There’s cool travel and then there’s really cool travel. Travel to the ends of the Earth for the coolest travel of all.

Standing at the North PoleQuark ExpeditionsNorth Pole Every year only a small number experience the top of the world – are you next? Aboard Quark Expeditions’ the 50 Years of Victory, the most powerful icebreaker on earth, you plow through thick ice to 90 degrees north – the North Pole. Celebrate with a tethered hot air balloon flight (you’ll appreciate the hot air), get out and stand at the pole, walk on the ice or even enjoy a real polar bear swim. If you really want bragging rights run in the North Pole marathon – you aren’t running on land but on ice – the Arctic Ocean is only two-to-three metres below!

DAVE-Ellis-South GeorgiaDave EllisAntarctica Why not head south for the winter? Way south. One of the harshest, most pristine places on earth, Antarctica is actually the more accessible and affordable of the two polar destinations. Sign up for G Adventures’ 11-day cruise out of Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern-most city in the world and sail aboard a purpose-built vessel through Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands and then to the edge of the Antarctica Peninsula. Stunning and imposing blue-tinted icebergs tower like skyscrapers while penguins waddle back and forth. Stark and magnificent, Antarctica is unforgettable.

07GreenlandShutterstock/jeleEuropean Arctic Not just top of the world, Greenland and the European Arctic are top of the travel list for many. Begin your voyage off the coast of Norway at the archipelago of Svalbard, a prime spot for polar bear viewing. Visit the land of Vikings and see the massive icebergs of North East Greenland National Park – the largest icebergs in the world. It’s one of the most isolated places in the world with only 500 visitors per year. Now do you feel special? Iceland and its glaciers, volcanoes, wildlife and geothermal spas like the famous Blue Lagoon is journey’s end.

08NWPassageShutterstock/Wild Arctic PicturesNorthwest Passage The legendary Northwest Passage has claimed many victims who dared to explore the fabled route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The passage is still adventurous, but, fortunately for us, modern ship technology and comforts have made it safe, too. Cruise this fascinating route past historic sites, ceremonial grounds and ship graveyards. But this passage is also full of life – birders delight in 26 species of sea birds that migrate and nest here. The highlight? A glimpse (from a safe distance) of the mighty polar bear as he navigates his own passage on the ice floes.