Places in Antarctica

May 25, 2021 • Mary Montalbano

The Antarctica landscape is vast. Any Antarctica cruise route will offer glaciers, icebergs, snowfields, volcanic mountains and picturesque bays, with some places in Antarctica playing host to research stations.  

The extreme weather necessitates a flexible itinerary, so no Antarctic traveler should plan to see specific places in Antarctica. However, selecting a region to visit from the various trips to Antarctica will improve your chances of experiencing your desired places to visit in Antarctica.

IN THIS POST – Places in Antarctica:
Drake Passage
Antarctic Peninsula
Antarctic Sound & Weddell Sea
Falklands & South Georgia
Antarctic Circle
West Antarctica
Australia & New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands
More Resources

Wondering where to go in Antarctica? Here we detail some of the best tourist attractions in Antarctica, by region. Contact our Antarctic experts for more info on these and other places in Antarctica, and the trips that may visit them.

Places in Antarctica: The Drake Passage

Most Antarctica cruises cross the infamous Drake Passage, located between the southern tip of South America at Tierra del Fuego and the South Shetland Islands that sit just off the Antarctic Peninsula. Travelers concerned with seasickness can opt to take an Antarctica air cruise, meeting the ship on the White Continent. Some air cruises fly one way and cruise the other.  

All routes travel past various South Shetland Islands, with Antarctica air cruises operating via the northern King George Island. Learn more in our How to Get to Antarctica primer.

Bow of blue & white ship slams down into rough seas while crossing the Drake Passage, one of the places in Antarctica.
Photo by: Adventure Specialist Taylor Cranney

Places in Antarctica: The Antarctic Peninsula

The majority of Antarctica cruises focus on the northwestern shoreline of the Antarctic Peninsula, cruising in the Bransfield Strait and/or the Gerlache Strait.  

Here are some places to visit in Antarctica on a peninsula cruise: 

Cuverville Island covered in snow with dark cliff features & tiny specks of penguins on a sunny day with water in the foreground.

Cuverville Island

This small, dome-shaped island is centrally located along the peninsula. It offers mosses and lichens, crabeater seals, leopard seals, Weddell seals, kelp gulls and skuas. Highlights include a gentoo penguin rookery and a high density of icebergs floating beside the island.

Neko Harbor, one of the places in Antarctica, with people perched atop a lookout point viewing the glassy water below on a cloudy day.

Neko Harbor & Paradise Bay

Neko Harbor and nearby Paradise Bay (also called Paradise Harbor) are the two ports at which cruise ships stop on the Antarctic Continent, located along the central portion of the peninsula. Paradise Bay hosts research stations. Both harbors have a whaling history and feature plenty of whales. These bays represent the Antarctica landscape at its finest, with glaciated mountains and waters.

British flag flies outside a dark tube of a building with penguins on rocks in front & people in yellow jackets beside on a sunny day at Port Lockroy in Antarctica.

Port Lockroy

Wiencke Island’s Port Lockroy is one of the more popular places to visit in Antarctica. Its decommissioned British base was kept secret during World War II and later used as a research base; today it hosts a museum, gift shop and the southernmost post office in the world.

Woman in yellow jacket stands on ship bow looking at the Lemaire Channel a stretch of glassy water with snow-covered, rocky mountains on either side, on a sunny day in Antarctica.

Lemaire Channel

The Lemaire Channel is one of the farthest south places in Antarctica that a peninsula cruise will visit. This 11-mile, narrow fjord is commonly photographed for its near-vertical peaks and massive icebergs. Leopard and crabeater seals are found here, as are humpback and minke whales, Antarctic shags and gentoo penguins.

Places in Antarctica: The Antarctic Sound & Weddell Sea

Many Antarctic Peninsula cruises will also travel into the Antarctic Sound at the northern tip of the peninsula. This sheltered area comes with its own navigational hazards – large icebergs floating in from the Weddell Sea to the east. Select itineraries focus on this region, one of the few places in Antarctica to view emperor penguins. 

Here are some places to visit in Antarctica on an Antarctic Sound and Weddell Sea cruise:

View out a plane window just behind the wing, looking down on the Larsen Ice Shelf, a place in Antarctica, with endless miles of snow tundra & a small inlet of water.

