Best Svalbard Boat Tours: Wildlife, Glaciers, and Arctic Wonders

Ready to explore the Arctic in style? These incredible Svalbard boat tours take you on a magical journey through the island’s brutal landscape.

Calling all adventure seekers – these boat trips in Svalbard offer a unique gateway to the archipelago’s pristine wilderness, featuring encounters with majestic wildlife and stunning landscapes. 

From multi-day tours that see you immerse yourself in the heart of the polar wilderness to wildlife watching tours jam-packed with nature’s most beautiful creatures, prepare to uncover the captivating beauty of Svalbard. Here are our top picks…

The Best Svalbard Boat Tours

Nordenskiöld Glacier and Pyramiden Cruise

Nordenskiöld Glacier, Svalbard

Not sure which Svalbard boat trip to take? We’ve got a stellar option for you. This offering takes you to Billefjorden and the Nordenskiöld glacier, promising unforgettable encounters with the region’s diverse wildlife. 

As you set sail, keep your eyes peeled for majestic whales, seals, and a myriad of birds perched along the bird cliff of Diabas. Weather permitting, your adventure may lead to Pyramiden. You might even get the chance to spot a polar bear or two (though, hopefully, not up close.) 

As you journey back to Longyearbyen, the guide will regale you with the tragic history of Svenskhuset – a deadly event that struck a house here in the 1800s.

7-Day Express Spitsbergen Tour

Icebreaker boat next to huge iceberg, Svalbard

If you fancy a more luxurious tour (though, remember you are in the Arctic wilderness), this 7-day jaunt through Svalbard is a wonderful experience.

This expedition takes you on a mesmerising journey around Spitsbergen (Svalbard’s largest island), where you’ll encounter polar bears, immense glaciers, and abundant wildlife. Explore the stunning Krossfjord with its active Lilliehook Glacier and an abandoned mining settlement at Ny London and encounter Svalbard reindeer and marvel at the Monaco Glacier’s icy splendour. 

Visit walrus sanctuary Moffen Island, explore the historic whalers’ settlement of Smeerenburg, and take in the panoramic views of Magdalena Fjord. And, your last day offers options like the Russian mining town of Barentsburg or a glacier walk at Trygghamma.

The best part? Everything is covered – from the flights from Oslo to a complimentary parka jacket. For those who want an easy way to see the best of Svalbard, this is ideal.

Whale Safari Boat Trip

Spotting whales on a boat tour in Svalbard

Next up: set sail for an enchanting evening voyage in pursuit of the ocean’s most colossal inhabitants: the majestic blue whales.

During the months of June and July, the Isfjorden transforms into a buffet for these awe-inspiring creatures. Blue whales, along with the fin whale, humpback whale, and playful belugas, gather in this rich feeding ground. The captain and your seasoned guides will take you to the best spot to see these oceanic giants.

Although nature, as always, keeps her mysteries well-guarded. 

Wildlife and Glacier Cruise

This wildlife and glacier cruise is an epic introduction to Svalbard. Depending on the weather, you’ll head to the ex-Russian mining town of Skansbukta, which is nestled in the outer reaches of Billefjorden with the Skansen mountain rising majestically as a backdrop. 

Here you’ll get to glimpse at the remnants of a bygone era – the history of this place runs deep. Svenskhuset, Spitsbergen’s oldest preserved building, is also nearby. Then it’s time to venture closer to some of Svalbard’s most magnificent glaciers.

On the return leg to Longyearbyen, between the months of May and August, the Arctic night gives way to the enchanting Midnight Sun. We promise you won’t want to forget your camera – the landscape is bathed in the ethereal glow of constant daylight.

Walrus Safari

Walruses in Svalbard

Ready to spot some of Svalbard’s cheekiest residents? This journey to a renowned walrus colony is unforgettable. Here, you’ll spot these creatures basking in the sun or feasting on clams in the surrounding waters. On an average day, 10 to 30 walruses populate the area.

The journey commences with a picturesque crossing of the Isfjord en route to Borebukta. Along the way, an array of birds native to Svalbard accompany you, with the delightful Atlantic puffin making a frequent appearance. The knowledgeable guides are on hand to identify and share insights about the diverse bird species that call Svalbard home.

