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Norwegian Arctic landscape

When is the best time to visit the Arctic?

The best time to visit the Arctic is in the high summer of late June and early July. Temperatures are between 3°C and 7°C, the sun remains above the horizon for 24 hours a day, and seabirds are in abundance. Hopefully you will have the chance to meet a polar bear or two at whatever time you travel, while whales may also be spotted throughout the season.

Expedition cruises to the Arctic (around the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, plus Greenland and the Russian far east) operate in this brief Arctic summer, when the sea ice has receded enough to allow the expedition vessels in to explore.

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Month-by-month guide for travelling in the Arctic

Arctic Sea Ice

Visiting the Arctic in October - May

The density of the sea ice and the long days of darkness mean that no expedition cruises operate during these months.

Polar Bear

Visiting the Arctic in June

The sea ice will have melted sufficiently to allow the expedition cruises to start, although you will still be crunching through the pack ice in your ice-strengthened boat. Polar bears, hungry after the long winter, will be looking for food and preying on seals on the ice floes.

Arctic Walrus

Visiting the Arctic in July - August

The warmest and busiest months for an Arctic cruise, this is the height of the Spitsbergen travel season. Birds, walrus, seals, whales (such as minke, humpback, fin and even blue) and the iconic polar bear will all hopefully be seen. West Greenland trips with a focus on whale watching are underway too.

Kangaamiut, Greenland

Visiting the Arctic in September

As the Arctic summer comes to an end, several of the Spitsbergen expedition boats complete their season by heading over to East Greenland. Here you will see magnificent fjord scenery and have the chance to see the aurora borealis as the nights reappear. 

Arctic Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Longyearbyen -13°C 22mm -13°C 28mm -13°C 29mm -9°C 16mm -3°C 13mm 3°C 18mm 7°C 24mm 6°C 30mm 1°C 25mm -4°C 19mm -8°C 22mm -11°C 25mm

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Travel advice

Practical tips for travelling to the Arctic, from social protocols to guidance on money matters, with a link to the latest FCDO travel advice.

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