How to Get to Antarctica

Dreaming of the White Continent? If you want to go to Antarctica, you will have to plan your visit. Don't worry though, getting there is much easier than you think! Travel there from Argentina, Canada, the USA and even Australia. Whether you go on a cruise or opt to fly and cruise, there's more than one way to reach this majestic destination. Read on to learn more!

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Getting to Antarctica

While most trips begin once you reach a destination, travelling to Antarctica is an adventure in itself. Before you settle on a route, it's best to find out more about what options are available to you and learn more about how to get to Antarctica. Some of the questions you'll want to ask are where you should begin the tour, from Argentina or Chile in South America? While many people opt for a cruise, you don't have to sail the entire time, you could also go for a fly and cruise. The information on this page will shed light on the options that are available to you.

Cruise

At one point, sailing was the only way to reach Antarctica and it still remains one of the more popular ways to travel as it is cheaper than flying and the most reliable option. Flights are more dependant on the weather and have a shorter season - December to February while ships operate from November to March. One of the best things about the Antarctica cruise is that the journey becomes part of the trip as well. Something else to be aware of is choosing the right ship as this will impact your experience. Larger ships are more luxurious, but smaller ones can access more landing points and wait times to go ashore won't be as long thanks to fewer travellers. 

Best for: First-time travellers with no time restrictions

Fly and cruise

If you're short on time, a fly and cruise tour is an excellent option and will allow you to cut several days of travel time from your trip which would normally be spent sailing through the Drake Passage. Most tours will fly you to King George Island, from there you can join a cruise ship to explore the Antarctica region, before returning to the mainland by plane again. The Drake Passage is an experience but can be quite choppy, so if you suffer from sea sickness, a fly and cruise tour is ideal. Learn more about a fly and cruise tour.

Best for: Avoiding the rough waters of the Drake Passage

Fly-in

There are no commercial flights to Antartica, but it is possible to book a charter flight to the continent. If you really want to discover the region and can afford this option, a fly-in is one of the best ways to thoroughly explore the incredible and pristine landscapes of Antarctica and access remote areas few have walked across. Learn more about a fly-in option.

Best for: Saving time without losing cruising experience   

Fly-over

To see the beauty of the White Continent from high above, you also have the option of taking a charter flight across Antarctica for the day. This is a good option for people that want to experience the magic of these landscapes on a softer adventure. While you won't get to set foot on the remote shores of this region, you will get an exquisite birdseye view of Antarctica and learn about the continent first-hand from an expert onboard. As this option is a day trip, it's the fastest way to experience the nature and wildlife of Antarctica. At present, the only departure point for a fly-over is from Australia. Learn more about a fly-over option.

Best for: Saving time while reaching least visited parts of Antarctica

Best way to get to Antarctica

From Argentina

Most cruises for Antartica depart from Ushuaia in Argentina. Not many places offer international flights to Ushuaia, so travellers fly into Buenos Aires or Santiago in Chile. Getting to Antarctica from Argentina is straightforward and one of the easiest options. 

How to get to Antarctica from Argentina: Cruise (usually between 8 to 22 days)

Departure cities: Ushuaia and Buenos Aires
Antarctica cruises don't depart from Buenos Aires but most tours do begin there, which offers travellers an option to explore this fantastic South American city before the cruise. 

Pro tip: Take a little extra time before or after the cruise to explore some of the natural beauty in Argentina. The region of Patagonia is especially worth visiting. Learn more about travelling to Antarctica from Argentina.
See all the Antarctica cruises from Argentina

From Chile

Most fly and cruise trips leave from Punta Arenas in Chile. Like Ushuaia, not many countries offer international flights to Punta Arenas, so most travellers fly into Santiago. Chile to Antarctica is also a relatively simple route and most flights to King George island operate from Punta Arenas. 

How to get to Antarctica from Chile: Cruise or flight (usually between 8 to 19 days)

Departure cities: Punta Arenas and Santiago
Punta Arenas, Chile's southernmost region is an exciting city from where to begin your adventure, plus its proximity to Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine and Argentina means travellers can explore more than just Antarctica. Likewise, Santiago is also a vibrant city with plenty of nature to discover. 

