World Heritage Sites Of The Arctic

Since 1972, UNESCO has been conserving sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance so that they can be enjoyed by humanity for a prolonged period of time. Being named as a World Heritage Site ensures protection but also a boost to the local economy through funding and increased tourism.

Some of the most beautiful and adored places, monuments and buildings around the world are listed by UNESCO, including some within the Arctic. Here are just a few that can be found in the northern polar region.

Ilulissat Icefjord



Located on the west coast of Greenland, Ilulissat Icefjord is home to some of the most important glaciers in the world. Not only is this the highest calving glacial area outside of Antarctica, but it also allows scientists to study the effects of global warming. With some of the ice here being hundreds of thousands of years old, it can show us how the past climate compares to the one there today. Your visit to this part of Greenland is likely to include some sightings of awesomely large icebergs breaking off into the sea.

Thingvellir National Park



One of Iceland’s most picturesque landscapes, the Thingvellir National Park is now known for being a filming location for Game of Thrones. However, in the past, it was a meeting point for representatives of the different areas of Iceland to come together and form the country’s first parliament. It is listed as a World Heritage Site due to the fact that remains and relics found here show us how the Icelandic people worked in tandem with the land. As well as outstanding views, the park is home to excellent hiking trails and features one of the best scuba diving spots in the world.

Rock Art of Alta



Alta is a fjord at the most northern extremity of the mainland Norway. Thousands of rock paintings have been found here over the years, leading scientists to propose that this part of the Arctic was an important meeting point for prehistoric man. The artwork features information about how these early humans hunted and gives details of the rituals and beliefs they had at the time.

Wrangel Island Reserve



Belonging to Russia, Wrangel Island is situated off the east coast of the country, north of the Arctic Circle. It’s diverse flora and fauna has led to it being named a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is a fantastic example of a self-contained ecosystem. More than a hundred bird species spend time here at some point in the year and it is an important breeding ground for polar bears and walruses. Also, many grey whales come to its shores to feed and it is thought to be the last place in which mammoths would have lived before they became extinct.




Although Ninstints is not technically within the Arctic region, it makes our list because it is possible to explore the area around this village on some of our Alaska expeditions. It is located on the Haida Gwaii islands, which are home to the indigenous Haida people. The totem poles and other forms of ancestral art found in Ninstints and the surrounding region give us an insight into how the Haida people lived their lives.

If you would like to discover some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites listed above, we have Arctic expedition cruises that visit Haida Gwaii, Ilulissat and Iceland. Call our helpful team for more details.

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