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Icebergs form when chunks of ice break off (also known as calving) from glaciers, ice shelves, or a larger iceberg. They travel with ocean currents, sometimes crashing against shorelines or getting caught in shallow waters. These glacial giants look as if they’re works of art, glistening under the sun with tinges of blue, carved and contoured into some remarkable sculptural pieces. If you’d like to view them up close and capture some amazing shots for your Instagram feed, plan a trip to any one of these fantastic destinations across the globe.
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Newfoundland is one of the world’s top spots for seeing icebergs up close, and the Great Northern Peninsula, a remote area dotted with scenic villages, pretty much guarantees viewing. Many float just offshore from late spring through early summer when they eventually disappear into the Atlantic after a lifetime of some ten thousand years. Along with icebergs, you’re likely to see wildlife like moose and caribou. In the town of St. Anthony, the largest on the peninsula with a population of just 2,500, the Iceberg Festival is hosted every year in June. Events can be enjoyed throughout the region, however, in tiny villages from Raleigh and St. Lunaire-Griquet to Straitsview.
Icebergs of all sizes and shapes fill the Arctic waters around Greenland, with the largest generally located in the northern region, although you’re bound to see plenty no matter where you go. The largest collection of icebergs can be found at the Ilulissat Icefjord, due to one of the world’s fastest glaciers, Sermeq Kujalleq. Known as the “iceberg capital of the world,” Ilulissat is a popular destination in Greenland, home to thousands of bergs that can be seen year-round whether you’re sailing, hiking, or flightseeing. You might even see a polar bear hitching a ride on one.
While icebergs can be seen in many places around Iceland, Jökulsárlón Lagoon is one of the top attractions in the country, located along the famous Ring Road. Europe’s largest glacier looms above, while seals lounge on the sparkling blue and white bergs that float across the still water. The icebergs frequently break off the glacier, drifting through the short river into the sea. The waves turn some back to the black sand beach nearby where they lie scattered across like gems, giving it the name “Diamond Beach.” The lagoon has become even more popular having served as a setting for many films like “A View to a Kill” and “Batman Begins,” as well as HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
One of the world’s true last frontiers, Antarctica is known for its jagged mountain peaks with glaciers flowing down to the sea, vast open skies, a remarkable abundance of wildlife like penguins, seals and whales, as well as enormous icebergs. The waters of the Southern Hemisphere near the continent are a hotbed of iceberg activity. When the iron-rich ice deposits plunge into the Southern Ocean, they “fertilize” the water, stimulating phytoplankton to recycle more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To get there, you’ll need to join an expedition cruise, with trips available from Ushuaia in Argentina.
Glacier Bay National Park is one of Alaska’s best spots for berg viewing, due to the dozen glaciers that are actively calving icebergs into the water. Hearing the thunderous sound and taking in the sight of a 200-foot tall chunk of ice crashing into the bay. Located just west of Juneau (though Gustavus makes a great base), it’s also popular for fishing, including halibut and rainbow trout. Wildlife is abundant too, from black bears and mountain goats to whales. The 21-mile-long and one-mile-wide Margerie glacier can only be accessed by air or water, but there’s a good chance that you’ll witness it calving.
Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the top tourist attractions in the heart of the Patagonian glacial region near Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Visitors come from across the globe to El Calafate, about 48 miles away, just to get a glimpse and marvel at the massive chunks of ice that break away, plunging into Lake Argentino between November and early March. You can also take a flightseeing tour or boat excursion for various perspectives of the glacier and icebergs.
While many visit Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia to see its dramatic snow-capped mountains, it’s also home to an ice sheet that’s about the size of Hawaii. The rivers and lakes here are teeming with icebergs, especially at the Lago Grey glacier which lies along the Southern Patagonia Ice Field. This is also a hiker’s paradise, with the granite pillars of Torres del Paine soaring for more than 6,500 feet above the Patagonian landscape, dominating the scenery of what’s often referred to as South America’s finest national park. For those willing to venture to this southernmost region of Chile, you’ll be able to hike trails that snake through emerald forests, alongside turquoise-hued lakes, rushing rivers, and even a brilliant blue glacier.
The postcard-perfect town of Trinity with its colorful saltbox homes lies along Trinity Bay, another one of the best spots for iceberg viewing in Newfoundland in May and June. They break off from northern glaciers, beginning their journey south heading here along the island’s eastern shores in an area known as “Iceberg Alley.” There are so many that residents often chip off bits from the bergs that land on the beaches to use for drinks made with some of the purest ice in the world. If you visit toward the end of the iceberg season, around mid- to late-June, there’s a good chance you’ll see lots of humpback whales too.
Located on Newfoundland’s northeastern shores, Twillingate has been billed as the “Iceberg Capital of the World.” In addition to viewing icebergs, there are miles of scenic hiking trails and a picturesque lighthouse. Long Point Lighthouse is one of the most photographed landmarks on the northern coast, standing at more than 300 feet above sea level, providing a lookout point for taking in panoramic views of the Atlantic as well as the chance to view the bergs, whales, seals, and sea birds. While you’re here, enjoy a tour and tasting at Auk Island Winery which produces unique wines with iceberg water and Newfoundland berries.
Yet another destination ideal for iceberg viewing and other attractions in Newfoundland is Fogo Island. A place that feels like it’s lost time in time, it can be accessed by ferry from Farewell. With 11 unique communities, in addition to watching for icebergs, visitors can explore the traditional Irish village of Tilting, where you’ll hear the sounds of thick Irish lilts, enjoy hiking trails and a beach with soft white sands that looks as if it should be in the Caribbean. Be sure to hike the Brimstone Head trail for some of the most breathtaking vistas, including bergs during the season.
Along the coastline of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, a small town famous for its beluga whales in the summer and polar bears in the fall, the low tides during the springtime leave massive icebergs beached on the shore. While you can only see the very tips of the icebergs above the surface as the float, when they end up on the beach you’ll see just how enormous they really are. As you’ll be so far north under the auroral zone, there’s a good chance you’ll see the colorful northern lights dance across the sky too. Be sure to visit the Itsanitaq Museum which hosts a collection of Inuit carvings made of whalebone, soapstone and caribou antler, along with more than thousand-year-old harpoon heads and bone carvings of shamans and bears from the pre-Inuit Thule and Dorset cultures in the region.
The Monaco Glacier, named after the first Prince Albert of Monaco, is a vast wall of ice in the Svalbard archipelago of Norway’s Arctic Ocean outpost, far above the Arctic Circle. You can hear it groaning and cracking as it slowly slides into the sea. The area is filled with wildlife too, including herds of reindeer, Arctic fox and polar bear on land, while seals, walrus and whales pass through its waters. Longyearbyen is the region’s largest settlement and capital, home to more polar bears than people with its landscape filled with craggy mountains and pristine glaciers.
Located in Labrador (part of Newfoundland and Labrador), the remote town of Battle Harbour makes a great base for spotting icebergs and whales. This restored 19th-century village sits on an island accessed by the daily ferry, a one-hour trip, and offers visitors the chance to stay in one of the centuries-old houses that have been restored to their original state. Along the ride across St. Lewis Inlet, keep an eye out for lots of seabirds, whales, and icebergs.
The famous Sampo Icebreaker cruise departs from the northern port of Kemi, on Bothnian Bay in Finnish Lapland, but you don’t have to take a cruise to see the icebergs, although those who do even get the opportunity to swim alongside them. In the harbor is a seasonal complex carved out of the ice and nearby, you can visit Bothnian Bay National Park, home to old fishing huts, rare plants and abundant birds, including Arctic tern.