Planning a visit to Svalbard in summer? Here’s a guide to all the best activities to add to your itinerary.
There’s no denying that Svalbard in winter is beautiful. But the Norwegian island beckons with a myriad of summer adventures. In fact, we’re dreaming of a trip to Svalbard in the summer months.
Why? From sightseeing with electric bikes to thrilling encounters with marine giants on a whale safari, and even embarking on a skiing expedition through the Arctic wonderland, here’s what to do in Svalbard in summer.
What to do in Svalbard in Summer
Hike to the Top of Trollsteinen
As summer graces Svalbard, there is no better time to hike. If you’re after a little bit of a challenge, lace up your boots and head out on an unforgettable trail to the pinnacle of Trollsteinen, 850m above sea level.
As you trek through the moss-covered tundra and glacial valleys, you’ll be able to spot the likes of reindeer, arctic foxes, and the occasional barnacle goose.
The entire hike takes around 7 hours out and back. But don’t let that put you off – you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring scenes that will leave you utterly speechless. The juxtaposition of snow-capped mountains, glistening glaciers, and rugged cliffs against the tranquil waters of fjords are a magical site.
Trek to See the Seed Vault
Another unique hiking experience for Svalbard in summer is the Seed Vault hike. Located near Longyearbyen, the Seed Vault is an incredible feat of engineering and a symbol of global biodiversity preservation.
This hike takes you to the entrance of the world-famous Global Seed Vault, a secure storage facility built deep inside a mountain. The Seed Vault holds millions of crop seeds from around the world, serving as a backup in case of natural or man-made disasters.
Take a Walrus Safari Boat Tour
One of the coolest things to do in Svalbard summer is a walrus safari boat tour. This promises a captivating encounter with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
First up, you’ll board a boat that gracefully navigates the Arctic waters, guided by experienced naturalists. Suddenly, a chorus of grunts and splashes fills the air. Their impressive tusks and wrinkled skin bear witness to a long history of survival in this harsh environment.
This five-hour tour is best in the summer; this is when the walrus’ hang out on the beach. You’ll be able to hear them arguing with each other as you head off the boat and observe from a safe distance. On a good day, you’ll be able to see around 10 weird creatures grumbling on the beach.
Explore the Water on a Hybrid-Electric Catamaran
For a truly immersive and sustainable exploration of Svalbard’s coastal beauty, a voyage aboard a hybrid-electric catamaran is a perfect choice.
As you sail through the tranquil fjords, you’ll be able to appreciate the pristine Arctic landscape without disturbing its delicate balance. This specific tour takes you to the likes of Billefjorden and the glacier Nordenskiöldbreen, silently sailing along the ice edge.
Gliding past towering icebergs and dramatic cliffs, you have a front-row seat to the majesty of Svalbard’s rugged coastline. All while knowing that your journey minimises impact on this fragile ecosystem. What more could you possibly want?
Head Out on a Kayaking Trip
In Svalbard, a kayak trip is an exhilarating way to explore the hidden corners of this Arctic wonderland.
Paddling through tranquil waters and navigating between ice floes is one of the best ways to discover secluded bays and hidden coves inaccessible by larger vessels. And summer also brings more manageable temperatures so that you can explore without being too chilly.
This tour sees you kayak near Svea glacier, weaving in and out of icebergs as you marvel at the rugged landscape.
Or, if you fancy a bigger challenge, how about a 4-day kayaking tour through the icy landscape? Depart from Longyearbyen and paddle past Pyramiden, Billefjorden, and Phantomodden, among plenty of other impressive sights.
Check Out the Svalbard Museum
Fancy learning more about the island of Svalbard and Jan Mayen? You’ll want to head to the Svalbard Museum. Spend an hour or two here.
The museum offers a comprehensive insight into the unique Arctic environment of Svalbard, showcasing exhibits on its wildlife, geology, and the early exploration of the region. The displays include preserved specimens of animals and birds, as well as artefacts from past expeditions.
One of the highlights of the museum is the section dedicated to the mining history of Svalbard. This area provides a glimpse into the life of the miners who once worked in the coal mines of the archipelago. You can learn about the challenges they faced, the living conditions, and the impact of mining on the local communities.
The museum also sheds light on the fascinating history of polar exploration, as well as offering insight into the changing climate and its impact on the region.
