Travelling to Antarctica

Most people start their Antarctic research by answering the question; can you go to Antartica? Which the answer is of course, yes! The next question to answer is how? 

  1. Which route to take: While 98% of visitors approach Antarctica via the tip of South America, as this is the quickest and most accessible route, there are other ways to reach the white continent. Discover the main routes to Antarctica.
  2. Cruise or fly? Traditionally, sailing was the only way to reach Antarctica, and it still remains the most common route, but it's now also possible via a short 2-hour flight, for those for whom time is a luxury. Read our guide on sailing vs flying.
  3. How do I get to the start point for my trip? Discover flight routes and international airports so that you can plan your international travel.

Listen to Molly's expert advice

How do I get to Antarctica?

  1. Sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina - The most popular gateway to Antarctica for 90% of visitors with the widest choice of voyages. This is one of the most common Antarctica cruise routes.
  2. Flying by charter plane from Punta Arenas, Chile - Reach the Antarctic Peninsula in just 2 hours, instead of 2 days at sea. Perfect for time sensitive or anxious travellers.
  3. Sailing from South Island, New Zealand - Only four voyages each season depart from here to Antarctica's remote Ross Sea, home to emperor penguins.
  4. Flying into Antarctica's interior from Punta Arenas, Chile - Land on a blue ice runway in the heart of the white continent. Limited departures each season.
  5. & 6. Flying to the South Pole - For a lucky handful each season, you can fly to the South Pole from either Punta Arenas, Chile or Cape Town, South Africa, and spend some time in Union Glacier Camp.

You can get to Antarctica by boat or plane. Sailing the Drake Passage from the tip of South America to the Antarctic Peninsula takes 48 hours. Flying to Antarctica takes 2 hours. Approximately 54,000 visitors make the journey each year, with around 50 expedition vessels sailing Antarctic waters each season.

Our Top Antarctic Cruises

Special Offers:Swoop has access to the widest range of offers and can help you find the right trip, cabin, & price.

Original Fly & Cruise Luxury Adventure

Fly over the Drake Passage in just 2 hours, both to and from Antarctica. ​Ideal for those ​wanting a high comfort level, but ​who have limited time or ​are ​anxious sailors. ​An outstanding program, successfully operated for over 15 seasons.​…

  • 8 Days
  • $15,995
South Georgia, Antarctica and Falklands Explorer

Looking for an Antarctic adventure without compromising on comfort and service? This stylish 139-passenger ship, with its cavernous suites, fine dining and compelling itinerary, offers a polished Southern Ocean adventure at a fair…

  • 21 Days
  • $19,795
Classic Peninsula Voyage

Travelling aboard this modern 134-passenger ship with its 200-degree observation lounge and spacious cabins, spend 4 full days exploring Antarctica’s extraordinary icebergs and wildlife. Optional camping and kayaking, while Ushuaia hotel accommodation and a parka jacket are included in the…

  • 11 Days
  • $10,199
Antarctic Fly & Sail Combination

A rare and popular voyage which flies to Antarctica in just two hours, then sails back across the Drake Passage, maximising both expediency and experience. Spend 5 to 7 days exploring Antarctica on a small, purpose-built expedition ship, with kayaking…

  • 9-13 Days
  • $17,895
Antarctic Basecamp Adventure

The ultimate Antarctic adventure, this trip is specifically for the active traveller. Spend 7 days kayaking, hiking, camping, mountaineering and snowshoeing, all included in the price. A medium-sized expedition ship acts as your floating ‘basecamp’. An excellent deal backed up…

  • 13 Days
  • $10,550
Fly & Cruise the Antarctic Peninsula

For maximum time in Antarctica with flights both ways, this trip really stands out. An extended fly & cruise voyage spending eight full days actually in Antarctica onboard a small, state-of-the-art expedition ship. Optional kayaking & polar…

  • 12 Days
  • $14,795
Antarctic Explorer

The great strength of this trip is choice – a wide selection of departure dates and optional adventure activities available on a sleek purpose-built 138 passenger expedition ship. Spend four full days exploring Antarctica. Enjoy daily shore landings and zodiac…

  • 11 Days
  • $13,995
Antarctic Peninsula Explorer

Explore the White Continent aboard one of the newest additions to the polar fleet, a state-of-the-art expedition vessel combining adventure with comfort. As well as being limited to only 132 passengers, there’s also a wide range of optional activities on…