Pro tip: Best to be flexible with booking flights to and from Chile, as flights to Antarctica from the country are weather dependent and can sometimes be delayed.
See all Antarctica cruises from Punta Arenas

From New Zealand and Australia

Travelling from New Zealand and Australia to Antarctica on a cruise is an amazing experience. From Hobart in Australia or Invercargill in New Zealand you will travel across the Ross Sea, but keep in mind that cruises are less frequent from Hobart. Alternatively, to save several days sailing time, you could fly from New Zealand or Australia to Punta Arenas via Santiago or Ushuaia via Buenos Aires and continue towards Antarctica from there. 

How to get to Antarctica from New Zealand or Australia: Cruise (usually between 25 to 30 days) or flight (fly-overs are only available from Sydney, Perth and Melbourne in Australia) 

Departure cities: Hobart and Invercargill 
Immersed in nature, Hobart is an old harbour town that's up-and-coming. Before or after you set off for the White Continent, take a little time to explore the bustling waterfront and wander some mountain trails. Invercargill may feel like a means to an end, but if you want a little idyll, this small town will serve you well - it also has an airport 30 kilometres away from the port so it remains a convenient option for travellers. 

Pro tip: Sailing to Antarctica from Australia and New Zealand is a completely different experience. While you won't see as much wildlife, you will see sail past huge icebergs that hold an almost ethereal presence.

Easiest ways to get to Antarctica from your home

Travelling from the USA, the United Kingdom or Canada? Here's how to get to Antarctica - you could even add a trip to the South Pole! 

From the USA
You can travel to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires from major cities like New York, Miami, Dallas and Atlanta. with daily flights taking approximately ten hours. There are regular flights to Ushuaia from Argentina's capital. 

If your departure is from Chile, you can reach Punta Arenas via Santiago. Again major cities New York, Miami, Dallas and Atlanta operate daily flights to Santiago, from where there are regular flights to Punta Arenas.

From Canada
You can fly directly from Toronto to Buenos Aires (about 14 hours) or Santiago (about 11 hours). For other parts of Canada, travellers may find it more convenient to fly via Toronto or the USA and break the journey up in one of those destinations. 

From the United Kingdom
London offers direct flights to Buenos Aires (about 14 hours) and Santiago. People from the United Kingdom could also travel via Madrid, which also has direct flights to Buenos Aires. Although it takes longer, it's a cheaper option than flying directly from London. 

Popular Antarctica tours

    FAQ

    • How far in advance should I start planning my trip?

      We recommend travellers book tours 12-18 months in advance. Tours to Antarctica are limited and booking in advance allows you to secure your cabin and additional activities as some cruises offer kayaking, camping, or hiking. Antarctica is accessible only between late October and late March, and each month has different highlights. It's a once in a lifetime trip and to avoid being disappointed or missing out on anything it's essential to plan well advance.
    • Do you offer help with booking flights?

      You can check for flights on https://flights.tourradar.com.  
    • How far in advance should I arrive at my disembarkation city?

      We advise arriving at least one day before, in case your connecting flight to Ushuaia is delayed or luggage goes missing. This will give you enough time to sort things out and buy anything you might need in case your gear doesn't arrive in time. We also recommend booking your departure flights a couple of days after the cruise finishes, in case there are any delays.
    • Can I extend my stay in the disembarkation city?

      An extension of stay is usually possible, but it can vary depending on the tour operator. If you wish to have extra time exploring the disembarkation city, contact your tour operator and ask for possible options.
    • Do I need visa or vaccinations?

      You don't need a visa or any vaccinations for Antarctica. Citizens of the EU, UK, USA, Canada and Australia don't need a visa for Chile or Argentina, but other nationalities should check for themselves and these factors can change without notice. There are some recommended vaccinations for Argentina and Chile, such as yellow fever or hepatitis, but you should double check with your doctor prior to departure. 
    • 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 depart for advice and, if necessary, pack any required prescription medication. Crystalized ginger is often a good home remedy to ease queasiness, which you may find offered in the ship’s dining room.

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