Modern Nomad is a weekly column dedicated to mobile gear, must-see world destinations, tips for life on the road, and traveling better through technology.
It’s almost winter here in the northern hemisphere, which may not seem the ideal time to travel to the coldest places in the world. But, it is arguably the best time to experience the real side of any traditionally cold weather destination. Here are three really, really cold places you should visit in 2016.
The Svalbard Islands (Norway)
The tiny town of Churchill has long been known as polar bear central for visitors to Canada’s Manitoba province. But, Norway has rapidly gained notoriety as the place to spot these magnificent creatures. The Svalbard (literally “cold coasts”) Islands are a remote archipelago located halfway between the North Pole and the Norwegian mainland. They are a place of surreal, pristine beauty dotted with the remnants of old mining towns and truly unique arctic wildlife.
But, they are perhaps best known as “The Realm of the Polar Bear”. Hurtigruten offers all-in-one package deals aboard their luxury cruiseliners with stops throughout mainland Norway and the outlying islands. Passengers have the opportunity to tick a variety of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities off their bucket list, including polar bear spotting, traveling along ancient Viking routes, and photographing the Northern Lights.
The North Pole
The number of cruise ships to Antarctica has increased dramatically over the past decade. While it still remains the world’s (mostly) untouched continent, package vacation retailers have made it easy for anyone with an adventurous spirit and $10K in discretionary income to visit.
Travelers looking to get a taste of something truly special can book a cruise to the North Pole with Quark Expeditions. The 14-day journey of a lifetime starts in Helsinki, Finland before boarding the nuclear powered icebreaker 50 Years of Victory. Bucket list-worthy add-on experiences include hot air ballooning at 90° North (literally the top of the world) and helicoptering over the Arctic Ocean.
While we rarely hear about them in the U.S., Canada is arguably home to the most breathtaking national parks in North America. And the province of Alberta is home to the most awe-inspiring parks in Canada, which, for Albertans, is a point worth bragging about. If Banff and Jasper National Parks aren’t near the top of your lifetime to-do list, it’s time to update it. These two adjacent parks are the twin flagships in Canada’s national parks system.
Truly adventurous travelers will want to experience the staggering beauty of both parks on foot. However, the destination can be challenging even in the most ideal weather conditions. Look to a proper road trip through Alberta and beyond to experience the best natural beauty that Western Canada has to offer.