If you really want to get away from it all, then few places on the planet capture the imagination quite like the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.
Its breathtaking fjords, dramatic glaciers and rugged wildlife make it a truly once-in-a-lifetime destination.
Svalbard is perhaps most famous for its long dark winters, and in stark contrast its 24 hour summers. The natural light here has distinctive seasons, each of which will play a huge factor in deciding when to take your trip.
The Polar Night occurs between late November and late January, and plunges the sky into 24/7 darkness, with the only light sources coming from the moon and stars. This makes it a perfect time of year to catch a glimpse of the magical Aurora borealis aka the Northern Lights. No arctic trip is complete without witnessing these fantastical lights at play.
Twilight occurs between both the polar night and midnight sun phases. The light in this period casts a strange blue hue in the sky.
Midnight Sun occurs between mid-April and mid-August, and as the sun never sets in this period, the sky is alight 24/7. This opens up many unique activities that you’d never normally be able to enjoy at nighttime: midnight swimming, fishing, golfing, sledging or kayaking.
It’s impossible to not feel awestruck by the magnificent scenery and wildlife that awaits you in Svalbard. The neverending summer days are perfect for boat tours round the many islands including Barentsburg, Pyramiden, and Ny-Aalesund.
Learn the fascinating history of the abandoned Russian settlements, and get to know what life was like outside of the capital. These boat trips also offer you the chance to see whales, walruses and seals all in their natural habitat.
Wintertime brings another popular activity in the form of snowmobile tours and safaris. Snowmobiles allow you to access the more remote parts of the island such as the east coast where you are more likely to see Polar bears, arctic foxes and reindeer.
HIking, cycling and dog-sledding are all popular activities for outdoor enthusiasts who want to explore these stunning surroundings. Pack for polar conditions, but be confident that for any excursion you partake in, you will always be given adequate, comfortable equipment.
For a remote island of fewer than 3000 inhabitants, Svalbard certainly knows how to celebrate.
Three major annual events are the Polar Jazz and Dark Season music festivals, along with the Ski marathon, attracting thousands of skiers from across the globe.
But perhaps the biggest party of all is the week long Solfestuka celebration, when the sun makes its much- anticipated first appearance.
With the warmer climate and melting glaciers, the wonder of Svalbard is to be enjoyed as soon as possible. It’s guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. 26 activities For more information go to en.visitsvalbard.com.