3 Unique Tours to Visit an Ice Cave in Svalbard (+ My Tips!)

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Svalbard is home to countless unique opportunities and travel experiences, and one of winter’s most famous is visiting an ice cave!

From approximately January until May, it is possible to visit an ice cave in Svalbard. And the best part about it is that there are a few ways that you can do it!

In this guide, I detail everything you need to know about the Svalbard ice caves, including how to visit one, the best tour options to do so, and some tips before embarking on your adventure.

Are you planning your trip to Svalbard last minute?

If youʻre booking your trip to Svalbard last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours, and more!

❄️  Top tours and activities in Svalbard:

  1. Svalbard ice cave tour by snowmobile (beginner-friendly; recommended below!)
  2. Snowmobile trip to the land of the polar bear (most incredible day tour)
  3. Northern lights snowmobile safari (includes dinner!)

🛌  Top hotels and places to stay:

  1. Haugen Pensjonat Svalbard (my FAVORITE place to stay!)
  2. Radisson Blu (good base for activities!)
  3. Coal Minerʻs Cabins (best budget accommodation)

At the bottom of the guide, I also answer some frequently asked questions about taking an ice cave tour in Svalbard, including whether a claustrophobic person should do it or not (disclaimer: I am claustrophobic!).

If I missed anything you’d like to know about visiting a Svalbard ice cave, please let me know in the comments.

How to visit an ice cave in Svalbard
How to visit an ice cave in Svalbard

I am happy to share my experience with you and try to answer your questions! Thanks.

About Ice Caves in Svalbard

I have visited quite a few ice caves over the years. While most were not on trips to Svalbard, I finally had a chance to visit the famous ice cave in Svalbard on my latest trip there.

These Svalbard ice caves are formed by meltwater from glaciers, and some of them are safe to visit with an expert guide on a tour. Ice caves are truly magnificent, and it is amazing to be able to see one with your own eyes (and even walk inside of them).

Map to the ice cave where the snowmobile and dog-sledding tours go
Map to the ice cave where the snowmobile and dog-sledding tours go

While the ice caves I have visited in other places had limited options for getting to them, Svalbard is different. There are a few options for an ice cave tour in Svalbard, and all give a different way to reach the ice cave!

🧊 PRO TIP: Ice caves change, and ice caves come and go. You may visit a different one than I did, and your photos may look different. It’s the beauty of nature!!

In my guide, I will detail how I got to the famous Svalbard ice cave, as well as a few other tours that will take you there.

If you are traveling to Svalbard during the winter, I highly recommend booking this activity, as it is something you simply can’t do in many places around the world!

An ice cave in Svalbard
Inside an ice cave in Svalbard

If you have any questions about taking a Svalbard ice cave tour, please let me know in the comments.

How to Visit a Svalbard Ice Cave (3 Options!)

There are four different options for getting to the ice cave in Svalbard (by tour) that I know of. However, I am only going to include three on this guide, as the one I am omitting is a hiking tour, and I think the options I am recommending add an element of adventure to the journey out there.

I am going to be completely upfront when stating that I did the snowmobile tour to the ice cave. And, yes, I can highly recommend that.

I took a snowmobile to the ice cave in Svalbard!
I took a snowmobile to the ice cave in Svalbard!

But, I am giving options for the snowcat tour and a dog-sledding tour to the ice caves as well, because I know travelers who have done them and said they enjoyed the experience.

But, at the end of the day, I think the ice cave snowmobile tour in Svalbard was a great way to get to the caves, and I can recommend it to everyone.

Option 1: Snowmobiling to the Ice Cave

Duration: 5 hours
Season: Mid-February to May

The way I visited the ice caves in Svalbard was by snowmobile. I was apprehensive about booking this tour at first because I am claustrophobic, but Allison (my friend I was traveling with) booked it so that we could share a snowmobile and venture to the cave together. I am glad she did!

Standing with my transportation for the day!
Standing with my transportation for the day!

The day starts at the Svalbard Adventures office, where you will change into your polar suits, get briefed on the day, and learn how to use a snowmobile (this tour is beginner-friendly!).

After making it to the ice caves, you will have a chance to go inside and explore. After a brief time in the ice cave, the guides will have your ‘lunch’ ready for you.

Lunch on my Svalbard ice cave tour
Lunch on my Svalbard ice cave tour

We had Real Turmat, a freeze-dried meal common in Norway, alongside some coffee and other drinks, before heading back to town.

The tour lasted about five hours, and the adventure was pretty easy and beginner-friendly! Please note that this tour starts in mid-February and not January like the other two.

Book your snowmobile ice cave tour here!

