Islands of the Arctic Ocean

Blue glacier ice, Esmarkbreen, Svalbard

Most of the Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, littered with islands, mostly fragments of the North American, European, and Asian continental masses. Some are inhabited; others are completely covered in snow and ice and therefore uninhabitable. Several of the most interesting lie in the border waters between the Arctic and northern Atlantic Oceans, 60° and northward toward the Pole.


Northern Canada includes many islands as well as much mainland territory. The islands include:

Russia has an exceedingly long arctic coast with a number of islands off it.


The largest number of Arctic islands are parts of the Nunavut and Northwest Territories of Canada, and several are part of northern Russia; most of these are barren and uninhabited, and are covered (to the extent that there's anything to say about them) in their respective countries' articles.

Greenland so large it hardly deserves to be called a mere "island" lies largely in the Arctic Circle. Although it is arguably part of continental North America, it bears cultural and practical similarities to its smaller neighbors in the Arctic region. Likewise, Iceland barely kisses the Arctic Circle and has a fairly mild climate, but still has a sparsely-vegetated landscape and moderate accessibility issues. Jan Mayen and Svalbard are quintessentially Arctic remote and harsh but habitable.

Get in

By plane

Longyearbyen in Svalbard, is accessible on regularly scheduled SAS flights from Tromsø and Oslo, Norway.

Reykjavík, Iceland, is served by several flights a day from other Nordic countries and from the United States.

Greenland is reached primarily by flights from Denmark and Iceland.

Get around

By plane

Although they lie on or near the "great circle" routes taken by airliners between Europe and North America, the Arctic islands are generally treated as "fly-over" territories, with fewer stops since passenger planes gained the ability to cover the distance without refueling. Because of their historical ties to Europe, they are easier to get to from there than from Canada or the U.S.

By Tour

Adventure Life. Offering small-ship expeditions and land safaris to Arctic islands and the North Pole, their Arctic voyages have been featured in New York Times and USA Today.

Arctic Kingdom. Offering land safari tours to remote destinations in the Arctic. Luxury camping options including boat tours and polar bear watching expeditions.

Big Five Arctic Tours - Offers group and individual tours to the Arctic.

Quark Expeditions. Provides everything from month-long semi-circumnavigation trips to week-long explorations of the Arctic, including ice-breakers to reach the remote North Pole.

By Yacht

Ocean Expeditions. Expedition support yacht ‘Philos’ purpose-built for high latitudes. Specialising in private or commercial expeditions involving film making, scientific research, adventure activities, wildlife enthusiasts or just an intimate experience of the Arctic.


Arctic scenery varies throughout the seasons. Travelers have opportunity to see an abundance of wildlife throughout the course of a cruise or land trip. Best times to go vary based on which wildlife viewing is preferred. From late May through early September one can see caribou, moose, humpback whale, beluga whales, seals, grizzlies, polar bears, Arctic foxes, muskoxen, and up to 200 species of birds.

The Northern Lights may be visible at the highlight of the dusk and nighttime hours on a cruise.


Stay safe

This is polar land and you need many layers of clothes to survive; see cold weather. Also beware of polar bears.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 10, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.