  • 12-15 Days
  • $12,795
Onto the Antarctic Ice

With three medium-sized expedition ships to pick from and regular departure dates throughout the season, this well-priced voyage is a popular option. Across striking landscapes and icy seas, your company includes penguins, seals, whales and skuas. For the adventurous, optional…

  • 10-13 Days
  • $10,050
Antarctic Peninsula Classic

Travelling on board this extremely comfortable ship, explore the highlights of the peninsula with a top class expedition team. Spacious cabins, delicious cuisine and optional adventure activities all help create this ideal marriage of comfort and…

  • 12-13 Days
  • $10,145

Can I cruise or fly to Antarctica?

Cruising to Antarctica

Crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica

Sailing remains the most popular way to get to Antarctica, and for good reason. For purists following in Scott and Shackleton's footsteps, or for those looking to enjoy every minute of the adventure, sailing to Antarctica is all part of the experience. Cruise ships depart from Ushuaia, commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world, before leaving South America behind to reach Antarctica.

Pragmatically, an Antarctic cruise offers the widest choice of voyage types, ships, departure dates and prices, and has the advantage of departures in November and March when flights to Antarctica don't operate. The following Antarctic cruises are available:

Cruising to Antarctica involves crossing The Drake Passage, a fairly notorious stretch of water. Approximately 30% of voyages experience rough weather, however it can also be surprisingly placid too, at which time it's euphemistically called 'The Drake Lake'. The reality for the majority of our customers is that it's rarely as bad as it sounds, and it's certainly a 'price' well worth paying.

Reach the Antarctic Peninsula by boat - Antarctica cruises 2021

Entering the Lemaire Channel

Getting to Antarctica by ship

Flying to Antarctica

There is an option to fly to Antarctica from Southern Chile before embarking your ship, which is becoming increasingly popular. The benefits in terms of time saved and the assurance of avoiding crossing the Drake Passage are undoubtedly compelling.

This fly cruise option means you can spend your time experiencing rather than travelling. A flight to King George Island sets you down right in the heart of the action. In just 2 hours you can step off your plane on the Antarctic Peninsula, feeling the nip of the air and ready to spot your first iceberg.

Can you fly to Antarctica?

Fly to Antarctica on a BAE146 whisper jet

Before you book in your Fly & Cruise voyage it's worth noting that your choice of ships, itinerary and departures dates is more limited than when cruising to Antarctica. You should also expect to pay approximately 20% more than if you were to sail.

Although the majority of flights each season run on schedule, flying also carries a higher risk of delays due to the rapidly changing conditions that make accurate forecasting a challenge. However, delays are often no longer than a few hours, and for many, the modest risk in opting to fly is more than outweighed by the significant gains.

Fly from South America to Antarctica and Union Glacier

Emperor penguins and your plane, Weddell sea

What's it like to fly to Antarctica?

Our Best Fly & Cruise Trips

Special Offers:Swoop has access to the widest range of offers and can help you find the right trip, cabin, & price.

Original Fly & Cruise Luxury Adventure

Fly over the Drake Passage in just 2 hours, both to and from Antarctica. ​Ideal for those ​wanting a high comfort level, but ​who have limited time or ​are ​anxious sailors. ​An outstanding program, successfully operated for over 15 seasons.​…

  • 8 Days
  • $15,995
Express Tour of Antarctica

A cost-effective Antarctic adventure. This itinerary is also ideal for those with limited time wanting to combine Antarctica with time exploring Patagonia. Sailing one way and flying back, you get to combine two iconic places: Antarctica and Cape Horn. Note,…

  • 6-7 Days
  • $5,995
66 Degrees South Fly Cruise

By offering time saving flights, extended time in Antarctica and the chance to reach the Polar Circle, this 10-day voyage maximises the polar experience. Minimum travel time and maximum exploring time and all the benefits of only 76 people…

  • 10 Days
  • $15,995
Fly & Cruise Polar Circle

This impressive voyage combines all the comfort and speed of flying in both directions with extended time in Antarctica (7 full days), allowing you to head south towards the remote Antarctic Circle. Explore from the comfort of your outstanding purpose-built…

  • 10 Days
  • $22,495
Antarctic Fly & Cruise Safari

If you’re keen to fly to Antarctica instead of sailing, this 8-day trip is ideal, with a choice of dates in December and January. Travel on outstanding modern expedition ships with a maximum of 140 passengers. Active adventurers can enjoy…

  • 8 Days
  • $16,795

How to get to Antarctica from your front door

The majority of cruises leave from Ushuaia (Argentina), whereas Fly & Cruise trips leave from Punta Arenas (Chile). These two port cities don't offer international flights, so to get to the start of your trip you're likely to have to fly via Buenos Aires (Argentina), or Santiago (Chile).

