When most people sit down to plan their vacation, they look to places like Hawaii or Florida or Europe. They look for someplace warm and sunny - the more beaches, the better! If you spend every vacation at a beach, though, you miss out on some great adventures in the colder climates. Here are five reasons you should take an Arctic vacation this year. Just think of how much you'll save on air conditioning!
While Antarctica might seem like a vast, empty wilderness, its polar opposite (literally), the Arctic, is full of a long line of people that have changed the world. The Arctic region includes places like Finland, Iceland, Russia, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Alaska and Norway, where Vikings first made landfall. You can visit the same places the Vikings once lived (or study their artifacts in one of the many Viking museums), or you can go to Greenland and get in touch with another culture that has been living in the Arctic ever since they arrived in "a land void of humans" 1,300 years ago: the Inuits. Both of these cultures (and others) have a rich history that can only fully be explored with a visit to the Arctic.
Snow and Ice Hotels
When you were a kid, did you ever try to build an igloo out of snow? Well, as an adult you can really see what it's like to stay in a snow igloo with Finland's SnowHotel. Every year a new SnowHotel is built out of the winter snow, with each one being different from the last. This same compound also includes an ice chapel, an ice restaurant and an ice bar, which has both tables and drinking glasses made of ice. You can't get that on a beach!
Glaciers are a magnificent thing to behold. These massive mountains of ice often float along the water, seeming somehow both beautiful and dangerous at the same time. Some of the most stunning glaciers in the world can be seen in the Arctic, especially at Ilulissat Icefjord. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to one of the quickest-moving and quickest-changing glaciers, known as the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, which moves around 63 feet every day.
If you are an animal lover, the Arctic is the perfect destination for you. Most polar expeditions put you in near-contact with at least one of more than 36 different types of mammals that live here in these freezing temperatures, including narwhals, beluga whales, walruses, caribou, arctic foxes, polar bears and even reindeer. You can also visit cliffs where rare Arctic seabirds come during mating season. They make their nests on the sheer sides of the cliff to avoid predators stealing their eggs, and they fish in the water below the cliffs for food to feed the babies when they are hatched.
The Northern Lights
Everyone has seen photos of the Northern Lights, but you have not really experienced their beauty and their sheer majesty unless you have seen them in person. These greenish lights appear to dance in the night sky in autumn and winter, and are a natural wonder that has inspired many legends, especially among the Inuit people in Greenland. One legend has it that when the Northern Lights are dancing in the sky, lost loved ones are playing a game of football with the skull of a walrus. Others believe that babies that are conceived under the Northern Lights will grow up to be extremely intelligent and gifted. No matter what you choose to believe about them, these lights will take your breath away.