How to get to Nunavut, Canada’s Seemingly Inaccessible Territory

Snowmobiling on frozen lake in Iqaluit Tundra

Nunavut is a vast and largely unconnected territory. One of the most common questions I get from my friends when I tell them I’m going north (besides Why?) is “How do you even get there? Can you fly? Are there roads?” So today I’m going to do a little myth-busting and explain exactly how to get to Nunavut. Read on my friends.

How to get to Nunavut

Can you drive to Nunavut?

No, you cannot drive to Nunavut. None of the communities are connected to southern Canada by road. Additionally, the 25 communities in Nunavut are not connected to one another by road either. In other words, if you’re thinking Nunavut is the destination for your next great road trip, you will be disappointed.

What airlines fly to Nunavut?

Until late 2019, there were two airlines servicing the Nunavut from the provinces down south. The two airlines merged in November and now Canadian North is the airline to take. Here is the route map:

How to get to Nunavut - Canadian North Flight Map

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Many travellers to Nunavut go to Baffin Island. If you aren’t familiar with Nunavut’s geography, Baffin Island is the large island located on the northeast side of the map below. It is home to Iqaluit, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet and a handful of other communities. To reach Baffin Island from the south, you would fly from either Ottawa or Montreal.

If you are going to a community in southern Nunavut (the communities on the mainland of Canada, like Baker Lake or Arviat), you would likely fly from Winnipeg.

Alternatively, if you were travelling to one of the communities on the northern part of the mainland (Kugaaruk) or an island north of the mainland (Cambridge Bay) you would fly from Yellowknife.

How do you book a flight to Nunavut?

Booking a flight to Nunavut is fairly straightforward. You can book flights on Canadian North’s website. Alternatively, you can book using Aeroplan points by contacting Aeroplan booking centre by phone.

Flights to Nunavut aren’t cheap, however, there is a strategy to significantly reduce your cost for airfare which I’ve written about extensively in How To Visit Nunavut on the Cheap.

How to Get to Nunavut? By Plane
Let’s fly to Nunavut!!

How long is the flight to Nunavut?

Honestly, not as long of you’re expecting. But then again, it depends where in Nunavut you are going.

  • Ottawa to Iqaluit: 3 hours and 10 minutes
  • Montreal to Iqaluit: 4 hours and 30 minutes (with a stop in Kuujjuaq)
  • Winnipeg to Rankin Inlet: 2 hours and 30 minutes

From Iqaluit or Rankin Inlet, the flights to smaller communities are never more than a couple hours. But it’s possible you will need to make multiple stops. For instance, flying from Ottawa to Gris Fiord will require you to go: Ottawa --> Iqaluit --> Arctic Bay --> Resolute Bay --> Gris Fiord. Oh my goodness.

And getting to Nunavut is as simple as that!

And check out this cool video I took while flying out of Iqaluit, Nunavut

Other Resources

Here are some additional resources I think you’ll find helpful if you’re planning a trip to Nunavut.


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10 thoughts on “How to get to Nunavut, Canada’s Seemingly Inaccessible Territory

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  2. Alina says:

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
    I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your
    useful info. Thanks for the post. I will certainly

  3. gwen stanton-McBride says:

    I got my pilots licence when I was 16. I took aviation in school in 1981. My accident was 1982. I wanted to fly for an airline but although I crashed, I lived and I constantly think about how I should have just gone North and I could be friends with Mikaela. We would be two females conquering the North.

  4. RockyNBullwinkel says:

    I want to go to Thor Peak, world’s tallest vertical cliff. It’s on Baffin Island. With Chicago as my starting point, what is best way to get there?

    • Mikaela says:

      Hey! Your best bet would be to fly Chicago to Ottawa (maybe with a connection in Toronto) and then Ottawa to Iqaluit. Finally, you would fly Iqaluit to Pangnirtung.

  5. PASCALE says:

    Bonjour Mikaela,
    Amazing travel descriptions of Canada. Middle life crisis is happening to me and I want to fulfill one of my wildest dream. Going to Nunavut next week for 6 days….from NYC. I could find flight to Montreal then no flight to Iqualit. What do you recommend as a substitute for Iqualit? Another city that I could visit (not driving) Thank you

    • Mikaela says:

      Hey! I think the reason you can’t find flights to Iqaluit maybe that Nunavut still has a travel restriction in effect. Many (though not all) of the flights to communities in Nunavut pass through Iqaluit. I recommend looking at the government of Nunavut website and seeing if they are open for tourism yet and if so, call the airline directly. I hope you’re able to make it there!

  6. Navaneeth says:

    Hi Mikaela,
    Hope all is well.
    My wife and I recently moved to Toronto from the USA, and we are avid travellers and hikers. I would appreciate it if you can give me an idea about the best time to visit the mainland Arctic and Canada, and what are some of the attractions/things to do once we get there. Can we get flights from Toronto to get there ?
    Thanks for your time!

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