Tourism and recreation


In recent years there has been an upsurge of Arctic tourism in Russia. Previously the Russian Arctic was visited almost exclusively by foreigners, but these days Russian tourists are showing growing interest in this northernmost region. Russia has significant potential to develop this area. The Russian zone is the biggest in the Arctic, and it is rich in tourist attractions: vast expanses of tundra and forest-tundra, with an abundance of wildlife; islands featuring polar desert and semi-desert terrain; innumerable mountains, lakes, and streams offering recreational opportunities; the highest ethnic diversity in the Arctic, including indigenous peoples; and historical artifacts and monuments.

There live nearly every species of Arctic mammal, including polar bears, Arctic foxes, Greenland whales, narwhals, belukha whales, Atlantic walruses, ringed seals, bearded seals, and Greenland seals; an estimated one million wild reindeer; and about 1000 varieties of plants.

In the Russian Arctic tourists can enjoy a variety of activities: sea cruises, boating, fishing and hunting tours, rafting, skiing, walking tours and many others.

One of the most popular destinations is the North Pole. Tourists can travel to the "Top of the world" by a nuclear-powered icebreaker, arrange "Polar" barbeque, and even swim in the Arctic Ocean. Visitors can reach the islands of Franz-Joseph Land archipelago, either by a cruise ship, or a helicopter.

The Arctic's biggest seaport, Murmansk boasts comfortable hotels and numerous museums and historical monuments, while the nearby Khibins and Lovozero mountain ranges are ideal settings for mountaineering, hiking, skiing, mountain bicycling, dog sledding, and other sports.

Organized excursions allow tourists to explore points of interest such as the ancient stone labyrinths and rock carvings on the coast of the Kola Peninsula; Saami cultural artifacts in and around Lovozero; and Russian historical monuments along the shores of the White Sea.

Other tourist favorites are sea cruises to the Solovki Islands, paddle-boat cruises, rafting on Archangelsk's numerous rivers, and winter snowmobile tours. The region's national parks and more than 30 nature sanctuaries will likely encourage the further development of ecotourism there.

Northern Sea museum in Arkhangelsk is also worth visiting.

National Park Yugyd Va is situated in the northern Ural Mountains of the Republic of Komi. The park's abundance of wildlife includes some 180 bird species and 20 varieties of fish, along with mammals such the mountain hare, flying squirrel, reindeer, ermine, otter, moose, wolf, and fox.

Tourists can also visit the "Russian Arctic" national park, founded in 2009. The main attractions there are a walrus rookery at Apollonov island, the wooden House of Eira built in 1881 on Bell Island, Tikhaya Bay, the capital of the archipelago in the Soviet times, bird paradise on the Rubini Rock, and a garden of stone spheres at the Champ Island.

The region hosts spectacular waterfalls and numerous deepwater lakes, diverse freshwater fish life, and huge colonies of seabirds, as well as walrus rookeries and occasional polar bears on the coast. Taimyr is home to the world's largest herd of wild reindeer.

The area also has four natural reserves, including the Big Arctic and Taimyr Biosphere reserves. Other highlights include stunning Lake Taimyr, hunting and fishing tours in the Yenisei river basin, rafting on the numerous waterways, ethnographic tours to witness the lifestyles of various indigenous peoples.

Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) The village of Oimyakon is situated in Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). It is the village which experiences the lowest recorded temperatures for any permanently inhabited location on Earth.

From these points visitors can make "extreme expeditions" and take ethnographic tours; go rafting, ice angling, and bird-watching.

Also known as the Chukchi Peninsula, this region is known for the Wrangel Island State Reserve (the biggest in the Arctic).

Kamchatka Peninsula is famous for its volcanoes, both active and extinct.


Norway tourist attractions are alpine mountains, glaciers, highlands, deep valleys, breathtaking fjords, thousands of islands, the northern lights and the midnight sun, cultural and historic riches.

The rich variety of wildlife on and around the islands of Arctic Norway includes walrus, polar bear, wild reindeer, Arctic fox, whales, seals and a variety of migratory birds.

Many cruise routes start in Tromsø, the capital of Arctic Norway.

It is a bustling, colorful city with a lively arts and cultural scene that includes a theater and symphony orchestra, Arctic cuisine, and plentiful chances to explore the nearby mountains and waterways.

From late May to late July, visitors can experience the midnight sun in Tromsø. And the area claims to be among the best places to observe the northern lights, which are most dramatic in October, February and March.

