10 Things to do when visiting Svalbard in the Summer

by Angie, Gjestehuset 102

During the summer in Svalbard, the midnight sun shines for 24 hours a day from late April to late August, providing ample opportunity for activities that we are unable to enjoy during the darker and colder seasons.
Some of the popular summer activities in Svalbard include hiking, camping, kayaking, and boat trips to witness the incredible wildlife, such as walruses, whales, different breeds of birds, and even the king of the Arctic, if you are lucky- the Polar Bear. 

If you are planning a visit to Svalbard during the summer, be sure not to miss out on these fun, engaging, and adventurous activities!

1. Roam around our tiny town

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"Spisshusene" in Longyearbyen by Angie M.

What better way to start your adventure on another place than to get introduced to our town? Be familiar with Longyearbyen and get around like a local. Visit the most interesting points such as the town centre, our cemetery, our church, the Polar Bear sign, and more.

We also have these information standees around town that will guide and give you interesting information and stories as you go.

Longyearbyen info signs Visit Svalbard
Longyearbyen info signs Visit Svalbard

A 2-3 hour walk around town is enough to get some overview of Longyearbyen. Remember that we have a limited safe zone that you have to follow. Take a look at our city map in which the polar bear safe zone is indicated by the black lines. Walking beyond the safe zone without any protective weapon or guide is not recommended at all. Bicycles are also available to rent at the Tourist Information Centre! No matter where you go, remember to respect the people, wildlife, and nature. Leave memories, not footprints, and especially not litters!

Want to see more of the town? Get a sightseeing tour to reach other interesting parts like the Coal Mines and the Global Seed Vault!

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Cycling around town
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Reindeer in town
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In Adventdalen

2. Go Kayaking!

Experience the serene beauty of the Arctic wilderness through kayaking! There are a few kayak trips that are offered daily, allowing you to explore the tranquil, unspoiled surroundings. Whether you opt for a shorter daily trip or a multi-day kayak expedition, kayaking affords you a deeper appreciation for the Arctic environment. Even if you have no prior experience, you can go paddling and build friendships from around the globe!

Kayaking with Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
Kayaking with Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions

Most activities, including the kayak trips, include pick-up from your hotel. Overall dry suit, kayak shoes, dry bags, gloves are inlcuded on these trip. All you need to have is the readiness for a wonderful adventure! 

Kayak Expedition with Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
Going back to Longyearbyen from the other side, by Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions

3. Visit Museums

The museums in Longyearbyen are a must-see when visiting Svalbard.

The Svalbard Museum offers comprehensive natural and cultural history knowledge of the Arctic, with modern exhibits presented in a traditional form, featuring models, reconstructed environments, and authentic artifacts.
The exhibitions showcase the different species that inhabit the region, including polar bears, Arctic foxes, walruses, and more. The North Pole Expedition Museum focuses on expeditions to the North Pole, primarily with airships but also with skis, dogsleds, and boats.
The museum, located on two floors, displays old documents, newspapers, pictures, original expedition movies, historical artifacts, letters, and more.

In addition to the North Pole Expedition Museum and the Svalbard Museum, the gallery, Nordover, is also worth a visit.
The gallery features a variety of contemporary and traditional art from local and international artists.

Experience a peaceful and enriching moment while traveling back in time and learning about the fascinating stories these museums have to offer..

Svalbard Museum
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North Pole Expedition Museum

4. Get to top by mountain trekking

Longyearbyen is surrounded by majestic mountains. Do not miss taking a trip on some of these mountains when visiting. Appreciate the unique landscapes, the viewpoints, the floras, and the faunas. Not an experienced hiker? Don’t worry, there are various mountain hikes to choose from, with different grades and length duration according to the difficulty. 

Plateau Mountain hike is among the most popular and easiest hikes in Longyearbyen. From the summit, the beautiful bird-eye view of our town and the fjord, Adventfjorden, are seen.

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Plateau Mountain hike with Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
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Overlooking Adventfjorden and Isfjorden

Other popular mountain hikes in Longyearbyen are the Sarkofagen Hike, Trollsteinen Trek, Fuglefjella, and Hiorthfjellet. See the complete list here.

If you want a more challenging hike, do the Arctic Challenge! An 11-hour hike and kayak combined trip. This trip goes to Hiorthfjellet, the mighty, picturesque mountain facing Longyearbyen. But before this, you’ll be crossing the fjord with kayaks. At the summit of Hiorthfjellet, you’ll be rewarded with incredibly spectacular views.

This trip is  a bit tough, graded 5 out of 5 according to the level of difficulty, but the whole experience is a 5 out of 5 as well!


5. Bird watching

Svalbard is a ‘home’ to 234 different species of birds. Every summer, when the sun is over the horizon both night and day, an abundant bird life forms in Svalbard. The calm, beautiful arctic nature attracts hundreds of thousands of birds during this season. These birds come from different parts of the world, travel thousands of miles to reach Svalbard for breeding. This includes the Arctic Tern, which migrates from the Antarctic Circle, to the Arctic circle- a journey of about 15,000 kilometers, or 9,300 miles one-way! 

Svalbard Ptarmigan by Anita Rude
Svalbard Ptarmigan by Anita Rude
svalbard auk by John Haugen
Little Auks by John Haugen
Arctic Tern by Anita Rude
Arctic Tern by Anita Rude

The Svalbard Rock Ptarmigan is the only bird species that overwinter on land. In Longyearbyen, especially in the Advent Valley, you’ll see rich colonies of ‘residential’ birds such as the Common Eider, Barnacle Geese, and Arctic Terns.

