Top Arctic Tours & Vacations 2024/2025 [reviews & photos]

Arctic Tours & Travel Packages 2024/2025

52 Arctic trips. Compare tour itineraries from 16 tour companies. 126 reviews. 4.8/5 avg rating.

Small Group Arctic Tours

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Top Arctic Attractions & Experiences

Top Arctic Experiences

  • Viewing the spectacular view of Mt. McKinley or Denali, North America’s highest mountain along with other natural wonders is Denali National Park, Alaska.
  • Exploring the nature and wildlife of the Arctic by snowmobile excursion or sledding tour.
  • Hot-air ballooning at the North Pole.
  • Taking a small ship expedition style cruise in Arctic waters to view snow-covered mountains, fjords, glaciers, and icebergs.
  • Spotting the many varied types of wildlife and birds that inhabit the Arctic such as polar bears, whales, dolphins, fur seals, musk ox, walruses, and puffins.
  • Visiting some of the 191 unexplored Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land islands - a nature-lover’s Arctic paradise.
  • Glimpsing polar bears - the world’s largest land predator - on the Svalbard Archipelago on a fly-in Arctic photo safari.
  • Viewing the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) as they illuminate the sky with swirling streaks of green, red, and other vibrant colors. 
  • Driving your own sled dog team in Alaska, Greenland, Northern Scandinavia, and other polar regions.
  • Spending time with the locals in a small village in Greenland, gaining insights into their culture and day-to-day lives.
  • Sleeping overnight in an igloo or ice hotel.
  • Sail the route of the Vikings from Scotland across the North Sea and along the Norway coastline to Svalbard.
  • Trekking to the North Cape in Norway - the most northerly point in mainland Europe.
  • Visiting some of the 191 unexplored Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land islands - a nature-lover’s Arctic paradise.
  • Whale-watching and seeing narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales.
  • Kayaking or cruising amidst icebergs through the surreal Blue River in Greenland
  • Taking a brief dip in the chilly polar waters and earning a certificate from your ship's crew, honoring your feat.
  • Standing on your ship's deck after dark, basking in the solitude of one of the world's last wildernesses.

Arctic Tours & Travel Guide

Arctic Attractions & Landmarks Guide

The Arctic -- the polar region lying above the Arctic Circle (66 degrees latitude north) -- is best explored by small ship and expedition-style cruise vessels. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada and the United States all have Arctic lands; Greenland, a largely self-governing Danish territory, is another prominent Arctic region (the Arctic Circle just skirts the northern edges of Iceland). Popular Arctic cruise routes include Canada's Northwest Passage; Scandinavia to Greenland via Iceland; and to the far north Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. 

Arctic Tour Highlights

The Arctic -- the earth’s northern polar region, 66 degrees latitude north and above -- ranges across a number of countries including much of Scandinavia, Russia, and North America. Unlike Antarctica, its southern counterpart, the Arctic has no penguins, but it does have polar bears and more marine mammals.

The Gulf Stream and generally warmer temperatures than in Antarctica help make Arctic exploration more accessible, offering a number of choices for experiencing life above the Arctic Circle. Travel is restricted only by the laws of the various countries and the relative scarcity of transportation.

An ideal way to explore the Arctic is by expedition-style cruise vessels. More routes are opening up to cruising, such as the Northeast Passage from northern Norway to Siberia and Alaska via the Russian Arctic. 

Greenland is ground zero for climate change, as its glacial ice – representing about eight percent of the world’s supply – is rapidly melting, threatening to raise ocean levels and temperatures. But much of its interior remains a wonderland of white, and icebergs still fill its bays. Fascinating towns and small settlements dot both west and east coasts, which you can visit either by small cruise ship or via land and air transportation. 

Only a tiny fraction of Iceland lies above the Arctic Circle, but this volcanic land of black lava, geothermal pools, moon-like landscapes, and neat, brightly painted houses is one of the far-north’s most visited areas. Part of Europe but lying a third of the way toward the North American continent, Iceland boasts one of the world’s most literate populations and is easily accessible by air as well as sea. 

The Arctic coast of Norway is accessible by the half-cruise, half-cargo ships of the Hurtigruten, which makes two-week round trips between Bergen and Kirkenes, near the Russian border. With its views of fjords, snow-capped mountains and tiny remote villages, the Hurtigruten is one of the world’s most beautiful voyages.

In both Arctic Norway and Finland, you can ride in reindeer sleds and visit the Sami, the nomadic people who drive their reindeer herds through the frozen wilderness. The Finnish town of Rovaniemi lies directly on the Arctic Circle and claims to be the home of Santa Claus. 

Small ships now make the journey to Spitsbergen (Svalbard), a Norwegian island archipelago hundreds of miles north of the top of continental Europe. Spitsbergen is home to some of the farthest north settlements in the world, as well as glaciers, icebergs, and an array of wildlife including polar bears, walruses, and flocks of seabirds.

