When to Visit Antarctica

What is the Best Time to Visit Antarctica?

When should you visit the Antarctic Peninsula and Sub-Antarctic Islands? Antarctic wildlife is most active during the Austral summer (November to February). Wildlife are also active in the islands near Antarctica (the Sub-Antarctic Islands) during October and March. These months—October to March—are the ideal time to visit the Antarctic region. Most cruises operate in Antarctica only during these months.


Early Austral Spring

  • In the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, summer arrives earlier than in the South Shetlands or the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Seabirds and marine mammals begin mating rituals and breeding on these islands in October.
  • As this is “shoulder season” for Antarctic visitation, landing site cancelations due to sea ice and high winds are more likely.

November & December

(Austral Spring to Early Summer)

  • Landing sites are at their most pristine; snow is still fresh, with little evidence of human visitation.
  • In the Sub-Antarctic islands and on the Antarctic Peninsula, penguins begin mating rituals, nest building, and stone stealing.
  • Penguin, cormorant, and petrel eggs are laid.
  • By the end of December, penguin chicks hatch in the South Shetland Islands.
  • The golden hours of dawn and dusk extend, allowing for spectacular landscape and sea-scape photos long into the night.
  • Some research stations open to visiting guests
  • Crabeater seal pups arrive from September to November. Elephant seals guard their beach territories and harems until December.
  • Weaners (elephant seal pups no longer being fed milk) may approach visitors at landing sites.
  • Large migratory whales (humpbacks, minke, and southern right whales) arrive during these months.
  • The winter sea-ice breaks up, allowing navigation between ice floes.
  • During November, landing site cancelations due to sea ice and high winds are more likely.

January & February

Austral Summer

  • Penguin rookeries are full of life: chicks are hatching and parents are feeding them.
  • Fur seal and leopard seal pups have arrived.
  • Whales are at their most numerous.
  • Receding ice allows for exploration farther south along the Antarctic Peninsula.


Austral Autumn 

  • Adult penguins molt and curious young penguins take to the seas.
  • Whale watching is still excellent! The migrating whales have mostly arrived, and the ocean is rich with food.
  • Receding ice allows for exploration to the deepest points south along the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Green and pink algae blooms become visible on snowy slopes and ice cliffs.
  • Spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
  • This is also the season when most Antarctic Circle cruises are scheduled.

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