Top Antarctica Tours & Vacations 2024/2025 [reviews &...

Antarctica Tours & Travel Packages 2024/2025

37 Antarctica trips. Compare tour itineraries from 15 tour companies. 81 reviews. 4.8/5 avg rating.

Small Group Antarctica Tours

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Top Antarctica Attractions & Experiences

Top Antarctica Experiences

  • Stepping out of your Zodiac and setting foot on the world’s most remote continent, something only a tiny percentage of people worldwide can claim.
  • Spotting a humpback or minke whale breaching a few hundred yards from the deck of your ship.
  • Marveling at the aggressive tactics of elephant seals and fur seals during mating season on South Georgia Island.
  • Kayaking through near-frozen waters, making sure to steer clear of passing icebergs.
  • Visiting one of the Antarctic research bases staffed by scientists from around the world.
  • Standing on your expedition cruise ship’s deck after dark, basking in the solitude of the world’s
  • last wilderness.
  • Training your lens on an albatross as it soars overhead while en route to Antarctica.
  • Trekking, skiing or just going for a walk across a vast white landscape.

Antarctica Tours & Travel Guide

Antarctica Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Antarctica video

Ever since Lars-Eric Lindblad built the first expedition-style cruise ship to take passengers to visit Antarctica in 1969, adventurous travelers have aspired to follow in their wake. Today about 40 vessels – mostly expedition-style vessels but some yachts as well -- make the run to the White Continent, leaving primarily from Argentina or the Falkland Islands, carrying as few as six and as many as 500 passengers.

Most of the Antarctic-bound ships, though, carry fewer than 100 passengers. Visitors go in search of the last real wilderness on earth, whose sole permanent residents are penguins, whales, seals, albatrosses and other abundant marine and bird life.

Besides the stunning array of wildlife, you’ll see glaciers, snow-covered mountains, icebergs, and, on some tours, historic sites (such as early Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s huts) and perhaps one of the 20 scientific research stations that have welcomed visitors since 1969.

Why Visit Antarctica? 

“Why not” should be the better question! Antarctica can be considered the “last frontier” of the travel world. There are only a select few travel companies offering cruises and tours of Antarctica. Most people will never have the chance to experience this remote and secluded location. 

You’ll be able to see whales and penguins just off your boat, kayak next to whales, and be able to learn about the importance of Antarctica to the rest of the world. Antarctica isn’t for everyone though. You’ll have to be prepared for the cold, lack of proximity to hospitals or major cities, and dealing with occasional uncomfortable travel. If you are able to get through all of these things, you’ll find that you'll never be able to forget the experiences you’ve had on the Ice Continent.

Antarctic Peninsula

The most common destinations on sea tours leaving from South America are the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia Island, and the Falkland Islands -- all havens for wildlife. (The latter two are not part of Antarctica.) The primary destination in Antarctica itself is the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts up from the rest of the mainland and is closest to South America.

A few icebreakers challenge the often frozen Weddell Sea in search of emperor penguins to the peninsula’s east. And some ships make the journey from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to the Ross Sea on the other side of the continent; emperor penguin colonies are accessible from there by helicopter.

While some 100 tourist sites have seen landings in Antarctica over the years, fewer than 10 receive the bulk of the visitors. Port Lockroy, site of the British Antarctic Survey, is the most visited site, drawing more than 10,000 visitors per year. Passengers board Zodiacs (rubberized rafts) to go ashore, with most ships making one to three landings per day on the mainland.

Top Things to See and Do in Antarctica

1. Kayaking

Top activity for any Antarctica tour is kayaking through the cold waters around the continent. Paradise Bay and parts of the South Shetland Islands provide opportunities for you to kayak next to large icebergs and possibly even above the colossal whales that pass through these waters. 

2. Zodiac Tours 

Another opportunity to get a hands-on experience of Antarctica is going on Zodiac tours. A Zodiac tour takes you on small inflatable boats out into the channels and smaller waterways of Antarctica so you can stand below the Ross Ice Shelf or see a whale breach the surface only feet away. 

3. Ross Ice Shelf 

One of the most stunning sites in all of Antarctica, the Ross Ice Shelf is a natural wonder that reminds us of the effects on the natural world. Created by floating ice from other parts of the Southern Pole, the Ross Ice Shelf is a massive area of ice that towers 160 feet above the water. 

4. Deception Island 

A prime destination in the South Shetland Islands off of Antarctica, Deception Island is where you can interact and catch a glimpse of the penguins of Antarctica. Deception Island is one of the nesting grounds for the penguins and a great spot to explore Antarctica’s landscape and animal life. 

Wildlife in Antarctica

Many may think that Antarctica is a desolate and uninhabited piece of land. In some areas, they may be right, but Antarctica is also home to a wide variety of land and sea life. 

On an Antarctica cruise, you’ll be able to see the whales that migrate through these polar waters, see thousands of penguins on the mainland and surrounding islands, catch a seabird flying above your ship, or kayak next to some sleeping sea lions. 

In most countries, wildlife is remote and you aren’t able to be near the animals. Antarctica offers the chance to be feet away from a yawning walrus or a colony of penguins. However, it is important to maintain somewhat of a distance to not interfere with the animals.

Protecting the Ecosystem

Strict standards Antarctic tour operators must follow strict environmental protection guidelines mandated by the international Antarctic Treaty as well as the voluntary guidelines of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO); all itineraries must be approved in advance so they don’t harm the wildlife or the fragile ecosystem.

The Antarctic tourist season runs from late October or early November to March or early April, the summer months when the waters off Antarctica are comparatively ice free. The earlier months bring penguin and elephant seal courtship rituals, while the later months see the birth of penguin chicks and seal pups. By March the adult penguins are mostly headed out to sea, but whale and seal sightings increase. December and January bring the most daylight hours, prime time for photographers.

