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Antarctica

Best Time to Visit Antarctica

Harsh weather allows exploration of Antarctica only a few months a year. Don’t miss your chance! Find out which month is the best to watch whales and when can you see penguin chicks hatching by scrolling down.

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When is the best time to visit Antarctica?

With the weather being unpredictable and wild here, more precautions have to be taken when choosing what time to travel to this continent. The Antarctic region has only two seasons - polar summer and polar winter. Winter occurs between April and September and during these months the sun doesn’t rise, and average temperatures drop to -40°C (- 40°F). Polar summer starts with November, and the continent enjoys up to 24 hours of daylight and temperatures of +10°C (50°F) along the coast. Hence, Antarctica can be visited only during its polar summer which happens between November through March. 

The high season, December to early February, brings the highest temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula and the most abundant wildlife; you can expect to see different species of penguin chicks and seal pups! Lower seasons, the months of November and mid-February to March, can provide harsher weather and a more authentic experience (in November), or prime whale watching time (mid-February to March). Keep in mind, however, that if you travel to Antarctica in mid-February to March, you run the risk of many land animals already having left to find food, and your wildlife spottings may not be as common or enjoyable.

Best time to visit Antarctica
Best time to visit Antarctica
Penguins in Antarctica
Penguins in Antarctica

Did you know

What is the warmest temperature recorded in Antarctica?
17.5 C (63.5 F) The temperature was recorded on 24th March 2015 at the Argentine Research Base Esperanza
What is the coldest temperature recorded in Antarctica?
–89.2 C (–90.4 F) was recorded on 21st July 1983 at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica. It’s the lowest temperature recorded on Earth!
Is Antarctica really a desert?
Yes, Antarctica is the largest desert in the world! It does not rain or snow a lot there, and when it does, snow doesn’t melt.

Antarctica average temperature by month

Falkland IslandsSouth Georgia IslandsAntarctic PeninsulaSouth Pole
January14°C (57 °F)8°C (46 °F)4°C (39 °F)-26°C (-15 °F)
February14°C (57 °F)9°C (48 °F)4°C (39 °F)-38°C (-26 °F)
March12°C (54 °F)8°C (46 °F)1°C (34 °F)-50°C (-58 °F)
April8°C (46 °F)6°C (43 °F)-2°C (28 °F)-53°C (-63 °F)
May6°C (43 °F)4°C (39 °F)-4°C (25 °F)-54°C (-65 °F)
June3°C (37 °F)2°C (36 °F)-6°C (21 °F)-54°C (-65 °F)
July4°C (39 °F)2°C (36 °F)-6°C (21 °F)-55°C (-67 °F)
August5°C (41 °F)3°C (37 °F)-5°C (23 °F)-55°C (-67 °F)
September6°C (43 °F)4°C (39 °F)-2°C (28 °F)-54°C (-65 °F)
October9°C (48 °F)5°C (41 °F)0°C (32 °F)-48°C (-54 °F)
November11°C (52 °F)6°C (43 °F)2°C (36 °F)-36°C (-33 °F)
December13°C (55 °F)7°C (45 °F)4°C (39 °F)-26°C (-15 °F)

Polar summer in Antarctica

November to early December

The beginning of polar summer opens the waters of Antarctica for exploration. Melting ice allows ships to navigate further and this is when the first expeditions set off. November, which is still relatively cold, means fewer tourists and expedition ships, which not only gives a more adventurous vibe but also allows for better photo opportunities with bright, white landscape and impressive icebergs as your background. 

Wildlife
November is also a great time to observe the courtship rituals of penguins and seabirds, and mating rituals of fur seals, which are usually quite aggressive.

Activities
November is great for ice-trekking, camping and explorers looking for a much more adventurous experience can look into climbing Vinson Massif, the highest peak of Antarctica. 

December and January

With the highest temperatures and extended hours of daylight (up to 20), December and January are the peak months of Antarctica.

Wildlife
Wildlife spottings are off the charts around this time, with penguin chicks hatching in the Falklands (early December) and Antarctic Peninsula (late December). It’s also a great time to watch seal pups taking their first steps on the ice.

Activities
In these months land expeditions are very popular and you can also try kayaking. One of the bucket list experiences during a polar cruise is the polar plunge. This is when you jump into the water with an attached safety harness (it's more fun than it sounds!). 

February and March

As summer draws to a close, temperatures drop, and fewer expeditions set sail for the region. But, this time of year also allows access to areas further south thanks to melted polar ice. 

Wildlife
The end of the summer is the best time for whale watching, and when penguin chicks are moulting. Fur seals can be spotted in large numbers on the Antarctic Peninsula, along with playful and curious seal pups. 

Activities
All the typical activities are still available, including land expeditions. It may come as a surprise, but during a land expedition, it's most likely that you won’t see any ice. So be prepared for rocky and muddy land. You can also try kayaking! 

Leopard seals on a glacier
Leopard seals on a glacier

Best time to see penguins in Antarctica

Wildlife may not be as diverse in Antarctica as in other regions of the world, but it's absolutely plentiful. The region is home to majestic species like emperor penguins, Adélie penguins and king Penguins. You can experience penguins in all their glory throughout summer, but, each month has its highlights.

  • November: You will have a chance to see penguins courting, building nests and mating in Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia Islands. On the Falkland Islands, penguins are laying and incubating their precious eggs.
  • December: A perfect time to witness the hatching of penguins chicks in the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia Islands and the Falkland Islands
  • January: If you were looking for a perfect penguin photo opportunity, this is the time. Penguins chicks are cute fluffy naturals when it comes to posing for the camera. On the Falkland Islands, king penguin chicks are hatching.
  • February: Watch penguins chicks take their first steps outside the nest in the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Georgia Islands. It's also still possible to see late king penguin chicks hatching on the Falklands Islands.
  • March: Penguin chicks are growing fast and learning to swim. They are very playful, curious and a delight to watch. 

Penguins
Penguins

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Popular Antarctica tours

FAQ

  • What type of clothing should I pack?

    As the weather can be harsh in polar regions, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure your clothes are waterproof, windproof, of good quality, and, preferably thermal. Waterproof pants are a must, and it’s also advisable to dress in layers.
  • Should I expect rough seas when cruising from South America to Antarctica?

    You should expect rough conditions at some point during your cruise. However, depending on the weather conditions, you may experience water as clear and smooth as glass. Take care navigating through the ship, as you could bump into things during rough moments. Always wear rubber-soled shoes to help keep your grip.
  • Is there anything I can take to prevent sea sickness?

    If you are prone to sea sickness, then you may be sensitive to movement on a ship. Consult your physician before you and if necessary collect any necessary prescription medication. Crystalised ginger is often a good home remedy to ease queasiness, which you may find offered in the ship’s dining room.
  • How far in advance should I start planning my trip?

    We recommend travellers book their tour 12-18 months in advance. Booking in advance allows you to secure your preferred cabin size and choose additional activities you wish to take part in. Depending on the cruise, you might want to kayak, camp, or hike. Keep in mind that Antarctica is accessible only between late October and late March, with each month having different highlights, so plan in advance to choose your dream cruise.

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