Remote, mystical and breathtaking - the Arctic Circle is a unique destination to have a cruise holiday all year round. This blog will give you ten reasons why you should consider it.
What is the Arctic Circle?
The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line around the Earth that sits at a latitude of around 66° 30' north of the equator. It is one of two polar circles and it is the northernmost circle of latitude on Earth. The other polar circle is the Antarctic Circle.
Home to the North Pole and the Arctic Ocean, this frozen landscape has an average temperature of -10°C across the year. Though you might think this makes the Arctic Circle a barren and unwelcoming landscape, it contains unique wildlife and oustanding scenery.
Which countries are in the Arctic Circle?
There are eight countries in the Arctic Circle, which measures roughly 9,900 miles in circumference. The countries included in the Arctic Circle are Russia, Canada, the USA, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Norway.
Norway is the most populated arctic region in the world, with around half of the country situated north of the Arctic Circle. It is also home to the stunning city of Tromso, which is one of the best places in the world to catch sight of the Northern Lights. The Finnish region of Lapland is also almost entirely in the Arctic Circle, making this area the ideal destination for a winter wonderland escape.
10 reasons to visit the Arctic Circle
1. The dramatic scenery of the Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands are a must-visit when travelling to the Arctic Circle. Located around 100 miles inside the area, this remote Norwegian location offers travellers some of the world’s most stunning scenery.
Everything from impressive mountains and peaks to open seas, beaches and hidden bays - you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to taking holiday snaps.
An adventurer’s haven, the Lofoten Islands are perfect for those who enjoy walking, fishing, kayaking and sailing. However, deciding when to go to the Lofoten Islands is tricky; just 1,500 miles from the North Pole, the weather can be unpredictable.
A Fred. Olsen cruise to the Lofoten Islands will have been tailored to ensure guests are visiting it at the best time of the year to appreciate the area's stunning natural beauty.
If you’re looking for a way to explore the Lofoten Islands, Leknes has a multitude of mountains and cliffs with lush-green landscapes, white sandy beaches and picturesque grass-topped, red wooden houses – a photographer’s paradise.
2. The stunning surroundings of Tromso
Also known as the ‘gateway to the Arctic', Tromso is a perfect destination on your Arctic adventure. This city is one of Norway’s cultural gems and offers something for everyone; whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in Sami culture, go Orca spotting on a whale safari (between November and January) or enjoy the views from atop Mount Storsteinen.
Tromso is situated more than200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, making it one of the most northerly places you can visit in the world. Famed for its unique natural environment, it’s also the world’s northernmost university town, offering a more lively side to the city. Summer is the perfect time to travel if you’re keen to see it at its most vibrant.
3. You can witness Nature's power at Bodø
The summit of Mount Ronvik is certainly not to be missed, and is also home to the world’s strongest maelstrom – where, when the tide changes, you’ll witness impressive surges as the sea rushes to move between the vast Skjerstadfjord to the outer Saltfjord at speeds of up to 20 knots.
Here, you can also take time to explore the impressive Svartisen Glacier, with its lowest point being just 20 metres above sea level – the marked difference between this and the mountains and beaches is awe-inspiring!
4. It's the best place to see the Northern Lights
The Norwegian Arctic is one of the greatest places on earth to see the Northern Lights. Travelling to Northern Norway between late September and the end of March gives you the best opportunity to experience nature’s incredible light show, with the lights frequently soaring across clear skies at this time of year.
While seeing the Aurora Borealis is never guaranteed, your location can vastly improve your chance of seeing the lights. The further north and more remote you go, the greater your chances become.
5. Polar bears can be spotted in Svalbard
Located halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard offers experiences like nowhere else on earth. Also known as the polar bear’s kingdom, it’s one of the few places in the world where you may be lucky enough to spot these majestic bears in their natural habitat.
Cosmopolitan Longyearbyen offers more than 15 restaurants where travellers can experience Svalbard's locally sourced delicacies. There are also many glaciers to marvel at from the comfort of your cruise ship, as you slice through quiet and still waterways.
6. You can marvel at the midnight sun
Summertime in Northern Norway provides an opportunity for guests on a Fred. Olsen cruise to experience another natural phenomenon: the midnight sun.
During the summer months in the Arctic Circle, it’s possible to experience 24 hours of sunlight, giving you more time to enjoy the wonders of this part of the world in a whole new light.
Like the Aurora Borealis, the further north you are, the more of the midnight sun you will experience. Whether you take an overnight stay in an Ice Hotel, camp in Aurora Huts under a reddish sky or explore the wilderness on a whale safari, there’s so much to enjoy.
7. It's full of unique wildlife
Northern Norway is home to many rare animal species. Before your visit, why not create a list of arctic wildlife you’d be keen to spot, and tick them off as you go. Keep an eye out for the elusive arctic fox, spot walruses as they realx on icy beaches or go in search of some of Arctic Norway’s 30,000 reindeer.
8. You can dance with whales in the wild
If you’re travelling in Northern Norway in the winter, your cruise ship will sail slowly along the fjords of the Lofoten Islands and Vesteralen on the lookout for orcas and humpbacks. Be sure to pack your binoculars and camera to capture the memories.
9. It has a strong Sami culture
While the indigenous Sami people live across four countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia) around half of the population are settled in Norway. Northern Norway is home to the most ancient Sami settlements, making it the perfect place to experience their way of life, including ancient sounds, traditional craftwork and working reindeer herds.
Top of our list for learning about the Sami culture is Joik - the folk music of the Sami and one of Europe’s oldest song tradition.
10. It's home to the Norwegian Fjords
The Fjords of Norway are not to be missed on a visit to this beautiful part of the world. With towering mountains, tremendous waterfalls and valleys that roll for miles, you’ll be spoiled with spectacular views. The smaller sized Fred. Olsen cruise ships are perfect for exploring the winding waterways of the Fjords and giving you the best view of awe-inspiring highlights such as the Seven Sisters and the Briksdal Glacier as you travel closer to the Arctic Circle.
Spend your holiday cruising the Arctic Circle
Our Arctic cruises have been tailored to show the best of the region, offering a sense of remoteness while providing an eclectic mix of unique experiences. When at sea, your cruise ship will cross the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian Sea close to the small islet of Vikingen.
The exact location will shift over the course of a year depending on the angle of the earth’s axis. However, whether you’re a midnight sun seeker, a wildlife enthusiast or a person who simply enjoys the beauty in nature, you’re sure to have a magical time on an Arctic Circle holiday.