The best summer excursions on Svalbard

To help guide you, we've put together this definitive list of the top ten best things to do in Svalbard over summer. Each has been tried and tested by our experts, picking out everything from glacier hikes to wheeled dogsledding.

1) Sail to a glacier and a historic Russian outpost

This exciting option not only showcases Barentsburg’s mining-settlement heritage and fascinating Soviet past, but it also offers a full day’s cruising. You’ll journey past rugged inlets and cliffs teeming with birdlife before getting up close to the mighty Esmark Glacier, taking an included lunch in its looming shadow.

Couple at Barentsburg church
Barentsburg church (Credit: Hurtigruten)

2) Discover the local wildlife on a walrus safari

Spotting a walrus in its natural environment is a truly special experience. In fact, the colonies on Svalbard are enjoying something of a resurgence, thanks to diminished hunting. You’ll be treated to one of the region’s most impressive populations, alongside lunch and a weather-dependent glacier sailing.

Walrus perched atop an iceberg
Walrus perched atop an iceberg

3) Channel your inner adventurer on a glacier hike

Svalbard’s wild landscapes are not just for looking at. Indeed, on this expert-led excursion, you’ll get right among its unique geography, heading out to the Longyear Valley’s spectacular landscape of glaciers, mountain ridges and distinctive rock formations. It all ends with a well-deserved lunch, taken from a sweeping, 849m-high viewpoint.

Group hiking on a glacier
Hiking on a glacier (Credit: Agurtxane Concellon)

4) Kayak a fjord

Slipping along the glassy Arctic waters in your very own kayak is quintessential adventure, bringing you among Svalbard’s wild fjord network. Along with the chance to spot seals and hundreds of different migratory birds, you’ll also be treated to a lunch stop at Hiorthhamn – a remote ghost town whose unique history is brought to life by your local guide.

Tandem kayak on Adventjord
Kayaking on Adventfjord (Credit: Tommy Simonsen, Hurtigruten)

5) Experience the thrill of dogsledding on wheels

This is your opportunity to experience all the adrenaline and thrill of dogsledding, just without winter’s chill. After meeting your happy team and their impossibly adorable puppies, you’ll head out into the dramatic landscapes of the Advent Valley under the steerage of your expert guide. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to spot everything from reindeer to Arctic foxes as you pause to soak up mountain views and visit long-lost mining relics.

Wheeled dogsledding on Svalbard
Dogsledding on wheels (Credit: Greendog, Hurtigruten)

6) Explore the Advent Valley by electric fatbike

Leaving Longyearbyen’s urbanity behind, this is your chance to explore rural Svalbard on two wheels. And, with the use of a bizarre-looking fatbike, your oversized tires and electric motor make easy work of the 25 kilometres of trails. Following the historic Burmaroad, you’ll head out into the ultra-scenic Advent Valley, where your local guide will bring the region’s coal-mining past to life over a series of photo stops. To keep warm, you’ll also be served complimentary hot drinks and a light lunch, while return accommodation transfers keep things seamless.

Couple on electric fatbikes on Svalbard
Fatbike excursion (Credit: Hurtigruten Svalbard)

7) Navigate an icy fjord by boat

The fjords of Svalbard are Arctic Norway at its wildest. Heading out in an expedition boat, you’ll navigate iceberg floes to get up close to colossal glaciers and cliffs buzzing with birdlife. While you should keep an eye out for seals and other Arctic wildlife, there’s human intrigue as well, with stops at the heritage homestead of famous hunter Hilmar Nøis and the historic hunting area of Bjonahamma – where you’ll take lunch.

RIB cruise on Svalbard's Isfjord
Isfjord Safari (Credit: Hanne Feyling, Hurtigruten)

8) Go fossil hunting

The far Arctic has long been a pilgrimage destination for explorers and scientists alike. And now, you too can follow in their bow wake, boarding an expedition boat for the journey out to wild Deltaneset. This is where a team from Oslo’s Natural History Museum uncovered three specimens of prehistoric reptiles. Like them, any fossil you do find, you can bring home as a souvenir!

Group inspects a fossil on Svalbard
Fossil hunting (Credit: Anne Maanum, Hurtigruten)

9) Uncover the unique history of Longyearbyen

This excursion is the perfect introduction to both the Svalbard capital and its immediate surrounds. Indeed, after showcasing the town’s rich frontier heritage, your driver-guide will bring you out into the Longyear Valley, where you can spot reindeer, birdlife and historic mines. You’ll end with the Global Seed Vault – an ultra-modern reserve, buried safely into a mountainside.

Colourful houses and Arctic files in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Longyearbyen

10) Enjoy an evening in the Arctic wilderness

This is your chance to get out into the Arctic tundra for a cosy night by the fire. You’ll be met at your accommodation and brought to Camp Barentz, tucked away in the Advent Valley about 10km outside of Longyearbyen. Here, you’ll be welcomed into a quaint log-cabin hut by your delightful Nordic hosts, who’ll treat you to bonfire coffee, cake and a hot meal of tasty reindeer. Then, once you’ve had your fill, it’s time to sit back and enjoy their tales of polar bears and Svalbard adventurers.

Host cooking on the campfire at Camp Barentz
Camp Barentz (Credit: Hurtigruten Svalbard)

Inspired? Take a look at our summer Svalbard itinerary, or contact one of our experts on 020 7838 5956.

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