Lying about half way between Norway and the North Pole, Spitsbergen is the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago. The best way to visit the Arctic is onboard an expedition cruise and our experts can help you decide which type of vessel and holiday is most suitable. Spitsbergen cruises offer an amazing variety of landscapes and wildlife. You'll see walruses, polar bears, reindeer, whales, and numerous species of bird on your trip to Spitsbergen and Svalbard.
- Spitsbergen is one of the best places in the Arctic to observe Polar bears in their natural habitat
- A variety of land mammals such as the Arctic fox can be seen, as well as reindeer, hares and prolific birdlife
- The Walrus, an iconic species of the Arctic are frequently seen on the ice floe
- The best way to see the arctic is by boat for a true expeditionary experience.
- Small boat cruises are available from as few as 12 passengers, read more about our Arctic Cruises
- Daily landings by zodiacs allow for close encounters and interaction with environment
- Mushing your own team of huskies is a thrilling way to experience the high arctic
- Spend days travelling across the ice to remote arctic lodges from £3,595 on our Dog Sledding Adventure holiday
- Experience spectacular scenery, ice blue glaciers and the mesmerising northern lights
- A fantastic winter take on the arctic is a snow mobiling adventure
- Navigate across the ice and snow on your own snow mobile staying in unique lodges such as the Isford radio boutique hotel
- Drive through Glacial valleys and across frozen fjords
What to expect on your Spitsbergen holiday
The answer depends on whether you visit in the summer or winter.
In summer, when the sun never drops below the horizon, polar bears emerge from hibernation onto the ice flows and you can see walruses basking in the warmer air. Small boats provide the best opportunity for polar bear spotting as they're able to sail into smaller bays.
During the winter and spring months, it is the time for a dog sledding holiday or watching the flashing curtain of the Aurora Borealis. The sun never lifts above the horizon but bathes the land in an eerie pre-dawn light for a few hours each day.
Arctic Expeditions & Cruises
Our Arctic expeditions offer a good choice of Spitsbergen cruises throughout the summer months (end of June to early September) from an eight day abridged voyage which is a great introduction to the high Arctic, a 14 day in-depth voyage for those who really want to maximise their Arctic wildlife sightings, to our wildlife group expedition cruise with experts Monty Halls and Sue Flood in conjunction with the Telegraph Tours.
Our in-depth knowledge of the Arctic boats, the wildlife, and the seasonal nuances of travel in Spitsbergen is invaluable when planning the perfect Arctic holiday. Under the perpetual midnight sun, explore Spitsbergen's dramatic scenery, ice-choked fjords, and wildlife aboard a small expeditionary ship. Our Spitsbergen polar bear cruise provides a perfect introduction to the wildlife, history and stunning geography of this magical Arctic wilderness. Daily guided excursions by zodiac cruising along glacier fronts searching for polar bears, walruses and beautiful photographic opportunities. Landings allow you to walk on the Arctic tundra and visit the many historical sites. Combined with its relatively easy access to Longyearbyen via Oslo, the wonders of Spitsbergen couldn't be more appealing to the intrepid traveller. It’s also possible to combine your Spitsbergen holiday with Greenland and Iceland.
Some ideas for a Spitsbergen Expedition cruise
- Introduction to Spitsbergen Cruise: spend a between 8-14 days on this expeditionary cruise ship looking for both marine and land mammals along with the prolific birdlife
- Spitsbergen holidays offer unrivalled chances to see the ‘King of the Arctic’, the polar bear
- Try the exhilarating thrill of dog sledding for a few days travelling between remote but surprisingly comfortable accommodation
- Watch the skies dance with the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Spitsbergen is located within the auroral zone and has virtually no light pollution
- For the active, trekking throughout the Arctic island of Spitsbergen is a must during the summer months.
Beyond the ordinary
- Dog sled out to the Noorderlicht, a ship stuck fast in the sea ice of Templefjorden
Our Spitsbergen holiday expert
“So close and yet so remote, barely inhabited with much of its area under permanent icecaps, glaciers calving icebergs, towering sea cliffs covered in seabirds, reindeer munching its tundra, walrus strewn beaches and polar bears hunting seals on the sea ice Spitsbergen is perfect for those looking for wilderness, wildlife & history. I love the excitement of a zodiac cruise not knowing what is around the headland or on the far side of an ice flow, will it be a polar bear?”
Sue has cruised the waters in a variety of different vessels and is an expert in Spitsbergen cruises. Call our travel experts on 01285 885 333 to start planning your Spitsbergen holiday.
Sue Grimwood | Steppes Travel Spitsbergen Specialist