Download GPX file for this article

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

There is no better place than the Arctic to see polar bears, puffins and reindeer. While most of the Arctic tends to be inaccessible, there are many places in the Subarctic where you can see just that.


The Arctic is divided between the Nearctic region covering most of North America, and the Palearctic region covering Europe and northern Asia. In the far north, most of the species are similar.

Major wildlife regions
North AmericaCentral & South AmericaAfricaMadagascarEurasiaSouth & Southeast AsiaAustralasiaArcticSouthern Ocean


Polar bears[edit]

Polar bears, Ursus maritimus, live in and around the Arctic Ocean. During winter, they can be found on and under the rim of the Arctic ice cap, hunting ringed seals in the water. During summer, part of the ice melts, and they retreat to land for a lean season.

This huge habitat area contains only about 30,000 bears. Luckily, they tend to be concentrated in a few coastal areas where it is possible to see them, particularly in the summer and fall.

  • Alaska. Polar bears are quite common throughout this US state and exclave, but they're mostly abundant in Arctic Alaska. With climate change, more mothers have been building dens on land, and there are regular polar bear tours from various different towns.
  • Greenland.
  • Manitoba.
    • 1 Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Known as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World". Churchill is a small village on the coast of Hudson's Bay, a branch of the Arctic Ocean. Every fall, Churchill hosts the world's largest concentration of polar bears, as the bears wait for the bay to freeze over. This has made Churchill a major tourist destination, as tourists board "tundra buggies" (large elevated armored buses) to go out and see the bears face to face. Churchill (Q744553) on Wikidata Churchill, Manitoba on Wikipedia
    • Wapusk National Park, Manitoba. Churchill may be dubbed as the world's polar bear capital, but "Wapusk" literally means polar bear in Cree. Its remote location means there's an abundance of polar bears here, but access is limited.
  • Nunavut. Nunavut is somewhat like the OP version of Manitoba, though in many ways the ecosystem of the province and territory are in many ways amalgamated. Qausuittuq National Park in particular has many polar bears.
  • Svalbard. Polar bears are so common here that it's a legal requirement to carry a rifle with you once you venture out of town.
  • Russia has many regions where polar bears can be found. Unlike the Western Hemisphere, polar bears live further north so that means they can only be found in the northern regions of the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East.
    • 2 Wrangel Island, off the northeast coast of Siberia (and very hard to get to). The world's largest concentration of polar bear maternity dens. Wrangel Island (Q106594) on Wikidata Wrangel Island on Wikipedia

Contrary to popular belief, there are no polar bears in the mainland of the Nordic countries – don't go roaming around the Finnish Lapland hoping you'll eventually find a polar bear because the weather is a tad warmer than Northern Canada. This also extends to northwestern Russia for the exact same reason. The only places where you'll be able to find polar bears in the Nordic countries and/or northwestern Russia is either in Svalbard or the Russian Arctic National Park, and both archipelagoes are well off the beaten track.

In captivity, polar bears can be seen in zoos worldwide.


Atlantic puffins in Lofoten, Nordland
  • Faroe Islands. There are over 500,000 pairs of puffins in the Faroes, but there's no better place on the archipelago to see them than the south coast of Mykines.
  • Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska. Kenai Fjords may be known for its fjords, but there's a good deal of Atlantic puffins roaming around the park.
  • Orkney Islands, Scotland. The west coast of the Orkneys are a good place to spot puffins.
  • Westfjords, Iceland.

See also[edit]

This travel topic about Arctic wildlife is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!