Are you planning a trip to Svalbard soon? Spitsbergen and the Norwegian Arctic destination are shrouded in mystery. Download this Svalbard expedition guide to demystify it!
It’s amusing to see Svalbard becoming a popular holiday destination because I’ve known about it for a long time and have even visited it before it got trendy and a little more ‘commercialized.’
Tourists are flocking to the area in big numbers in the hopes of seeing polar bears. But Svalbard is much more than polar bears, believe me.
Getting To Know Svalbard
With its vast open expanses, limited vegetation, and limitless glaciers, Svalbard may appear desolate and lifeless to the uninformed. But if you look past the first impression, you’ll find a treasure trove of nature-based activities available all year. The seasonal changes are huge — the long, gloomy season is followed by sunny winter months, which are then replaced by a shockingly pleasant summer with sun 24 hours a day.
Longyearbyen people, who live in the world’s northernmost city, spend a lot of time at social gatherings. They get together at bars and restaurants, concerts and exhibitions, and in one other’s houses. The key to enjoying this season, which many locals see as the best time of year, is good cuisine, nice drinks, and a diverse cultural offering.
Flying is the Best Way to Go There
Flying to Svalbard is the most convenient way to get there. You could always take a super-expensive cruise ship there if your budget allows it, but most people don’t have that luxury. Flights to Svalbard have risen in recent years, but the archipelago can only accommodate a limited number of visitors at any given moment.
Polar Bear Safaris Are Illegal
Svalbard is home to nearly 3,000 polar bears, which is more than the number of people that live there. However, hunting them for human entertainment is prohibited because the gorgeous polar bear is endangered. Safaris and polar bear chases are not permitted. They are, nevertheless, still visible on Svalbard trips.
In Svalbard, many tours and boat cruises will increase your chances of seeing a polar bear. However, there is no assurance.
You Have To Carry A Gun Outside Longyearbyen
You should travel outside of Longyearbyen with a knowledgeable guide. You must be armed for your own protection if you are on your own or with an independent group.You can hire a game rifle (7.62, 30.06, or 308 calibers) and a signal pistol to defend yourself from bears. To get a weapon, you must first obtain a permit.
Svalbard is a Visa-Free Zone
Anyone can live and work in Svalbard without a visa. This is always open to change as the land grows in popularity and more people become aware of its existence. However, unless you have a Norwegian passport or work for a Norwegian company, you are not eligible for Norwegian healthcare or assistance.
Exchange Currencies Beforehand
There is nowhere to exchange money in Svalbard, so bring Norwegian kroner or use your credit card to acquire cash. For the most part, you can use your credit card anyplace. Some establishments accept the following currencies: GBP, USD, and EUR. But don’t hold your breath. It is best to exchange your currencies in Norway before boarding your flight.
Wi-Fi is Readily Available
Wi-Fi is widely available in Longyearbyen, with connection points in practically every cafe and restaurant. Given that you’re in such a distant region of the world, the hotels also feature reasonably fast Wi-Fit. You’ll be able to use your phone in Longyearbyen if you have a Norwegian SIM card or free EU roaming.
Catching the Northern Lights
Svalbard is positioned far north, and it is not the best place to see the northern lights. So, don’t be shocked if you visit Svalbard for a few days during the arctic nights in January and never see them. October through April is the best time to visit Svalbard to observe the northern lights, but it isn’t advisable to plan your trip around the phenomenon.
Weather: What to Expect
Svalbard’s weather changes depending on the time of year you visit. Temperatures in and around -16°C are expected during the polar nights and winter (2°F). The warmest month in Svalbard is July, with average daily temperatures of roughly 5 degrees Celsius (41°F).
Because Svalbard is one of the most affected regions on Earth by climate change, temperatures have been substantially higher in recent years than they should have been.
When Do You Get To See Polar Bears?
Polar bears do not hibernate in the winter. During the winter, pregnant females will ‘den’. As a result, polar bears can be seen on Svalbard at any time of year.
If you’re in Svalbard during the summer and have the finances to take a boat around Spitsbergen’s coast, your chances are better. The thawed waters allow transportation via these canals, with May being the greatest month.
While Svalbard lacks the infrastructure for mass tourism, supports a limited number of flights to Spitsbergen and a restricted number of accommodations, something about it feels authentic and untainted. For that reason alone, people should give it a chance.