The Arctic is gaining in fame as a destination for people who want a little more exploration and adventure from their time away from work. It lacks chain restaurants you find around the world, does away with crowded tourist hotspots, and says good-bye to tacky trinket shops.

So that’s a list of what the Arctic doesn’t offer. But far more important is what the Arctic does offer. Below we’ve listed just seven of the many wonderful experiences waiting for you in the Great White North.

1. Beluga Whales

If you’re in the mood to meet any old variety of the gentle ocean-going giants then multiple choices of worldwide cruises should serve you well. However if not just any whale will do and you specifically want to spot out adorable Belugas then you’re definitely going to want to head to the Arctic where they live the year round.

2. Polar Bears

Sticking with the wildlife theme, no list of Arctic experiences would be complete without mentioning Polar Bears. Multiple Arctic cruises give you the opportunity to find these big furry brutes, but if you really want to up your chances then we suggest cruising the Spitsbergen region of Norway or hop a plane to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.

3. The Northern Lights

Another mainstay of the Arctic, the Aurora Borealis is by far one of the biggest draws of the north. In case you’re wondering if it lives up to all of the hype – it does. It really is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful sights you could ever possibly see.

4. Explore the land where European and Inuit cultures meet – Greenland

Somewhere between 4000 and 5000 years ago multiple tribes hopped on over from Canada to the ice-covered island to the northeast, Greenland. From these people came the modern-day Inuit, who around the year 982 A.D. were joined by a gentleman of the Norse persuasion – Erik the Red.

From these two peoples sprung a colourful culture that inhabits the shorelines of the island (the interior is covered by an ice-shield). Take some time and explore the towns filled with the rainbow-hued houses, check out the museums, and discover just how many words and activities we’ve since borrowed from our Greenlandic friends (“anorak” and “kayak” are just a start).

5. Visit the cod capital of the world – Lofoten

Ready for something a little more surreal? Every year the Lofoten area (an archipelago of Norway) hosts a cod-fishing rally in March. 600+ people fish amongst the stunning fjords and bays for the chance to bring home the championships for the biggest single fish and the most fish caught within a certain time.

Aside from the contest, Lofoten relies on cod-fishing as a major source of income. Every year thousands of the gutted fish are hung from outdoor lines in order to let them be dried by the wind. You’ll have the chance to feast your eyes (and nose) on the amazing sight of multitudes of cod flapping around in the breeze like so many fish-shaped flags.

6. Petroglyphs

6000 to 9000 years ago the people who first arrived in the Lofoten area needed a way to tell others that there were plenty of fish, whale, elk, and birds for everybody. Instant messaging still being a little ways off, they settled for scratching pictures of the tasty and abundant wildlife into the rocks of Leiknes.

7. Dog-sledding

The panting, the pounding of paws, and the crunch of snow under your sled’s runners can make for a remarkably Zen experience. While you can experience dog-sledding in multiple locations, we humbly suggest an Arctic cruise that makes a stop in Greenland where dog-sledding is still very much a part of the culture.