How to get to...
Svalbard is one of the most accessible parts of the High Arctic, and the least expensive to get to. There are daily scheduled flights from Oslo (Norway) to Longyearbyen, which take around 3 hours. Though short, these flights can be at awkward times, requiring an overnight in Oslo.
Flights book up quickly in spring and summer, so booking flights early is strongly recommended. Prices vary and fluctuate, so we also recommend doing a bit of research before booking.
How to get to the Canadian Arctic & Northwest Passage
In the absence of scheduled flights, charter flights from gateway cities like Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton are called upon to reach remote Inuit communities and logistical centres. Ship operators often book these charter flights in advance, so you don't have to, but we recommend checking your trip notes to see what is included.
How to get to Greenland
Surprisingly remote, Greenland is only accessible by plane via Denmark (4 hrs) or Iceland (3 hrs). The most important route is Copenhagen - Kangerlussuaq, which has one daily flight in each direction. There are currently no direct flights from North America.
How to get to the North Pole
A truly iconic destination which resides on many a traveller’s Bucket List, it's actually more accessible than many realise. The most popular route is via icebreaker ship from Murmansk in Russia, during the summer months, forcing a path through the ice to reach 90 degrees north.
Alternatively, for those shorter on time, you can fly to Svalbard (in April only) and from there arrive at the North Pole by helicopter.
How to get to the Russian Arctic
The Russian Arctic occupies the longest and least populated coastline in the whole of the Arctic. Access is limited and expensive, and visitor infrastructure rudimentary at best once you arrive.
One notable exception to this is summer trips by expedition ship from Anadyr to Wrangel Island, an important polar bear denning site.
How do I get to the Arctic?
Transport in the Arctic
Getting to the Arctic by plane
Flying is by far the most popular and expedient way to get to the Arctic. There are two main types of flights into the Arctic:
Operated by commercial airlines - such as SAS, Norwegian, Air Greenland & Air Iceland - these are regular flights with published flight timings which are publicly available online for anyone to book.
These flights have no schedule and only operate on private request. Many ship operators use these flights, and may include them in the cost of your trip.
If you wanted to book a charter flight yourself, you would need to secure the whole plane. Charter flights:
- Are typically more expensive than scheduled flights
- Use smaller planes than most commercial flights
- Can get you into remoter places where commercial airlines simply don’t go
The Canadian Arctic, and parts of northern Canada, are very good examples of places which rely heavily on charter flight operators - such as First Air & Calm Air - to get around, in the absence of scheduled flights being available.
Getting to the Arctic by ship
Getting to the Arctic by boat is only possible for a few months each summer, and the sheer distances can make it a challenge. Flying is often more convenient and quicker, but for anyone keen to sail, some expedition ships offer a limited selection of voyages in early summer.
These start in either Scotland, Iceland or Norway and head north to Svalbard, bisecting the Arctic Circle en route. These trips typically last 10-14 days and are a great way to experience the transition in climate and habitat as you journey north.
While driving to the Arctic might sound unlikely, in a few places it is entirely feasible. In Norway, the 1,080 mile drive from Oslo to Tromso, which lies inside the Arctic Circle, is straightforward (if long!) during summer.
In North America, Alaska’s iconic 414 mile Dalton Highway, which runs from Fairbanks to Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean, is one of the most isolated roads in the United States, with only three towns along the route.
These examples aside, the vast distances and extreme climate has led to an underinvestment in roads in the Arctic. Huge areas remain totally roadless. Svalbard has only 27 miles (44km) of tarmac road in total, and none of its main settlements are joined.
More about travelling to the Arctic
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