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Svalbard Travel Guide

A slice of northern Europe that few people get the chance to see.

Svalbard, a remote Arctic wonderland, is a slice of northern Europe that few people get the chance to see. The region is home to endless unspoilt nature, thrilling activities like dog-sledding and snowmobiling, and elusive wildlife—including the 'King of the Arctic', the mighty polar bear.

While the beauty and uniqueness of Svalbard is unrivaled, travellers must be prepared for their trip. Below is some important information to read through carefully. 

How to get to Svalbard

To reach Svalbard you most likely need to fly via Oslo Gardermoen or Tromsø. The flights to and from Svalbard are not included in the price of the tour package. Please note that due to the flight schedule between Svalbard and Norway, travellers are urged to spend an night in either Oslo or Tromsø before and after the trip. Additionally, our Svalbard tours can be combined with any of our Norway packages. Please speak to your travel consultant about making additions to your itinerary.

VISA AND ENTRY TO SVALBARD

The regulations concerning entry to Svalbard are different from those of the Norwegian mainland. Although the Norwegian mainland is part of the Schengen area, Svalbard is not, and due to this fact, an ID control is required of all visitors travelling to Svalbard.

You can read more about the rules and regulations for passports and visas here:

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration is responsible for processing applications from foreign travellers who wish to visit Svalbard, and you can find more information here: udi.no

NORTHERN LIGHTS IN SVALBARD

The northern lights are a truly unique experience in Svalbard and they can even be seen during the day. Svalbard is at 78 degrees north and the region has darkness 24/7 for more or less three months from November to mid-February and most of the northern lights activity this far north occurs between 06:00 and 18:00.

THE POLAR BEAR – KING OF THE ARCTIC

Polar bears are probably the foremost symbol of Svalbard’s wildlife and it‘s a truly exhilarating experience to see them in their natural surroundings.

Please keep in mind that Svalbard prohibits coaxing, pursuing, or disturbing polar bears in such a way that endangers humans or the bears themselves. Attacks on humans, though rare, can be fatal.

Therefore visitor safety is overseen by experienced guides who carry rifles at all times to let off warning shots if needed. The authorities in Svalbard, together with the joint travel industry, encourage participation in organised, guided activities in order to protect both visitors and polar bears.  

VISITOR SAFETY IN SVALBARD

It highly recommended to use professional tour operators if you want to go into the vast wilderness of Svalbard. The guides are well qualified to take care of you, by esteeming the weather conditions, avalanche risk, ice conditions, polar bear threat, etc. They also bring along the required equipment for more or less all thinkable situations, including communication systems on a place where no cell phones will do. Due to the Polar bear danger in Svalbard, any person travelling outside the settlements must be equipped with appropriate means of frightening and chasing off Polar bears.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND TOURISM IN SVALBARD

Svalbard’s vegetation is very exposed, particularly due to the permafrost, and destruction of flora can leave a lasting scar on the landscape. All vegetation is therefore protected and all traces of human activity up to 1945 are regarded as cultural monuments. Svalbard’s Environmental Act strictly regulates travel on Svalbard.

TAXES AND SHOPPING

Svalbard does not share the same taxation rate as mainland Norway, making shopping less expensive, with no VAT. Therefore shopping is a popular activity for people visiting Longyearbyen, with good prices on a wide range of products.

WHAT TO PACK?

When visiting Svalbard, it is essential to dress accordingly as the weather can change very quickly and strong winds makes it feel colder than the measured temperature. You should pack:

  • Waterproof and sturdy walking shoes/mountain boots
  • Windproof jacket
  • Woollen underwear
  • Mittens, scarf and a hat
  • Several layers of wool and/or fleece.
  • A reflective vest can also be useful, as it gets very dark
  • Indoor shoes and warm socks

Now you know what you need, start exploring our Svalbard tour packages.

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