Many travelers dream of visiting Svalbard to see the arctic for real, and this island group is actually very different from mainland Norway. It’s a great place to visit for arctic excursions and wildlife safaris, but what’s the cost of things like in Svalbard? Is it as costly as in mainland Norway?
Despite Svalbard being a tax free zone, many things are even more expensive in Svalbard than in mainland Norway. Both accommodations, food, excursions and events, and most things aimed at tourists are slightly more expensive than in mainland Norway.
So expect your visit to Svalbard to be a costly affair on point with or slightly higher than the cost of visiting the rest of Norway. The fact that all things are tax free on Svalbard won’t matter all that much after all, since the price point is still roughly the same.
There are some things that are cheaper in Svalbard than in mainland Norway, which I will get back to for the final part of this article.
I hope you are ready for a deep-dive into the different costs of things in Svalbard, because we’re going to be looking closer at restaurant prices, excursion costs, how much it costs to stay at the hotels in Svalbard, and of course what you can buy for cheaper on the island.
Cost of accommodations in Svalbard
There are less than 10 different hotels and hostels to spend the night in Longyearbyen in Svalbard, and most of them are very expensive. The price range is from pretty expensive to very expensive, and expect to pay around 1,500 NOK per night for a room for 2 adults.
The prices are pretty much the same all year round, and there are few opportunities to save money on the accommodation. So this is going to be a big post in your budget when you are traveling to Svalbard.
Below is a table that shows the cost for staying one night at a room with a double bed in it in Longyearbyen on Svalbard.
Price example for 1 hotel night for 2 adults in different hotels in Svalbard
|Hotel / Hostel||Price in NOK||Aprrox. $USD price|
|Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen||2,795 NOK||$280|
|Svalbard Hotell – Polfareren||3,000 NOK||$300|
|Coal Miners Cabins||1,495 NOK||$250|
|Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg||3,595 NOK||$360|
|Svalbard Hotell – The Vault||2,655 NOK||$270|
|Svalbard Hotell – Lodge||4,040 NOK||$400|
|Gjestehuset 102 (Hostel)||1,198 NOK||$120|
|Funken Lodge||3,340 NOK||$340|
|Basecamp Spitsbergen Hotel||1,790 NOK||$180|
As you can see, the cheapest option is just over 1,000 NOK per night, but this is a hostel. If you want a real hotel room for you and one other person to share a bed with, expect to pay at least 1,500 or 2,000 NOK for a single night.
Family rooms with multiple beds for one or two children are obviously even more expensive.
Cost of food, drinks and restaurants in Svalbard
It’s impossible to grow any vegetables and fruits on Svalbard, and there’s no food production, so all food items have to be shipped in from mainland Norway. There are usually food shipments every other day, so it’s not like there’s a food shortage, but the food shipments do end up making the food more expensive.
Eating out at a restaurant in Svalbard will cost you roughly the same as a restaurant in mainland Norway. In other words, expect to pay between 300 and 400 NOK for a dinner at a regular restaurant. Lunch menus can be cheaper at around 150 – 300 NOK each.
Cost of food at the supermarket in Svalbard
The price for food at the supermarket in Svalbard (yes, there’s only one) is roughly around 10 – 20 % more expensive than on mainland Norway. Keep in mind that there is no VAT on Svalbard, but it’s still more expensive.
There also fewer non-branded options, so you don’t usually have the option to buy cheaper versions of most brands.
The supermarket on Svalbard is called Svalbardbutikken (it’s also known as Coop Svalbard), and you should check it out if you don’t want to pay insane prices for buying all your meals at restaurants. This supermarket sells more than just groceries and household items, it also sells souvenirs and other things you might want to buy as a tourist.
Cost of excursions and activities in Svalbard
When you are visiting Svalbard, you probably want to go on activities and excursions. There is a lot of fun stuff to do on Svalbard, but most of these require a guide due to the polar bear threat. This has lead to many of the activities being pretty expensive, so be prepared to pay a lot of money if you want to go on day trips when visiting Svalbard.