Larsen Ice Shelf

The Larsen Ice Shelf is a major contributor to the Antarctica landscape, but it is dwindling in size over time. This thick mass of floating ice is attached to the northeastern section of the Antarctic Peninsula, and is one of the sought-after places to visit in Antarctica due to its calving activity. The giant tabular icebergs that have broken off comprise some of the largest ever seen.

2 adult emperor penguins with white chests, black heads & orange & yellow necks stand with gray baby chicks at Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea, one of the places in Antarctica.

Snow Hill Island

Antarctic travelers seeking emperor penguins know that this is where to go in Antarctica. The approach can be difficult, with multi-year pack ice keeping ships far away, requiring helicopter landings. Only a portion of these departures are successful in viewing the largest penguins on Earth.

View approaching Paulet Island, a place in Antarctica, with its volcanic crater in the center, brown cliff walls & ocean with small icebergs floating out front.

Paulet Island

This small island in the northwestern Weddell Sea features a large Adelie penguin and blue-eyed shag rookery. The volcanic crater is striking from afar. On shore, travelers can appreciate a historic site with a stone hut where men from a research party were stuck for a winter.

Places in Antarctica: Falklands & South Georgia

Both the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island lie in the South Atlantic Ocean’s Scotia Sea, closer to South America than the Antarctic Continent. Considered part of the sub-Antarctic islands, these islands are popular with past Antarctica travelers as well as those interested in seeing wildlife from other places in Antarctica. 

Most Falklands and South Georgia cruises also travel into the Southern Ocean for time exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, but a select few itineraries focus on these specific islands. Learn more about these islands and their regional highlights, including Elephant Island and the rarely visited South Orkney and South Sandwich Islands, in our Falkland Islands and South Georgia cruises page and All About South Georgia Antarctica & How to Go primer. 

Here are some places to visit in Antarctica on a Falklands and South Georgia cruise:

Stone church with brick-red trim surrounded by green grass & hedges, white houses with green roofs & an orb-like gold arch, on a sunny day in Port Stanley, Falklands.

Port Stanley, Falklands

Almost all Antarctica itineraries that visit the Falkland Islands stop at Port Stanley (also known as Stanley or Port William). Being the capital, Stanley has the largest population in the Falklands and also an airport. Port Stanley’s protective bay was very attractive to whalers and naval officers of the past.

Photo by: Anthony Smith/Poseidon Expeditions, Antarctic Wildlife Adventure

Large colony of king penguins with silver backs, white fronts, & black & orange heads & beaks stands on a rocky beach at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

Salisbury Plain, South Georgia

Home to one of the largest king penguin colonies in the world, this northwestern stop along South Georgia offers a mind-boggling experience. A wall of penguins leads the eye from the pebbled beach, through the lush grasslands and tussocks, up into the surrounding hillside.

Photo by: Adventure Specialist Andrew Browning

Travelers in red jackets walk toward rusted equipment, over bright green grass along the water in Grytviken, South Georgia, on a cloudy day with volcanic mountains beside.

Grytviken, South Georgia

This picturesque bay along South Georgia’s northern coastline is home to massive amounts of wildlife, including king penguins, gentoo penguins, Antarctic fur seals, elephant seals, Antarctic terns, giant petrels and brown skua. Some itineraries include time to do the Shackleton Walk over the hill to Stromness, where Shackleton finally found help during the failed Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

Photo by: Adventure Specialist Andrew Browning

Places in Antarctica: The Antarctic Circle

A selection of our Antarctica cruises aim to cross the Antarctic Circle at 66°33´ S latitude, often then turning back north. Sea ice can get thick (and also amazing) south of this polar circle, so cruises here are scheduled at specific parts of the season. And the sun will never set here due to the latitude. A successful crossing therefore makes this one of the places in Antarctica worth toasting.

Close up of ship navigational coordinates on screen, showing 66 degrees south, or the Antarctic Circle, one of the places to visit in Antarctica.

Places in Antarctica: West Antarctica

To experience more of the Antarctica landscape, including places in Antarctica that few travelers venture to, look to West Antarctica itineraries. These long cruises travel through the Bellingshausen, Amundsen and Ross Sea. 

Here are some places to visit in Antarctica on a West Antarctica cruise: 

Sun sets behind a very tall blue shelf of ice known as the Ross Ice Shelf, one of the places to visit in Antarctica.