This area stretches from the Swedish mountains to the coast of Helgeland, embracing scenic wonders from glaciers and alpine mountains to deep fjords and countless islands, where visitors can observe large bird and seal colonies, historic settlements, and rich flora. Ship cruises from Tromso to Trondheim allow passengers to experience some of this stunning scenery and stop at key landmarks. Other area highlights include: Svartisen Glacier, on Nordfjord; Okstindan Glacier and nearby Røssvatnet, Norway's second largest lake; Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park; and Saltstraumen, the world's most powerful maelstrom. Visitors can also visit settlements of the Saami people, historic churches, and museums.

Svalbard Islands located halfway between Norway and the North Pole, these islands consist largely of protected areas such as nature reserves, national parks, and bird sanctuaries. Norway's largest glacier, Austfonna, also is found here. The rich variety of island wildlife includes polar bear, wild reindeer, arctic fox, walrus, whales, seals, and a variety of migratory birds. Visitors can partake in boat cruises along the spectacular Spitzbergen coast; glacier walks and ice caving; dog sledging, snowmobile safaris, and skiing; hiking and excursions.

Yet another tourist attraction in Norway is Finnmarksvidda, one of the biggest plateaus situated in the north of the country. It is also home to the country's indigenous Saami people, who first came to the Arctic more than 11,000 years ago. There are two national parks: Øvre Anarjohka and Stabbursdalen, which boasts the northernmost pine forest in the world. Activity highlights in this region include hiking, camping and fishing; cross-country skiing, snowmobile safaris and dog sledging; and watching the Finnmarksløpet, the world's northernmost annual sled dog race. The Saami theme park in Finnmark depicts their way of life, and sponsors excursions that allow visitors to join in reindeer herding.


Vast landscapes that feature towering alpine peaks, 4,000-plus lakes, pine forests, meadows, and glaciers; national parks; a southeastern coastline peppered by islands; opportunities to experience the Saami culture; the northern lights and three months of midnight sun — all of these people can see is Sweden.

Arvidsjaur is located near the Arctic Circle. During winter and early spring, multi-day eco-tours provide unique opportunities for getting acquainted with the indigenous "people of the reindeer," the Saami, who have called the Arctic their homeland for millennia. The trips include the chance to help herd reindeer, eat traditional food and sleep in Saami tepees, and explore the tundra with a native guide.

Laponia is designated an UNESCO World Heritage site for its amazing natural features and historic importance to the Saami culture. The area encompasses close to 10,000 square kilometers of alpine massifs and valleys, glaciers, lakes, springs, and wetlands. There are 4 national parks in Laponia. Three of them —Stora Sjöfallet, Padjelanta, and Sarek-together form Europe´s largest national park.

Abisko National Park, overlooking the Lapp Gateway mountain formation, is a popular and accessible destination for hikers and skiers. The park is the start/finish point of the 440-kilometer King´s Trail, a marked route through some of Northern Europe´s most magnificent scenery, with accommodations along the way.

An annual phenomenon in Jukkasjärvi, the Ice Hotel, is built from the frozen waters of the Torne River every winter, and melts every summer. It is open from December to April, and has to be built anew every year.

Riksgränsen is well-known for its ski resorts and serves as the launch point for many winter and summer adventures, such as all types of skiing, snowmobiling and dog-sledding.

Yet another center for winter activities is Pite Havsbad situated on the Gulf of Bothnia about 900 kilometers north of Stockholm.


In Arctic Finland tourists can enjoy outstanding natural landscapes that include pine forest and hundreds of lakes and rivers, visit local history museums and cultural sites, watch the northern lights and experience three months of midnight sun.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the country is the Finnish capital of Lapland, Rovaniemi. In this city, there is a unique exhibition and Arctic research center. Moreover, it is Rovaniemi that enjoys the status of the official home of Santa Claus. You can meet him and watch his elves at work in the Santa Claus Village. Needless to say, Rovaniemi celebrates Christmas spirit throughout the year.

This resort area in the middle of Finnish Lapland is located near Pyhä-Luosto National Park. The area provides the setting for a range of summer and winter activities, including canoeing, fishing, bicycling, swimming.

Another famous site is Urho Kekkonen National Park. Located in the northern hinterland of Finland, this park contains pristine forests, spectacular river gorges, and forest landscapes ideal for summer hiking as well as skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Reindeer herds still migrate through this area, and there are even remnants of ancient settlements of herders. Tours are available for visiting several Saami villages and the Saami Museum, the North Lapland Nature Centre, and Tankavaara Gold Village.


Raw, dramatic landscapes born from volcanic eruptions and carved out by glaciers: basaltic peaks, geysers, waterfalls, glacial rivers flowing through lowlands to the sea, lava deserts, and black sand beaches; historical and cultural museums; many national parks and protected nature areas.

