5 reasons why you need to head to the Arctic

arctic holidays
5 reasons why you need to head to the ArcticBublikPolina - Getty Images

The Arctic Circle's a vast wonderland with exciting adventures, making it a wonderful place for thrill-seekers to try new things on a winter holiday.

It's not too late to plan a cold weather getaway to experience the highlights of the far north of Europe in December 2022 or plan ahead for a deeper exploration of the region on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise in summer 2023.

To show you the very best of the Arctic, Country Living has lined up two adventure trips to Sweden and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. The first is a magical three-night trip to Swedish Lapland's glittering Grand Arctic Resort. From here, you can explore the snow and ice-covered landscape by day and night, keeping an eye on the sky for the Northern Lights.

It’s the perfect trip to take with children as there’s the chance to meet Father Christmas in a cosy woodland cabin.

The second holiday is a deeper discovery, boarding an expedition vessel for an exceptional 10-night cruise to observe polar bears in the wild, see the incredible wildlife you’ve seen on Frozen Planet, and experience the surreality of the Midnight Sun.

For an extra sprinkling of inspiration, these are the top experiences to try while you’re there.

1. Snowmobiling

If you want to cover huge swathes of Arctic snowscapes then a snowmobile is the way to do it. Popular in Norway, Sweden and Finland, a ride on a snowmobile is an exhilarating way to travel around the frozen regions of the northern hemisphere during winter.

Photo credit: Lilly Husbands - Getty Images
Photo credit: Lilly Husbands - Getty Images

So if your legs are feeling tired from exploring the icy region on foot – hop on!


2. Husky sledding

Huskies are one of the most immediately recognisable Arctic animals and have been acting as man’s best friend in the Earth’s northern reaches for generations.

Photo credit: kjekol - Getty Images
Photo credit: kjekol - Getty Images

Working together in packs, they can pull along enormous weights despite their relatively small size and will whizz you through snow-covered landscapes and festive forests in no time.

On Country Living's three-night trip to Swedish Lapland, you'll visit local kennels and meet some friendly huskies before hitting the forest trail by husky sled, followed by hot chocolate and marshmallows.


3. Sea kayaking

A fantastic way to navigate the Arctic’s quiet bays and really get in among the ice is on a kayak. Skirting the edges of vast ice planes and drifting past enormous icebergs, you’ll also have the chance to get much closer to all the wildlife that calls the Arctic home.

Photo credit: Alisha Bube - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alisha Bube - Getty Images

Many Arctic cruises now offer sea-kayaking as an activity; your boat will find a quiet spot to drop anchor and you can be your own captain for the day. On a cruise around Norway’s Svalbard region, you’ll join a small group of kayakers for a silent exploration of the small hidden bays and coasts that are inaccessible to Zodiacs.


4. Whale watching

There are many different species of whale in the Arctic so your chances of spotting these incredible sea creatures are pretty good, wherever you are. The most commonly spotted whales are humpbacks, minkes and fin whales, but lucky travellers might also catch glimpses of the majestic blue or beluga whale.

Photo credit: AndreAnita - Getty Images
Photo credit: AndreAnita - Getty Images

Orcas are most commonly sighted in the Arctic’s winter months, when you’ll also have the chance to see the Northern Lights. In Greenland, the beluga, narwhal and bowhead glide through the icy waters all year round, while humpback, minke and fin whales can be seen in summer.


5. Polar bear spotting

Polar bears are the ultimate predator and the largest bear in the world, and the sight of one is unlikely to be something you'll ever forget. Norway's Svalbard has a high concentration of these magnificent beasts, and they're most active in the summer when the bears look for holes in the ice in the hope of catching a seal for supper.

Photo credit: Paul Souders - Getty Images
Photo credit: Paul Souders - Getty Images

On an unforgettable cruise in June 2023, you’ll venture into the Arctic on a special expedition vessel designed especially to navigate these icy waters. As you edge close to 80° north in Norway's Svalbard, you’ll be looking for polar bears hunting, or even playing, on the pack ice under the safe instruction and guidance of an expert crew.


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