When is the best time to travel to Antarctica?

During autumn and winter much of Antarctica's coastline is impenetrable due to thick ice and temperatures that can drop to -60 degrees. The best time to travel to Antarctica is during the Antarctic summer from November to March, when you'll see Antarctica's wildlife at its busiest and benefit from up to 24 hours of daylight.

Due to strong demand and the relatively modest number of ships, particularly during High Season, to be confident of securing your first choice we would strongly urge that you begin planning at least 12 months in advance. For the most popular Fly & Cruise trips or those incorporating South Georgia, 18 months ahead isn't too early.

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Loli says

I spent eleven summer seasons in Antarctica and I genuinely don't have a favourite time - it's a place of such variety, constant wonder and excitement.

Loli Figueroa Polar Specialist

The best month to go to Antarctica will depend on what you hope to get out of your trip. Whether you hope to go sea kayaking, snowshoeing or photographing fluffy penguin chicks will affect your decision of when to go.


In November Antarctica opens its arms to the season's first visitors. You'll not only enjoy the excitement of walking on virgin snow, but you'll also appreciate its beauty as you discover the Peninsula aboard one of the few early visitors.

It's mating season for penguins, who will treat you to courtship displays and their nest-building. Seals of all kinds are also beginning to mate.

It's arguably the best time to travel to Antarctica for landscape photographers who will love the distinctive outlines of the giant icebergs cut against the sea and sky.


The summer sun bathes the continent in 20-24 hours of daylight in December, making it a popular time to visit. It's also a busy time for the penguin rookeries as the chicks begin to hatch from mid-December onwards.

The Christmas holiday period adds to the popularity, and prices tend to reflect this.

However you'll be treated to seals abound as they seek suitable mates and landscape photographers are treated to the still-crisp edges of great icebergs.


January is the peak of the Antarctic summer, so you'll enjoy magical 20+ hours of sunlight each day.

These extra daylight hours gives you more time each day to explore, making them very popular as you get to see a bit more of the Peninsula in the same number of days.

The slightly higher prices for early January reflect this popularity. In January you'll also see lots of penguin chicks having fun as they learn to run away from their mothers, while various species of seals abound.


February's the time for sailing all the way to the Polar Circle, the Sun's rays through December and January having weakened the pack ice significantly enough to allow for exploring the Peninsula so far south.

Photographers will appreciate the great light conditions, whilst wildlife enthusiasts will love the "penguin creches" formed by the growing penguin chicks and the return of whales to Antarctic waters.


March marks the end of the travel season to Antarctica. You'll be able to enjoy the mesmerising colours of blooming green and pink algae against the water and ice, as well as penguin chicks at their strongest, bravest and most inquisitive of visitors. 

March is the best time to travel to Antarctica for cetaceans. Whales continue to feast through March in Antarctic waters before moving further north.

As Autumn dawns once more you'll have shorter days in which to explore, but also enjoy considerable savings compared with peak season.

Know which year you want to travel?

If you know when you want to explore the White Continent you can find your perfect trip on our year pages

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Swoop's Weather Guide

The best month to go to Antarctica will depend on what you're hoping to get from your trip. Whilst November is great for photography and snowshoeing, December to February have more favourable weather and clearer ice conditions which make Polar Circle voyages possible. March is the best time to see whales in Antarctica, although the weather also becomes more unpredictable and daylight hours drop.

When to see wildlife on the Antarctic Peninsula

When to see wildlife on South Georgia

Our wildlife guides can help you decide the best time to travel to Antarctica to see whales, penguins and other wildlife. November is the time of mating penguins and other birdlife, whilst December sees chicks beginning to hatch. January is a popular time for seal sightings and fluffy penguin chicks, and February and March is the best time for whale watching and spotting fur seals.

Why Swoop

Expert Impartial Advice At No Extra Cost

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Antarctic travel options are complicated. We help you choose the right boat, the right cabin, and at the right point in the season.

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As a team of ex-guides, tour leaders, & polar adventurers our Antarctic knowledge is leagues ahead of the rest.

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Swoop is proud to be B Corp Certified as we know sustainability is more than our carbon footprint (but we’re reducing that too).

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We’ll make sure you have the adventure of a lifetime.

When should I start planning my Voyage?

  • When are departure dates normally released?

    ​Polar​ operators ​typically release their ​forthcoming departure dates ​and prices at least 18 months ​or so in advance, some even earlier. This is great news for travellers who like to plan ahead and get their cabin reserved early on​, particularly if you can take advantage of an early booking incentive.

    Given that there is only a finite number of places available on each departure, it really is a case of 'the early bird gets the worm' - or in this case the best dates and the widest choice of cabins - so early booking is strongly recommended.

  • When should I start to plan my Fly & Cruise trip?