One of the top places to view the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is in Abisko National Park near Kiruna in northern Sweden, where skies tend to be clear despite frequent overcast in the region. A chair-lift leads up to a lookout tower at the Aurora Sky Station for the best viewing.

Top Arctic Travel Activities

What does one do in the Arctic, where the sun is more than a little shy for much of the year and one of the most popular highlights happens in the middle of the night? Believe it or not, the breadth of adventure and outdoor recreation in the Arctic region is staggering, whether you’re in it for the wildlife, the glacier hiking, the kayaking or the cruising. It’s all here.

Wildlife Wonderland in the Arctic

Topping the list of favorite Arctic activities is the chance to see some incredible polar wildlife. In a region with a modest number of human inhabitants, the wildlife reigns supreme, including beluga whales and narwhals, walrus, ringed seals, Arctic fox, polar bears, musk ox, reindeer, Peary caribou and countless others. Birdwatchers will add significantly to their life list in the Arctic as they trek along the frozen tundra in search of puffins, cormorants, Arctic terns and more.

Off-Piste Snowmobiling in the Arctic

Sightsee at speeds of over 60 miles per hour on an all-terrain snowmobile, flying across the Arctic tundra. You’ll have the opportunity to access corners of Arctic countries to which no roads lead, glimpsing wildlife along the way if you’re fortunate. Plus, after a day of exhilarating racing across glittery snow and ice, a hot meal and warm beverages are even more satisfying.

Favorite Kayaking Spots in the Arctic

Sea kayaking is a favorite outdoor activity throughout the Arctic region, if only for its ability to take the paddler up close and personal with marine life and gigantic, calving icebergs.

This intimate mode of travel allows for independence and really some of the most memorable moments as you cut through the freezing waters listening to Arctic birds squabble overhead, chunks of ice floating right beside you.

It’s a front-row seat on the rugged, unspoiled Arctic wilderness. Among the many top kayaking spots in the Arctic are Sermermiut and the Blue River in Greenland, Peel Sound in Nunavut and the Svalbard Archipelago.

Arctic Whale Watching

If you’re on a boat for any period of time in the Arctic, you’re likely to see one of the 17 different species of whale that reside in the polar waters. Among them: year-round residents beluga, narwhal and bowhead, as well as several migratory species, including humpback, fin and minke. Favorite Arctic whale-watching destinations include Disko Bay in Greenland, Svalbard, the Northwest Passage and Hudson Bay.

Polar Bear Tours in the Arctic

A sighting of the world’s largest land predator, the polar bear, makes for the thrill of a lifetime. The hottest polar-bear-sighting spots in the Arctic include the Svalbard Archipelago, the Northwest Passage, Churchill and Wrangel Island in the Russian Arctic. As you sail by Zodiac or paddle a kayak amidst glistening icebergs and ice floes of all shapes and size, keep an eye trained for these massive, iconic Arctic mammals.

Seeing the Northern Lights on Arctic Tours

Words fail the showstopping Aurora Borealis, undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest natural phenomena. And, it’s the number one reason to travel to the Arctic during the cold, dark winter months.

The Northern Lights sightings are the best between September and early April - practically guaranteed anytime there is a clear night (and that’s most of the time) and best viewed between 10 PM and 2 AM. An “active” Aurora Borealis show will abe about a half-hour long and takes place about every two hours.

Many Arctic tours focus on Northern Lights viewing and can arrange for sleeping under this ethereal magnificence in glass-domed igloos - truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some of the most popular Northern Lights viewing spots in Europe include the far northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, including Tromso, Norway, and Abisko National Park in Sweden.

Photography Tips for Traveling in the Arctic

You’ve made it to the top of the world - don’t return home from your Arctic tour without sufficient photographic evidence! Whether it’s the latest phone camera or a suitcase full of lenses, be sure to bring a camera to the polar regions.

The varying opportunities in the Arctic are a photographer’s dream, be it the blue light of spring, the Aurora Borealis or the Midnight Sun. Where else can you immortalize the spray of the Arctic Ocean as a house-sized iceberg calves from a glacier, a minke whale breaching just a ship’s length away from you or an Arctic fox slinking past amidst colorful tundra flora?

Arctic photography tours will typically offer instruction by professional photographers throughout your trip through workshops and one-on-one tutorials as they help you attain that perfect shot. And, to secure the perfect subject, your polar photography tour will often have you venturing out by zodiac to land on icy shores - the best opportunities for Arctic photography will be during the polar summer, from June to August, when there are 24 hours of daylight.

Among the most popular spots to photograph in the Arctic are the colorful town of Ilulissat on Disko Bay in Greenland, the wildlife - from marine birds to polar bears - in the Svalbard Archipelago and Churchill, for the very best polar-bear photo opps.

