The Russian island group of Franz Josef Land is not only one of the more scenic and wildlife-rich locations in the Arctic Ocean, it is also steeped in expedition history.
The 192 islands that make up the archipelago are mostly glaciated, covering 16,134 square km (6,229 square miles) and divided by the British Channel, Austrian Strait, and Markham Strait. The largest island in Franz Josef Land is Prince George Land.
Norwegian sealers Nils Fredrik Rønnbeck and Johan Petter Aidijärvi first spotted these islands in 1865, but it was not until Julius von Payer and Karl Weyprecht’s 1873 Austro-Hungarian North Pole Expedition that the first reported sighting of Franz Josef Land was confirmed. The islands got their name at this time, after Austria’s Emperor Franz Joseph I.
Franz Josef Land was the site of numerous expeditions, and possession of the islands was at times contested until finally falling within Russian jurisdiction. The islands have been a nature sanctuary since 1994, and in 2012 they became part of the Russian National Park.
Cruises to Franz Josef Land
Experience the wildlife, terrain, and history of Eurasia’s northernmost archipelago
HDS11-22 This ambitious expedition into the 192-island archipelago of Franz Josef Land gives you the opportunity to spot such exotic Arctic wildlife as polar b
12 Aug - 23 Aug, 2022
Franz Josef Land FAQ
Where is Franz Josef Land located?
Franz Josef Land is located between the islands of Svalbard to the west and the islands of Severnaya Zemlya to the east. A Russian archipelago of 192 islands lying around 81° north, Franz Josef Land is largely glaciated and surrounded by ample seRead more »
What are the weather and temperature like at Franz Josef Land?
We visit Franz Josef Land in the summer, when coastal temperatures range from 0°C (32°F) to 3°C (37°F). Located around 81° north, Franz Josef Land is mostly glaciated and surrounded by a considerable amount of sea ice.Read more »
Where do we go at Franz Josef Land?
We visit sites that represent some of the most scenic, historic, wildlife-rich areas in the Franz Josef Land archipelago: the Russian base Nagurskoye on Alexandra Land Island, the walrus haul-out site at Apollonov Island, Nansen and Johansen’sRead more »
What wildlife can I see in Franz Josef Land?
In Franz Josef Land, you have the chance to see many of the iconic species associated with the Arctic wilderness: polar bears, walruses, harp seals, Greenland whales, Brünnich’s guillemots, and much more. Though we can never guarantee anyRead more »