Option 2: Dog-sledding to the Ice Caves

Duration: 6-7 hours
Season: January-May

The next time I go to Svalbard in winter, I am visiting the ice caves with a dog-sled team! Green Dog has been around since 2011 and runs some of the most exciting tours in Svalbard.

From January until May, you can book a trip from Longyearbyen out to the ice cave (the same one I visited) with Green Dog. They have a few time slots available daily, and the tour lasts for 6-7 hours.

Visiting the ice cave with a dog-sled team
Visiting the ice cave with a dog-sled team

Participants will be picked up at their hotels and driven to the dog yard, where they will get changed (suits provided!) and briefed about the day ahead of them.

Each sled can accommodate two people, and you can take turns mushing. Hot food and drinks are included, as is the gear to keep you warm. However, still dress as warm as you can, as the layers will be essential!

Book your husky ice cave tour here!

Option 3: Snowcat to an Ice Cave

Duration: 3 hours
Season: January-May

If dog-sledding and snowmobiling are not your cup of tea, don’t worry, you can still visit one of Svalbard’s ice caves by snowcat!

Hurtigruten Svalbard runs several snowcat tours throughout the wild landscapes of Spitsbergen in these vehicles that are tracked and all-terrain.

On this particular ice cave tour, you will visit an ice cave right above Longyearbyen at the Longyear Glacier. The drive is quite short, but you will be greeted by some outstanding views over the town and Hiorthfjellet (the iconic mountain on the other side of the fjord).

Svalbard snowcat
Svalbard snowcat

After you check out the Longyearbyen ice cave, you will get a chance to enjoy some solbær toddy (warm black currant drink) and some biscuits.

This tour lasts for around 3 hours and runs from January until May.

Book your snowcat ice cave tour here!

Tips for Visiting an Ice Cave in Svalbard

Going to the bathroom will be a challenge. Well, at least for us females! Go before your tour (no matter which type of tour you take), and if you need to go during your tour, you will need to let your guide know, and they will have to instruct you on the best way to go in a snowsuit (spoiler alert: it is a pain; I hope you don’t have to go!).

Depending on where your tour goes, you will likely have to climb down a ladder to get to the ice cave. It is not dangerous if you take it slowly and let the guide instruct you. But this is something to note.

The ladder you will need to climb down
The ladder you will need to climb down

Vegans and vegetarians should let the guides know beforehand. They have plenty of food options available, but be sure to let them know beforehand so they can ensure you get your meal of choice.

The weather will be cold! Dress accordingly! The snowmobiles have heated handles, so if you are the driver, this is a good option to keep warm. But if you’re the passenger, you won’t have that luxury. Keep your gloves on so you don’t trap cold air in them!

You need a valid driver’s license to operate a snowmobile in Svalbard. Passengers do not require one.

Svalbard Ice Cave Tour FAQ

Can you visit the ice caves if you are claustrophobic?

Well, it depends on how claustrophobic you are. I didn’t end up going inside the ice cave in the end. Allison was able to tell me about it, and I used the time to chat with one of the guides who was staying outside of the ice cave to ensure safety.

One couple told me I would be fine going inside (I was fine inside previous ones I visited in Iceland), but Allison came back and told me I wouldn’t have liked it.

The ice caves are beneath this
The ice caves are beneath this

Does this mean you shouldn’t join the tour? Not particularly.

But, chances are, if you’re able to put on all the polar snow gear to get on a snowmobile or go dog-sledding in the first place, you will likely be fine inside the ice cave. I didn’t make the effort, which is my loss at the end of the day.

For the record, putting snowmobile suits on is a nightmare for me and not a pleasant experience.

Will you see a polar bear when going to the ice caves?

Most likely not. Your guide(s) will have polar bear protection, and you will be in good hands the entire time. If, for any reason, a polar bear does enter the area, you will immediately leave on the snowmobile.

Polar bear protection on the guide
Polar bear protection on the guide

It is not safe to watch a polar bear, and the guides will not put your life at risk by doing so.

Are the ice caves in Svalbard safe to visit?

Yes! Well, the one you will visit will be safe. They are visited and inspected multiple times a day during the season, so if for any reason they are deemed unsafe by the time of your tour, you will be notified immediately or taken to a different one.

Do you have any questions about taking a tour to an ice cave in Svalbard? Let me know in the comments!

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Want to visit an ice cave in Svalbard on your upcoming trip? This guide details three unique ice cave tours, and my tips for making the most of your adventure! | ice caves in svalbard | ice caves in longyearbyen | longyearbyen ice caves | svalbard ice caves | things to do in svalbard | svalbard itinerary | svalbard in winter | svalbard in spring | what to do in svalbard


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