Visit The North Pole

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A boundless frozen ocean on top of the Earth that has captured the imagination of countless explorers but has been visited by only a few.

Introduction

The North Pole is one of the planet’s wildest and least visited places. To reach it is to experience the extraordinary polar wilderness on top of the Earth. Standing on the North Pole is considered one of the outstanding polar achievements, along with reaching the South Pole and crossing the Greenland Ice Cap.

The North Pole was first claimed to have been reached by an expedition in 1909 by Robert Perry. Although this claim remains highly disputed, it wasn’t until 1969 that Wally Herbert became the first confirmed person to reach it on foot. The first ship to reach the North Pole on the surface wasn’t until 1977, when it was first reached by the Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika.

Today, it is easier than ever to follow the path of heroic explorers and stand on top of the world.

North Pole Cruises

Geographic North Pole PONANT
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen - Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Aug 21 - Sep 5 2025
15 Nights

Price from per person

£31,170
Geographic North Pole PONANT
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen - Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Jul 7 - Jul 22 2025
15 Nights

Price from per person

£31,170
Navigating-the-sea-ice-on-the-way-to-the-North-Pole-Icebreaker-Charcot
No Single Supplement
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen - Reykjavík
Sep 26 - Oct 12 2024
16 Nights

Price from per person

£35,860

Ways To Visit The North Pole

North Pole Cruises

Cruise through the thick pack ice and venture to the North Pole comfortably on a luxury icebreaker cruise during the summer.

Fly To The North Pole

Fly from Svalbard to a remote research base by plane and land on a runway carved into the sea ice, with a final helicopter flight to the North Pole.

Airship Cruises

From 2026, flying to the North Pole on an airship from Svalbard will be possible.

To find out more details about all the ways of reaching the North Pole, including expeditions, please see our guide, How to Get To The North Pole.

Best Time to Visit The North Pole

The best time to visit the North Pole is from late June to September in the Arctic summer months. During this period, the Arctic experiences the polar day, with continuous 24-hour daylight and milder temperatures, making travel and exploration more feasible.

North Pole Cruises occur during the summer as the sea ice becomes navigable after the winter freeze and is accessible for icebreakers.

To help you plan your visit to the North Pole, please see our guide below on the differences between the months and why you should not visit in the winter.

When is the best time to visit the North Pole PONANTOlivier Blaud

Where is the North Pole?

North-pole-Map-where-is-the-north-pole

The geographic North Pole is the northernmost place on Earth in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, where all of the Earth’s lines of longitude meet together at a single point. Standing on the North Pole, you will face south in every direction.

The North Pole has no landmass under it and is not part of any continent. The North Pole is covered year-round by 2-3 metres thick sea ice, which drifts and moves with the wind and currents. The ocean beneath the North Pole is over 4km deep!

The nearest land to the North Pole is Kaffeklubben Island in Greenland, approximately 700 km (430 mi) away.

North Pole Wildlife

The Arctic region is home to a vast array of wildlife. While it is unlikely that you will encounter the North Pole itself (although possible) on your journey there, it is possible to see many species. Polar Bears, the true kings of the Arctic, hunt on the sea ice for food such as Ring Seals and Harp seals. Walruses are commonly spotted swimming in frigid waters or resting on large flat ice rafts.

Minke, Humpback, and bowhead Whales swim in the Arctic during summer, feeding off plankton in the rich waters. Occasionally, beluga whales can be seen with their brilliantly white bodies making their way along glacier fronts. The Arctic is also home to diverse birdlife sighted closer to land, including Arctic terms and puffins.

Please see our guide to learn more about the wildlife you can encounter on the North Pole.

Polar bear at the North Pole PONANT Olivier Blaud

North Pole Weather and Climate

North Pole weather and climate PONANT Laure Patricot

Whilst temperatures plummet during the winter months, the good news is that the North Pole hovers around the freezing mark during the summer months and often feels warmer than you would have imagined.

During the summer months, a high-pressure system often sits over the top of the Arctic, and this causes calm conditions. Fog is also a common feature of the Arctic Ocean. The weather in the Arctic can change rapidly, and during a North Pole Cruise it is essential to dress for every occasion. We supply a detailed packing list at the time of booking.

North Pole History

The North Pole has always been the crown jewel for many of the world’s most prolific explorers. From Amundsen missions to reach it via airship, Robert Peary’s claims to be the first person to step foot on the North Pole that is still contested to this day, to Ann Bancroft, the first woman to reach it by foot, the North Pole has always been a prize possession in for all true polar explorers.

The history of the North Pole profoundly resonates with many travellers. From its first visit by a nautical craft in 1958, the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus, to later expeditions, the North Pole has many great stories.

North Pole History roald Amundsen

Frequently Asked Questions

The North Pole is located in the Arctic region, and its discovery is not attributed to a single individual. Unlike the South Pole, which was first reached by Roald Amundsen in 1911, the North Pole is covered by drifting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Therefore, it has no fixed landmass that can be “discovered” similarly.

Several explorers claimed to have reached the North Pole, but the first undisputed expedition to reach the North Pole was the airship Norge, led by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, the American explorer Lincoln Ellsworth, and the Italian aeronaut Umberto Nobile in 1926. They crossed the Arctic in an airship, flying from Spitsbergen (Svalbard) to Alaska.