    Trips which include time-saving flights to Antarctica and avoid the Drake Passage are incredibly popular and are the earliest of all voyages to become booked up.

    Due to strong demand and the relatively modest number of ships, particularly during High Season, to be confident of securing your first choice we would strongly urge that you begin planning at least 12 months in advance. December and January are particularly busy times and typically are fully booked up 10 months ahead.

    For the most popular Fly & Cruise trips or those incorporating South Georgia, 18 months ahead isn't too early.

  • Is it less expensive to travel in November & March?

    Yes it's true, the Shoulder Season months of November and March tend to be priced approx. 10-15% less than during the High Season (December - end February) and as a result are a good place to look for the budget-conscious or bargain-hunter.

    The reason for this is partly the less predictable weather and slightly lower wildlife numbers, but it's also simply the case that many who live in Northern Hemisphere countries like to holiday during their worst winter months.

    In our opinion a great time to travel is in early December when it's still Shoulder Season pricing but you get all of the benefits of High Season.

  • Are there any advantages in booking early?

    ​There certainly are: as well as securing your first choice, with many of the ships offering really quite generous early booking incentives of up to $1,500 per person to those willing to commit early, getting organised can really pay dividends.

  • Can I wait until the last minute for a late deal?

    Given the ​strong ​demand for Antarctic cruises​ ​boat ​operators rarely need to ​resort to offering any ​late availability discounts - particularly on the more popular ships and voyages - as ​cabins ​are normally all booked months ago in advance.

    Any remaining unsold cabins tend to be left on the shelf for a reason and choice will be poor at best, so it's not an approach we advocate.

    However, if you're flexible on dates and don't mind paying a last minute premium for your flights,​ ​there are normally odd cabins available.

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What our customers think of The Best Time to Visit Antarctica

Customer Image

Absolutely no glitches and lots of pleasant surprises including aircraft carrier sized icebergs, Zodiac trips through ice fields, climbing the volcano on Deception Island, and up-close-and-personals with penguins, seals, and humpback whales. The continent is ineffable: words fail.

Travelled: December 2017

Marc - Florida

10/10 - The destinations and experiences were beyond any we had enjoyed before. This was our first cruise, first time in the south polar region, first time riding zodiacs, first time walking among penguins, seals, and sea birds. The ship's crew and expedition team were amazing; they pampered us, kept us safe, and showed us a new world in all its richness and complexity. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Michael Cox - USA

Swoop was 10/10 - My favourite thing was how I felt like the representative I worked with really listened to me and helped me find a ship/company that best suited us and our wants and priorities. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Rebecca Ready - Canada

I was extremely satisfied with the voyage I took. It was very helpful to receive first hand information from someone who knows the region very well. Swoop's service prior to the voyage was good as well- the frequent mailers and tips helped a lot.

Travelled: February 2018

Kushal - UAE

Swoop's service was excellent start to finish; thorough, friendly, helpful, and personal. I would recommend Swoop to anyone.

Travelled: February 2018

Linda - New York

Going early in the season gave us pristine snowy landscapes. We had the unique opportunity to see a lone emperor penguin. Getting out onto the sea ice and so close to massive icebergs was fantastic.

Travelled: November 2017

Janet - California


Our Top Trips of 2024

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

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 & maximum exploring time and all the benefits of only 73 people…

  • 10 Days
  • $15,495

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
  • $7,399

With a good choice of departure dates through the season across three medium-sized ships, this 19-23 day trip stands out for its value for money and the broad range of cabin categories available, including Quads, which are…

  • 19 - 22 Days
  • $14,750

A classic 10-day voyage to the White Continent. Perfect for those wanting great value and comfortable accommodation. Sail aboard a purpose-built X-bow expedition ship with an average of 175…

  • 9-12 Days
  • $6,990

Sail to the White Continent aboard one of the most luxurious ships currently available. Unsurpassed comfort and true 5* service are this operator’s hallmarks. From the discreetly attentive, Relais & Chateaux cuisine and 24/7 butler service to the beautifully appointed…

  • 11-14 Days
  • $13,921

On a long voyage with so many days at sea, the journey is made more enjoyable aboard this comfortable, well appointed 4* ship with its capacious cabins and dedicated staff. Choice of 17-23 day departures per season, with optional kayaking…

  • 17-23 Days
  • $13,595

Explore the White Continent onboard one of the newest additions to the Polar fleet, a state-of-the-art expedition vessel combining adventure with comfort. Limited to only 132 passengers, there’s also a wide range of optional adventure activities on this classic Antarctic…

  • 11-15 Days
  • $12,395

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 February. Travel on outstanding expedition ships with optional kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. Complimentary hotel nights and…

  • 8 Days
  • $11,995

For those travellers looking for seamless travel on a trip that is hassle-free from door-to-door and all-inclusive, this is the perfect option. Skip over the notorious Drake Passage on a comfortable two hour flight to Antarctica, then travel onboard a…

