Travelling To The North Pole: The Ultimate Visitors Guide

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The easiest way to get to the North Pole is by taking an Icebreaker cruise from Longyearbyen. For those seeking adventure, it is also possible to fly or embark on an expedition with skis or dogsleds.

Travel experience team member standing on the sea ice in front of Le Commandant Charcot
By Andy Marsh
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In this ultimate guide to travelling to the North Pole, I share our team’s first-hand experience of visiting the North Pole to help you plan your trip. Here, you will find our top reasons to visit the North Pole, how to get to the North Pole, when to visit (typically during the summer months when the sea ice is more navigable), animals you may see, things to do on a North Pole trip, and answers to common questions.

Remember, our dedicated team of travel experts is always ready to assist you in planning your North Pole adventure. With their first-hand knowledge and experience, they can provide you with the most reliable and up-to-date information. Please contact them here.

This article has been updated to reflect changes to visiting the North Pole in 2025, including new expeditions and no longer available tours. 

Can I Visit The North Pole? 

Yes, you can visit the North Pole! Thanks to the advancements in modern icebreaking ships, travelling to the North Pole during the summer is now more accessible than ever before. In the past, this was a feat only accomplished by seasoned polar explorers. However, with the introduction of the world’s first luxury icebreaker, Le Commandant Charcot, in 2021, the North Pole is now within reach for anyone with a polar dream. 

Where is The North Pole?

The Geographic North Pole is the most northerly point on Earth, located in the centre of the frozen Arctic Ocean. Unlike the South Pole, which is land covered by ice, there is no land under the North Pole; it is just sea ice that floats on the surface of the Sea and is in a constant state of movement. All the Earth’s lines of latitude meet at the North Pole, and when you stand on the sea ice, you will face south in every direction. 

A political map of the Arctic showing all Arctic regions including the North Pole, Greenland, Russian Arctic, Canadian Artic, Norway, Sweden Finland and the USA

Reasons To Visit The North Pole

  • Be one of a few people who have ever reached the North Pole and have stood at 90 degrees north where all the lines of longitude on the planet meet.
  • Immerse yourself in the frozen seascapes, a sight that polar explorers have only recently witnessed, from the safety and comfort of a state-of-the-art icebreaker. This unique experience will leave you in awe of the polar wilderness.
  • Spend time on the deck looking for wildlife, including polar bears, walruses, seals, and Arctic birds that live on the sea ice. These unique creatures highlight any North Pole trip and offer a rare opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat. Experience one of the world’s most pristine and untouched environments rarely seen by humans.
  • En route to and from the North Pole, encounter the enchanting polar wilderness of Svalbard. 
  • Learn from onboard scientists and experts about the unique polar ecosystem at the top of the world. You’ll also gain insights into the cultural and historical significance of the North Pole, including its role in polar exploration and its importance in understanding climate change.
Geographic North Pole PONANT
Last Staterooms
Nome, Alaska - Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Sep 6 - Sep 26 2024
20 Nights

Price from per person

£36,390
North Pole cruise on Luxury Icebreaker charcot PONANT
Last Places
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen - Reykjavík
July 26 - Aug 11 2024
16 Nights

Price from per person

£40,010
North-Pole-Cruise-PONANT
No Single Supplement
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen - Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Aug 6 - Aug 21 2025
15 Nights

Price from per person

£33,160

How To Get To The North Pole in 2025

There are five Ways to reach the North Pole, with the most common and least demanding route being an icebreaker expedition cruise from Longyearbyen in Svalbard to the North Pole.  

Travel To The North Pole On An Icebreaker Ship

The easiest and most reliable way to reach the North Pole in 2025 is on an icebreaker expedition, sailing through the sea ice on the purpose-built icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot. The ship was launched in 2021 and designed specifically for North Pole tourism. It features the latest cutting-edge sustainable technologies, such as hybrid engines and recycled heat. It offers a new way of reaching the North Pole in maximum comfort, safety, and luxury while minimizing our environmental impact on this pristine wilderness.

Le commandant charcot in the sea ice icebreaker cruise PONANT

Geographic North Pole Tour

In 2025, Le Commandant Charcot will offer four 16-day sailings from Longyearbyen. The voyages travel north through the thick sea ice to reach the North Pole and then return to Longyearbyen. 

geographic north pole cruise map

Trans Arctic Tour to Two North Poles

For avid explorers, it is possible to reach both North Poles (the geographical and the magnetic) on an epic 20-night Trans Arctic icebreaker cruise departing from Svalbard and sailing across the entire frozen Arctic to Nome in Alaska. This expedition promises to allow something that only a tiny amount of people have ever done. 

trans arctic icebreaker cruise map

Reaching the North Pole on an icebreaker expedition has the advantage of being physically straightforward and requiring no exceptional fitness.

