic. However, there is no guarantee that your tour will be successful.

The wildlife watching season in Svalbard runs between May and August when the midnight sun is in its supreme reign, and the ice melts allowing captains to navigate their ships. The contrast between white ice and the green grass that appears through the melting snow is another seasonal benefit to visit the archipelago!

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Svalbard for polar bear watching?

The recommended time for polar bear watching in Svalbard is between May and August. During this period, the absence of winter darkness and presence of the midnight sun allows for better visibility. Along with the melted sea ice, visitors can see polar bears in their natural habitats. Despite being the prime period, one must still be psychologically and financially prepared for tour cancellations or non-sightings. Show more

How many polar bears can be found in Spitsbergen?

Spitsbergen of the Svalbard archipelago hosts around 2,000 polar bears. It's the biggest island and spans over 40,000 square kilometers, averaging to one bear for every 20 square kilometers. The polar bears are an endangered species, which makes observing them in their natural milieu an exceptional sight, one usually reserved for few. Show more

Where can I stay during my polar bear watching trip in Svalbard?

Should you seek accommodation during your polar bear watching trip in Svalbard, opt for hotels in Longyearbyen. Longyearbyen is Spitsbergen's largest town and is the region's administrative center. To avoid last-minute hassles, it's best to make advanced bookings, particularly during peak seasons. You may prefer guided tours to enjoy a hassle-free trip that also includes accommodation in tours by ship or by snowmobile. Show more

What other wildlife can I expect to see on a Svalbard trip?

Aside from polar bears, expect to see a broad range of other wildlife when touring Svalbard. Reindeers are ubiquitous throughout the year, while Puffins are more active during the summer. In addition to these, visitors may spot arctic foxes, walruses, kittiwakes, and beluga whales. Though it's not advised to approach them directly, observing these creatures from a safe distance is an extraordinary experience. Show more

How can I ensure the best chance of spotting polar bears during my trip?

While planning your polar bear watching trip, choose a tour by ship for a better chance of spotting polar bears. The tours take visitors deeper into the Arctic wilderness. Choose an operator that takes extensive precautions to keep both visitors and animals safe. It's also best to verify with the tour operator the likelihood of seeing polar bears during the time of the year you plan to visit. Show more

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