Watching walrus from a Zodiac

A guide to the must have experiences in the Arctic

Home Destinations Polar Arctic A guide to the must have experiences in the Arctic

A frozen ocean surrounded by continents, the Arctic attracts visitors with its breathtaking scenery, plentiful wildlife and fascinating history. From Svalbard to Greenland to the highest latitudes of Canada, this seemingly inhospitable environment is alive with wildlife and plant life during the summer months. The scenery, with its gentle palette of blue, white, brown and green, is simply majestic and provides the backdrop for tales of extraordinary human endeavour.

Here are 10 of our favourite Arctic highlights to inspire you in planning your own Arctic adventure.

1. Go in search of polar bears

Top of the Arctic food chain, the mighty polar bear is the world’s largest land predator. This magnificent mammal is an impressive sight to behold, whether prowling the shore for prey or resting on an ice-floe. The Svalbard archipelago is one of the best places to spot them in the wild and seeking out the great white bear is for many, the number one reason to visit.

Suggested itinerary: Around Spitsbergen

spitsbergen polar bear and cubs db

2. Meet the people of the North

Visiting remote settlements along Canada’s Atlantic and Arctic coastlines and in East Greenland is a real eye-opener. Whether they’re populated communities or the remains of ancient settlements, they offer a rare insight into how people have adapted to living in this harsh environment for over 1000 years. Vikings, missionaries and Inuits have all made their homes here, and the human history of these coasts is as enthralling as the landscapes and wildlife.

Suggested itinerary: Spitsbergen to East Greenland

greenland drum dancer performing vg

3. Follow in the wake of polar explorers

The fabled Northwest Passage has captured the imaginations of travellers for hundreds of years. Now that the riddle of its navigation has been discovered, the Passage is slowly beginning to reveal some of its secrets. Some 170 years after they went missing, the remains of the two ships lost on Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition have both been discovered – the HMS Erebus in 2014 and the HMS Terror in 2016. Mystery still surrounds the fate of their crews, with three lonely graves on Beechey Island serving as a memorial to these brave explorers.

Suggested itinerary: Northwest Passage

canadian arctic pond inlet baffin island istk

4. Watch for ethereal aurora borealis

The northern lights are often visible in the dark skies of countries within the auroral oval from as early as the end of August. This includes Greenland, making early autumn a fantastic time to take a voyage. There’s still enough daylight to appreciate the incredible landscapes of this remote wilderness but the skies are dark enough to showcase the aurora, should they occur.

Did you know that Greenland has the largest National Park in the world? It covers the entire north east corner of the country, and its dramatic fjords are cut by immense glaciers and flower meadows, which you can explore by day – before looking to the skies at night.

Suggested Itinerary: Scoresby Sund Explorer

greenland northern lights over ice filled fjord

5. Set sail on the trail of the Vikings

Explore Greenland’s verdant south coast settled by Eric the Red who gave this vast ice-covered island its name. Explore well-preserved Norse ruins such as the remains of his farm beside Erik’s Fjord. Combine history, stunning scenery and wildlife sightings as you navigate the coastline from Narsarsuaq.

Suggested Itinerary: South Greenland Expedition Voyage

south greenland qaqortoq wall carvings vg

6. Become a citizen scientist

From cloud surveys to studying phyto-plankton become a citizen scientist as you cruise through the waters of Svalbard and Greenland. Most voyages offer the opportunity to get involved, with some ships having a stronger focus on science projects aboard.

Suggested itinerary: Around Spitsbergen


7. Kayak through icy waters

To witness the spectacular scale and beauty of the polar regions from a kayak is truly unforgettable. Paddle silently past intricate icebergs, through tranquil channels and enjoy a unique perspective of these remote landscapes. In the company of expert guides, you’ll hopefully enjoy close up sea birds and seals.

Suggested Itinerary: West Spitsbergen Explorer

arctic kayaking adventure option ae

8. Take in Ilulissat Icefjord from the sea and air

Immerse yourself in the spectacular icescapes of Disko Bay in West Greenland. The Ilulissat Icefjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most spectacular locations in the Arctic with its immense icebergs filling the bay. Take in the beauty from aboard ship, from land and from the air with a heli-flightseeing excursion.

Suggested itinerary: West Greenland Explorer

greenland ilulissat icefjord eqip sermia glacier viewpoint istk