  • 7 Days
  • $20,494

Join this classic Southern Ocean voyage, with a choice of two 21-day departures in the season. Travel aboard a generously proportioned 134-passenger expeditionary ship, undertake daily landings, with camping and kayaking for the…

  • 21 Days
  • $18,699
  • 11-Jan-2024

An epic 23-day voyage which packs in an astonishing 7 days in Antarctica, 4 days in wildlife-rich South Georgia and the Polar Circle at 66 degrees south. It's very rare to find a trip combining all three places. Limited departure…

  • 23 Days
  • $37,490

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
  • $12,995

For an unparalleled Polar Circle experience spending 8 full days in Antarctica, choose this February departure. Head south when penguin and whale activity is at its peak, accompanied by a highly experienced team. This elegant 139 passenger ship combines real…

  • 15 Days
  • $13,135

This voyage stands out by visiting the Antarctic Peninsula first and keeping the wonders of South Georgia for the second half. Plus you’ll be travelling on board one of the most exciting new Polar ships with spacious cabins, state-of-the-art technology…

  • 19-25 Days
  • $23,595

Travel with the pioneers of fly & cruise Antarctic voyages, flying in both directions and bypassing a 2-day sail on the Drake Passage. Regular departure dates (Dec - Feb) to choose from. Explore Antarctica aboard a trusty 68-passenger expedition ship…

  • 8 Days
  • $11,495

Soak up the spectacular wildlife and landscapes of the Antarctic Peninsula from the ultra comfort of this modern, luxury ship. Balance time exploring ashore with sumptuous relaxation on board, where your every need is catered to by the highly-trained onboard…

  • 12 Days
  • $10,304

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

  • 10-13 Days
  • $7,900

Purpose-built to tackle polar waters, an eco-minded vessel makes the ocean crossing between Antarctica and the wildlife Eden of South Georgia as comfortable as possible. Traverse the breathtaking Antarctic Sound where huge tabular icebergs dwarf the ship and immerse yourself…

  • 19 Days
  • $11,990

Travelling in January, at the height of the Austral summer, when weather and wildlife are arguably at their optimum, spend 15 days aboard a comfortable 114-passenger expedition ship as you make your way south to bisect the intangible Polar…

  • 15 Days
  • $12,295
  • 25-Jan-2024

This impressive Polar Circle voyage combines all the comfort and expediency of flying in both directions with extended time in Antarctica (7 full days). Choice of two outstanding ships, both very well-appointed, offering optional adventure activities.…

  • 11 Days
  • $14,295

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
  • $9,895

Combine the spellbinding wildlife spectacle of South Georgia with the jaw-dropping landscapes of Antarctica on this luxurious time-saving expedition. Cut out two days at sea by flying between Antarctica and South America in just two hours.…

  • 16 Days
  • $28,700

Travelling aboard a state-of-the-art small ship and accompanied by unparalleled onboard expertise, expeditionary cruising doesn’t get much better. Regular departures throughout the season and a choice of three outstanding ships renowned for their comfort, enhanced safety features and spirit of…

  • 12 Days
  • $15,380

A rare and popular voyage which flies one way and sails the other, maximising both expediency and experience. Spend 5-7 days exploring Antarctica on a small, newly-built expedition ship, with kayaking & snorkelling available. January - March…

  • 9-14 Days
  • $11,695

This classic Peninsula trip stands out for its generously proportioned cabins, value for money and stylish 114-passenger ship. Spend 4-5 days experiencing Antarctica’s highlights, with optional camping and kayaking. Complimentary hotel stay in Ushuaia and a parka jacket are nice…

  • 11-12 Days
  • $8,895

For those seeking a high level of onboard comfort without formality or stuffiness, the relaxed atmosphere on this expedition is an ideal match. Smooth logistics with chartered domestic flights makes for a stress-free journey to and from Antarctica. The calming…

  • 10 Days
  • $12,099

Aboard a very capable and spacious 134-passenger vessel, spend 7 days exploring the Peninsula with the planned highlight being reaching the Polar Circle. This 14-day trip benefits from spacious cabins and outer decks, and the option to camp out or…

  • 14 Days
  • $9,399

Voyage south in Shackleton’s footsteps, exploring the highlights of the Southern Ocean as part of this ‘classic’ 20-day adventure. A well-balanced itinerary and the choice between 2 well-appointed expedition ships (capacity 128-199 guests) really marks this trip out. Plus, you…

  • 20 Days
  • $17,895

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

Devised by a team with 50 years of polar expedition experience, from the balance of the time exploring each location, to the wealth of onboard expertise and thoughtfully designed expedition ships, this trip has a real ‘pedigree’. Explore with the…