A few worthwhile tips for your next photography tour in the Arctic:

  1. Protect your camera equipment from the cold Arctic weather. Think anything that will cover and protect your photography gear from wind, snow, ice, etc. even if it’s just some heavy-duty plastic bags.

  2. Stay warm. There’s a reason you packed thoroughly for your polar expedition. When you’re outside in the Arctic for long periods of time, not moving around much as you await the perfect shot, those extra insulating layers are going to seem well worth the space they took up in your suitcase. Have some pocket handwarmers close by and bring along a pair or two of thinner gloves for when you’re setting up your photo equipment - but then switch to heavier, warmer mittens when you’re waiting around for that polar bear to move into your frame.

  3. You can’t pack enough extra batteries. The cold may or may not affect your lithium camera batteries negatively - they’re typically fine, but plan for all circumstances. To get ahead of a possible shorter lifespan for your camera batteries, pack extra and charge them.

  4. Account for snow. You’re taking photographs in the Arctic, after all - there will be snow! Your Arctic photography tour guide can help you account for all that white by adjusting your exposure, slowing shutter speed, bracketing and other methods.

  5. Pack a wide-angle lens. To best capture all those stunning and vast Arctic landscapes, pack a wide-angle lens of 24mm or less.

  6. Be patient, but pay attention. Whether you’re snapping a photo of an Arctic fox or a polar bear, use a long lens to protect both yourself and the wildlife. Consider a telephoto lens (minimum 300mm), a mid-range zoom lens (70-200mm) and possibly a tripod or monopod.

What Kind of Food Can I Expect in the Arctic?

If there’s one place where farm-to-table has met its match, it’s the Arctic. In a place as rugged, barren and frozen as the polar regions of the world, fresh ingredients can be scarce.

Have no fear, foodies - Arctic country chefs have taken it upon themselves to be as creative as possible, resulting in surprisingly haute cuisine, from Svalbard - home to the most northerly gourmet restaurant in the world - to Barrow, Alaska, the United States’ northernmost city and home to the Top of the World Hotel.

Among the locally sourced delicacies of the Arctic regions are reindeer, eider eggs, bearded seal, goose, grouse, snow crab, scallops, shrimp, cod, Arctic char, wild caribou, crowberries and cloudberries, muktuk (frozen whale skin and blubber, eaten raw), baked clip fish, mushrooms, lingonberries, muskox, North Atlantic puffin and more.

Be Among the First

Transiting the Northeast Passage – from Europe to Asia via the Russian Arctic – represents a new thrill in Arctic exploration, now available by expedition-style cruise ships with high ice-class ratings. Until recently, this area was off limits due to both political and climatological reasons.

Arctic cruises visit Murmansk, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle, and continue through the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean to Russian Siberia until reaching Nome, Alaska. Expect to see polar bears, whales and seals along the way. 

Northern Canada is a far cry from the urbanity of the cities lying near the U.S. border that harbor most of this huge country’s population. The town of Churchill in northern Manitoba is the place to see polar bears and Beluga whales, while the vast, remote province of Nunavut beckons adventurous travelers to encounter Inuit villages that include the northernmost permanent settlement in the world.

Cruises through Canada’s Northwest Passage sail the coast of northern Nunavut east to Greenland or the reverse, with generally excellent wildlife viewing on remote islands. 

Most visitors to Alaska confine themselves to cruises along its southeast coast or inland trips to Denali National Park, but the state’s remote Aleutian Islands and far northern tundra area stretching north to Nome offer adventurous travelers an entirely different experience in the “Last Frontier.”

You can go dog sledding in Arctic Alaska, fish for salmon in far northern waters, watch for bears and birds, and get around by small plane (or properly equipped vehicles along rough roads).

Arctic Reviews & Ratings

4.8/5  Excellent
126  Reviews
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Excellent
44
Great
7
Average
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Anonymous

Jan 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

Wonderful adventure

This was a marvellous trip and a great way of seeing two wonderful areas of the Arctic. In Spitsbergen we saw polar bears and arctic foxes and sailed through the ...

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Anonymous

Aug 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

Iceland Walking Explorer

An active walking trip through a diverse kaleidoscope of landscapes, from volcanic craters, green verdant hills to snow fields. An excellent way to experience natu...

A

Anonymous

Aug 2017

Provided byExodus Travels

TSF 150801 - Iceland Fantastic !

This was a super trip that didn't disappoint in any area. It did exactly what it said in the itinerary. The scenery was fantastic we had a mixed bunch of nationalit...

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Anonymous

Aug 2016

Provided byExodus Travels

ICELAND WALKING EXPLORER

The most awesome, breathtaking, physically challenging holiday of my life...thus far! Realizing that I was able to accomplish the physical challenges of this trip! ...

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Anonymous

Aug 2016

Provided byExodus Travels

Iceland Walking Explorer

Iceland Walking Explorer is a trip full of adventure and interest. The walking, whilst quite tough, is at a pace to suit everyone, takes you into some stunning sce...

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