Welcome to our Svalbard guide, where you can find information on when to visit Svalbard and which trips you can do with Better Moments when you are here. Spitsbergen is a great place to visit year-round, and we have activities and trips you can do during all seasons.
Svalbard is an oversea territory of Norway, with Spitsbergen being its largest island. The biggest active settlements are located on Spitsbergen. Here you will find the Norwegian settlements of Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund and the Russian village Barentsburg. Pyramiden used to be another Russian settlement but it was abandoned in 1998. Large parts of the islands are covered by glaciers, and wide valleys will guarantee stunning views no matter where you go!
The unique light on Svalbard
In the winter time, between November and February, Svalbard is covered in complete darkness and the sun does not come up above the horizon. It is conveniently called the Polar Night. The snow-covered landscape will reflect the small glimpses of light that do occur, like the moonshine on a clear day. On our Aurora snowmobile trip, we advise that you take a pause, turn off your snowmobile, take a deep breath, and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. After a few moments, you will see more and more of the landscape revealing itself to you.
On the contrary, in summer between May and August the sun doesn’t set at all, giving us 24 hours of daylight. This is what is meant by Midnight Sun. To make the most out of this unique opportunity we offer special snowmobile, boat and hiking trips in the late evening hours during this time of the year.
In between these extremes, especially in March we have a few weeks of the mystical twilight, highlighting the pastel blue and pink colours of the snow-covered landscape. Then we recommend joining our Twilight-snowmobile trip with dinner.
One of the most popular reasons to visit Svalbard is the frequent appearance of Northern Lights. To give you the best chance of seeing them, we recommend to visit Svalbard in the winter months. During the darkest period you can see them night and “day”. Svalbard is one of the few places in the world where you can enjoy the day time aurora. We offer a half-day snowmobile trip during the day, giving you the chance to see the northern lights before lunch. In March and October (the adjoining months) you still have a good chance to see them at night. Therefore, we offer an evening snowmobile trip with dinner.
Polar bears are another amazing feature of Svalbard. They live here all year round, but the best time to visit if you want to see them is in late winter or spring. Then the ground is still hidden under a blanket of snow and we can cover large distances with our snowmobiles. Between mid-February and May we offer our special Ursus Maritimus snowmobile trips towards the east coast, where most polar bear can be found. You can also see them throughout the summer and autumn. In the summer it is harder to spot them, but to maximize your chances, you should join our Catch of the Day boat trips.
Walrus are a native species on Svalbard. The closest walrus population is on the island Prins Karls Forland, along the west coast of Spitsbergen, but the walrus are not here all year. They spend most of their time in winter at open sea and only return to the shore of Svalbard in the beginning of May. Then they will feed and rest for the short summer we have up here. In the beginning of August, they leave again to return north. As they are on Svalbard around the same time every year, chances of seeing them on a Walrus Safari are very high if you are here between May and August. They leave in the beginning of August, so we do not offer Walrus Safaris anymore after that, but if you join our boat trip to Ny-Ålesund, the northern most town in the world, you might see them later in the summer as well.
Many different species of whales visit the waters of Svalbard every year. Common sightings include humpbacks, blue whales or minky whales. You will have the best chance of spotting them from May to September. Forecasting their appearance is very difficult as they travel many miles each day. They often come to the Isfjord for the good food supply. With our speedboats we can cover a lot of sea over a short period of time. Joining one of our boat trips will maximize your chances of seeing whales.
Seeing a massive glacier front stretching from one side of the horizon to the other is a breathtaking view. As much as 60% of Svalbard are covered by glaciers year-round and the most accessible ones are not as far away as you might think. The large fjord on which Longyearbyen is located, the Isfjord, has several beautiful glacier fronts. In summer and autumn these are easily reachable with our comfortable speedboats, for example on our Catch of the Day trip or the Pyramiden trip. On these trips we will try to go to the most active glaciers, where you can see them calving (icebergs falling) into the water. In the wintertime, we can access these stunning glacier fronts by snowmobile too. As we cross the frozen fjords on the east coast, the vast size of Svalbard nature becomes apparent.
Going on a hike on Spitsbergen, will give you a broad variety of experiences. You can find 150-million-year-old fossils, explore the flora to its selection of different flowers, and get up close to the wildlife on Svalbard. The Svalbard reindeers are curious and not afraid of people, and if you are lucky, you can also spot the shyer polar foxes, even with puppies. For visitors who are not familiar with hiking on Svalbard, it is advised to always go with a guide. The guide will not only provide the necessary polar bear protection, but can tell you hundreds of stories of the mining history and the trappers on Svalbard. Better Moments offer hiking trips with snowmobile driving, evening hikes with dinner and a two-day hiking trip.