Arctic When To Go

When To Go

Spitsbergen / Svalbard expeditions generally operate from around mid-late April to mid-October. Each expedition encounters something unique and special so no matter when you go, you will experience classic Arctic landscapes and wildlife. Conditions are wintry in mid-April to early-mid May with deep snow common on the slopes especially. Spring, which starts sometime around mid-late May, heralds the animated nesting season for the region’s cliff-dwelling seabirds. Polar bears, whales, walruses and seals can be seen almost anytime during the season. August and early September are the most-ice free times to sail the region, meaning more freedom to travel to more remote and isolated wilderness areas, including the haunting emptiness of eastern Greenland. Falls brings colors and again reminds travelers of the wintry conditions the north pole excels at. Northern lights expeditions typically run from October through March, and happen at a lower latitude, allowing for safer voyaging, more wildlife, yet still supremely long dark nights to enjoy the spectacular displays of the aurora. While chilly – often in the 20’s and 30’s F, northern lights trips tend to include easy walks and landings to explore the local fishing villages and natural areas during the day.

Most Spitsbergen departures occur between June-August, The highs at this time of year tend to hover in the mid-40’s and lows in 30’s F.  Conditions can change quickly. Windy conditions are not unusual, and neither is rain or snow, however heavy downpours are uncommon. In Tromso, the gateway for many Northern Lights expeditions, has a humid sub-Arctic climate, so be prepared for precipitation. In Tromso, the coldest month is January, when temperatures average 25 F.

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