Welcome to Svalbard

Dear traveler

Welcome to Svalbard, which is unlike any other destination in the world! We are talking about the wondrous archipelago which is located in the European High Arctic between 74 and 81 degrees latitude north, and is approximately 600 nautical miles from the North Pole. The place names commonly associated with the area are often thought to be interchangeable, but Svalbard refers to the entire archipelago, while Spitsbergen is actually the largest island.

The islands were discovered by Dutch Explorer Willem Barentsz, in 1596 during his third unsuccessful expedition to find the Northeast Passage. The islands did not belong to any country prior to the Svalbard Treaty in 1920, after which it became part of the Kingdom of Norway. The territory is administered by the Governor of Svalbard, known locally as the "Sysselmannen".

The population today is approximately 2700 people, with the majority of locals living in the capital city of Longyearbyen, which is the northernmost city in the world.

There are three other settlements, all of which are on Spitsbergen consisting of Barentsburg, Ny-Alesund and Sveagruva. "Pyramiden", a Russian mining community, was abandoned in 1998.

Svalbard Climate

During the arctic winter, in northern areas of the islands the sea ice forms part of the mass leading to the North Pole, prohibiting navigation in the Arctic Ocean in anything but a powerful Icebreaker. In contrast, the waters to the south and west, consisting of the Greenland Sea, Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea are navigable for most of the year.

The arctic summer is short, but the midnight sun is visible above the horizon from mid-April until mid-August and temperatures average a relatively comfortable 5 degrees Celsius.

Arctic Fauna

There are only three species of terrestrial mammals in the islands: Svalbard's Reindeer, Arctic Fox and the Sibling Vole.

In contrast, there are nineteen species of marine mammals to be found in the surrounding waters. These include Walruses, Ringed Seal, Bearded Seal, and the Harbour Seal.

It is possible to see up to twelve species of whale, although some sightings are incredibly rare and only when food availability is favorable such as the Bowhead Whale, Beluga or White Whale, and the even more elusive Narwhal which is seldom seen.

Other marine mammals that may be observed in the area are Blue whale (very rare), Humpback whale, Fin whale, Minke whale, Sperm whale, Northern bottlenose whale, Killer whale or Orca, Pilot whales and the White beaked dolphin.

There are 163 species of birds, although only 30 of these regularly nest there. At such high latitudes within the Arctic Circle, diversity amongst the avian species is very low, but they are found in huge numbers and will be the most prolific of the arctic wildlife on display during the expedition.

As a taster, some of the arctic birds you could see include Red Throated Diver, Northern Fulmar, Pink Footed Goose, Brent Goose, Common Eider, Purple Sandpiper, Arctic Skua and even the Atlantic Puffin.

Polar Bears

One of the most well-known of arctic animals, the polar bear, has a population of around 3000 animals in Svalbard, and can be found on the land during the summer. In winter, they spend most of their time on the arctic sea ice hunting seals along its perimeter. These Polar Bears are considered as part of the Barents Sea population, which includes Franz Josef Land to the North East.

Arctic Flora

Much of the landscape is comprised of rock and ice, with the underlying soil locked in permafrost. Areas of the islands are arctic tundra, which supports high arctic vegetation. Over 165 species of plants have been found in the summer, grouped in the small areas of land that defrost.

There are seven national parks in the Svalbard archipelago consisting of: Forlandet, Indre Wijdefjorden, Nordenskiold Land, Sor Spitzbergen, Sassen Bunsowland, Nordvest Spitsbergen and Nordre Isfjordenland. These are supplemented by six nature reserves and fifteen bird sanctuaries resulting in over 65% of the islands being protected.

One of the main reasons people travel to Spitsbergen is to see polar bears in the wild. Glaciers, rugged coastal mountains and snowy landscapes offer the perfect backdrop to seeing polar bears in their natural habitat. On our Spitsbergen trips, we commonly see polar bears swimming, nursing their cubs, hunting seals and ambling among the pack ice. These are thrilling encounters that make Spitsbergen arguably the best place to see polar bears in the wild.

While polar bears are the main attraction, a trip to Spitsbergen offers so much more. Other wildlife that you are likely to see on a Spitsbergen cruise includes walruses, whales, seals, Svalbard reindeer and huge colonies of seabirds such as dovekies, norther fulmars and Arctic terns.

Cruises to Spitsbergen also entail visits to glaciers, research stations, historical sites and plenty of shore landings. Most trips are 7-10 days in length with some circumnavigating the entire island.

Therefore, if you are interested in expedition or cruising with an intimate group of likeminded travelers, then we encourage you to travel to Svalbard.

Svalbard, Norway offers excellent photographic opportunities, close encounters with polar animals and is an experience you will never forget.

Seasons to travel in Svalbard
High Season from 1 June – 31 August
Low Season from 1 Oct. – 30 April
Shoulder Season from 1 – 31 May,
& 1 September – 30 September

We look forward to seeing You!

