The Arctic Circle, one of the most remote regions of the world, has become one of the world’s biggest tourist hotspots. Every year, visitors travel to Norway, Canada, Alaska, and other Arctic locales to partake in its natural beauty and experience some of the most unique sights on Earth. If you’re curious about the Arctic Circle, you might be wondering about some of the most important areas in the region to visit.
The Arctic Circle is a vast region that covers three continents, so listing every single landmark and point of interest in a brief article is impossible. Here’s a list of some of the biggest tourist attractions in the Arctic Circle and what makes them significant.
Trans-Alaska Pipeline System
Constructed in the 1970’s, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is one of the longest pipelines in the world, stretching from the oil fields in Prudhoe Bay along Alaska’s North Slope to Valdez on the state’s southern coast. Constructed to make oil extraction cheaper and faster, the Pipeline has become a major tourist draw in the northern part of the state due to its unique aboveground construction, done to avoid damage from Arctic permafrost.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System can be most easily seen from the Dalton Highway, which stretches from Fairbanks in the Alaskan Interior to Prudhoe Bay and is used by countless truckers each year. Many tour operators offer guided tours of the Dalton Highway, allowing you to witness the Pipeline and other landmarks along the route.
Yukon River Bridge
Officially named the E.L. Patton Bridge, the Yukon River Bridge is notable as the only bridge spanning the Yukon River. As part of the Dalton Highway, it forms a vital link between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay and houses one of the only fuel stops along the route. Tourists flock to the Yukon River Bridge for picturesque views of the surrounding countryside.
Arctic Circle Monument Sign
Located on the northern end of the Dalton Highway outside of Deadhorse, the Arctic Circle Monument Sign notifies travelers that they have officially crossed into the Arctic Circle. Due to the fact that much of Deadhorse is closed off to civilians, many tours of the Dalton Highway end at the Sign, making it a popular place for selfies and pictures. Many tour operators also offer certificates to clients who reach the sign, proof that they have entered one of the most isolated regions of the globe.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Occupying over 19 million acres of land along Alaska’s North Slope, ANWR is the largest wildlife preserve in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Countless species inhabit the region, including polar bears, golden eagles, caribou, and more. While closed off to human development, ANWR is home to a number of Alaskan Native villages that can be reached via air or sea. It is also possible to hike into ANWR via the Dalton Highway, which is located just outside the Refuge’s western boundary.
Azimut Hotel Murmansk
Located in Murmansk, Russia, the largest city in the Arctic Circle, the Azimut Hotel Murmansk is the tallest building in the Arctic Circle, standing at 16 stories. Founded in 1984 as the Hotel Arctic, the Azimut Hotel Murmansk attracts many tourists due to its unique Soviet architecture and height. It is also known for a system of chimes that play “My Beloved Arctic,” the unofficial anthem of the city of Murmansk.
One of the largest war monuments in Russia at 116 feet tall, the Alyosha Monument is located in Murmansk and honors the city’s pivotal role in World War II, when it was besieged by German and Finnish forces following Hitler’s declaration of war on the Soviet Union. While Murmansk was heavily damaged by the fighting, the city’s fierce resistance kept it from falling to the Nazis, giving the city a legendary status in Soviet war histories.
Lenin Nuclear Icebreaker
The first nuclear-powered icebreaker ever constructed, the Lenin has since been turned into a museum and is moored in Murmansk. It offers tours in English and even allows visitors to take a look at the nuclear reactor itself.
Elephant Foot Glacier
Located in Northeast Greenland National Park, the Elephant Foot Glacier stands out for its unusual, near-perfect circle shape. It is five kilometers in radius.
Situated in the north of Norway, this Arctic island is notable for its tropical-style beaches and stunning vistas, and offers a number of biking and hiking trails.
Located in the Norwegian city of Tromsø, Polaria is a museum dedicated to everything Arctic, including exhibitions on the Northern Lights and climate change. It also boasts the Arctic Aquarium, where you can view seals and a variety of Arctic fish.
Befitting its vast size and diversity of peoples, wildlife, and landscapes, the Arctic Circle has something to offer everyone, no matter their tastes. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking to explore some of the most stunning landscapes in the world or interested in the culture and history of the Arctic Circle, there are a bevy of things to see and do in this remote corner of the Earth.