Embark on a Fjord Safari to Nordenskiöld Glacier
Setting sail on a Fjord Safari to Nordenskiöld Glacier is an extraordinary way to witness the raw beauty of Svalbard in summer. As the boat glides through the crystal-clear waters, surrounded by towering cliffs and jagged icebergs, the magnificent Nordenskiöld Glacier comes into view.
Along the way, you will also sail past Pyramiden and get to spot plenty of unique nesting areas for majestic seabirds.
Hike to Platåfjellet
Strap on your boots and get ready for an epic hike to Platåfjellet – an absolute must in the Svalbard summer. It’s a moderate hike, but the view from the roof of Longyearbyen makes it even more worth it.
You can hike this route solo, or you can opt for a group hike. But we recommend the latter as it means you can learn more about the environment from the local guide.
Reaching the summit, the vista unfolds—an awe-inspiring panorama of snow-capped peaks, meandering fjords, and the infinite Arctic expanse stretching out before you.
Go Dog Sledding on Wheels
We’re sure you’ve heard of dog sledding, right? Well, imagine the thrill of dog sledding amidst the Arctic wilderness, the sound of paws pounding the ground and the wind whipping through your hair.
But, for summer in Svalbard, the unique adventure of dog sledding takes on a fascinating twist – dog sledding on wheels. As the huskies eagerly pull you along a trail, the wild landscapes blur by as you glide by. It’s one of the more fun things to do in Svalbard in summer.
Explore the North on a Skiing Expedition
Believe it or not, Svalbard is not just a destination for winter enthusiasts; it also offers thrilling skiing expeditions during the summer months. Slap on your skis, and prepare to embark on an exhilarating journey through a snowy wonderland that seems frozen in time.
This Discover Svalbard tour sees you take a boat from Longyearbyen to Esmark Glacier, where the skiing tour begins. From here, you’ll head to Trollheimen – a fairytale mountain range – before heading further north to explore on your skis.
Spot Whales on Safari
For those seeking encounters with marine giants, a whale safari in Svalbard is an absolute must. Why? Isfjorden is known for being the feeding area for the blue whale, fin whale, humpback whale, and belugas in June and July.
Board a boat and venture into the Arctic waters. As you sail through the icy fjords, the silence is broken by the splash of a whale’s tail or the exhalation of a spout. The sight of a humpback breaching the surface is breathtaking.
Hit Up the Sights on an Electric Bike
Embracing the charm of summer in Svalbard extends beyond traditional modes of exploration, as it also offers unique experiences like sightseeing with an electric bike. We love exploring via two wheels, and these bikes allow travellers to effortlessly navigate the scenic landscapes of Svalbard.
As you pedal along the rugged terrain, breathtaking vistas unfold. Gliding past majestic glaciers, pristine fjords, and wildflower-dotted valleys, the electric bike offers a seamless blend of adventure and sustainability, making it an ideal choice for eco-conscious explorers.
Zip Around on an ATV Safari
Forget muddy ATV adventures, summer in Svalbard sees you whip through the (still very chilly) countryside in order to spot reindeer and polar foxes.
Head out from Longyearbyen towards Advent Valley, where you will make plenty of stops to learn about the region’s top historical sights. Guides will tell you all about nature, coal mines, and culture in Svalbard.
Watch the Rare Bird Jumping
Did you know that summer is when Svalbard’s biggest bird event takes place? For a couple of days in July, you’ll be able to see Brunnich Guillemot chicks take a leap of faith off the Alkhornet cliff and spread their wings for the first time ever.
With their parents’ encouragement, the chicks leap from their nests along the cliff’s edge. Warning: this is not for the faint of heart. Predators await below as they know that this is when many of the chicks will fall – and dinner will be served.
This is one of the most incredible sights in nature to witness – watching baby birds learn to fly.
Svalbard in Summer: Everything You Need to Know
Is Svalbard worth visiting in summer?
You should definitely consider visiting Svalbard in summer. While it might not be the magical winter wonderland that attracts so many people in the cooler months, there are plenty of activities that only take place in the summer. Take dog sledding on wheels and bird jumping, for example.
Is there snow in Svalbard in summer?
Not really. If you want to see Svalbard under snow, you’re better off visiting in the winter. Summer temperatures are around 3 – 7 °C (37.4 – 44.6 °F) and any snow that might fall tends to melt quickly.
Usually, between April and August, Svalbard is known for having the Midnight Sun. This means that the sun doesn’t set between those hours and it’s light at all times.