Travel Update: As of 2024, due to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, no North Pole Tours or expeditions are departing from Murmansk in Russia via Franz Josef Land on the nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Years of Victory. The only option to visit the North Pole by Icebreaker is on Le Commandant Charcot from Longyearbyen in Svalbard.  

To find out more and see dates and prices, please visit our North Pole Cruises.

If you are planning a trip to the North Pole, please don’t hesitate to contact our Travel Experience Team for free advice to help you plan.

Fly To The North Pole By Plane and Helicopter

During April, flying by plane from Longyearbyen to a runway carved into the ice at the Barneo Camp, located close to the North Pole, is possible. The exact position of the runway changes daily as it moves with the sea ice. From the Barneo Ice Camp, flying to the North Pole by Helicopter is possible. 

This option is excellent for those who are short on time and don’t want to spend 16 nights on an icebreaker. The disadvantage of flying is that it is only possible in April, and the expedition is highly weather-dependent. 

Travel Update: As of 2024, flying to the North Pole is becoming increasingly complex and is no longer a reliable way to reach the North Pole due to the changes in the sea ice at the Barneo camp. North Pole Tours on an expedition icebreaker provides the most reliable way. 

Fly to the North Pole by Airship

From 2026, visiting the North Pole by airship will become a new possibility. For the first time, you can fly to the North Pole in a custom-made airship, following in the footsteps of pioneering aviating explorers Amundsen and Nobile.  

This unique expedition will depart from Longyearbyen and fly guests over the Arctic wilderness before landing on this exciting 48-hour round trip at the North Pole. Please enquire to find out more. 

Reaching The North Pole By Overland Expedition

It is possible to reach the North Pole on an expedition by skiing or dog sledging. Both journeys are considered extreme and require extensive logistics planning, expert guidance, and physical training. However, they are significantly more expensive than cruising or flying to the North Pole.

Travel Update: Due to the changing ice in the Arctic Ocean, it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach the North Pole across the ice.

Ski To the North Pole

The most common type of expedition to the North Pole is to ski the final degree, which is around 60 miles or 111km in a straight line. However, as the sea ice constantly drifts and shifts and pressure ridges in the ice need to be overcome, the distance is much greater. 

Add to that the sledge carrying all your equipment, which will weigh 80kg, and it is possible to understand why most people visit the North Pole on a cruise or by plane.

It is still possible to ski from Canada to the North Pole, considered one of the most significant polar challenges ever.

Dogsled To The North Pole

It is possible to dogsled the final degree to the North Pole. This expedition requires the same physical strength and preparation as skiing and is considered extreme.  

Dogsledding to the North Pole poses many challenges, including the weight of the sledge over uneven terrain and the logistics of having 15 additional four-legged teammates per sledge.

When To Visit The North Pole

Due to its location in the highly high Arctic, the North Pole is only accessible by ship between July and September. These months allow the best conditions for ice navigation when the sea ice extent is at its lowest. Travellers can enjoy milder temperatures and the best chances of reaching the North Pole. 

North Pole Tours in July and August benefit from the midnight sun, whilst trips to the North Pole in September offer the best chances to view the northern lights as darkness returns to the Arctic. 

Flying to the North Pole is only possible in April when the ice is thickest after the winter freeze, and light returns to the Arctic after the dark winter.

Expeditions overland the ice to the north pole occur in March and April when the sea ice is thickest. 

For a detailed guide of when to visit, please see our guide.

Facts About Travelling To The North Pole

  • Under 1000 people visit the North Pole each year, most choosing to travel comfortably on a North Pole Icebreaker cruise.
  • When you reach the North Pole, you are over 700 miles from the nearest land mass, the Svalbard archipelago.
  • The depth to the bottom of the ocean under the North Pole is over 4 km.
  • The sea ice at the North Pole is between 2.5 and 3 metres in thickness. This explains why only purpose-built icebreakers, not regular ships, can reach 90 degrees North.

Things To Do On A Trip To The North Pole

People often ask what is there to do on a trip to the North Pole. Here are some of our favourite things to do to give you an idea of what you can do on a North Pole Tour. 

Celebrate Reaching The North Pole

A considerable part of the experience is reaching the North Pole itself, a feat only some have ever achieved. When the ship reaches the North Pole, travellers can step off the boat and onto the sea ice if conditions allow.

Observe Ice Navigation

Le Commandant Charcot has an open bridge policy, and a captivating part of any expedition to the North Pole is spending time on the bridge, observing the navigation of this technically advanced ship through the myriad of sea ice. The bridge provides one of the best views of ice navigation.

Wildlife Watching

Navigating through the pack ice is the ideal time to observe wildlife. Use the ship’s on-deck spotting scopes to watch for polar bears.  