There are also some trips that focus on bird watching, such as the Hike to Bjørndalen and the Bird Mountain. On this trip, you will be hiking through Bjørndalen and continue forward to the bird mountain, Fuglefjella. This mountain, which is considered a very important bird-nesting cliff, and in which literally translates to Bird Mountain in English, is a home to several bird species, including the little auks and black guillemots. On the way, you’ll possibly see other wildlife such as polar foxes, reindeers, and Svalbard rock ptarmigan. When you are on the summit, you’ll be rewarded with a great view over the Ice fjord.

6. The Arctic Dip/Polar Plunge Challenge

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The Arctic Dip Polar Plunge Challenge 1 2 scaled 1

Are you up for some wild challenge? Invite your friends to join you on this polar plunge challenge! Traveling alone? You can always form friendships from the accommodation you live at, especially in hostels where the atmosphere is warm and informal!  In the summer, the water temperature is around 3-5 degrees Celsius. Surely not ideal for swimming, but for some stress-relieving dips, maybe! Research says a good dip in the cold water helps reduce the risk of heart diseases and cancer by regulating the antioxidant processes in the body- so now you have a good excuse to try! It is possible to combine this with a sauna as well. SvalBad sauna lets you take a plunge on the artic sea waters and warm yourself on the sauna afterwards. 

7. Explore Billefjorden

Be amazed at the beautiful mountains of Billefjorden, the bird life on the sea, the beautiful bay of Skansbukta, and the Nordenskiöld glacier.
Enjoy the stunning views as you cruise through the fjord and take in the breathtaking scenery. During daytrips, lunch is served on the boat while you socialize with the crew and other guests.
As you explore the stunning landscape, the guides will be happy to answer any questions and share their knowledge of the area.
You’ll also be given a good amount of time to observe the mighty glacier and try to spot some animals.

Meet wildlife along the way such as whales, seals, and even a Polar Bear, if you’re lucky! This trip can be booked here.
Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the unforgettable moments of your journey.
Check out other boat trips here

After experiencing this incredible trip, you’ll leave with memories that will last a lifetime.

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Nordenskiold Glacier by @arcticangie
Fjord safari to Pyramiden by Svalbard Adventures Gjestehuset 102
Fjord safari towards Billefjorden with Svalbard Adventures
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Fjord safari towards Billefjorden with Svalbard Adventures

8. Multi-day Expeditions

Explore and appreciate the pristine arctic nature more that is just so out of this world. There are several multi-day expeditions in the summer that will truly let you embrace the inner explorer you. Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions is a local reputable tour operator arranging sustainable and eco-friendly expeditions all year round.

Looking for the best summer adventure? What about a 3-day wilderness camp? Or a 5-day kayak expedition? Got a lot of time? A 9-day hike expedition on the west coast of Spitsbergen is also offered. During these trips, do not be surprised to see a rich animal and bird life right around your tent! Expect a real adventure, thousands of stories to hear from the experienced guides, and develop a closer relationship with the nature.

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Wilderness Camp with Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
Waking up on a beatiful arctic shore

You can see the rest of expeditions here

8. Wildlife Safari by boat

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Whale Safari with Polar Charter

Aside from its majestic and magical nature, Svalbard, as you already may know, is inhabited by unique and diverse wildlife. One of the most popular trips during the summer is whale watching. How great would it be to see the biggest animal on the planet, the Blue Whale? Among the most common whales to see in Svalbard are the Minke Whale, Humpback Whale, and the Belugas. Although wildlife is never guaranteed, it’s nice to take a chance!

Another popular wildlife trip is the Walrus Safari. These bulky creatures are extremely social so it is not uncommon to see them swimming and sunbathing in groups- and they’re quite funny too! There are 2 main walrus colonies in Isfjorden where these trips take you- in Borebukta across the fjord, and in Prins Karl Forland on the west coast of Spitsbergen. Svalbard Adventures takes you to Borebukta, where you will not only be rewarded with walrus sightseeing, but also with incredible views from the boat. Enjoy watching and appreciating the two glaciers that you can see from this bay, the Nansen glacier and Bore glacier.

These strangely adorable creatures sometimes visit Longyearbyen several times during the summer so if you’re lucky, you might be able to see them just on the beaches of Longyearbyen!

Speaking of wildlife, it is very common to see reindeers around Longyearbyen as well!

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Walrus Safari. Photo by Svalbard Adventures
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Reindeer - a common sight. Photo by Polina Bublik

You can see the rest of expeditions here

10. Get cozy under the sun

Form friendships through our other guests right outside our hostel, Gjestehuset 102. We have a veranda outside you can use to enjoy the warmth of the sun, while listening to wonderful stories from other travelers from around the world. A coal grill is also available to borrow until 20:00 for some nice, delicious barbecue with your newfound friends. We sell sodas and other snacks at the reception that you can take outside.

Just remember that there might be some other guests resting in their rooms, so we have to show respect.

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cozy days under the sun gjestehuset 102 1 scaled 1

Experience the midnight sun, meet our friendly reindeers, kayak the arctic fjords, taste our local exotic foods, and explore glaciers and mountains this summer- oh, you can do a so much more in Svalbard- where the extraordinary is ordinary!

Make your way into the arctic this summer and take the adventure. Remember that we offer 5% off on activities with our preferred partners: Svalbard Adventures, Greendog, and Polar Charter (for Whale Safari), if you book your stay directly with us, on our website or through e-mail.

Make it a summer to remember!

Start planning your summer adventure. Check our room availability:

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