Best Places To Visit In Svalbard: An Icy Wonderland

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best places to visit in Svalbard

Svalbard is one of the most popular destinations for people wishing to experience the true Arctic. The diverse landscape and abundant wildlife bring thousands of travellers to her shores each year.

Whether you want to experience stunning fjords, epic icebergs, or get close to a 500kg polar bear, Svalbard has it all. Depending on which cruise you take, you'll be able to visit some of Svalbard's best destinations.

To help you decide which destination is for you, we have written a list of the best places to visit in Svalbard​ during your cruise. Enjoy!

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Best ​Places To Vist In Svalbard

​Edgeoya

Edgeøya-best places to visit in Svalbard

Discovered in the 17th century, Edgeoya or 'Edge Island' as it sometimes know, is a large island roughly 5,073 square kilometres (1,960 sq mi) in size.

Located in the southeast of the archipeligo, Edgeoya has a thriving population of polar bears and reindeer. If you're lucky, you'll also spot groups of walrus along the islands edge. The island has a tundra landscape which is rich in flora during the summer periods.

The plateau-shaped mountains and open valleys make Edgeoya ideal for landscape photographers. Visit Edgeoya on most in-depth Svalbard cruises.

Check out the video below by Lindblad Expeditions.

​Hornsund

best places to visit in Svalbard

Frequently described as the most stunning fjord in Spitsbergen, Hornsund is one of the most commonly visited destinations on any Svalbard or Spitsbergen cruise.

Found on Spitsbergen's  southern most tip, Hornsund cuts a good 30km deep into the island. Because of the sund's geology, there are very few landing sites, especially for big boats.

Simply cruising through Hornsund is enough though as the area is extremely beautiful. Don't worry though, you'll hopefully get to go ashore and hike through the glacial landscape. Look out for seabirds, particularly little auks.

Hornsund is also a popular migratory destination for polar bears, so keep your eyes peeled!

​Bellsund

best places to visit in Svalbard bellsund
Similar to Hornsund, Bellsund is a beautiful fjord located on the west coast of Spitsbergen. 


Part of the South Spitsbergen National Park, Bellsund is a 20-kilometer long fjord system with dramatic scenery. Thanks to its location, a wide range of landscapes can be seen within a fairly short distance. 


Expect to see coastal plains on the west coast to the jagged mountains and plateau-mountain landscape of central and eastern Spitsbergen. Like most of Spitsbergen, polar bears are frequently seen in this area, as are reindeer, geese and Arctic foxes. 


The towering cliffs are also a haven for thousands of seabirds.

​Longyearbyen

best places to visit in svalbard

The capital of Svalbard, Longyearbyen is a vibrant town with just 2,000 inhabitants. Many cruises and land-based tours depart from here and you'll be able to find a range of amenities including shops, restaurants and cafes. 

The town is the cultural centre of the archipelago and there are a number of festivals, concerts and fascinating museums to visit. if museums are not your thing then perhaps visit the local microbrewery, or take a tour around the Svalbard Seed Vault - one of the most interesting places in the Arctic!

If you have spare time you could take a dog-sledding trip or take a snow-mobile tour.

For a visual tour, check out this video of Longyearbyen by Veritasium:

​Nordaustlandet

best places to visit in svalbard

​Sitting just north-east of Spitsbergen, Nordaustlandet is the second largest island in the Svalbard archipelago.

Often called North East Land, the island is one of the most visited locations on Svalbard cruise itineraries. Completely uninhabited, the island is actually part of the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve. Separated to Spitsbergen by the Hinlopen Strait, much of the island is covered in large ice caps.

The northern parts of the island however, exhibit plenty of tundra land where reindeer are frequently seen. This is also the best side of the island to see walrus.

​Ny-Ålesund

best places to visit in Svalbard

​Ny-Ålesund is a small  settlement situated on the south side of the Kongsfjorden Fjord and is the northern-most town in the world.

With it's history in coal mining, the town has many cultural monuments that are worth viewing. With only 30 residents, the town is very low key and unassuming. In the summer this number increases to 150 when scientists and researchers arrive.

Most notably, Ny-Ålesund has been the start point for many early North Pole attempts including Amundsen, Ellsworth and Nobile. The world’s northernmost post office is located in Ny-Ålesund and these days over 20,000 cruise goers visit the settlements each year. Polar bears have been known to enter the small town.

​Hinlopenstretet

best places to visit in Svalbard

150 kilometers (93 mi) long, the Hinlopen Strait separates Northeast Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet.

The strait is notoriously difficult to sail through due to pack ice and can only be navigated during the warmest months of the year.The best bit about the straight is its seabirds.

During April and May Hinlopen Strait comes alive with the sound of bird calls as thousands of little auks, Brünnich’s guillemot, and northern fulmar arrive. Polar bears are Maos common along the shoreline and in summer you will rarely miss them!

The straight also has several excellent haul-out spots for walrus such as Augustabukta and Vibebukta.

Below is a very short video by Mark and Sylvia of Hinlopen Strait.

​Monacobreen

best places to visit in Svalbard

Named in the honour of the first Prince Albert of Monaco, Monacobreen is a large glacier in Spitsbergen that extremes down into Liefdefjorden or the 'Love Fjord'.

If you want to get up close and personal with a glacier, this is probably your best option in Svalbard. You will literally hear the creaking and cracking as the glacier moves imperceptibly. If you're lucky enough to witness the glacier calving then you'll hear something akin to thunder!

Sadly, according to global warming studies, Monacobreen glacier has retreated by over 2 miles in the last 50 years.

The short video below by Marek Rajtar demonstrates the scale of this glacier.

​Kongsfjorden

best places to visit in Svalbard

Kongsfjorden is a small inlet on the west coast of Spitsbergen. The inlet itself is roughly 25km wide and is headed by two glaciers.

The tiny research settlement of Ny-Ålesund is located on the southern shores of the inlet and attracts thousands of tourists each year. The inlet is abundant with wildlife including seabirds, seals, walrus and polar bears that stalk the shoreline.

This, along with the glacier and backdrop of mountains, makes Kongsfjorden one of the most picturesque and beautiful places in Svalbard. Beluga whales are a common sight in Kongsfjorden during the summer months and often spend days at a time swimming the inlet.

Check out this great video below by Tomas Taylor of Kongsfjorden.

​Krossfjorden

best places to visit in Svalbard

​Krossfjorden is a 30 km long fjord located on the west coast of Spitsbergen.

Similar to that of Kongsfjorden which meets Krossfjorden at the mouth, this area of water is a haven for wildlife. Thanks to the gulf stream which keeps the climate relatively mild, the fjord remains open for most of the year.

The first whaling station on Spitsbergen was established in the area in 1611 and many of the cultural relics can still be seen doted along the shoreline.

If you're lucky you'll hear some of the local glaciers calving - the noise often sounds like thunder and can be heard from several miles away.

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

​FAQ

If you have any queries or questions regarding the top Svalbard cruise destinations, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

​Expedition Cruise Team

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About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.

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