The Arctic is an amazing place to discover on a holiday, with its rugged, unspoilt landscapes, incredible wildlife and breathtaking coastline. While many people think of Arctic tours as little more than an opportunity to see majestic polar bears, there is a lot more to look out for on these trips.
Weâ€™re going to highlight a few of the top things to see and do on an expedition to the Arctic.
Spot polar bears
Of course you canâ€™t visit the Arctic and not go in search of these incredible animals – they are the symbol the region and amazingly well adapted to live in this harsh environment. Among the best places to encounter these creatures is the Svalbard archipelago, which is part of Norway, and Greenland, both of which boast vast empty areas of coastline and plenty of ice floes along the coast.
Do remember that polar bears are dangerous animals and that youâ€™ll have to content yourself with views of them from a safe distance. Youâ€™ll have access to binoculars on the boat and itâ€™s well worth taking a telephoto lens for your camera if you can get one.
Visit Disko Bay
Located on the west side of Greenland is Disko Bay, an absolutely stunning spot where icebergs float on the water and whales are often seen breaching the surface. In fact, this is one of the best places to come to if you want to see whales during your Arctic voyage.
Narwhals, bowhead, minke, humpback and beluga whales can all be found here, taking advantage of the nutrient-rich waters. Youâ€™ll usually be able to leave your main cruise ship in favour of a smaller zodiac boat to get a close-up look at the icebergs and to get near to the whales as they swim.
Explore the National Park of Greenland
This protected area is the largest national park in the world and is a fantastic place to visit if you want to see the Arctic at its most rugged and beautiful. Spanning 972,000 sq km, the reserve is home to all manner of fascinating creatures, including polar bears, Arctic foxes, lemmings, musk oxen, white-tailed eagles and walruses.
In addition to the wildlife, the national park is known for its breathtaking scenery – mountains rise straight out of the ocean, their summits capped with pure white snow, and there are vast ice fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. When you come here, you truly will feel as though youâ€™ve left the rest of the world behind.
After exploring the unspoilt Arctic landscapes, it can be nice to have a complete contrast, which is certainly what youâ€™ll get in Reykjavik. The capital of Iceland is the perfect place to round off your Arctic cruise, with the city home to excellent bars and restaurants, not to mention interesting museums and galleries. Spend a morning perusing the works at the National Gallery of Iceland, or learn more about the countryâ€™s heritage at the National Museum of Iceland.
If you havenâ€™t had enough of the natural world, make a beeline for one of Reykjavikâ€™s parks or reserves – a particular highlight is Nautholsvik Geothermal Beach, where energy from the earthâ€™s core heats the water to a very pleasant temperature. There are also hot tubs and saunas here, so you can enjoy a relaxing day out before the end of your Arctic adventure.