Talks & Lectures by Experts

Days at Sea features talks by expedition guides, special guests, and experts. Learning about the region is a large part of an expedition to the North Pole. Le Commandant Charcot has a purpose-built lecture theatre located in the bow of the ship, where lectures and briefings take place.

Kayaking 

On select departures on Le Commandant Charcot, depending on the weather and sea ice conditions, there may be an opportunity to participate in a guided kayaking trip. Kayaking is the perfect way to experience the raw and untouched beauty of the polar environment on your North Pole adventure.

Polar Plunge

A polar plunge is a passage of rights for every polar explorer. Jump into the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean under the safety and guidance of the ship’s expedition team. It’s a must-do on any North Pole adventure. 

Enjoy The Onboard Experience 

Le Commandant Charcot has some of the finest amenities at Sea. Enjoy a sauna with a panoramic view, or watch the ice drift past from the outdoor heated lagoon. Work out in the gym with floor-to-ceiling windows. Witness the polar scenery from the comfort of the observation lounge and bar. Enjoy a walk around the promenade, complete with heated benches and spend time contemplating the awe-inspiring nature.

How Much Does It Cost To Visit The North Pole?

Visiting the North Pole is one of the most expensive expedition cruises due to its remote nature, complicated logistics, and small group size. However, we have received feedback that this extraordinary trip is worth the investment to reach one of the Earth’s most remote and exclusive locations. 

The cost for a North Pole tour on Le Commandant Charcot in 2025 starts at £31,170 ($42,800) per person based on two people sharing a Prestige Stateroom Deck 6 on the Geographic North Pole Icebreaker Cruise departing from Longyearbyen in Svalbard. 

The cost of flying to the North Pole for an expedition departing from Longyearbyen starts at €25,500 per person.

The price for an 8-day expedition to ski the last degree to the North Pole starts at €53,000 per person. 

Please see our guide North Pole Travel Costs Explained for a detailed breakdown of costs for visiting the North Pole.

What Animals Will I See On A Trip to the North Pole?

Whilst you are unlikely to see any wildlife on the North Pole itself due to its extreme northern environment, the Arctic Ocean is home to diverse species, some of which you will likely encounter on your trip to the North Pole.

Travelling north through the sea ice will give you a unique perspective into this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. Keep an eager watch out for polar bears, which use the sea ice to hunt seals, walruses, and various Arctic birds.

See the complete list of animals in the North Pole Region.

How Cold Will It Be at the North Pole?

During the summer, when it is possible to visit the North Pole by ship, the average temperature is 32° F (0° C), much warmer than people often imagine. This temperature can usually feel warmer on sunnier days and much cooler when there is wind. 

In the winter, the temperature at the North Pole is  −40° F (−40° C), so travelling to the North Pole outside the summer season, along with the 24 hours of darkness, makes it inhospitable to visit outside of the summer. 

This is in stark contrast to the South Pole, which has a much colder climate with an average mean temperature of −18° F (−28.2° C) in the summer, making it more challenging to visit. 

Do I Need Any Special Preparation to Visit the North Pole? 

Almost anyone can travel to the North Pole on an icebreaker or fly to the North Pole, and no special preparation is required. You must be medically fit enough to take an expedition to a remote place where medical facilities are limited, and a rescue in an emergency would take longer than in other parts of the polar regions. The expedition isn’t physically demanding, but a reasonable amount of mobility and fitness is required for activities such as polar hiking, kayaking and the polar plunge. 

Overland expeditions require significant training and exceptional fitness to complete this challenging expedition. 

North Pole Packing List

Due to the interchangeable weather and environment in the Arctic, it is essential to pack the right clothes for your North Pole adventure to keep you warm and dry. Whilst you don’t require any specialist equipment, the following clothing is mandatory.

  • Expedition Jacket (supplied on le commandant Charcot North Pole tours)
  • Waterproof trousers for hiking
  • Insulation layers such as a fleece or down jacket
  • Hat, gloves, warm socks and neck warmer
  • Base layers for hiking
  • Comfortable onboard clothes
  • Binoculars and camera (highly recommended)
  • Valid Passport

For the complete packing list, please see our North Pole Cruises Packing List.

Is It Safe To Visit The North Pole?

While it is considered safe to visit the North Pole, some additional factors must be considered due to its remote and inhospitable location.

Safety is of paramount importance when visiting the North Pole. The safest way to reach the North Pole is on an icebreaker expedition. Le Commandant Charcot has been built beyond the highest safety standards.

Le Commandant Charcot features advanced safety and evacuation systems in case of an emergency when navigating on ice. The ship also features medical facilities.

Off-ship activities are led by a highly trained team of polar guides who ensure the safe operation of the ship while travellers are off it. In the Arctic regions, including the North Pole, this includes polar bear defence protocols and measures. 

Due to remote regions, the most significant risk is that help in a medical emergency will take much longer than in other places, so sound fitness is essential when joining a North Pole Tour. 