With so many variables in itineraries, vessels, levels of luxury, price, and trip lengths to wrestle with, it makes sense to let Stride help you sort through all the possibilities. And sooner than you may think, you can experience the same wonders that have captivated polar explorers for more than a century.

Snow, Ice, and Wildlife Photography Tips

Antarctica is made for stunning photos. Around every bend of the sea, you’ll be able to capture landscapes only seen in movies. Like with any remote location or harsher climate to get those photos you want, here are a few tips you can keep in mind: 

  • Protect your gear. Bring along ziplock bags to keep your gear dry and protect against the cold. If you are carrying around a lot of camera gear, it’s suggested to bring a dry bag to protect against water landings and occasional whale sprays. 
  • Bring different cameras. If you’re going from animal portraits to landscape photos, bring different cameras so you don’t expose your lenses to the cold. Remember, Antarctica is VERY cold. 
  • Using a scale for ice photos. To show the magnitude of the Ross Ice Shelf or an iceberg, incorporate people or ships to show the scale of the objects. This can help capture the difference in size.  
  • Wildlife photos. Some wildlife will be just photogenic (penguins), others you may have to wait for to move or go swimming. Patience is key to capturing wildlife in Antarctica. Always remember though - do not disturb the wildlife and do not force them into getting a nice shot. 
  • The dreaded grey snow. Anyone who has tried to shoot snow scenes will have had the unfortunate grey snow effect. This happens when your camera tries to adjust the amount of light reflecting off of the snow and turns the snow grey. Adjusting your settings, check out your camera’s meters to counteract the light, and photoshopping help make a difference.

Travel to Antarctica: Before you go

Warning: obvious statement ahead. It gets cold! So pack very warmly. Consider thermal undergarments, and breathable layers. Some excursions will involve being out on the water among icebergs, so also consider waterproof outer-layers. Cold can be alarmingly disorienting, so if you get cold easily, talk to your doctor about any precautionary measures or tips they recommend.

You may also want to consider any anti seasickness measures. Waters can be unpredictable, and you’ll be spending a lot of time aboard ship. Some tips to keep in mind: eat lot’s of crystallized ginger! Dramamine is also extremely effective for some. Talk with a doctor to figure out what will work best for you.

Visas

Antarctica does not have a governing body, and no permanent residents. All visitors, whether business or pleasure, are temporary. For this reason, you only need to ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months prior to your trip. No visa is required if you plan to stay less than 90 days.

Safety Considerations When Traveling to Antarctica

Safety when traveling to another country is never a guarantee. Antarctica has one of the harshest climates and is extremely remote. Medical services won’t be as readily available as if you are traveling to other parts of the world. 

However, the cruises are well-equipped for any issues. Many also offer water-resistant clothing and additional warm clothes. The guides are always aware of the weather and potentially dangerous temperatures. The staff on Antarctica cruises are experienced guides, scientists, and travelers who will be able to offer any support.

Keep in mind is that there are no public hospitals, pharmacies, or doctors offices in Antarctica. If you get sick or hurt, you will be relying on your cruise’s available resources, which while sufficient for normal ailments, will be minimal for anything extreme.

As mentioned above, be prepared for the cold and bring any anti seasick measures.

As highlighted by the CDC, you will be traveling with people from all over the world, in close quarters, and for an extended period of time. The risk of influenza, measles, and mumps is increased because of this, so especially for older travelers and children it will be important to ensure you are up to date on all these vaccines.

Antarctica Reviews & Ratings

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Anonymous

Jan 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

ANTARCTIC EXPLORER

Exodus and Quark had the perfect recipe for the adventure of a lifetime. Helpful and efficient pre-trip planning. The Vavilov, a great vessel for th...

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Anonymous

Jan 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

ANTARCTIC EXPLORER

What can I say?! The most amazing trip, far exceeding the expectations that I had held for a lifetime! Each experience seemed to surpass the last , and I hold...

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Anonymous

Jul 2017

Provided byExodus Travels

ANTARCTIC EXPLORER

WE had a wonderful experience in the Antarctic and also spending a few days in Ushuaia before our departure on the Clipper Adventurer.    ...

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Anonymous

Jul 2017

Provided byExodus Travels

ANTARCTIC EXPLORER

Our trip to the Antarctic Peninsula was simply 'mind-blowing' Any description of Antarctica is always full of 'expletives'. Quite honestly where do you start? ...

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Anonymous

Jul 2017

Provided byExodus Travels

ANTARCTIC EXPLORER

An unforgetable trip, can't begin to really describe the Antarctic, it has to be seen to be believed.  The Minke whale who decided to investigate 3 of the 5 Zo...

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Traveling to Antarctica, an FAQ

1. Does Travelstride have all the tour operators?

Travelstride has the widest selection of tours and tour companies. All the largest companies are on the site and most smaller local operators though we are adding new operators daily. Unlike other websites and agencies, we show you all the options, regardless of whether or not we are paid by the company.

2. How does the Member Savings program save me money?

Travelstride membership is absolutely free. You receive special benefits including saving up to $700 on select tours with top tour operators. The main requirement is to write a review after your trip to access the savings.

3. Can I trust the tour operator and trip reviews on Travelstride?

Yes. Travelstride has both expert reviews, written by Travelstride staff and local experts as well as traveler reviews written by people like you who have used the company and traveled to that destination.

4. What does ‘Stride Preferred’ mean?

Stride Preferred and Stride Premier are status categories to help you sort quickly through known and reliable travel companies. Since there are thousands of tour operators around the globe, Preferred or Premier badges are awarded to companies that Travelstride has determined meet the highest standards of professionalism, customer satisfaction, and quality.