Most trips depart from and return to the same location, but occasionally you may fly out from Punta Arenas and sail back to Ushuaia, or vice versa. Luckily, flying into one country and out of the other is not only do-able but often no more expensive than returning the same way.

Our customer service team can provide advice and assistance in finding the right flight option for your Antarctic adventure.

How to get to Antarctica from the USA

Travelling from the USA means flying south and then cruising from South America to Antarctica. 

Getting to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires: Daily direct flights to Buenos Aires operate from New York, Miami, Dallas and Atlanta (approx 9-10 hours). Once in Buenos Aires, there are regular flights to Ushuaia.

Getting to Punta Arenas via Santiago: There are daily, direct flights to Santiago from New York, Miami, Dallas and Atlanta (approx 8-10 hours). Once in Santiago, there are regular flights to Punta Arenas. There is also an indirect flight from Los Angeles to Santiago via Lima (approx 13 hours).

Huge icebergs in Antarctica

How to get to Antarctica from Australia

Antarctic travel from Australia typically means flying to South America and cruising from Ushuaia or Punta Arenas. 

Getting to Punta Arenas via Santiago: There are direct flights from Sydney to Santiago 4 times a week (approx 12 hours). You may find it's more convenient to go via Auckland, New Zealand, which offers direct daily flights to Santiago. Once there, there are regular flights to Punta Arenas.

Getting to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires and Santiago: There are no direct flights to Buenos Aires, so the most efficient way to get there is via Santiago (see above). Once in Santiago, there are regular flights to Buenos Aires (approx 2 hours), and regular onward flights to Ushuaia (approx 4 hours). 

There is also the option to cruise from New Zealand to Antarctica with our Ross Sea Cruises.

Snowshoeing in Antarctica

Snowshoeing in Antarctica

How to get to Antarctica from the UK

Getting to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires: There are direct flights from London to Buenos Aires (approx 14 hours). Once there, there are regular flights to Ushuaia (approx 4 hours). Another option is to fly via Madrid, where there are daily direct flights to Buenos Aires. While this is often cheaper, it is also often longer.

Getting to Punta Arenas via Santiago: There are direct flights from London to Santiago. Once there, there are regular flights to Punta Arenas.

Sculptured ice in Antarctica

Sculptured ice in Antarctica

How to get to Antarctica from Canada

Getting to Ushuaia via Buenos Aires: There are direct flights from Toronto to Buenos Aires 5 times a week (approx 14 hours). Once in Buenos Aires there are regular flights to Ushuaia.

Getting to Punta Arenas via Santiago: There are direct flights from Toronto to Santiago 5 times a week (approx 11 hours). Once in Santiago there are regular flights to Punta Arenas.

For other areas of Canada it may be more efficient to fly via Toronto or the USA. Ask our specialist for assistance if you're unsure.

Gentoo penguins rushing in the snow
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What Our Customers Think of How to get to Antarctica

From the moment we arrived in Antarctica on the jet, I realized that I had landed in a world that I could have never have envisioned being in. It was certainly life changing. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Ray Applebaum - USA

The service from Swoop was unparalleled. They were extremely informative and guided me throughout the whole process of booking and preparing. I don't think anything else could have been done by Swoop to make my experience any better. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2019

Kristen Hilt - United States Of America

I would book with Swoop in a heartbeat and have already been recommending Swoop to others. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2019

Elisabeth Eppich - Canada

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My advice is to review the videos that are out there on a trip to Antarctica. Read the reviews of the different type of cruises and determine what works best for you. Get in touch with Swoop and let them help with narrowing down the choices. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Terrie Mandina - United States Of America

A trip to a remote area always makes one pause to consider one's place in the universe. It re-awakened my commitment, and that of other guests, to care for our planet. I now want to come back and make a more extended visit to the Southern Ocean. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Elizabeth Hess - United States Of America

