Getting to Antarctica

  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.

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.
  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.

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

Getting to Antarctica by ship

Our Top Antarctic Cruises

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?

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

What's it like to fly to Antarctica?

Our Best Fly & Cruise Trips

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 flights specialist can help find and book the right flights for you from anywhere in the world, just get in touch and we'll arrange your flights from your preferred airport.

How to get to Antarctica from the USA

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

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).

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

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
Customer review background image

What Our Customers Think

FAQs on how to get to Antarctica

  • Can Swoop arrange my flight?

    Yes we can, we've got an experienced Flights Department who can assist you with booking both the domestic flights within South America, and advise you on the best routing from your home airport.

  • Where will I stay before pre & post Antarctica?

    99% of Antarctic trips start from either Ushuaia in southern Argentina or Punta Arenas in southern Chile. If pre-voyage hotel accommodation in these cities isn't already included in your voyage price, we can make arrangements for you.

  • Can you help me with travels to see more of South America?

    Between us we know South America incredibly well - Patagonia in particular - and would be delighted to discuss and help you make extension plans to your Antarctic trip.

  • Do I need a visa?

    No you don't, 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.

Customer review background image

What our customers think

More about Antarctica

More helpful insights when researching your perfect Antarctic adventure.

Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?

With over 50 years of Antarctic experience between us, we can help guide you to exactly the right trip for you.

1-855-369-8288