Five Incredible Things To Do In Svalbard

Five incredible things to do in Svalbard

The pristine Svalbard archipelago is situated between Norway and the North Pole. A land of midnight sun with more polar bears than people, this is a wild, and irresistibly magical, corner of the earth. Incorporated by Norway in 1925, the region’s first settlers arrived with the whaling trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. Later the coal mining industry boomed. Nowadays tourism is Svalbard's most lucrative source of income.

On a Svalbard cruise with Swan Hellenic, you’ll explore this unspoiled wilderness up close on our expedition landings. Much more than just an icy wilderness, you’ll spot rare Arctic wildlife and wonder at impossibly remote settlements on our expert lead excursions. Follow in the footsteps of polar explorers of the past as you discover that Svalbard is more than meets the eye.

Attended a midnight sun concert

For a uniquely Arctic experience, be sure to attend a midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø. Listen to beautiful Norwegian folk songs as the soft glow of the midnight sun shines through the cathedral’s exquisite glass mosaic windows. This incredible event is enhanced further by the cathedral’s wonderful acoustics. A moving and must-do experience.

Visit the thousands of breeding seabirds

Our Svalbard Encompassed [link cruise] cruise takes us through Bellsund, a 20km long sound on the west coast of Sputebergen. Here Brünnich’s guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, little auks and northern fulmars make their breeding homes on the surrounding cliffs while pink-footed, barnacle and brent geese nest below.

Or travel to Bear Island on our Svalbard in Depth [link cruise] cruise to visit the greatest bird cliff in the Barents Sea. Here you’ll meet thousands of breeding seabirds including Atlantic puffin, northern gannet, glaucous gull, great skua, black-legged kittiwake, little auk, common guillemot and more.

Spot roaming polar bears

A rare sight in the wild, a summer expedition cruise in Svalbard offers a good chance of spotting polar bears along the shores or across the ice. According to the Norwegian Polar Institute, the population of the Svalbard polar bears is over 3,500 and has been steadily growing in recent years. The largest population of these bears live on the eastern side of Svalbard. The best time to view these magnificent animals is June through to September. During this time the Arctic ice slowly begins to melt, which means that the bears tend to gather on smaller ice fields. This makes the region easier to navigate by boat and the bears easier to spot.

Have a drink in the world’s most northerly pub

Longyearbyen is Svalbard’s administrative capital and is also the world’s most northerly town. Consequentially it is also home to the world’s most northerly high street and pub. Whilst here you may wish to indulge your inner survivalist and stop by the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This is where over 930,000 varieties of food crop seeds are preserved should the world need them one day. Although the facility isn’t open to visitors, you can hike or bike to the entrance.

Explore striking fjords and pristine glaciers

Join us on our Arctic Discovery: Iceland Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen cruise and witness the incredible sight of the beautiful Monacobreen glacier calving giant icebergs into the icy Liefdefjorden (Love Fjord) below. Cruise through this land of blue and white as we search for polar bears hunting for unsuspecting walrus along the shores. Beluga whales are also occasionally spotted here.