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Top Trip Memories
  • 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 areas and wildlife around it by snowmobile excursion or sledding tour.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Visiting a reindeer farm and enjoying a ride on reindeer-pulled sleighs, or steering s sleigh yourself.
  • 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.
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Tour Tips
  • While Iceland, northern Scandinavia, and northern Canada are easily accessible by air from the United States; Greenland and some other Arctic areas are not-- so the best way to explore the Arctic regions is often by small, expedition-style cruise ships.
  • While any trip to the Arctic is adventurous by nature, you don't have to rough it. Some ships come with five-star amenities, while some land-tour operators offer luxury tent camping. 
  • While there are few "cheap" voyages to the Arctic, look for value adds such as included airfare, helicopter flights into the interior, and gratuities for the ship’s crew.
  • Prices do vary considerably by length of trip, cabin, ship amenities, month of travel, and other factors.
  • Some Arctic land tours - primarily those that fly into the interior - offer adventurous options such as camping, skiing, mountaineering, and trekking.
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Arctic Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.8 out of 5

100%

recommend

119 Reviews

Excellent 97 Great 21 Average 1 Disappointing 0 Terrible 0

Rating Details

Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8
Tour Reviews

Trip of a lifetime seeing the Arctic in a week

Arctic Complete - M/V Polar Pioneer

5.0 January 2017 Explore! Recommend: Yes I travelled as a solo traveller and was relieved to find that about half the boat was also solo travellers. It was a great adventure - on a ferry board for a week with the most amazing panoramic views around us every day. We were regularly out on smaller boats to see the bird cliffs up close, or to go onto land to walk around. We saw lots of amazing wildlife including walrus, blue whales, beluga whales, endless species of birds, and of course Polar Bears! The week went by too quickly. It was a great mix of wildlife and landscapes. Each day there was a different guide giving a presentation of everything from the biology of a polar bear, to the fauna found in the arctic circle. You could join in for as little or as much as you wanted. Definitely recommended. Read more

eastern europe

Great Cities of Eastern Europe

5.0 November 2016 SmarTours Recommend: Yes Renata, our guide, was outstanding. She went beyond what guides normaly do to make this tour unforgettable.

A great trip

Great Cities of Eastern Europe

5.0 October 2016 SmarTours Recommend: Yes I just returned from this trip a few days ago. The food, guides, history and scenery was wonderful throughout the tour. What a lovely surprise Poland was with its beautiful buildings and interesting history. I took all the optional tours which added greatly to the overall tour and they were a good value for the money. Overall it was a great trip. Read more

Great Tour

Great Cities of Eastern Europe

5.0 October 2016 SmarTours Recommend: Yes What a fabulous tour...great tour guide(s), great accommodations, wonderful food and lovely people on the tour!

Five Star Cities

Great Cities of Eastern Europe

5.0 October 2016 SmarTours Recommend: Yes Thank you for organizing such a variety of experiences for the great cities tour. Renata, our guide, was brilliant, organized, interesting, and made our journey memorable. She gave us many tips to elevate our enjoyment and keep us safe. This is my second trip with Smartours and I'll continue to use your company....a great value, thoroughly educational, and a quality adventure! Read more
See all reviews for Arctic Top Operators & Trips
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Arctic Trips & Tour Advice

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. 

The Arctic 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, it 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. 

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. The 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).

 

Related Guides

Continent:             

Antarctica and the Arctic

Local Attraction:  

Manitoba, Canada; Svalbard, Norway; Iceland; Lapland, Scandinavia; The North Pole and Many More

Top Activities:      

Wildlife SightseeingExpedition Cruises, Dog Sledding & Experience Aurora Borealis 

Similar Destinations:                    

AlaskaNorwayRussiaCanada, Sweden, Finland, Greenland
 

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