Among the first questions prospective polar travelers consider “Can you visit Antarctica?” Yes, you can visit Antarctica. We’ll show you how.
The next question is “How to get to Antarctica?” The answer is not as difficult as it seems. The best way to get to Antarctica is to cruise or fly. Cruises to Antarctica depart from Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Flights to Antarctica depart from Chile.
This post outlines everything you need to know to get to Antarctica. Our travel experts answer common questions about how to get to Antarctica, with a focus on Antarctica cruises from Argentina and Antarctica flights from Chile.
IN THIS POST – HOW TO GET TO ANTARCTICA
Can You go to Antarctica?
10 Reasons to Visit Antarctica
Get to Antarctica by Ship
Flights to Antarctica
Get to Antarctica From Your Home
Passport & Visa Requirements
The Best Way to Get to Antarctica
Can You Go To Antarctica?
Yes, you can visit Antarctica. In fact, Antarctica has never been more accessible to travelers.
Do you need permission to go to Antarctica? Travelers do not need permission to go to Antarctica, but tourism operators must hold a valid permit. First, a bit of background on why it is legal to visit Antarctica.
Antarctica is not a country. The continent is protected by the Antarctic Treaty, which preserves it for peaceful and scientific use. The treaty and related agreements ensure that all human activity is carefully managed and planned, including environmentally sensitive tourism. As of 2023 the treaty has 56 signatory parties.
Tourism operators in Antarctica submit stringent permit applications annually. If their planned activities meet all criteria, they are authorized and granted a permit. Traveling with an authorized operator means your permit has been secured for you.
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Do you need a visa to visit Antarctica? Because no country owns Antarctica, a visa is not required to travel there.
How many tourists visit Antarctica each year? During the 2021-22 season, more than 23,000 travelers landed on the Antarctic continent. Will you be next?
10 Reasons to Visit Antarctica Now
Before we cover how to get to there, we’d like to outline why you should visit Antarctica. The cost to travel to Antarctica is significant, so many travelers ask us, “Is it worth it to travel to Antarctica?” Yes, Antarctica is worth the price.
Antarctica is absolutely amazing and unlike any other travel experience on earth. Extraordinary experiences await including spectacular scenery, incredible wildlife, gripping history and personal enlightenment.
A visit to Antarctica emphasizes how special our planet is. It will instill a desire to protect the environment. Going to Antarctica is a life changing adventure. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should travel to antarctica.
- Penguins – Over 15 types of penguins live in Antarctica and sub-Antarctic islands. They are a joy to watch. Walk among penguin colonies, witness them torpedo through the water and travel over “penguin highways.”
- Whales & Wildlife – There are 10 species of whales in Antarctica including humpback, blue, fin and orca whales. Seas and sea lions haul on the ice and lounge on beaches. Wildlife and whale watching in Antarctica are a highlight of any visit.
- Ice, Glaciers & Icebergs – Antarctica is over 97% covered in ice. Ice sheets cover the contentment and glaciers spill into the sea along the coast. Massive tabular icebergs inspire awe and sculpted blue icebergs will fill your camera’s memory card.
- Birds & Birdwatching – Antarctica is a hotspot for birdwatching. You will see unique birds found nowhere else in the world. Birdwatchers can find 5 species of albatross, 10 species of petrel and several skuas, shags and prions among others.
- Ultimate Adventure – Simply going to Antarctica, the most remote continent on earth, is an adventure. Actively explore up close with expert naturalist guides. Get off the vessel everyday hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, camping, mountaineering, skiing, snowshoeing and even scuba diving. Learn all the things to do in Antarctica.
- Spectacular Scenery – Pack your camera for pristine mountains, dramatic cliffs, massive glaciers, unusual iceberg formations and an expansive landscape. Long Austral summer days with extended sunrises and sunsets create prime photo opportunities. Professional photographers travel onboard to help you make the most of every shot.
- Follow in the Footsteps of Explorers – Antarctica has a rich history of exploration by hearty adventurers. They went by dog sled and tall ship. You can go in comfort aboard specialty ships designed for polar cruising. Experience historic sites like Grytviken, where Shackleton is buried. Then return to a hot shower and gourmet meal.
- Experience the Extremes – What is so special about Antarctica? Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, iciest and driest continent on earth. These conditions make for a true expedition. Feel the cold and enjoy the sun when it shines. Learn the best time to visit Antarctica.
- Learn About Climate Change in Antarctica – Climate change is affecting Antarctica and its ecosystems. The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming parts of the planet. Most Antarctica voyages will tackle this topic head on educating travelers about how Antarctica is affected by climate change and how it serves as a laboratory for research. Rather than take a doomsday approach to see it before it’s gone, we hope you will visit and fall in love. Only when you love a place are you motivated to protect it.
