Reindeer Holidays: Our Favourite Reindeer Safaris

We know Rudolph is the most famous reindeer of all, but beyond that, what else do we really know about this deer species?

Also called caribou in North America, these charismatic creatures are much more than holiday icons. The significance of reindeer remains central in many Northern regions, where the majestic mammal is relied on for things such as transport, food, and warmth. So if you’re interested in observing reindeer, there are many unique tours that offer the opportunity to do so while experiencing the magic tranquility of incredible outdoor landscapes.

When is the best time to spot reindeer?

The best time of year to see reindeer varies depending on the country. Keep in mind that they are herd animals, so you’ll rarely find a lone reindeer. That also means that if you go on a tour at the right time, you might be lucky enough to spot huge herds congregating for their seasonal migration.

  • Winter: For two months after Christmas, many reindeer herds begin heading south to lower grasslands in search of food. The winter migration of Norway’s Sami reindeer herd is a particularly well-documented phenomenon.
  • Spring: Between early March and mid-May, Caribou herds across Northern Europe and Arctic Canada begin their spring migration. In Norway, Sami reindeer migrate from the plains towards the coast. In Canada, Quamirjuaq caribou head to their calving grounds further north.  
  • Summer: June to August is arguably the most difficult—although not impossible—time to spot reindeer, as they tend to move towards higher elevations. One of the best places to view reindeer herds during the summer months is Iceland’s east coast.
  • Fall: Between late August and mid-October, most reindeer herds begin moving southward in preparation for colder months ahead. Fall may be the best season to see the reindeer migration, as it overlaps with an opportunity to catch the incredible Northern Lights ami darker skies.
A group of reindeer sitting on snow
Reindeer often travel in herds | © Red Hat Factory/Unsplash

Where will you find reindeer?

Reindeer can commonly be found in the northern hemisphere since they are so well adapted to cold, snow and freezing climates throughout the winter. Countries where reindeer are most commonly spotted include Canada, Norway, Northern Sweden, Northern Finland, Greenland, and Iceland. Check out our list of ten tours below for the places to see reindeer around the world.

Introduction to Spitsbergen

  • Length: 9 days
  • Accommodation: Ocean Nova and Ocean Adventurer ship cabins
  • What’s Included: Accommodation, an expert guide, and transport

Explore Spitsbergen and the Svalbard Archipelago in this nine-day expedition through Northern Norway. There is no fixed itinerary, but each destination is selected for optimal wildlife and scenic viewing opportunities. It’s almost certain you’ll spot polar bears, and there’s a high likelihood you’ll see other arctic animals such as reindeer, walruses, and Arctic foxes.

Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge

  • Length: 10 days
  • Accommodation: Cozy arctic lodging
  • What’s Included: Accommodation, an expert guide and transport

This ten-day tour package gives you ample opportunity to explore Yellowknife and Northern Canada, 500 miles (805 km) north of the Arctic Circle. Enjoy fantastic scenery and diverse adventure activities. Stay on the lookout for up-close views of Canada’s diverse wildlife, including bears, musk ox, elk, sheep, and caribou.

A male and female reindeer walking in a row in the snow
Sharpen your photography skills on a reindeer safari | © Marcus Löfvenberg/Unsplash

Arctic Unveiled

  • Length: 8 days
  • Accommodation: Chimu adventures ship (Ocean Atlantic)
  • What’s Included: Accommodation, all meals on board, all scheduled landings/excursions, and an English-speaking expedition leader and team guides

Be one of the first to join this eight-day ocean cruise for an incredible journey to Spitsbergen, amongst the world’s largest areas of untouched nature. Set sail amidst spectacular landscapes with the opportunity to spot elusive animals, including reindeer and polar bears.

The Arctic in Depth

  • Length: 11 days
  • Accommodation: Deluxe Verandah Suites (Scenic Eclipse cruise)
  • What’s Included: Luxury accommodation, up to nine on-board dining experiences, internal transport, a 16-member specialist Polar Discovery Team, scenic discover excursions, engaging on-board lectures and education programs, complimentary expedition gear, unlimited beverages, and individual butler service

Raise your glass as you set sail through Northern Norway on a luxurious 11-day cruise in the Svalbard Archipelago. Navigate the rugged glaciers and frozen tundra with a wide range of daily Scenic Discovery excursions to discover wildlife and marine life. You can also relax in your indoor suite and live-stream spectacular outdoor views via the ship’s cameras.