One of the biggest tourist centers in Iceland is Reykjavik. Sites of interest in Reykjavík include the parliament building, National Centre for Cultural Heritage, National Museum of Iceland, and an archaeological exhibition of a Viking house at Reykjavik City Museum. It will take visitors 40 minutes to go from the city to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa resort with pools and beaches. Reykjavik is the starting point for many organized tours and excursions around the country.

Vatnajökull National Park spanning 12,000 square kilometers in southeastern Iceland, this is Europe's largest national park.Named for Europe's largest glacier, the park showcases the effects of the perennial battle between earth and fire that has shaped the island: ice caps, outlet glaciers, hot thermal springs, fumaroles, sub-glacial volcanic activity, volcanic mountains and other landforms. Few other places in the world exhibit such a wide range of the effects of natural forces.

Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park located in southwestern Iceland, this park lies in a rift valley between the American and Eurasian continental tectonic plates. Thingvallavatn, the largest Icelandic natural lake, is situated there. Close to the park, there are a number of thermal springs, including the famous Geyser (Geysir).

Egilsstaðir is the capital of East Iceland and a doorway to the stunning East Fjords and surrounding moorlands.

Located in northern Iceland, Jökulsárgljúfur National Park features spectacular canyons and powerful waterfalls. The small coastal town of Húsavík nearby is considered the "Whale Watching Capital of Europe."

Snæfellsjökull National Park, situated in far western Iceland showcases fantastic landforms from volcanic mountaintops to the seashore. Westman Islands are yet another famous tourist attraction of Iceland. This island group is especially known for seabird diversity, which includes puffins numbering in the millions.


Breathtaking coastal scenery with deep fiords, massive glaciers, icebergs, and abundant marine wildlife; Viking ruins, indigenous cultures, and the world's largest national park. Greenlandic waters are home to a variety of seals, walruses and whales. There are numerous ancient Norse ruins on the western fjords; sailing trips to those places are available almost year-round, so one can enjoy not only the archeological sites, but also watching the animals in the wild.

Ilulissat Icefjord, situated on Disko Bay, is Greenland's biggest natural attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Owing to the fjord's gigantic icebergs and one of the world's most active glaciers, Sermeq Kujalleq.

Known for its huge icebergs, the midnight sun's everlasting light, and scope of activities on sea and land, this is one of the most popular tourist areas. It also supports an Inuit population that continues its timeless cultural traditions and practices seal hunting and fishing. The settlement at Qaanaaq was the starting point for polar expeditions by Knud Rasmussen, as well as Robert Peary's 1909 attempt to reach the North Pole. Many tourists now are seeing North Greenland from the decks of cruise ships that ply the coastal waters. Summer and winter activities offered in North Greenland range from dogsledding and kayaking to sailing and helicopter tours.

Situated on the coast, Greenland's capital Nuuk, is mix of the old and the new. The town's historic attractions, such as the cathedral Nuuk and the National Museum, mingle with the modernistic architecture of the Katuaq cultural center.

Other coastal towns of West Greenland, whose populations comprise about half of Greenland's 57,000 residents, bear traces of past Inuit settlements. Numerous Norse ruins also are found on the western fjords, where sailing trips are available almost year-round and the chances for sighting whales and seals are good. Other tourist highlights include musk-ox safaris, dog sledding, whale-watching trips, airplane flights to the Greenland Ice Sheet, fishing, hiking, and cross-country skiing.

Known for some of the country's best-preserved Norse ruins, the towns of Narsaq, Qaqortoq, and Nanortalik are starting points for culture and nature excursions. Mountain climbing and farm holidays are also popular with visitors. From the travel hub of Narsarsuaq, visitors can embark on sailing trips to glacier-studded fiords, hiking and fishing excursions, and kayaking and mountain biking trips. For the most dedicated adventurers, trekking across the ice sheet can be arranged.

The biggest attraction on the east of Greenland is Greenland National Park. The world's largest national park, it covers almost one million square kilometers (386,000 square miles) and harbors representatives of nearly all of Greenland's flora and fauna.

USA (Alaska)

Alaska is the biggest of the US states. Lodging is available in the towns of Barrow, Kotzebue, Deadhorse, Coldfoot, and Kaktovik. Because of lack of roads, trips outside the towns are by boat, small plane, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and dogsleds.Vast expanses of tundra and mountain wilderness, the Brooks Mountain Range, several wildlife refuges and national parks, wildlife spectacles of millions of migratory birds and herds of caribou — all of these you can see on Alaska. Polar, black, and brown bears; wolves, moose, musk oxen, Dall sheep, porcupines, northern flying squirrels, beavers, and foxes; and more than 200 bird species, including swans, geese, ducks, northern shrikes, ptarmigans and shorebirds; peregrine falcons, eagles, hawks, jaegers, and owls; freshwater fish such as grayling, lake trout, northern pike, arctic char, whitefish and salmon.

