By: Liz Carino
With dramatic landscapes and ice formations, unique wildlife, and incredible natural phenomena at any time of year, visiting the Arctic is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many travellers, adventurers, and photographers. We’re thrilled to help people around the world plan their bucket-list experience.
Picking the time of year to travel is one of the most important things to consider when planning your Arctic adventure. Unlike tropical vacations where you can expect sun and sand throughout the year, the Arctic is always changing and evolving.
While we run polar bear tours from March to November, the different seasons also bring a variety of amazing experiences. Depending on what you want to see and how you want to explore– whether it’s viewing rare wildlife like narwhal, incredible glaciers, the midnight sun or the Northern Lights – there is a season for you in the Arctic.
Here’s what you can look forward to throughout the year:
Early Spring – March and April
This time of year is great for adventurous travellers looking for unique, award-winning polar bear photography and the chance to view the Northern Lights.
The opportunities for polar bear (and possibly cubs!) photography are incredible during this season. Depending on the location you travel to, you may have the chance to see polar bear mothers and newborn cubs as they leave their dens for the first time, or polar bears lounging on sea ice and climbing majestic icebergs. For polar bear mothers and newborn cubs, you’ll want to visit one of the world’s largest denning areas, Wapusk National Park, on Polar Bear Mother & Newborn Cubs. For polar bears and icebergs, and to be one of the first to explore the high Arctic in early spring, check out Spring Polar Bears & Icebergs of Baffin Photo Safari.
If conditions are right, you may also get the chance to witness the Northern Lights!
Travelling at the end of the Arctic’s cold season can mean more extreme weather with average daily temperatures ranging between -15°C and -29°C (5 to -20°F), but can drop as low as -40°C (-40°F). While cold, you can still have an enjoyable experience with the right gear! We offer a Polar Clothing Rental Package to keep you comfortable no matter what Mother Nature brings.
Experience early spring in the Arctic on these trips:
Spring – May and June
This is floe edge season! The floe edge, also known as the “line of life”, is where the land-fast ice meets the open water. It is also where all Arctic marine mammals come to mingle. Throughout May and June, you can have opportunities for Arctic whale watching – including the chance to see narwhal, beluga and bowhead whales – as well as possibilities to see other wildlife like polar bears and thousands of bird species.
You’ll also have the chance to experience incredible land and icescapes. From soaring icebergs, to spectacular mountains and glaciers, there are breathtaking panoramas at every turn – all under the midnight sun.
Activities to look forward to in Arctic spring include travelling across the sea ice by snowmobile and qamutik (traditional Inuit sled), snorkeling and kayaking at the floe edge, hiking, and more.
Temperatures at this time of year range from -3 – 10°C (26 – 50°F) but can feel much warmer because of the 24-hour sun.
Experience the Arctic in spring on these trips:
Summer – July and August
Arctic summers are perfect for any type of traveller – including families! This season also experiences the midnight sun – with almost 24-hours of daylight in July and upwards of 17 hours of daylight in August. During this time, much of the ice has melted and the tundra blooms with colourful wild flowers and berries. Weather in this season is mild, with temperatures ranging from 10 – 20°C (50 – 70°F).
The Canadian Arctic is a great place for summer fun in nature. With the warmer weather, activities include boating, fishing and hiking among spectacular landscapes – including Canada’s most stunning national park, Auyuttiuq National Park. You’ll also have opportunities for wildlife viewing at this time of year, including chances to see polar bears on land and swimming, walrus, bowhead whales and more.
Learn more about summers in the Arctic here.
Experience the Arctic in summer on these trips:
Autumn – October and November
Autumn is a great time of year for travellers looking for up-close polar bear photography and chances to see the Northern Lights, or travellers looking to unplug and experience the peacefulness of the Canadian Arctic tundra.
During this time of year temperatures begin to drop and polar bears congregate around the western coast of Hudson Bay waiting for freeze up so they can continue their migration north. This allows for incredible opportunities for polar bear viewing at ground level. Other wildlife sighting possibilities include Arctic fox, Arctic hare and birds.
If conditions are right, you’ll also have the chance to see the spectacular Northern Lights!
Experience Autumn in the Arctic on this trip:
Whatever time of year you choose to travel, don’t forget to pack a camera! There are amazing photography opportunities at every turn. Get tips for photography in the Arctic here.
Our trips are determined by the cycle of life; wildlife migrations and natural phenomena. Scouted with expert insight from Inuit guides, we bring you the best of the Arctic at any time of year. See all our Arctic safaris here.
Still need help picking the right time of year to travel, or the perfect trip for you?
Contact us to talk to one of our Arctic Travel Advisors.
Want to plan a fully-customized private experience in any season?
We’d love to help you build your dream itinerary. Contact us today!