- Bragging Rights – Many people go to Antarctica because it is a bucket list destination. Some want to check the 7th Continent off their travel list. However very few actually go to Antarctica. Whatever your reason, if you go to Antarctica, you’ll be part of a select cadre and have bragging rights among your friends.
How to Get to Antarctica
The two primary routes travelers use to get to Antarctica are cruising to Antarctica or flying to Antarctica. Below we present everything you need to know about each method.
Get to Antarctica by Ship
The most common and most affordable way to get to Antarctica is to book an Antarctica cruise. Over 90% of all visitors travel to Antarctica aboard a small ship. Learn more about the cost to go to Antarctica.
Specially outfitted operators run a fleet of purpose-built Antarctica expedition ships taking travelers to Antarctica. They take care of all the logistics from permits to schedules and itineraries. Shore landings and activities on the continent are an important part of the experience. See our tips on how to choose an Antarctic cruise.
Cruise to Antarctica From South America
The distance from the tip of South America to Antarctica is about 600 miles. The countries closest to Antarctica are Argentina and Chile. Most of the travel to Antarctica occurs from these countries in South America. Most cruises begin in Ushuaia, Argentina but some start in other port towns in Argentina and Chile.
Cruises to Antarctica range from 10-24 Days. Antarctica cruises from South America are popular because they access the most popular regions including the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands.
Ushuaia to Antarctica Cruises
Ushuaia to Antarctica is the most popular cruise route. Ushuaia is 680 miles to Antarctica and the closest port making it the primary hub for cruises.
Ushuaia is the southernmost city in South America before Antarctica. It is in the Terra del Fuego province of Argentina and is generally recognized as the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia is well worth a visit. We recommend travelers going to Antarctica arrive a day or two early.
Ushuaia Antarctica cruises offer the largest variety of itinerary and ship options. The shortest and most affordable Ushuaia cruises visit the Antarctic Peninsula. Some cruises from Ushuaia strive to reach farther south the Antarctic circle. More comprehensive Antarctica cruises from Ushuaia include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.
During the height of the season the port of Ushuaia can host 3-5 Antarctica expedition ships each day. Overall, there may be more than three dozen ships visiting Antarctica from Ushuaia each season. Don’t worry the ships coordinate schedules so ports and landing sites do not become overcrowded. This diverse fleet offers travelers the widest choice of ships, cabins and availability.
Other Argentina to Antarctica Cruises
While most cruises begin in Ushuaia there are other routes from Argentina to Antarctica. Each year a handful of Argentina Antarctica cruises embark from Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. To reach Port Stanley travelers must fly from mainland Argentina, usually Buenos Aires.
Chile to Antarctica Cruises
Chile is known for its cruises with flights to Antarctica. But there are some cruises from Chile to Antarctica each year. Chile Antarctica cruises typically embark in the southern Patagonia city of Punta Arenas.
A Chile to Antarctic voyage will travel through the Chilean Fjords passing by Cape Horn before venturing into the Drake Passage. If you choose a Chilean Antarctic trip it is also possible to combine it with travel to Patagonia or a Chile vacation.
Cruises From Australia and New Zealand to Antarctica
Each year a handful of specialty cruises voyage from New Zealand and Australia to Antarctica. These are true expeditions and take longer than cruises from South America. Just crossing from New Zealand or Australia to Antarctica can take five days or more. The highlight of an Antarctica cruise from Australia or New Zealand is a visit to the Ross Sea.
The most common embarkation ports for journeys from New Zealand to Antarctica are Invercargill and Dunedin. Cruises from Australia to Antarctica typically depart from Hobart, Tasmania.
Some Antarctica cruises depart from Australia, visit the White Continent, and then return to the same port. Others begin in South America and end in Australia, or reverse. Either way, these cruises are much longer than cruises from South America. Antarctic cruises from Australia and New Zealand range from 25-35 days.
Voyages will visit sub-Antarctic islands such as Macquarie Island, the Auckland Islands or Campbell Islands. These remote outposts are rich in birdlife and wildlife. They serve to break up the longer ocean crossing.
How to Get to Antarctica by Boat FAQ’s
The Antarctic Peninsula lies just over 680 miles (1100 kilometers) from Ushuaia, Argentina in South America.
The Antarctic Circle is about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from Ushuaia, Argentina in South America.
The voyage from Ushuaia to Antarctic takes about 48 hours by small ship. Antarctic Peninsula cruises will make this crossing each way. So, a typical 11-day cruise will include 4 days crossing at sea and 7 days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula.
Most Antarctica cruises are 10-13 days. Some cruises are 14-20 days. The longest Antarctica cruise is 36 days long.
Most cruises to Antarctica leave from Ushuaia, Argentina. Cruises also leave from Punta Arenas-Chile, Port Stanley-Argentina, Hobart-Australia, Dunedin -New Zealand.
