Where will you go for your next adventure?

If you're looking for a bucket-list adventure for 2024, a snowy expedition to either Antarctica or the Arctic could be what you're after. Both of these regions offer incredible wildlife and stunning landscapes that you won't find in other parts of the world. There are some key differences between the two regions to consider before booking your trip.

Do you want to see the Northern Lights? Then a cruise to Norway's Arctic should be on your wishlist. Want to see colonies of Emperor penguins in their natural habitat? Then an expedition cruise to Antarctica is what you need.

To help you decide, we've taken a look at some of the key differences between these two wild and wonderful parts of the world.

We loved the whole experience: all the staff, the lectures, the food, the tours - it was a real once-in-a-lifetime trip!

- Hurtigruten cruise to Antarctica, February 2023

When to visit

Picking the right time to visit the Antarctic or the Arctic is crucial. Visiting Antarctica during the autumn and winter months is impossible - the coastline is impenetrable due to thick ice and the temperatures that can plunge to a bone-chilling minus 60 degrees.

To visit this icy continent you need to travel with an expert expedition team in the southern summer months, between November and March. Even in summer, temperatures here will rarely get above zero, but with the right equipment and clothing you'll be all set for your icy adventure. On our Antarctic expedition cruise, you'll get boots, trekking poles, an expedition jacket and all the equipment you need included.

The Arctic is accessible year-round, with its more hospitable climate. But it's important to choose the right time of year to go, depending on what you want from your break.

Spring is a great time for dog sledding and other snowy activities, making the use of the remaining winter snow before it begins to melt. If you're hoping to see the Northern Lights, the peak season is between November and February.

This Norway cruise has a departure in December, when, in certain parts of the country, sightings of the Aurora Borealis are almost guaranteed at this time of year.


Part of the appeal of trips to both the Antarctic and the Arctic is the chance to explore otherworldly landscapes unlike anything you'd find at home - or anywhere else in the world for that matter. In the Antarctic you're likely to see vast ice sheets, towering mountains and icebergs the size of skyscrapers. Untamed and desolate, these landscapes are dangerous to traverse without the company of an expert expedition team.

On our Antarctic expedition cruise your specialist Expedition Team will lead ice-cruising and landings at every opportunity to take you ashore and explore the impressive Antarctic scenery.

In the Arctic, you'll find some similarly dramatic but slightly less barren landscapes to explore. There's the Norwegian tundra, treeless plains covered in mosses, lichens, and hardy grasses. The tundra is also dotted with lakes and wetlands, providing a haven for birdlife.

But the most impressive and famous of the Arctic landscapes must be the fjords. These beautiful and tranquil bodies of water are found all along Norway's coast, all the way up to and above the Arctic Circle. Among those within the Arctic are the stunning Reisafjord, surrounded by a dramatic landscape of mountains and waterfalls and Lyngenfjord, nestled amidst the Lyngen Alps.


There are no humans in icy Antarctica, so there isn't any native culture to speak of. What you'll find instead is an international scientific community, working together to discover more about this fascinating continent.

If you want to visit Antarctica but are also hoping for a dose of culture on your trip, a stop in Buenos Aires could scratch that itch. Many Antarctic expeditions begin with a few nights in the Argentine capital, a convenient meeting point, before heading down to the world's southernmost city, Ushuaia.

Our 15-day expedition begins with two nights in this buzzing city, often called the 'Paris of South America' due to its cosmopolitan atmosphere, grand boulevards and elegant buildings. You might choose to practise your dance moves in the famous hometown of tango, or simply sit back with a glass of Malbec and watch the experts perform.

The Arctic, on the other hand, has a rich and diverse culture of its own. Unlike Antarctica, there are around four million residents here, including several indigenous communities. On our 12-day cruise of Norway's Arctic Circle you'll visit Kjøllefjord village, where you can join an optional summer excursion to meet local Sámi, learn about their daily lives, reindeer herding, and listen to traditional folk songs.


While the human population of Antarctica is minimal, there are plenty of animals to be seen in the continent's icy waters. Chief among them are the penguins; from feisty little Adélie to the regal Emperors, they're often the highlight of a trip to the Antarctic.

As well as the penguins, you might be treated to sightings of Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, Orcas, or even the world's largest animal, the mighty Blue Whale.

In contrast to Antarctica, where most of the animals reside in the surrounding waters, the Arctic is home to a whole host of land-based creatures. It's the only place in the world where you can see Polar Bears in the wild. These incredible animals are as elusive as they are beautiful, and while sightings are never guaranteed, expert guides know how to give you the best chance of spotting them.

And even if you're not lucky enough to see a Polar Bear, you can still look forward to seeing hooded crows, sea eagles, orcas, humpback whales and arctic foxes.