Below is a table of some of the most popular tourist excursions in Svalbard, and their price point in 2023.
|Excursion / activity||Cost per person in NOK||Approx. $USD cost|
|Dog sledding (1 day)||1,800 NOK||$180|
|Visit an ice cave||1,000 NOK||$100|
|Svalbard Museum entry||100 NOK||$10|
|Snowmobile safari (1 day)||3,000 NOK||$300|
|Snowmobile safari (3 days)||15,900 NOK||$1,590|
|Day cruise to Pyramiden||1,500 NOK||$150|
|Kayak excursion (1 day)||2,000 NOK||$200|
|Guided hike to Platafjellet||600 NOK||$60|
Cost for flights to and from Svalbard
There are only a handful of airline companies that operate on Svalbard, and flights to and from Svalbard are generally somewhat expensive. However, as with most airplane tickets, the prices very a lot on a daily basis, so it’s impossible to tell exactly how much you will end up paying.
By looking at Google Flights, I’ve found tickets to and from Svalbard that are as cheap as around 1,000 NOK ($100 USD) each way, but they are commonly in the 1,500 to 3,000 NOK price range.
Almost all flights to and from Svalbard goes to either Oslo Airport Gardermoen or Tromsø Airport Langnes. You will also sometimes see flights from Nice and Paris in France to Svalbard, but these are pretty rare.
The point is that if you’re from another country, you firstly need to get a flight to Oslo or Tromsø, then get on a new flight to Longyearbyen.
The airline companies that operates with flights to and from Svalbard are SAS, Transavia, Enter Air, Norwegian, ASL Airlines (France), ETF Airways (France), and Titan Airways.
Cost of general shopping in Svalbard
If you’re planning to go on a shopping trip to Svalbard, then you might want to reconsider. While many goods like hiking supplies and leather items are considered to be pretty cheap in Svalbard, most other things are on level with mainland Norway. So it’s not a place where everything feels cheap, even though all items sold are tax free.
You can do some great deals on hiking equipment and outdoor clothing on Svalbard, so don’t worry if you forgot your hiking shoes at home when you packed your luggage.
Things that are cheaper in Svalbard than mainland Norway
Svalbard has certain items which are far cheaper than in mainland Norway. These are primarily items that are heavily taxed in mainland Norway, so they become very cheap when you remove the tax and VAT from them.
Some items that are by far cheaper on Svalbard are alcohol (about half the price of mainland Norway), and tobacco (about 1/5th the price of mainland Norway). And as mentioned above, fur and leather items, as well as most outdoor clothing and equipment are pretty cheap in Svalbard.
Cars are generally also heavily taxed in mainland Norway, and cars and snowmobiles are on average about 30 % cheaper on Svalbard. This is even after you factor in how much it costs to ship these huge items to the island. Fuel prices are also generally lower.
It’s pretty cheap to live in Svalbard
Besides the items you can buy, renting a house or apartment is far cheaper on Svalbard then in mainland Norway. The reason is simply because the housing market on the island is subsidized by the government. And let’s not forget that the income tax is a lot lower than on mainland Norway, so most people have much more disposable income.
Many people on Svalbard also take advantage of online shopping, and they can order anything they want and get it delivered to Svalbard without paying tax on it.
The end result is that living on Svalbard is pretty cheap, and most people who are living there earn an income that is about the same as the Norwegian average salary. This means around 550,000 NOK each year. In mainland Norway you could expect around a 30 % income tax, but this would only be 8 % on Svalbard.
How much does a trip to Svalbard cost in total?
The average length of the trip to Svalbard is four days, but these four days are going to be costly.
If you are a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) that need to stay five nights and want four excursions, then expect to pay around 50,000 NOK ($5,000) for the entire trip.
This includes four excursions, five nights in a family hotel room, and eating out at restaurants for both lunch and dinner most days.
This might seem very steep, but it is what it is. Trips to Svalbard are generally very expensive, and there are few budget options.
You can’t just set up a tent in the wild like you can in the rest of Norway, and you can’t really just travel around o the island all by yourself either. So you pretty much have to book rooms at one of the hotels and rent guides for excursions and trips.
One of the only real ways to get this cost down is by dropping excursions. While a single day xcursion for 1,800 NOK might not sound too bad, it adds up to over 7,000 NOK for a family of four! If you’re doing this four days, that’s over 28,000 NOK ($2,800) just for excursions.
I know that some Svalbard tourists also keep the cost down by not eating at restaurants, but rather prepare their own means, which is also a decent option to save between $200 and $400 each day for a family of four.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.