The Antarctic continent is about 1650 miles (2655 kilometers) from Australia. The Ross Sea is about 2200 miles (3,500 kilometers) from Australia.
The crossing from Australia to Antarctica can take up to 7 days depending on weather.
The Antarctic continent is about 1500 miles (2415 kilometers) from New Zealand. The Ross Sea is about 1800 miles (2900 kilometers) from New Zealand.
The crossing from New Zealand to Antarctica can take up to 5 days depending on weather.
The closest country to cruise to Antarctica is Argentina.
You cannot see Antarctica from South America. Don’t laugh, people ask.
Flights to Antarctica
Flying to Antarctica from Chile avoids crossing the infamous Drake Passage and makes the overall trip shorter. Antarctica air cruises are the second most popular way to get to Antarctica.
Flights to Antarctica are a great option for travelers short on time or concerned about seasickness. A flight to Antarctica takes about two hours, saving two days of cruising. Since most cruises make the crossing twice, flying can shave four days off the overall travel time. Cruises with flights to Antarctica range from 7-17 days long.
When considering cruises with flights to Antarctica, there are not as many options of ships and itineraries. The season for Antarctica flights is shorter, beginning in December and ending in February. There are not as many flight departures as standard cruises from South America.
Many trips with flights depart and return to the same location. Others will fly one way to or from the Antarctica Peninsula and cruise the other direction. Our experts are here to discuss the details of flights to Antarctica and help you choose the best Antarctic flight.
There are no commercial flights to Antarctica. Antarctica air cruise itineraries utilize one-way or round-trip flights from Punta Arenas, Chile, to the Antarctica Peninsula where guests board a ship. Flights to Antarctica utilize the airstrip at the King George Island Antarctica airport. This landing site is associated with Chile’s Frei Station.
Fly to Antarctica from Chile
Punta Arenas, Chile, is the primary departure point for cruises with Antarctic flights. These trips fly over the Drake passage, landing on King George Island near the Antarctic Peninsula. Travelers then embark the ship in Antarctica.
Most trips will explore the Antarctic Peninsula, then fly back to Chile. Some venture further to Antarctic Circle, South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands. Some trips fly one way from Chile then cruise back or reverse.
How to Fly to Antarctica FAQ’s
Yes, you can fly to Antarctica, but only in conjunction with an organized tour or cruise. There are no commercial flights to Antarctica.
There are no commercial airports in Antarctica. Flights to Antarctica utilize landing strips associated with scientific research stations.
The only way to fly to Antarctica is part of an organized tour or cruise. Flights with cruises depart from Chile.
The flight to Antarctica from Punta Arenas, Chile is about 2 hours.
Travelers get around in Antarctica by small expedition ship. Travelers also get around via zodiacs, kayaks, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and trekking.
The closest country to fly to Antarctica from is Chile.
No it is not possible to see Antarctica from Chile.
How to get to Antarctica from Your Home
Most cruises depart from Ushuaia, Argentina. Fly-and-cruise trips depart from Punta Arenas, Chile. There are no direct international flights into these ports, so most travelers must route flights through Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Santiago, Chile.
Below is our advice on how to get to Antarctica from your home, using these air travel hubs. Our specialists can assist with your flights to Antarctica.
GET TO ANTARCTICA FROM YOUR HOME
Get to Antarctica From the U.S.A.
Get to Antarctica From Canada
Get to Antarctica From Australia
Get to Antarctica From New Zealand
Get to Antarctica From the U.K. & Europe
How to Get to Antarctica From the United States
- To Buenos Aires: To get to Antarctica on a cruise departing from Argentina, travelers need to fly from the USA to Buenos Aires. The most popular Antarctica flights from U.S.A. to Buenos Aires depart from New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Boston. From Buenos Aires fly to Ushuaia to board your ship.
- To Santiago: To fly to Antarctica from the USA, travelers first need to fly to Santiago, Chile. The most popular flight routes from the U.S.A. to Santiago, Chile, depart from Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and New York. From Santiago fly to Punta Arenas to board your flight to Antarctica.
How to Get to Antarctica From Canada
There are direct flights from Toronto to both Buenos Aires and Santiago, five days each week. From other regions in Canada, travelers may consider connecting through a gateway in the U.S.A.
How to Get to Antarctica From Australia
- To Hobart: To get to Antarctica on a cruise departing from Australia you will need to travel to Hobart, Tasmania. Popular flight routes to Hobart depart from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
- To Buenos Aires: To get to Antarctica from Australia on a cruise departing from Argentina, travelers need to fly to Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Australia to Buenos Aires. Travelers going to Antarctica from Australia must consider connecting to Buenos Aires through Auckland, New Zealand, or through Santiago, Chile. From Buenos Aires fly to Ushuaia to board your ship.