It’s important to note that there were earlier claims of reaching the North Pole, but their accuracy and validity have been the subject of historical debate and scepticism. The Norge expedition is widely accepted as the first confirmed attainment of the North Pole.

The temperature at the North Pole varies significantly throughout the year due to its extreme Arctic climate and the tilt of the Earth’s axis. However, the North Pole does not have a weather station, so specific temperature readings may not be readily available. Instead, I can give you a general idea of the temperature variations based on the surrounding Arctic region.

Winter (December to February):

Temperature typically ranges from about -40°F to -22°F (-40°C to -30°C). During the coldest periods, temperatures can drop even lower.

Spring (March to May):

Gradual warming begins, with temperatures ranging from- 22°F to 14°F (-30 °C to 10°C). Warmer air masses may lead to increased temperatures, but it remains cold.

Summer (June to August):

Warmer than winter but still cold, ranging from 14°F to 32°F (-10°C to 0°C). During the summer months, the North Pole experiences continuous daylight.

Fall (September to November):

Gradual cooling occurs, with temperatures dropping from 32°F to -22°F (0°C to -30°C). The Arctic region prepares for the return of winter.

It’s important to note that these are approximate temperature ranges, and actual conditions can vary. Additionally, the North Pole is often covered in sea ice, and temperatures can be influenced by factors such as wind patterns and ocean currents. Climate change also affects the Arctic, leading to changes in ice cover and overall temperature patterns.

The geographic North Pole is located at 90 degrees north latitude. The longitude lines converge at the North Pole, so it doesn’t have a specific longitude. Therefore, the coordinates for the North Pole are often expressed simply as 90 degrees north latitude and 0 degrees longitude. In the commonly used format, this is written as 90°N, 0°E.

It is possible to visit the North Pole, but it’s a challenging and remote destination that requires careful planning and specialized logistics. There are no permanent settlements or infrastructure at the North Pole, as it is covered by sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Visitors typically reach the North Pole via organized expeditions, and these trips often involve:

Icebreakers or Aircraft

Due to the ice-covered nature of the region, visitors usually need to travel by icebreakers or aircraft, such as specially equipped planes or helicopters that can land on ice.

Arctic Expeditions

Specialized expedition companies offer guided trips to the North Pole. Depending on the chosen route, these expeditions may depart from places like Russia, Canada, or Norway.

To learn more about the ways you can visit the North Pole, please see our guide, How To Get To The North Pole.

The Geographic North Pole and the Magnetic North Pole are distinct points on the Earth’s surface, each serving a different purpose and defined by other characteristics:

Geographic North Pole

Location: The Geographic North Pole is the northernmost point on the Earth’s surface. It is the point where the Earth’s axis of rotation intersects its surface.

Coordinates: Approximately 90 degrees north latitude, 0 degrees longitude. All lines of longitude converge at the North Pole.

Constant Position: The Geographic North Pole remains fixed relative to the Earth’s surface. It does not move because the axis of Earth’s rotation defines it.

Magnetic North Pole

Location: The Magnetic North Pole is the point on the Earth’s surface where the Earth’s magnetic field points vertically downwards. It is the point towards which the north-seeking end of a magnetic compass needle points.

Coordinates: The Magnetic North Pole is not fixed and is subject to movement over time. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, it was moving from the Canadian Arctic toward Russia at a rate of several kilometres per year.

Magnetic Field Influence: The Magnetic North Pole is influenced by molten iron and nickel movement in the Earth’s outer core, which generates the planet’s magnetic field. This movement, combined with other factors, causes the position of the Magnetic North Pole to shift.

In summary, the Geographic North Pole is a fixed point based on the Earth’s axis of rotation, while the Magnetic North Pole is a point influenced by the Earth’s magnetic field and is subject to movement over time. The difference between the two is essential for navigation and orientation, as compass needles align with the Magnetic North Pole rather than the Geographic North Pole.

The Arctic Ocean covers the area around the North Pole, and no land is directly underneath the Geographic North Pole. The Arctic Ocean is mainly covered by sea ice, which varies in thickness and extent depending on the season. Unlike the South Pole, which is located on the continent of Antarctica, the North Pole is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, surrounded by ice floating on the water.

Beneath the Arctic Ocean, there is an underwater feature known as the Arctic Basin, which includes the Lomonosov Ridge and the Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge. These underwater ridges are part of the Earth’s crust, but they are not considered landmasses like continents.

It’s important to note that the ice cover in the Arctic is not a fixed platform; it drifts and changes with the seasons. In recent years, the extent of Arctic sea ice has been affected by climate change, leading to concerns about the long-term stability of the region’s ice cover and its environmental impact.

The closest landmass to the North Pole is Kaffeklubben Island, located in Greenland and approximately 700 kilometres (430 miles) from the Pole.

Several countries have territories relatively close to the North Pole, but the one closest is Russia. The Russian archipelago of Franz Josef Land is in the Arctic Ocean and fairly close to the North Pole. This archipelago is part of the Russian Federation and is about 900 kilometres (560 miles) from the North Pole.

Other countries with territories in the Arctic region that are close to the North Pole include Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, and the United States (Alaska). The proximity of these territories to the North Pole has implications for issues related to Arctic sovereignty, resource exploration, and environmental conservation. The Arctic region is governed by international agreements, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Do you need help planning your expedition?

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