Do I Need A Visa to Travel to the North Pole?

As the North Pole is not a country, you do not need a visa to visit the North Pole. Svalbard, the main departure port for North Pole tours, also does not require a visa, just a valid passport. 

To reach Svalbard, you must fulfil the entry requirements for any transit country you visit, such as Norway. Travellers from the USA, Europe, and the UK do not require a visa to enter Norway for 90 days or 180 days for tourism. 

Find out more about Norway visas.

North Pole Tourism: A Brief History

Tourism to the North Pole is a relatively recent invention. In 1994, the Russian icebreaker Yamal reached the North Pole, carrying fare-paying guests. For the first time, travellers could reach the North Pole without being scientists or having to train for a specialist polar expedition. The Yamal was later replaced by the nuclear Russian Icebreaker 50 Years of Victory, which made several trips a year to the North Pole with travellers until 2020.  

In 2021, Le Commandant Charcot became the first cruise ship to reach the North Pole. LNG powers this specialist expedition ship 

Under 1000 people visit the North Pole yearly, making it one of the world’s least visited and sought-after locations. 

North Pole Travel Advice

  • Book your trip to the North Pole in advance. Icebreaker expeditions to the North Pole are often sold out a year in advance due to the limited capacity and high demand for such an adventure.
  • Understand that Arctic travel is subject to weather and ice conditions. Itineraries may change, and the ability to reach the North Pole is never guaranteed. Be prepared for unexpected changes.
  • The best way to see wildlife is to visit the North Pole on an icebreaker cruise, as you will be highly unlikely to see any wildlife there. Wildlife is encountered in its natural habitat whilst sailing through the pack ice.
  • Come prepared. The North Pole can be extremely cold, even during summer. Pack appropriate cold-weather gear, including insulated clothing, waterproof outerwear, and warm accessories. We will provide you with a detailed packing list before your expedition. 
  • If you choose to fly to the North Pole, be aware that delays are highly possible. Consider this when planning pre and post-expedition travel.
  • Take out comprehensive travel insurance covering all eventualities, including trip cancellation and medical evacuation.
  • Consult your doctor before travelling to ensure you are healthy and fit enough to travel to a remote Arctic location with limited medical facilities.  
  • H4. Respect the Environment Follow Leave No Trace principles and respect the fragile Arctic environment. Dispose of waste properly and adhere to the guidelines provided on your North Pole tour.

How To Book Your North Pole Tour

If you want to visit the North Pole, our knowledgeable Travel Experience Team, with first-hand experience, is here to help you plan your expedition. 

We will assist you with choosing your preferred option, whether a cruise or flight. We will clarify the differences between voyages and help you select your cabin based on your preference. We will describe what is included, along with any optional activities. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. 

All bookings made through us at the North Pole include 100% financial protection for your peace of mind. We have supplier failure insurance free of charge to ensure you are fully protected. We also guarantee the best price from the operator when your reservation is made.

Here you can view all of our North Pole Cruises and North Pole Holidays. Please contact us to reserve your place.

North Pole Travel Resources and Further Reading

A great article by National Geographic that offers an insightful overview of the North Pole’s climate, history and geography. See Article.

View ice charts for the Arctic and the North Pole on the Norweigan Metrological Institute website here.

To inspire your trip to the North Pole, consider visiting the North Pole Expedition Museum in Longyearbyen to gain a fascinating insight into the early days of North Pole exploration.

If you would like to learn about my experience on Le Commandant Charcot you can see my ship review.

Books About The North Pole

True North: Peary, Cook and the Race to the Pole 

This is a North Pole adventure classic that examines the rivalry between Peary and Cook and provides insight into the early exploration of the North Pole.

Ninety Degree North: Quest For the North Pole

Named the best book of the year by the New York Times, it explores the history and challenges of expeditions to reach the North Pole. From governments to eccentric explorers, it is the perfect reading companion for your North Pole tour.

Looking for some inspiration about places to visit? The North Pole features on our Top 50 Places To Visit In The Arctic.

Thanks for reading, and happy exploring.

In this article

About The Author
Travel experience team member standing on the sea ice in front of Le Commandant Charcot
Andy Marsh
Founder of North Pole Cruises
Andy is a passionate explorer and an expert in the polar regions. With over 15 years of experience travelling to some of the most remote polar regions, Andy has sailed across the Drake Passage and explored Antarctica and South Georgia by tall ship. He has years of experience working extensively with small boats in Svalbard and Greenland. He even worked on the Falkland Islands, helping to set up the first TV station there. Andy loves to share his knowledge with guests planning their expeditions as an expert in expedition cruising and a polar know-it-all. His most recent and thrilling voyage was on Le Commandant Charcot to East Greenland, a journey that is sure to captivate your imagination.

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