The Arctic has a unique nature - the giant expanses of ice and snow, huge icebergs of the most incredible and bizarre forms, drifting in the arctic seas. ... The Arctic is really a special land. One of the main reasons to go to the Arctic is to see the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), an unbelievable natural phenomenon where eerie green, pink and white lights dance across the night sky.
Tourism in the Arctic starts at the North Pole and quite literally spreads out in all directions from there. Attractions include charismatic mega fauna such as polar bears and narwhal, the cultural uniqueness of a variety of Indigenous peoples, vast tundra and taiga landscapes, icebergs and glaciers and even a few built facilities of note.
When to go:
Picking the time of year to travel is one of the most important things to consider when planning your Arctic adventure. Unlike tropical vacations where you can expect sun and sand throughout the year, the Arctic is always changing and evolving.
Arctic trips by ship around ice-free coastal zones take place between spring and late summer, a five month period from May to September. In high summer in the high Arctic you may have constant daylight over the whole period of your trip.
Nature & Wildlife
The Arctic is a familiar and yet an alien place. It is recognizable as the place you probably imagine when you think of winter and as the home of polar bears, caribou (reindeer), arctic foxes and wolves. It is also a huge almost boundless, wide-skied spectacularly scenic wilderness with glaciers, mountains, icebergs, rolling green tundra, with rich history of exploration and habitation by many groups of endemic peoples.
The Arctic is centered on the North Pole which is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean much of which is frozen, obviously more so in winter than summer. This is then fringed by Canada, Greenland, Europe and Russia. The geography makes it relatively easy to access the Arctic from many points.
The Arctic consists of an ocean which includes the North Pole surrounded by land. The Arctic Circle where conditions of 24 hours of daylight can be experienced in the summer months is relatively easy to reach, more so than the Antarctic Circle, Whereas most Antarctic trips don't reach the Antarctic Circle, many Arctic trips can be spent wholly or partially inside the Arctic Circle.
The Arctic comprises of parts of a number of different countries, there are around 4 million permanent residents. There are some large towns and cities, the largest being Murmansk in Russia with 325,100 inhabitants, though many of the people are spread rather thinly in smaller towns and communities. There are also many large habitations near to the Arctic with air and sea ports which makes for easy access.
Arctic tourism appeals to people who want to experience the fabulous wildlife, the pristine landscapes and wide open spaces and local cultures. There are a number of places to reach the Arctic across North America. Alaska offers many opportunities with a number of towns and cities where vacations can be taken or used as bases to strike out into the wilderness. The predictability and relative lack of ice in North Pacific and the "Inside Passage" makes it a reliable place for cruise ships in the summer months. Many large ships with "shows and restaurants" style cruising also ply these waters if this is your thing, some cruises are aimed squarely at families.