Discover the Arctic
At the top of our world, the trees cease to grow. Snow blankets everything in this northernmost region of our planet, the land of the polar night lit by weaving bands of green light and the midnight sun. This ethereal kingdom is the home of the white ‘sea bear’, with black skin and colourless hair and paws the size of dinner plates. This is not fantasy or fiction, this is the Arctic, a destination that draws those seeking adventure. Polar bear holidays are the most popular draw, as travellers head north to Svalbard and Spitsbergen, names that resonate with exploring. The powerful seas are best explored on an Arctic cruise, sailing deep into the icy froth that surrounds the Arctic ice edge and the breathtakingly beautiful fjords. While you may be outnumbered by polar bears and whales, there is plenty of culture to be found. The communities that sustain a living in this part of the world are used to the sun coming and going for seemingly endless stretches of time. Viking legend has segued into the modern day, creating a vibrant wealth of culture and a population that welcomes all who brave the harsh temperatures. The best polar bear viewing is in the Svalbard Archipelago, where you may also stop at the walrus colonies of Torrelnesset or Barentsøya to hike across the barren Arctic tundra. As the largest and only permanently populated island of Norway’s northern Svalbard, Spitsbergen offers the best infrastructure for viewing the great white bears. At roughly the size of Ireland, the island is neither as cold nor as inaccessible as you may think, yet offers an authentic Arctic experience that you can still reach by scheduled flight.