Swoop was brilliant throughout, from making the initial booking to steering us through the pre-trip preparations. Even checking that we had arrived at our hotel in Buenos Aires. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Richard & Anne Abrahall - United Kingdom

The joy of travel is to experience the unexpected. Experiencing the Antarctic is a mind-expanding event. Unless one goes there, no one can believe how vast and how wild the white continent is. This adventure should be on everybody's "bucket list". Read the full review

Travelled: November 2018

Bob Clements - United States Of America

We lost a couple of days up front due to weather-related flight issues into the Falkland Islands, however, the crew did a great job maximizing our time on South Georgia so that we hardly noticed the lost time. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2018

James Jarman - United States Of America

The level of personal experience Swoop's travel experts draw upon to make recommendations sets them apart from anyone else I've worked with.

Travelled: September 2018

Chris - USA

We were very impressed with the proactive response re the flight delay from Buenos Aires to Frankfurt. Overall very pleased with the service we received from Swoop.

Travelled: February 2018

RSW & MW - UK

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If you have never been, there is no way of preparing for the impact of being there. The untouched, natural beauty, the mighty icebergs, the silliness of the penguins. You will be spending hours just sitting in one spot adoring the view. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2018

Zoltan & Stephen Nemeth - Florida

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For ease and efficiency few things beat flying to Antarctica. If I'd have known it was that easy I would have gone years ago!

Travelled: December 2016

Agi - Hungary

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Dear Swoop family, we would like to thank you for all the amazing effort you made in getting us to Punta Arenas in time.

Travelled: December 2015

Erik & Natascha - The Netherlands

Review:

How to get to Antarctica: FAQs

  • How long does it take to get to Antarctica?

    It takes 48 hours to reach the Antarctic Peninsula by boat, and just 2 hours by plane. Sailing to the Falkland Islands from Ushuaia takes approximately 36 hours, and a further day's sailing is required to reach South Georgia Island. It is possible to fly to the South Pole from Punta Arenas in Southern Chile in 10 hours. 

  • Where do most cruises depart from?

    99% of Antarctica trips start from either Ushuaia in Southern Argentina or Punta Arenas in Southern Chile. It provides the most choice in terms of voyages. Explore the route to Ushuaia or Punta Arenas.

  • Do you need a visa to visit Antarctica?

    No, you don't need a visa to visit Antarctica. Antarctica is a non-sovereign nation.​ However you do need to check whether you need a visa for the country (Argentina/Chile) which you are travelling through to get there. Plus, Argentina and Chile charge some nationals a reciprocity fee. For more information visit our Visa section.

  • Can you visit Antarctica alone?

    Yes you can visit Antarctica if travelling alone. There are a growing number of solo travellers undertaking an adventure to Antarctica. Researching and choosing the right journey for you is key. Discover how you can cruise or fly to Antarctica. 

  • Are there trips that visit both Antarctica and South America?

    Yes, there are many trips which visit both Antarctica and South America. Many Antarctic trips actually depart from the tip of South America, and we recommend taking some extra time to explore Chile and Argentina. Discover more about combining Patagonia and Antarctica.

  • Can you travel to Antarctica?

    Of course! Deciding which route to take, where you want to visit, and whether to cruise or fly are all the questions you need to answer next. If you get stuck one of our Polar Specialists would love to help find your perfect trip. 

Why our customers love Swoop

The Antarctic Experts.
No Compromises

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Our team has visited Antarctica over 150 times and has 100 collective years of polar experience, so from which trip is right for you to what shoes to bring - there’s no question we can’t answer.

Expert impartial advice at no extra cost

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Choosing the right voyage is complicated, Swoop makes it easy. We offer no-nonsense advice on 1500 voyages across 30 ships to find you the right trip, cabin, price - and we don’t charge a fee.

The only B Corp certified Antarctic specialist

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We want to protect Antarctica for future generations - which is why we became a certified B Corp and set up our own conservation fund. So your adventures can be a force for good.

A full concierge service, unlike booking direct

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We leave nothing to chance in delivering your perfect trip and have over 6500 happy travellers to show for it. With a dedicated Antarctic co-ordinator & support throughout - you’re in safe hands.

More about Antarctica

More helpful insights when researching your perfect Antarctic adventure.

Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?

1
Listen

Listen

We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.

2
Match

Match

Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.

3
Reserve

Reserve

We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.

With over 100 years of Antarctic experience between us, we can help guide you to exactly the right trip for you.

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