- To Santiago: To fly to Antarctica from Australia travelers will first need to fly to Santiago, Chile. Flights from Sydney, Australia, to Santiago, Chile, operate four days each week. From Santiago fly to Punta Arenas to catch your flight to Antarctica.
How To Get to Antarctica From New Zealand
Most travelers from New Zealand will fly to South America to get to Antarctica from there. If you are on a specialty New Zealand cruise to Antarctica there are numerous options, depending on your departure port. See details below to get to Antarctica from New Zealand.
- To Invercargill or Dunedin: To get to Antarctica on a cruise departing from New Zealand you will need to travel to either Invercargill or Dunedin. Travelers on New Zealand’s South Island may drive to their embarkation port. There are flights to Invercargill and Dunedin from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
- To Buenos Aires: To get to Antarctica from New Zealand on a cruise departing from Argentina travelers need to fly to Buenos Aires. There are four direct flights each week from Auckland, New Zealand, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. From Buenos Aires fly to Ushuaia to board your ship.
- To Santiago: To fly to Antarctica from New Zealand, travelers will first fly to Santiago, Chile. Flights from Auckland, New Zealand, to Santiago, Chile, operate four days each week. From Santiago fly to Punta Arenas to catch your flight to Antarctica.
How To Get to Antarctica From the U.K. & Europe
- To Buenos Aires: To get to Antarctica from the U.K. and Europe most travelers will first fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina. There are numerous flights from Europe to Buenos Aires each day. Popular routes depart from London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome. From Buenos Aires fly to Ushuaia to board your ship.
- To Santiago: To fly to Antarctica from the U.K. and Europe travelers will first fly to Santiago, Chile. There are numerous flights from Europe to Santiago each day. Popular routes depart from London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid and Barcelona. From Santiago fly to Punta Arenas to catch your flight to Antarctica.
How to Get to Antarctica From Argentina
To get to Antarctica from Argentina, travelers will first fly to Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, Argentina has two airports. International travelers will arrive at Ezeiza International Airport (EZE). Then connect from Buenos Aires to Uhsuaia. Flights to and from Ushuaia (USH) operate out of the Jorge Newbery Airpark domestic airport (AEP). So a transfer between airports in Buenos Aires is required.
We recommend the airport shuttle service, Manuel Tienda Leon. Find their colorful booths in the airport to book a transfer for about $30 USD. Shuttles depart every 30 minutes from the EZE arrival terminal. A taxi can be arranged and may be quicker but more expensive.
The opposite transfer is required on the return trip. We advise travelers to allow at least four hours between flights for this transfer and check in. Many travelers will consider a stopover in Buenos Aires as part of their Antarctica travel package.
How to Get to Antarctica from Chile
To get to Antarctica from Chile, travelers will first fly to Santiago. International travelers will arrive at Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, also known as Santiago International Airport (SCL). Then connect from Santiago to Punta Arenas. Flights to and from Punta Arenas also depart from this airport making connections easy. Many travelers will consider a stopover in Santiago as part of their Antarctica plans.
Antarctica Passport & Visa Requirements
A visa or passport is not required to visit Antarctica. However, the country you pass through to get to Antarctica, such as Argentina, Chile, Australia or New Zealand will require a passport and may require a visa depending on your country of origin. Visas are not required in these countries for U.S. citizens. Your passport should be valid for 6 months after your travel dates, depending on your country of residency.
Countries that have signed the Antarctica Treaty including the U.S.A., Canada, E.U., New Zealand and Australia require that visitors from those countries need permission to visit Antarctica. This is typically provided through the tour operator.
Argentina Visas – click here to learn if a visa is required to enter Argentina from your country.
Chile Visas – click here to find your Chilean consulate. Contact your consulate to learn if a visa is required if a visa is required to enter Chile from your country.
In the United States, visa services can answer detailed questions and expedite applications for visas to Argentina and Chile.
What is the Best Way to Get to Antarctica?
The best way to get to Antarctica is by small ship cruise across the Drake Passage, or by plane to meet your ship in Antarctica. There are no right or wrong ways to get to Antarctica. Your choice will depend on your personal preferences, schedule and budget. Regardless of how you get to Antarctica, it will be the trip of a lifetime.
Continue your research on how to travel to Antarctica using the links below, or sign up for the AdventureSmith newsletter to stay in the loop on Antarctica travel news and deals. Our experts are here to teach you how to visit Antarctica and to help you get there.
MORE ANTARCTICA RESOURCES:
Antarctica Travel Guide
Luxury Antarctica Cruises
Falkland Islands & South Georgia Cruises
Cruises with Flights to Antarctica
Best Time to Visit Antarctica
Antarctica Cruise Cost
Things to Do in Antarctica
Places in Antarctica
Best Antarctica Cruise Lines
Antarctica Cruise Deals
Antarctica Cruise Reviews