Ross Ice Shelf

The world’s largest ice shelf is currently around 182,000 square miles (the size of France). This tall tabletop of floating ice stretches nearly 500 miles north to south, and over 400 miles east to west. This wall of white, rising roughly 65 feet out of the water, is one of the more stunning places in Antarctica.

Photo by: ©PONANT – Morgane Monneret

Hundreds of emperor penguins & their chicks stand around on Le Commandant Charcot's emperor penguin cruise.

Bellingshausen Sea: English Coast

Gigtantic emperor penguin colonies are found along this section of West Antarctica. Special departures land in the pack ice and lead travelers over a desert of ice to reach these endemic penguins—the largest of their species.

Photo by: ©PONANT, Le Commandant Charcot Bellingshausen Sea Voyages

Places in Antarctica: Australia & New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands

Most West Antarctica cruises also include the Australia and New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands. These routes embark or disembark in Australia or New Zealand, travel along West Antarctica and connect to South America. These rarely visited islands are a birder’s paradise and offer unique species not found in other places in Antarctica.

Here are some places to visit in Antarctica on a route along the Australian and/or New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands:

Hundreds of royal penguins with bright yellow eyebrows walk along a pebbled beach with a few king penguins mixed in, at Macquarie Island.

Macquarie Island (Australia)

Sitting roughly halfway between Australia and Antarctica, Macquarie Island (or Macca) offers many endemic plant and animal species. This World Heritage site is also the only place on the planet where Earth’s mantle protrudes above sea level. Royal penguins, southern rockhopper penguins, king and gentoo penguins, various albatross species, elephant and fur seals are known to breed here in overwhelming numbers.

Photo by: Delphine Aures/Oceanwide Expeditions

A wooden walkway leads through tall shrubs in various shades of green & beige, leading to a tall summit cone on a cloudy day on Campbell Island, New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see for ornithologists. Watch for royal, wandering, Campbell, grey-headed, black-browed and lightmantled albatross; Antarctic terns; Snares crested penguins; erect-crested and yellow-eyed penguins. Sea lions, elephant seals and fur seals relax among lush vegetation.

Campbell Island. Photo by: ©Studio PONANT – Margot Sib

Our Advice: Where to Go in Antarctica

No Antarctica cruise ship or route can guarantee stops at specific places to visit in Antarctica, let alone the best tourist attractions in Antarctica. But careful selection and scheduling your trip for the best time to visit Antarctica may improve your odds of experiencing the Antarctica landscape to its fullest. 

No Antarctica cruise ship or route can guarantee stops at specific places to visit in Antarctica.

When planning your trip to Antarctica, consider factors beyond just places to visit in Antarctica. Antarctica cruise dealsAntarctica cruise cost considerations and things to do in Antarctica can help steer you in a specific direction.  

Or dive deeper into all of our Antarctica travel guide resources for more information and inspiration, including reasons to visit AntarcticaAntarctica cruise reviews and the best Antarctica cruise lines.  

Ready to chat through the places in Antarctica? Our experts have experienced these places firsthand and are ready to help you select from the options on our Antarctica cruise finder.

Antarctica Travel Guide
Antarctica Cruises
Luxury Antarctica Cruises
Falkland Islands & South Georgia Cruises
Cruises with Flights to Antarctica
Best Time to Visit Antarctica
Antarctica Cruise Cost
How to Get to Antarctica
Things to Do in Antarctica
Antarctica Ships
Best Antarctica Cruise Lines
Antarctica Cruise Deals
Antarctica Cruise Reviews

Comment on this post

Comments will be moderated and will appear after they have been approved.

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

  • Eileen Crawford says:

    Thanks for organizing the many details related to travel to this dream destination in a way that helps to answer questions I had not even asked myself yet! The added bonus of working with travel experts who have personal experience in Antarctica inspires my confidence in planning a trip that personalizes my itinerary.

    • AdventureSmith Explorations says:

      Our pleasure, Eileen. We visit Antarctica every year to keep our travelers in the know with our expert insights, personal stories and other destination knowledge. Be sure to read some of our Antarctica cruise reviews that further reflect our firsthand travel experiences in Antarctica from our expert Adventure Specialists. We have helped thousands of travelers choose, book and plan the right Antarctica trip and we can’t wait to take you there.

test message
View Wishlist