Yes, it’s cold. But conditions in the Arctic vary quite a bit depending on the season, and many travellers are surprised by how tolerable they find it. Don't forget that, unlike at the planet's other pole, people have lived in certain parts of the Arctic Circle for thousands of years.
While the depths of winter are undoubtedly freezing, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be travelling during this time anyway. Research scientists aside, most travellers experience the Arctic during the summer months and temperatures during these Arctic summers frequently rise above freezing.
Summer runs from June to September and temperatures typically sit between 1 and 12°C (33 and 54°F) during this time, peaking in July. It’s not balmy, but it’s a far cry from winter, when the temperatures plummet to between 0 and -34°C (32 and -29°F).
All Intrepid's expeditions run on specially-designed vessels that will be toasty and warm inside no matter the conditions outside the portholes, so as long as you pack correctly for shore excursions, there's really no need to be overly concerned about the cold.
What's the weather like in Svalbard?
Temperatures on the west of Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, which includes the settlements Longyerbyen and Calysobyen, average 2 to 5°C (36 to 41°F) during June, July and August. Temperatures can be a good 5°C colder than these averages on Svalbard's eastern islands.
What's the weather like in Greenland?
Temperatures in central and southern Greenland are temperate by Arctic standards. Summer temperatures hover around 1 to 3°C (34 to 37°F) and don't drop substantially until around October when most expeditions have already left the region. Even in winter, temperatures usually won’t fall below -10°C (-23°F) in the south of Greenland. Northern settlements like Qaanaq experience similar summer temperatures but much colder winters, with temperatures that can drop as low as -20°C (-4°F) from December to February.
What's the weather like in the Russian High Arctic?
Conditions are severe in the Russian High Arctic. Even in July, temperatures on the archipelago hover around 0 to 3°C (32 to 37°F). A whopping 141 days of midnight sun every year mean landings can happen at any time of day in summer. As you can imagine, Franz Josef Land experiences brutally cold winters, with winter temperatures (November to February) averaging around -22°C (-8°F) and bottoming out around -40°C (-40°F).
Further south than Franz Josef Land, conditions in Novaya Zemlya make for slightly more pleasant landings during summer. Summer temperatures hover around the 5°C (41°F) mark, making for pleasant conditions for shore landings (especially if you’re hiking a little and working up a sweat).
What's the weather like on Baffin Island?
Canada's Baffin Island is significantly colder than many other parts of the Arctic with a similar latitude due to the presence of strong northerly winds. Even in the middle of summer, tempratures rarely climb above 5°C (41°F). Temperatures of -25°C (-13°F) are not uncommon in the winter months.
Click here to read more Arctic FAQs
Our tours in the Arctic
See all the highlights of the east, south and west coasts on this Arctic voyage around...
Take a voyage across the Arctic Circle via the Svalbard Archipelago and north-east...
Departing from Helsinki, explore incredible Spitsbergen in search of polar bears,...
An Arctic expedition through East Greenland and Iceland is the perfect opportunity to...