Boat Tour to Tempelfjorden and Tunabreen Glaciers

Small boat amongst ice in Svalbard

For something truly special, head out on a boat tour to the Tempelfjorden and Tunabreen glaciers.

At the beginning of the voyage you’ll get to pass Villa Fredheim, a place steeped in local legend and once home to the renowned figure, Hilmar Nøis. Next up is a stop at the bird sanctuary of Diabas. Here, thousands of nesting birds live on the cliffs, and you’ll have the chance to witness them up close. 

The north side of Sassenfjorden reveals a breathtaking panorama, dominated by Tempelfjellet. Then Tunabreen, a glacier with an iridescent blue hue stands as a stark contrast to the earthy tones of the surrounding landscape and craggy mountains. 

And, if you’re very lucky, you might just get to witness the mesmerising ice masses detaching from the glacier, crashing into the sea with a resounding roar.

Isfjord Puffin Safari

Atlantic Puffin, Svalbard

Another tour that highlights the best of Svalbard’s magnificent nature is this Isfjord puffin safari. Board a sturdy Polarcirkel boat and set out on a quest to discover the Arctic’s own parrot, the captivating Atlantic Puffin. 

This journey takes you deep into the expansive Isfjord, where you’ll approach the rugged cliffs of Diabas. On this craggy outcrop, you’ll encounter an impressive congregation of approximately 100 breeding pairs of Atlantic Puffins and around 10 times the number of Brünnich’s Guillemots.

The best time to head out on this 4-hour journey is from May to the end of July. And, with a bit of luck, you may even witness the graceful presence of whales along the way.

North Spitsbergen Boat Tour

Believe us when we say you do not want to visit Svalbard without heading even further north. Yes, it’s possible! This North Spitsbergen cruise kicks off with some exploration of the historic town of Longyearbyen. 

Then this Svalbard boat trip takes you to the northernmost point, possibly even beyond Nordaustlandet, deep into the remote Seven Islands. Here you’ll find yourself at a remarkable 80° north, a mere 870 kilometres (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole. But be warned – this is polar bear territory.

There are plenty of other stops on this tour, including Forlandsundet, St. Johns Fjord, and Isfjorden, where you’ll disembark at the remarkable Alkhornet. Then it’s time to return to Longyearbyen.

10-Day Nat Geo Boat Tour with Experts

Glacier Safari, Svalbard

For something extra special, embark on a whopping 10-days of adventure with National Geographic. This tour is perfect if you really want to seek out everything Svalbard has to offer (and don’t mind parting with a hefty amount of cash to do so!)

The spring Nat Geo voyage promises awe-inspiring sightings of walruses, seals, and the iconic polar bear, a symbol of the Arctic’s wild beauty. But your journey isn’t confined to wildlife alone, oh no no no. Immerse yourself in the extraordinary world of Arctic flora and glaciers as you embark on guided walks with experienced naturalists. 

A highlight of this adventure is the legendary midnight sun, a natural phenomenon that envelops the northern summer in an ethereal, perpetual light. The sun never sets during this time, casting a golden glow over the landscape. 

Better yet, you’ll have the unique opportunity to learn from a National Geographic photographer. This seasoned professional will guide you in seizing incredible photographic moments beneath the Arctic’s never-setting sun.

Svalbard Boat Trips: What to Know Before You Go

Sail boat in front of the arctic landscape of Svalbard

Can I go on a polar bear safari in Svalbard?

There are no official polar bear tours in Svalbard because they are endangered. But, you can see them if you are lucky enough (or unlucky!) to come across one naturally.

Western and Northern Spitsbergen offer multiple opportunities for wildlife photography. Spotting polar bears here is more likely than almost anywhere else, as the Svalbard archipelago is one of their preferred hunting areas.

How much does it cost to cruise to Svalbard?

Taking a cruise to Svalbard is seriously pricey, though we think it’s totally worth it. Expect to pay around $4000 USD for around one week. We’ll let you in on a secret… You can save plenty of cash if you visit Svalbard and book a day boat trip from Longyearbyen.

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