Watch video – By courtesy of: Discover the World
Runtime 7:00

SVALBARD

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HOW TO GET TO SVALBARD BY AIR

The main gateway to Svalbard are from two domestic airports, located in Oslo and Tromsø, Norway over to Svalbard Airport Longyear. Please use the code LYR in the search box below for the Svalbard Airport Longyear.

Svalbard Airport Longyear is operated by the state owned Avinor. You can find more information about the airport at the website of Avinor.

Note: Booking international flights is not a service we provide as part of our vacation packages. Although can our travel consultants offer advice if needed.

 

BOOK A FLIGHT TO SVALBARD

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A selection of cruise packages to Svalbard will be announced later on this site

Svalbard Vacation Packages

Want to book a vacation to Svalbard? Whether you're off for a true arctic wilderness vacation, romantic vacation or an all-inclusive holiday, Svalbard vacation packages on this website make planning your trip simple and affordable. Find the perfect vacation package for Svalbard on OneTravel by comparing Svalbard hotel and flight prices.

Book your Svalbard vacation today by using the code LYR - Longyearbyen, Norway on the button below. Booking with OneTravel is quick and easy, and with just a few clicks, you'll be on your way. What are you waiting for? Check it now!

Want to customize your tour and get help to plan a tailor made solution for your vacation to Svalbard?

We have many years experience in arranging tailor made holidays. Our expert team will be delighted to help you plan, offering ideas and recommendation as well as make the arrangements for every aspect of your holiday.

Svalbard rules of common sense

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Arctic Flora in Svalbard - Photo: Priitta Trøen

Environmental Protection:
Flora and fauna on Svalbard have adapted to the difficult Arctic conditions, but the nature is still very fragile, and even minor encroachments can cause lasting damage. This is why special environmental regulations have been developed for Svalbard. The purpose of the Environmental Act of Svalbard and its appurtenant regulations is among others to ensure the protection of Svalbard’s vulnerable natural environment and its many valuable historical monuments.

Tourism and travel
All visits to Svalbard are subject to strict regulations regarding the protection of nature and historical sites, as well as ensuring the safety of the visitors. Strict rules apply to tour operators, tour organisers and tourist vessels, for example, that tour organisers are fully responsible for their customers’ safety. The organisers are also responsible for ensuring that the travellers are informed about all relevant rules and regulations. The tour organiser must inform the Governor of Svalbard of all tour plans well ahead of the start of the season, as well as present proof of insurance to cover any search and rescue operations should the need arise.

If you are going out for a trip alone and plan to go beyond Administrative Sector 10 (the central parts of Spitsbergen), you must report your planned trip to the Governor of Svalbard. The obligation to report applies to all trips both on land and on sea, and such reports shall be made on specific forms. Make sure you contact the Governor of Svalbard a long time in advance. You will also be required to take out a search and rescue insurance or provide a guarantee for the same in connection with such a trip.

The environmental protection legislation contains certain restrictions for traffic within Svalbard. Among other things, the use of motorised vehicles on bare grounds is prohibited, and the use of scooters is only permitted in certain areas. All traffic in the bird sanctuaries and in some other protected areas is regulated or prohibited. Special rules apply to camping. Please familiarise yourself with the environmental legislation of Svalbard, especially prior to setting out on a trip by yourself.

Svalbard is an Arctic pearl. The nature, landscape and historical monuments set the premises for all activities, and this is the way we want it to remain. With this in mind, we encourage all visitors to ”TAKE CARE OF SVALBARD”.

Guidelines

  1. Don't be an arctic litterbug! Leave no lasting signs of your visit.
  2. Birds and other animals are not to be disturbed. Remember, you are the guest.
  3. Help take care of the biodiveristy. Do not pick flowers.
  4. Leave old cultural remains alone. Law protects all traces of humans from before 1946.
  5. It is prohibited to lure, pursue or otherwise seek out polarbears in such a way as to disturb them or expose either bears or humans to danger.
  6. Do not leave the settlements without a suitable gun and experience in using it.
  7. Be considerate to others.
  8. Contact the Governor's office (Sysselmannen) if planning a longer field excursion. A mandatory registration applies for travel to large parts of Svalbard.
  9. Acquaint yourself with the rules and regulations pertaining to travel and other tourist activities on Svalbard.
  10. For the sake of both the environment and yourself, we recommend organized tour arrangements.

It is impossible being an invisible tourist,
- but we do appreciate your trying 🙂
sources: Svalbard Tourism Board in cooperation with the Governor of Svalbard.

Comprehensive Trip Insurance for Travel Outside Your Home Country

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24/7 Travel Assistance

If you have an emergency when you’re traveling, Seven Corners are only a phone call away. Seven Corners Assist, their multilingual team of experts, handles emergencies such as medical evacuations, return of minor children, and much more. They can also help with non-emergency travel services as well.

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