How to reach Antarctica | Things to do there | Complete Guide


It’s human nature to be intrigued by unusual things. Travelling to Antarctica, the isolated 7th continent that we only glance in books and photos on the internet since childhood, was something that intrigued me as soon as heard of it. The first question you may ask, it is possible, I mean just for travel? Well, the answer is a big yes. Okay, well then how? Is it affordable? How many days does it take? The answer to all of your possible queries is written below. Below is the travel guide which mentions everything you need to know about travelling to Antarctica.

How to reach?


  • The shortest way to reach Antarctica is via a flight, obviously. All the commercial flights going to Antarctica generally leave from Punta Arenas in Chile and lands on King George Island in Antarctica. Flying time is just 2 hours.


  • The other way is via a cruise. All the cruises to Antarctica leave from Ushuaia in Argentina.

Places to see

South Shetland Islands

  • The South Shetland Islands are a string of 20 islands made up mostly of volcanic rock. They are the first stop for most cruises coming to Antarctica.
  • King George Island, one of the South Shetland islands, can be said to be the unofficial capital of Antarctica. All the flights coming from Chile land on this island.
  • These islands are comparatively warmer than the other parts of Antarctica and thus they are popular for spotting wildlife, colourful1 plants and sightseeing in general.
  • Apart from King George Island, Elephant Island is one of the most famous island in the group due to its large colony of chinstrap penguins and breathtaking landscape of the island.
Towering mountains on elephant island in Antarctica
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Antarctica Peninsula

  • This is the northernmost part of the Antarctica mainland. It mainly is vast open skies with beautiful clouds, jagged mountains peaks covered with glaciers, lakes and rivers made by the melting of glaciers and abundance of wildlife in every direction. It is just pure nature!
Huge iceberg floating in lake in Antarctica Peninsula
Photo by Jay Ruzesky on Unsplash

South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands

These islands are home to one of the most spectacular and isolated wilderness on earth. These islands are filled with snow-covered peaks, blue glacier ice, emerald green bays, rugged landscapes and breathtaking views.
Panorama of drygalski fjord in South Georgia island
Photo by Paul Carroll on Unsplash

Falkland islands

  • The Falkland Islands is an archipelago in Southern Atlantic ocean. This place is a paradise for adventure seekers and for the people who love to go off the beaten track.
  • The islands are filled with stunning landscapes, beaches and hiking trails. They also contain an abundance of wildlife and birds. These islands are perfect to get lost in the lap of nature.

Itinerary types with cost

Tour to Antarctica is operated by numerous operators with various itinerary and transport options. It is a very tedious task to scroll through every operator’s website to choose which one suits your budget and duration. Not to forget the reliability of these companies, so to make that easy for you, below are the types of general itinerary options almost common across all the operators with an average per-person cost for each. Companies that I would recommend are Silversea Expeditions and Hurtigruten.

Flight + Cruise: 5 nights/6 days

This one involves starting with the cruise from Argentina to arrive on the South Shetland Islands on the 3rd day. You will get around 1 and a half in Antarctica for sightseeing after which you will get a flight back to from the King George Island. The itinerary can also start with a flight and end with a cruise, depending on the company you choose. Rates from 4,795 to 8,595 USD per person.

Flight + Cruise: 7 nights/8 days

In and out will be same as above, but you will get around 3-3.5 days to explore Antarctica which makes this the best tour option according to me. This itinerary may include additional sights like Paulet Island, Hope Bay, Port Lockroy, Petermann Island, Paradise Bay, Deception Island, the Lemaire Channel, or many other spectacular places. Rates from 11,495 to 26,995 USD per person.

Cruise: 10-11 nights/11-12 days

In and out will both be by cruise. That means you will be spending around 4 days sailing the drake passage. 1 day is assigned for a stay in Argentina hotel at the start of your journey. Thus you will have 5-6 nights to explore Antarctica. In this itinerary, you will be able to go beyond the Shetland islands to explore the Antarctica peninsula. Rates from 15,495 to 33,995 USD per person

Cruise: 15-20 nights/16-21 days

Journeys for 15 and above are generally an extension of the 11 nights itinerary with more nights in Antarctica. While the Antarctica part remains the same, they also include South Georgia island or Falkland islands or both. Rates from 14,395 to 25,495 USD per person for 15 nights tour.
Panorama of paradise bay in Antarctica
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash


1. Passing through the drake passage

  • The Drake Passage the body of water between Cape Horn in Chile and Shetland Island of Antarctica. This stretch of sea is one of the roughest and thus one of the most dangerous in the world. It is home to huge ocean currents which results in rough waves and storms and thus the bad reputation.
  • Fortunately, modern technology in shipbuilding and satellite weather monitoring has made the Drake Passage a safer place. Cruising through such rough seas is a one in a lifetime experience and I will highly recommend it.
  • Apart from the adrenaline rush, this stretch of sea also offers many beautiful sights. Just keep looking out at the sea frequently as it is very likely that you see numerous whales, icebergs, birds and more on your way to/back from Antarctica.
Big water splash while crusing through drake passage
Photo by michelle2214 on Pixabay

2. Camp under the stars and see Aurora Australis

  • If you love camping under the stars (I don’t know who doesn’t), what better place than Antarctica with crystal clear skies. Tours to Antarctica generally include at least 1 camping day/night. They give you sleeping bags and other necessary things for spending the night in extreme temperatures.
  • Words cannot describe the experience of camping in the middle of nowhere on an isolated ‘continent’. You will be surrounded by endless ice filling spectacular landscapes, friendly penguins and a beautiful sky with a zillion stars. If you are lucky, you will be able to see Southern lights dancing around in the already breathtaking sky. It will be one of the best nights of your life!
  • Just to clarify, much like the famous green Nothern lights in the north pole region we also have pink Southern lights near the south pole region. Nothing I write here can even match up to its beauty.
Aurora Australia appearing in a starry sky in Antarctica
Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

3. Kayaking

Kayaking is a great way to explore Antarctica. You can head out on your kayak in the lakes filled with small icebergs to enjoying kayaking in extreme tranquillity. You can explore the hidden coves and see amazing marine life. There is no kayak renting places in Antarctica and so you will have to check with your tour operator in advance if they can provide or arrange for you. Do book it beforehand to avoid any hassle.
Sighteeing tour in Antarctica on a zodiac
Photo by 66 north on Unsplash

4. Whale watching

  • Antarctica is home to an abundance of whale species. Even while crossing the Drake Passage, there is a great chance of at least one or two sightings.
  • The best way to spot a whale in Antarctica is via a kayak or a zodiac ride. These boats allow you to reach inlets which has a great probability of spotting whales. These inlets can’t be reached by a cruise. Along with chasing whales.
Photo of a whale spotted in Antarctica
Photo by Jon Eckert on Unsplash

5. Visit a Science Research Station

  • Several countries have their research stations in Antarctica. They research on various aspects of this continent like weather, effect of global warming, flora and fauna on Antarctica and many more. The latest and very important observation of the hole in Ozone layer was made by the Ukrainian center in Antarctica in 2020.
  • It is very fascinating to visit such a research center on an isolated continent. Various centers like the Ukrainian one and many more are open to the public. They give you very fascinating knowledge about Antarctica and their research along with showing their equipment. Ask your tour operator beforehand if he covers this tour.

6. Take the polar plunge

You are already out of your comfort zone if you are travelling to Antarctica, but can you go all in? You must! You can take a dip in the world’s coldest waters. Yes you will have your heart crazy pumping, yes you will be shivering but when you warm up, you will have one the best experiences of your life.
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