How To Travel To Svalbard (2022 Guide With Multiple Options)

There’s no place just like Svalbard, and this arctic island is a part of Norway. Despite this, Svalbard is located almost 1,000 km north of Norway, so getting to Svalbard from Norway is actually a bit of a challenge. So, what are the best options for traveling to Svalbard?

The by far best option of getting to Svalbard is to fly from either Oslo or Tromsø to the airport on Svalbard (Longyear Airport). Flight time is between 1.5 and 3 hours from Norway, and takes you very close to Longyearbyen, the main city on Svalbard.

Homes on Svalbard
Homes on Svalbard. Photo by Peter Vermeij, published with permission.

So if you dream of seeing polar bears and arctic mountains, getting on a plane from Norway to Svalbard might be just what you need to make this dream come true! However, there are other options, although they are much more expensive and take much longer.

So, let’s take a deep dive into how to get to Svalbard by plane and other means!

Pyramiden at Svalbard
Pyramiden at Svalbard. Photo published with permission.

Getting to Svalbard by plane from Oslo or Tromsø

99 % of all travelers who travel to Svalbard arrive by plane from either Oslo or Tromsø. Most days have several planes that travel between Svalbard Airport Longyear and these two airports.

This means that for most travelers, flying from your home airport to Oslo, then changing to a plane headed to Svalbard is the best option.

Airlines that operate the flights between Tromsø or Oslo and Svalbard are SAS, Enter Air, Transavia, and Titan Airways. You will usually find at least one daily flight to Svalbard, but some days have multiple departures.

Total travel time from Oslo Airport Gardermoen to Svalbard is 3 hours. The flight time from Tromsø is shorter with just 1 hour and 35 minutes in the air.

Svalbard airport
Svalbard airport Longyear. Photo by Hylgeriak / CC BY-SA 3.0.

When arriving at Svalbard Airport Longyear, getting to Longyearbyen is about a 15 minute drive. Most people opt to use the Airport Express Bus for 100 NOK each to get to the city. There are also taxis available, which could save you some money if you are a party of three or four people.

If you want a more luxurious option, consider booking a private airport transfer to have a car waiting for you:

Read more: How to get from Svalbard Airport Longyear to Longyearbyen city.

The price for a plane ticket to Svalbard

Flights to and from Svalbard are not that expensive really, and you can get lucky and find tickets that are around 1,000 Norwegian kroner (about $100) each way.

However, it’s most common for the flight tickets to be in the 1,500 NOK to 3,000 NOK price range. This means that a ticket and a return ticket could cost as much as 6,000 NOK ($600) in total for each person. This adds up if you are a whole family of 4 or 5 traveling to Svalbard, so it might be worth trying to get your hands on one of the cheaper tickets.

PS. keep in mind that Svalbard is considered to be very expensive to visit as a tourist!

I always use Google Flights to find the cheapest tickets, but there are many other plane ticket aggregators that works just as good.

Longyearbyen on Svalbard
Longyearbyen on Svalbard. Photo published with permission.

Riding a ship or ferry to Svalbard

It’s possible to get to Svalbard by ship or ferry, but there are no regular ferry service between mainland Norway and Svalbard. Your only option of getting to Svalbard by ferry is to book a multi-day cruise from other parts of the world.

There are cruise ships that operate between mainland Norway and Svalbard, but be aware that we are talking about a 4 – 7 day cruise in the arctic before arriving at Svalbard! Expect to pay premium (around 50,000 NOK) for such a cruise.

These cruises only operates in the summer, and tend to be fully booked many months in advance. They tend to start at Tromsø, so you will need to fly to Tromsø to begin the cruise.

Hurtigruten does offer a Svalbard cruise this summer, but you will need to fly to Longyearbyen to actually start the cruise.

Hurtigruten MV Spitsbergen
Hurtigruten offer cruises on Svalbard, but you need to fly in to Svalbard to start the cruise. Photo by Isak Løvik / CC BY-SA 4.0.

While a cruise to Svalbard might be ten tines as expensive, take much longer and be much more inconvenient, it might still be a great option for some people. Not only do you get a few days of complete cruise luxury, but you also get to the some incredible nature along the Norwegian coast!

So if you find that journey is more important than the destination, consider if you should travel to Svalbard by cruise next time.

Getting to Svalbard by private boat

You can in theory just drive your boat to Svalbard to visit the island, but this boat ride is considered difficult and dangerous for smaller boats. However, there are some sailboats that tend to stop by Svalbard every once in a while.

I don’t have much experience with sailing from Norway to Svalbard, so I’m not going to comment further on this, but please only attempt this route if you are knowledgeable enough about it.

Flying to Svalbard directly from France

There are a few flights from France to Svalbard for some reason, which is the only country besides Norway that fly to Svalbard directly. These lines tend to be during the summer only, and I have yet to find a winter flight between France and Svalbard.

ASL Airlines and EFT Airways operate the fights between France and Svalbard. There are flights from both Paris and Nice to Svalbard, but they are usually only once weekly, and cost more than flying from Oslo or Tromsø.

However, if you’re already in Paris and want to get to Svalbard, this might be a decent option if you don’t want to have a layover in Oslo.

A glacier on Spitsbergen
A glacier on Svalbard. Photo published with permission.

Anyone can visit Svalbard without a visa (in theory)

Most countries outside of EU and EEA requires a visa if you want to enter Norway, but Svalbard es exempt from this visa rule. Anyone can enter the island without a visa, but the problem is that you will need a visa if you want to go to Svalbard via a flight from Oslo or Tromsø.

In reality, this means that most people who want to visit Svalbard will need to get a visa for Norway before arriving at the island. Remember to make sure that the visa is good for two entries to Norway, since you will need another entry when you get back to Oslo or Tromsø from Svalbard.

In addition, remember to bring your airport when traveling to Svalbard. You are required to have this on you when entering the island unless you have another type of documentation that is accepted by the Norwegian government (which is pretty much only Norwegian National ID cards and Norwegian driver’s licenses).

PS. only people from outside of EU or EEA need a visa to enter Norway. So all you EU citizens can freely travel to Svalbard trough Norway.

Longyearbyen is the only inhabited western city on Svalbard. Photo published with permission.

2 thoughts on “How To Travel To Svalbard (2022 Guide With Multiple Options)”

  1. Great information – thanks

    Looking at getting to Svalbard from Ireland. I try to go overland/sea as much as possble so my plan would be to get to Tromsø by boat/train/bus etc. and fly from there. I have plenty of time 🙂


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