A female reindeer in Svalbard
Head to Svalbard for some seriously cool wildlife encounters | © James Padolsey/Unsplash

Under the Northern Lights: Exploring Iceland & East Greenland

  • Length: 14 days
  • Accommodation: Polar Adventure Ship + one night in a standard hotel
  • What’s Included: Accommodation, an expert tour director, qualified expedition staff, all meals on board, and transport

This 14-day tour takes you through Reykjavik, Iceland, and North East Greenland National Park to explore two of the last unspoiled wilderness areas on the planet. Immerse yourself in untamed arctic beauty, cruising through remote coastlines and rugged mountain ranges. Keep an eye out for grazing reindeer or musk ox along the way.

Into the Northwest Passage

  • Length: 17 days
  • Accommodation: Ocean Endeavour expedition ship
  • What’s Included: Accommodation, specific sights and attractions, charter flights, and all meals (16 breakfasts, 15 lunches and 16 dinners)

Experience true Arctic exploration on this 17-day cruise through the Northwest. Arrive in Greenland and travel through Nunavut, stopping at various islands—Baffin, Devon, Beechey, and more—along the way. Many of the islands offer unique opportunities to spot Peary caribou, polar bears, walruses, and more wildlife.

A reindeer attached to a sleigh
Reindeer have been prized for their usefulness for centuries! | © Norman Tsui/Unsplash

Across the Northwest Passage

  • Length: 21 days
  • Accommodation: Scenic Eclipse luxury cruise
  • What’s Included: Luxury accommodation, expert Discovery Team, all meals onboard and all activities

Hop aboard the world’s first discovery yacht with this 21-day tour package through Copenhagen, Denmark, and six other destinations. Traverse the Northwest Passage and experience a wide range of discovery excursions by Zodiac, kayak, and onshore landings. Take the scenic route; enjoy luxury lodging and toast to spectacular days ahead.

Four Arctic Islands: Spitsbergen, Jan Mayan, Greenland and Iceland

  • Length: 18 days
  • Accommodation: Ship + one night at a Oslo hotel
  • What’s Included: Accommodation, tour leader, qualified expedition staff, all on-board meals, all transport, and all activities listed

Go from Oslo to Reykjavik in this 18-day polar tour, ideal for first time visitors to the Arctic. Explore Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Nowegian Svalbard archipelago, known for its varied wildlife such as polar bears and Svalbard reindeer. Continue sailing south to volcanic Jan Mayen, before venturing to Greenland’s east coast and setting sail under the midnight sun to Reykjivik.

Wildlife expedition in Sarek National Park, Lapland

  • Length: 7 days
  • Accommodation: Two nights at a guesthouse + four nights in a tent
  • What’s Included: Accommodation, experienced naturalist guides, all meals, round-trip transport from Jokkmokk, helicopter transfer to Sarek National Park, and various outdoor equipment

This seven-day wildlife tour takes you through Jokkmokk, Sweden and Sarek National Park in search of reindeer, moose and other wildlife. Sarek National Park is a dream adventure for nature enthusiasts who enjoy camping outdoors. There are no marked trails, access to cabins, or phone signal, and the park can only be accessed by foot or by helicopter. Be prepared to carry your own backpack and equipment!

A reindeer grazing in polar park, norway
Polar Park, Norway | © Warren Sammut/Unsplash

Northern Lights & Wildlife in Swedish Lapland

  • Length: 6 days
  • Accommodation: Camping and guesthouse
  • What’s Included: Accommodation, tour leader, round-trip transport from Luleå, all activities, and full board with all meals

Journey through Luleå, Sweden and Jokkmokk and experience the real Swedish Lapland on this intimate six-day tour. Stay in a tented Sámi camp out in the wilderness and get the chance to photograph local reindeer and moose amid beautiful, snowy backdrops.

Between Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Northern Canada, there are plenty of destinations that offer the unique opportunity to see reindeer in the wild. Which of these adventurous tours are you up for?