The best Arctic & Antarctic holiday spots offer unique experiences and amazing activities. To help you plan a visit we’ve pulled together the 9 best polar adventure travel destinations. To keep you adventurous we’ve included info about the activities you can do in each place.
Visiting the northern or southern extremes you’ll enter a different realm of light and dark. The sun hoverers above the north pole in mid-summer and abandons it completely in mid-winter. Meaning visitors find themselves in either eternal daylight or endless darkness during certain months of the year.
Summer in the northern hemisphere hits its peak during the summer solstice on the 21st of June. With non-stop daylight in June and July. The opposite happens down south, with June and July in near-darkness. But in January and December you can enjoy the extended days of the Antarctic summer.
The further north or south you venture, the longer the summer daylight lasts. To truly experience the ‘midnight sun’ you need to travel more than 66° north or south. At around 60° latitude, the midnight sun doesn’t burn brightly in the sky. But it still hovers around the horizon, giving 24-hour light which dims to a dusky haze at night.
Without the restriction of darkness, you can pack in far more, stay out later and enjoy a destination for longer. Hiking through the night, kayaking at midnight and cycling around the clock…. You’ll be listening to your body rather than checking your watch to make the most of the extended daylight hours.
All that extra vitamin D also helps you to feel healthier and happier. During the polar summers, wildlife abounds, flowers are in full bloom, migrating birds amass and mammals are at their most active. So it is a great time to visit and very uplifting.
Sound good? Here are some of the best polar adventure travel destinations. It’s worth noting that Russia makes up a large portion of the Arctic circle. But, due to the war in Ukraine, tourism is not possible and for most. Russia is not an attractive proposition even if it good for a polar holiday.
Visit any of these arctic destinations in June or July to experience the midnight sun:
In the north east of the country, Yukon is home to Canada’s highest mountain, Mount Logan (5,959m), and some of the biggest glaciers in the world. Only the northern-most tip of this adventure sports hub lies within the Arctic Circle, so perhaps take an exciting overland trip in a 4×4 to reach it.
But even the capital of Whitehorse, in the south, enjoys 20 hours of daylight in the summer. Allowing you to stay out kayaking, ice-climbing, hiking or biking well into the night.
The northern-most inhabited place on earth, sparsely populated Nunavut receives a full 24 hours of sunshine in June. There is a rare opportunity to learn more about the Inuit way of life. Activities such as canoeing and carving plus art and archery are imbedded in the local culture.
Fairbanks enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle throughout the long, warm summer. With an average of 18 hours of daylight in June – 24 during the summer solstice – it never gets properly dark in summer.
Even the golf course often stays open 24 hours. Expect rustic wooden lodges, salmon fishing, camping trips, trekking, mountain biking, kayaking and any other Alaskan cliché you can think of.
The largest island in the world the majority of which is in the Arctic Circle. Greenland has the lowest population density of any country so there is plenty of wilderness to explore.
You can make use of the long hours of sunlight to trek, ski tour or dog sled across glaciers. Boat tours and sea-kayaking among icebergs are also popular and are good for wildlife spotting.
A two hour flight north of Oslo, Tromso is surprisingly easy and affordable to get to. Renowned for its stunning natural landscapes it is good for hiking, biking and so much more. So easily one of the 9 best Arctic and Antarctic holiday destinations.
Plus there is a great nightlife, summer music festivals and beautiful wooden houses. So there’s plenty to pack into the near-24 hours of daylight experienced from mid-May to July.
This Norwegian archipelago is as far north as Europe goes. Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s largest settlement, is found at 78 degrees. Without doubt it is one of the best polar adventure travel destinations.
From here your adventure travel will include boat rides, sight-seeing trips, dog-sledding excursions and hiking adventures around the archipelago. In true Norwegian chic, Longyearbyen is a town of smart bars, stylish restaurants and cool cafes. Not to mention wandering reindeer and occasional polar bears.
Just below the Arctic Circle, the northernmost capital in the world has midnight bars that stay swinging till the early hours. Reykjavik experiences an impressive 21 daylight hours in June but to get the full 24-hour affect, catch a boat to the northern island of Grimsey.
Summer adventure activities in Iceland are as varied as they are exciting. You can trek, bike, ice climb, raft, dive, quad bike and so much more. Check out this review of a an adventure holiday in Iceland to get a personal opinion.
Visit these Antarctic destinations in December or January to make the most of the midnight sun:
No permanent settlements exist within the Antarctic Circle, so to experience the midnight sun you’ll need to hop on a cruise ship in Argentina or New Zealand between November and January. An adventure cruising Antarctic holiday is one of the best polar adventure travel destinations in the world.
The advantage of adventure holidays by boat is that you will experience the nights getting progressively lighter as you head further south. Then while at the southern most continent you can spice up the Antarctic holiday by spotting a wealth of wildlife, kayaking and walking on glaciers. Eeven setting foot on Antarctica is an adventure.
If you’re not on-board a cruise ship, one of the most southerly points you can get to easily is Ushuaia. This bustling settlement is set in the stunning Tierra del Fuego National Park. It’s a region of jagged mountains and Patagonian forests and has one of the best unknown treks on the planet.
Throughout December and January, the sun rises in Ushuaia around 3:30am and dips below the horizon again at around 8:00pm. So you can fit in plenty of trekking and other adventures such as mountaineering in this stunning part of the world.
We hope you have found the best polar adventure travel destinations inspirational. Follow these links to book an Arctic holiday or for Antarctic adventure travel.