  • 22 Days
  • $27,200

This is the ideal voyage if you're looking to explore the spectacular wildlife of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia without compromising on time in Antarctica. Off-ship adventures are perfectly balanced with relaxation time on board your comfortably appointed 5*…

  • 21 Days
  • $16,199

Explore one of the last untamed areas on Earth; ruggedly beautiful landscapes and amazingly varied wildlife on board an elegant and modern 4* vessel. Optional activities include photo/video workshops with experts and polar…

  • 23 Days
  • $15,700
  • 20-Feb-2024

By including optional kayaking and diving, these late season voyages offer the chance to maximise your polar crossing experience by exploring Antarctica both on and under the water. Travelling at that time provides excellent photographic and whale watching conditions, alongside…

  • 12, 13 or 14 Days
  • $7,550

Spend 6 full days exploring Antarctica with the Polar Circle at 66 degrees south as your most southerly objective, on board one of the most exciting new vessels. Limited to only 132 passengers with spacious cabins, state-of-the-art technology and optional…

  • 12-15 Days
  • $16,195

Uniquely focused on extensive exploration of South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, without heading further south to Antarctica. Spend 8 full days exploring these bountiful sub-Antarctic Islands, brimming with both wildlife and history. Limited to spring and late summer…

  • 17 Days
  • $23,090

A unique voyage to the Circle. Designed especially for the Friends of SPRI, you will plunge far south to cross the little-visited Antarctic Circle. You will be accompanied by an exclusive set of guest speakers including Dr John Shears,…

  • 15 Days
  • $17,005
  • 29-Feb-2024

Journey beyond the Antarctic Circle in real comfort aboard a state-of-the-art expedition ship. Spend an extended period of 7 action-packed days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula. Attractive comprehensive transfer package from Buenos Aires available on select departures. Wide choice of optional…

  • 14 Days
  • $18,990
  • 1-Mar-2024

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’. Great value for money backed…

  • 13 Days
  • $8,400

For those travellers prioritising real comfort and ease of travel logistics, this is a great option. Travel in style aboard a state-of-the-art expedition ship, with heli-sightseeing available on select departures for a unique bird's-eye view of Antarctica. Plus the comprehensive…

  • 11-12 Days
  • $10,795

Setting sail ​early in the season, be aboard ​one of the ​first ship​'s to head​ south ​as the Southern Ocean re-opens for business​. It's a special time in South Georgia with the beaches packed with breeding elephant seals, while Antarctica…

  • 21 Days
  • $12,600

Setting sail from Montevideo, Uruguay in late October, be aboard the first ship south for the season. It's a special time in South Georgia with the beaches packed with breeding Elephant Seals, while Antarctica lies pristine and untouched, awaiting the…

  • 22 Days
  • $11,699
  • 22-Oct-2024

For a truly 5 star Southern Ocean experience, this is the voyage to consider. Cosseted aboard the most luxurious, all-inclusive expedition ships currently in Antarctica, enjoy outstanding cuisine, impeccable service and daily guided…

  • 19 Days
  • $20,108

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 very polished Southern Ocean adventure, at a fair…

  • 21 Days
  • $19,795

Few other voyages offer 6 full days on the Peninsula. You'll have time to really absorb the incredible glacial landscapes, unique wildlife & the history; whilst options for kayaking & camping offer another perspective. The large & stable vessel softens…

  • 13 Days
  • $7,799

With complimentary kayaking, camping and snowshoeing included, this trip will appeal to active travellers keen to experience the White Continent while taking in the best of the Antarctic Peninsula. A comfortable ship, high calibre guiding and great value for money…

  • 13 Days
  • -

The great strength of this trip is choice - a wide selection of departure dates and optional adventure activities available across two comfortable ice-strengthened ships (either 128 or 189 guests). Spend a minimum of four full days exploring Antarctica. Enjoy…

  • 11–12 Days
  • $8,995

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
  • $4,995

An extended voyage to the Peninsula with 6 full days exploring the White Continent. Your comfortable 175 passenger ship will sail towards 66 degrees south, in pursuit of the remote Antarctic Circle. An ice-strengthened PC6 hull allows your ship to…

  • 12 Days
  • $9,290

More about Antarctica

More helpful insights when researching your perfect Antarctic adventure.

How to get to Antarctica by boat

How to get to Antarctica

Discover how to travel to the most remote continent on earth. Study the various adventurous routes, the best way to travel and how long it will take to get to Antarctica. 

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You're guaranteed to spot gentoo penguins and icebergs on Antarctica Cruises

Antarctica Cruises

We've teamed up with some of the best cruise operators so that you can choose from over 80 cruise itineraries based on your dates, budget and appetite for adventure.

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Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?



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



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



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

With over 150 years of Antarctic experience between us, we can help guide you to exactly the right trip for you.