When to travel to the Arctic
The climate of the Arctic Circle is characterised by long, bone-chillingly cold winters and short, cool summers, although due to global warming, the weather the world over is becoming increasingly unpredictable and extreme. But this is all part of the experience of travelling in one of the planet’s wildest and most remote places. There are areas to be explored all year round and every season has its appeal. We would be delighted to help you choose the best time for you to go.
Winter: October to May
In Arctic winter, temperatures range between -34°C to 0°C and can even drop below -50°C in some areas. From October to February, the sun hides its face and the region experiences a period of polar night. This is the best time to go dog sledding, skiing or hiking in the eerie darkness, or head to the beautiful Nordic countries in search of the Northern Lights. Alternatively, you could enjoy a family holiday in Lapland, the home of Father Christmas and his elves.
From February to May, the returning sunlight begins to warm the land. This is a great time of year to explore the wilderness, and numerous activities are available in these months, such as snowmobiling, dog sledding, skiing or visiting ice caves. One of the most exhilarating expeditions we can arrange at this time of year is a five-day dog-sledding expedition on Spitsbergen, an island in northern Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, where you spend two nights in tents care of your canine team and two in a comfortable hotel at Isfjord Radio.
Summer: June to September
In the Arctic summer, average temperatures range from -10°C to 10°C. With the sea ice melting, this is the perfect time for an expeditionary voyage. In the height of summer, this part of the world offers an extraordinary 24 hours of sunshine and surprisingly warm temperatures. In the height of summer, you can see the midnight sun sink down, only to bounce off the horizon and rise again – a unique and unforgettable sight.
Wildlife spotting is fantastic then, particularly around Spitsbergen, the largest island of northern Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. These months are when polar bears are hunting, whales and walruses are gathering, reindeers are grazing and Arctic hares and foxes are pottering around. An incredible array of seabirds are also active. In addition, you can go glacier hiking, wheeled dog sledding, kayaking and sailing.
In June or July, we particularly recommend visiting the Kapp Linné Bird Sanctuary, near the Isfjord Radio, a wonderful place to stay on Spitsbergen. You will arrive at the hotel by boat, which is a fun two-hour journey from Longyearbyen. This is a great time to see myriad bird species, and sometimes Arctic foxes or polar bears can be spotted hunting for eggs. There are returning couples of geese and common eider, among other sea birds, such as fulmar, puffins and little auk. Whales can be spotted here too.
It’s worth noting that in the European Arctic countries, such as Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway, springtime (April to June) is the cloudiest season, while mid-winter (November to March) boasts the clearest skies.