Best Things To Do In The Arctic

best things to do in the Arctic

Below we have compiled a list of the best things to do in the Arctic from dog sledding and kayaking, to climbing and hot air ballooning!

Because of it's sheer size, stretching across numerous countries, the Arctic is full of wonders.

Although you won't be able to do everything listed below, picking out your favourites should be fun and easy!

If you're taking a cruise to the Arctic, always check which itineraries do the activities you are wishing to try. For instance, not every itinerary will offer scuba diving, so you'll have to check with us or your operator which cruise is ideal for you.

We hope you enjoy every moment.

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Best Things To Do In The Arctic

​Wildlife Watching

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Wildlife watching is the prime reason why people visit the Arctic. Feeling the spray from a whales blow hole or seeing the warm breath of the polar bear against the frozen air is truly unforgettable.

On all Arctic cruises you'll be treated to daily zodiac trips. Most of these trips are designed to get you as close as possible to the wildfire. Whale watching, polar bear watching and bird watching are super popular. You can also expect to see walrus, seals, musk ox, reindeer and Arctic foxes. Remember though, what wildlife you see will depend on which area you choose to sail and at what time of year. For more information on Arctic wildlife, please click here.

Below is a great short video by telisha34 showing just how close some wildlife gets!



​Kayaking is one of the best and most popular activities to do in the Arctic. Almost all cruise operators will offer kayaking as an optional extra.

Kayaking allows you to explore small inlets and hard to reach areas that your cruise ship cannot penetrate. This allows you to get closer to seals in particular, as they often haul out of small ice-floes.

If you see any interesting icebergs then you can simply paddle all the way around them and get some great up-close shots! In our opinion, kayaking is an absolute must! You get a peaceful experience and get closer to nature.

​Dog Sledding


Dog sledding is a quintessentially Arctic experience. Only in the frozen climates has this mode of transport been developed. In some parts of the Arctic, dog sledding is still a major mode of transportation.

These days however, it is actually a sport and the World Championships is held each year in a different location. Many Arctic cruises, most notably in Svalbard, offer dog sledding as an extra activity.

If you prefer you can also book it prior to your departure. All we can say is that the dogs are very friendly and it's great fun!

Check out this video below of Svalbard dog sledding by BBC Earth.

​Scuba Diving


Seeing the Arctic from your cruise ship is only half the experience. Below the cool waters lies another kingdom, a kingdom rich in life and colour.

Dive deep below the surface to see giant glowing icebergs, or snap shots of soft coral, dogfish and lobster. Although most cruises don't offer diving, if you're keen, there are some elect cruises that offer numerous dive experiences. Compressors are provided by your cruise operator.

You will need to bring a dry suit, hood, fins, snorkel, mask, pressure gauge, compass etc. You will always be with a guide and will not dive below 20 meters.

Check out the video below by Arctic Kingdom of their dive expedition:

​S​ee The Northern Lights


The Northern Lights are one of the most magical things to witness in the world. A natural phenomena, the lights dance brightly across the sky, creating vivid colours of blues and green.

The darker the better when it comes the Northern Lights. Therefore, witnessing the lights is generally a winter activity. Two of the best spots are Norway and Svalbard where light pollution is very low.

Throughout winter there are many Northern Lights cruises, some which allow you to witness them through a warm glass shield.

Click here for our detailed page on Northern Light cruises

Check out the Northern Lights footage below by National Geographic:

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​​Expereince New Cultures


The Arctic has an amazing history of amazing cultures learning to live in the harsh, cold and unforgiving environments.

Most notable is the Inuits. Doted throughout the Arctic Circle, Inuit villages, both past and present can be seen. Many cruises visit these fascinating sites, talking to locals, learning old traditions, and hearing stories of long lost heroes. The Northwest Passage and Canadian Arctic cruises are ideal for this. 

For Viking lovers, Greenland is also a wealth of information, especially in regard to Erik the Red who gave Greenland her name.

Check out the video below by VisitGreenland:

​​​View Epic Icebergs


Icebergs are, in our opinion, one of the most fascinating and epic things to see in the Arctic.

Giant floating blocks of ice, icebergs often look as if they have been carved by the hand of a master. Once you get to know your icebergs, you'll also notice the change in course, the whites, blues and greys that make them so good to photograph. if you're luck you might see a bright blue flipped iceberg!

For the best chance of seeing some epic icebergs, head to Iceberg Alley in Newfoundland, Canada or the “Iceberg Capital of the World” (Ilulissat, Greenland). This will also depend slightly on when you sail.

Below is an epic video of an iceberg flipping over! Video by osibaruch.

​Climb A Mountain


If you're looking for a more adrenaline filled and physical activity, then you can try mountaineering.

You will need some experience prior to climbing any peaks though. Many of the Arctic mountains are icy and will require ice axes, crampons and rope access.

Mt Gunnbjorn or the three peaks of Greenland are popular climbs and can often be done in conjunction with skiing. If you're looking for an adventure of a lifetime, then this may just be your thing!

Check out this video below by IcelandicMountainGuides:

​C​amping On The Ice


​In recent years, many cruises are beginning to offer camping experiences.

This is a great way to get close to nature and to experience the Arctic like the early explorers did. Lie under the midnight sun and hear the sounds of groaning glaciers, cracking icebergs and noisy bird calls.

All camping gear will be provided, however, you may wish to bring your own sledding bag or mat. Always book prior tot your cruise to avoid disappointment.

​​Hot Air Balooning


Although it sounds strange, hot air ballooning is an option on the North Pole cruise.

Whilst few people can say they have stood on the North Pole, even fewer can say they have taken a hot air balloon ride over it!

Experience the North Pole from above, witness the majestic beauty of the ice-land from above. Make sure to bring your camera and book early!

Below is a video by Global Ballooning of a North Pole flight:

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Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote from our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.


If you have any queries or questions regarding the the best things to do in the Arctic, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

​Expedition Cruise Team

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About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.

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