Iqaluit (ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ in Inuktitut syllabics; formerly, Frobisher Bay) is the capital and largest settlement of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, and is located on a south-eastern inlet of Baffin Island. As of 2011, the population stood at just under 6,700 people.


Iqaluit started life as the site of an American Air Force base in 1942. In 1984 the settlement formerly known as Frobisher Bay changed its name back to Iqaluit. Iqaluit means "place of many fish".


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) -23 -24 -19 -10 -1 7 12 10 5 -2 -9 -19
Nightly lows (°C) -31 -32 -29 -20 -8 0 4 3 0 -8 -17 -27
Precipitation (mm) 21 15 22 28 27 35 60 66 55 37 29 18

See the 7 day forecast for Iqaluit at Environment Canada
Road to Nowhere, Iqaluit

The season in which you choose to visit Iqaluit will largely determine what you'll be able to see and do. The peak time for visiting Iqaluit is during its brief summer. The ice on Frobisher Bay begins to thaw in June, when temperatures start rising and the nights are short. Hiking is excellent about this time. The bay remains inaccessible during its thaw, but an icebreaker will arrive to clear a path for boats usually by the end of June. July and August are both the warmest and wettest months. Wildflowers and berries flourish, but so do the mosquitos. Fishing on Sylvia Grinnell River is best on the shoulders of summer, when the arctic char migrate down toward the bay and then back up again.

Snow starts falling regularly again in September and continues through early June. The bay stays open to boats until November. Daylight hours become increasingly short in the winter months, but the northern lights are entrancing. January and February are the coldest and darkest months of the year, and life in the town can get a bit grim at this time. April and May are the ideal months for dog-sledding, kite-skiing and other snow activities.

Visitor information

Get in

Iqaluit is generally accessible only by air and, under the right ice conditions, by sea. It is not connected by road to any other town. Due to its isolation, and the lack of competition, getting to Iqaluit is a very expensive prospect.

By air

Iqaluit Airport (IATA: YFB) is a public airport located a short walk west of the town centre. It hosts scheduled passenger services from Ottawa, Montreal and Rankin Inlet, as well as from smaller communities throughout eastern Nunavut. Services also connect to Yellowknife and Winnipeg via Rankin Inlet.

Several companies that operate chartered flights out of Iqaluit to nearby communities have offices at the airport. The largest operators are Air Nunavut, Kenn Borek Air and Air Inuit.

Get around

Iqaluit is small enough that most things are within walking distance of each other. Taxis charge a flat $7 fee per person to anywhere in town. In the summer, you can rent bicycles from the visitor's centre. There are also several automotive outfitters in town that rent snowmobiles and ATVs.


Legislative Building in Iqaluit


Outdoor activities

River at Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park

Iqaluit is the main base from which to explore Baffin Island. Several outfitters organise guided excursions around the island and Arctic expeditions further afield. Keep in mind that most activities are seasonal. Summer activities include trekking, and boat and fishing tours in Frobisher Bay. In the winter months, dog-sledding journeys are an excellent way to get out and explore the landscape. As well as the commercial outfitters, there are several dog-team owners in town who take visitors out for an afternoon or overnight. Kite-skiing is an increasingly popular activity, and frozen Frobisher Bay is considered one of the best spots for it in Canada. Aerial sightseeing tours are easy to organise at any time of the year and there will always be a charter company available to take you up, depending on the weather.

Some of the more reliable outfitters in town include Inupak Outfitting, Northwinds Arctic Adventures, Polynya Adventure and Qairrulik Outfitting. Call the local tourism authority for more. Dates for longer expeditions are usually scheduled well in advance, but even most day trips require a minimum number of people, so be sure to book early to give the outfitters time to organise others.

Opportunities for trekking around Iqaluit are almost endless, thanks to wide open surroundings, including two protected areas on its doorstep. The terrain can be rough, however, and there are very few trails and no roads. You can also rent snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) from several outfitters in town.



Enchanting night view of Iqaluit in September fog

Inuit artists are recognised internationally for their stone carvings and prints, and there are several galleries in Iqaluit selling arts and crafts from all over Nunavut. In addition, artists often tout their wares along the waterfront and in restaurants, creating excellent opportunities to experience the local art culture.


Iqaluit in June

Local specialities consist mainly of game meats (caribou) and seafood (Arctic char, mussels, scallops and shrimp). Another staple is bannock, a type of bread.

The best restaurants are in the hotels, but all of them are open to non-guests. Prices for food are generally much higher here than in other parts of Canada.


Iqaluit waterfront in August. 2011

While many communities in Nunavut have restrictions on the sale, possession and consumption of alcohol, Iqaluit does not. You are free to bring alcohol into the community for your own use, and you can buy and drink it in bars and licensed restaurants. There is, however, no public liquor store.


Many houses in Iqaluit are on stilts

Being a small town, Iqaluit doesn't have much of a choice in the way of accommodation. Rates for rooms are generally much higher than their value, and amenities can be lacking. Booking ahead and securing a room before your arrival is essential. Budget travellers are restricted to camping and couch surfing, which has a few members based in Iqaluit. When the local college (Nunavut Arctic College) is not in session, visitors can stay out at the college residence, which costs much less than local hotels.


There is cell phone coverage in Iqaluit, but your phone may not work. This is due to the lack of coverage by the major Canadian wireless companies and outdated infrastructure (which is being upgraded).

Ice Wireless, a regional phone carrier, provides a 3G network and is the only GSM option at this time. Its phones and plans are sold at QITC in the RBC Building on Queen Elizabeth Way. Rogers Wireless has an exclusive roaming agreement with Ice Wireless, so Rogers customers can use the network for a fee, but it is voice-only (data roaming is not available).

The other wireless option is Bell, which operates a 3G/UMTS system; Bell's 2G signal is a CDMA-only network (no GSM) which will be shut down at the end of 2016.



Healthcare services

St Jude's Anglican Cathedral

Religious services


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