Located not far from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields, this is the largest settlement in the region and the northernmost community in the United States. A top-rated bird-watching spot, in summer it hosts nearly 200 species of birds. The Inupiat Heritage Center in Barrow documents the history of whaling among Alaska natives. Some villagers still hunt bowhead whales and live off the land.

Another popular tourist attraction in Alaska is Gates of the Arctic National Park.

This park features high glaciers, rocks, six National Wild and Scenic rivers and much of Alaska wildlife. Roughly the size of Switzerland, the park also cradles the headwaters of the Noatak River drainage, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. There are no established roads, trails, visitor facilities, or campgrounds in the park, but commercial and self-guided excursions are possible.

Located to the east of Prudhoe Bay, there is Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the largest in the U.S.Spanning nearly 20 million acres (more than 77,000 square kilometers) of coastal plains, barrier islands, lagoons, salt marshes, scenic rivers and wetlands, ANWR conserves a greater variety of plant and animal life than any other protected area north of the Arctic Circle. The refuge is also home to major caribou herds and seals, critical resources for the Inuit people.

Various tour operators offer specialized trips for the rafters, fishermen, bird watchers, wildlife photographers, hikers, hunters, and kayakers who visit annually.

This wildlife haven encompasses the delta created by the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers, as well as a huge expanse of coastal plain extending to the Bering Sea. A richly productive habitat, this refuge supports one of the world's largest concentrations of waterbirds and 150,000-plus caribou, while the offshore waters are home to walruses, seals and otters as well as belukhas, porpoises, gray and minke whales.

In the ANWR, there are about 30 localities inhabited by Yup'iks, an indigenous Arctic people.


Stretching across thousands of miles of North America's most extreme hinterland, Canada's Arctic territories-the northernmost portions of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut-offer sparsely populated and largely untouched landscapes.

For adventuresome travelers there's a wealth of opportunities for unparalleled wilderness experiences and chances to experience aboriginal traditions.

Popular tourist activities in the Arctic Canada are sea cruises, wilderness excursions, wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, river rafting, archeological and cultural tours, skiing, dog sledding.

The northwest corner of the Yukon above the Arctic Circle, is part of a Traditional Territory where the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation people have lived for thousands of years. The only truly Arctic Yukon settlement is Old Crow, a small town of about 300 aboriginal people on the Porcupine River, near the Alaska-Yukon border. Old Crow is accessible only by aircraft or canoe.

Unlike much of Arctic Canada, the mountains of national park Ivvavik escaped glaciation during the last glacial period 30,000 to 14,000 years ago. Ivvavik was part of the vast ice-free territory called Beringia, which was connected with Eastern Siberia via a wide land bridge. Beringia served as a refuge for plants, wildlife and humans, all of which colonized surrounding lands when the continental ice sheets melted.

In the Arctic part of Canada's Northwest, 170 km north of the Arctic Circle, Tuktut Nogait (‘young caribou') National Park is situated.

A major breeding and nesting ground for a wide variety of migratory birds.

Most of the park is continuous tundra, with rolling terrain, wild rivers, and precipitous canyons. The park offers seasoned hikers opportunities to experience a spectacular Arctic landscape with undisturbed ecosystems and an estimated 360 prehistoric cultural sites. Visitors can also paddle the Hornaday River, and enjoy bird-watching, photography, and fishing.

Tourists can also visit Nunavut, the biggest Canadian Arctic Province.

The population there is more than 80 percent Inuit, and the past evidence of the region's indigenous people, including the ancient Thule and Dorset cultures, is scattered across the land.

Nunavut is accessible only by air and sea, and its small communities are widely separated. Nonetheless, accommodations, transportation and other services for travelers wanting to explore this enormous and spectacular region are surprisingly well developed. Cruise-ship operators offer a wide variety of sea cruises that pass through magnificent vistas of mountains, glaciers, icebergs, and marine wildlife. Ecologically-oriented cruises emphasize cultural, wildlife and nature programs. The wide spectrum of activities here ranges from dog-sledding excursions on the tundra, winter camping, and wilderness cross-country skiing, to sea kayaking, sport fishing, and exploring expeditions.

News on the topic
Media on the theme