A heart shaped iceberg photographed in Antractica.

Best time to visit Antarctica for amazing photos

Antarctica is a photographer’s paradise, offering stunning landscapes, unique wildlife, and a sense of untouched wilderness unlike anywhere else on earth. However, depending on your specific photography goal, you may want to put some thought into the best time to visit this stunning corner of the world!

In this article, we’ll explore the best time to visit Antarctica for photographers, discussing the different seasons, weather conditions, and photography opportunities available during each. Whether you’re a landscape photographer seeking dramatic ice formations, a wildlife photographer hoping to capture penguins in their natural habitat, or simply an adventurer looking to document your journey, we’ve got you covered with tips and insights for planning the perfect photographic trip to Antarctica.

Seasons in Antarctica

Antarctica has two distinct seasons: summer and winter. Summer runs from October to March, while winter spans from April to September. Each season offers unique opportunities for photography, but there are significant differences between the two.

Antarctic Winter

The winter months in Antarctica, from the end of March to the end of October, are a quiet and isolated time on the continent. Temperatures during this season can plummet down far below freezing, with the coldest months being June and July.

In short, you are unlikely to be able to visit Antarctica during the Antarctic winter months!

Antarctica is inaccessible to tourists during the winter months due to a combination of factors. One of the main reasons is the harsh weather conditions, which can make travel and exploration of the continent extremely challenging and dangerous. During winter, the continent is subject to fierce winds and blizzards that can make even the shortest journey perilous. Additionally, the darkness that shrouds the continent for long periods during the winter months can make it difficult to navigate and explore safely.

Another factor that makes Antarctica inaccessible to tourists during the winter months is the presence of sea ice. The Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica is home to vast expanses of sea ice, which can make it difficult for ships to reach the continent’s coastline. The presence of sea ice can also make it challenging to access certain areas of the continent, such as the Weddell Sea or the Ross Sea.

Sea ice blocking access to a landing site in Antarctica.

At a time when it’s possible for thirty people to stand on the top of Everest in one day, Antarctica still remains a remote, lonely and desolate continent. A place where it’s possible to see the splendours and immensities of the natural world at its most dramatic and, what’s more, witness them almost exactly as they were, long, long before human beings ever arrived on the surface of this planet. Long may it remain so.

David Attenborough

Antarctic Summer

The summer months in the Antarctic Peninsula, from October to March, are the most popular time for tourists (and photographers) to visit the continent. The temperatures are at their warmest, with average highs around freezing, and the sun almost never sets, offering 24-hour daylight midway through the season. This makes it an ideal time for photographers to capture the stunning landscapes, unique wildlife, and dramatic ice formations that Antarctica is famous for.

During the summer months, tourists can explore the continent by ship, taking in the awe-inspiring scenery of the Antarctic Peninsula, including towering glaciers, jagged icebergs, and snow-covered mountain ranges.

There are also many opportunities for wildlife photography, with colonies of penguins, seals, and seabirds thriving in the summer months. Additionally, summer offers a chance for adventurous travellers to take part in activities such as kayaking, camping, and hiking, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the unique and pristine environment of Antarctica. From the photographers’ point of view, these activities can also offer different vantage points and perspectives.

However, it’s important to note that, since summer months are the only time of year tourists can access the continent, it can be busy, and it’s important to plan your trip early.

A penguin running towards four people dressed in red jackets.

The best time to visit Antarctica for your photography goals

Here, we look at all the months, most Antarctica cruise lines and tour operators offer trips to the frozen continent and discuss the types of photography each month is best suited for.

October: clean white landscapes

October marks the very beginning of the summer season in Antarctica, with longer days and milder temperatures. It’s a great time to capture the icy untouched landscapes. The scenery is very pristine and white, as the penguin colonies are just starting their activities on the continent.

October is also the best month to see Crabeater seal cubs.

Note though, that October is colder, and due to ice conditions around the continent, the landing opportunities may be more limited. However, you are likely to capture the biggest icebergs and the most pristine of Antractica’s scenery from the deck of your ship.

People taking photos of Antractica's landscapes from the deck of the ship.

November: penguins build nests & lay eggs

November is when the peak tourist season begins in Antarctica, with warmer temperatures and longer days. This is an excellent time to photograph the many species of wildlife that call Antarctica home, including seals, whales, and various species of penguins (they begin building their nests and lay their eggs at the end of the month).

November is also a time when Albatrosses return to the Antarctic skies and Elephant Seals begin their courting rituals (visit South Georgia Islands for the best sightings!).

December: All-round month for photographers

December is the height of summer in Antarctica, with nearly 24 hours of daylight and the warmest temperatures of the year. This is an ideal time to capture images of the dramatic landscapes and ice formations, as the glaciers are actively calving as the temperature increases.

Wildlife is abundant too:

  • Humpback whales migrate back to Antarctic waters
  • Leopard, Crabeater, Weddell & Elephant seals are often seen on ice floes with their cubs. pups are commonly seen on ice floes
  • Penguins, petrels, and cormorants are busy laying eggs and taking turns sitting on their nests.
  • Late December is when penguin chicks begin to hatch in Antarctica, creating a fantastic opportunity for wildlife photographers.
  • In the Falkland Islands, penguin chicks begin to hatch in early December, providing another great opportunity for photographers.
  • On South Georgia Island, fuzzy brown King penguin chicks are hatching and starting to develop, making for an adorable and unique photo opportunity.
  • During this time, Wandering albatross are returning to South Georgia Island to lay eggs, offering a chance to capture these majestic birds in their natural habitat.

We think December is the best time to visit Antarctica for varied photography opportunities, including iceberg, bird and snowy landscape photography.

January: Less ice, but more wildlife

January is a great time to capture images of the diverse and abundant wildlife that can be found in Antarctica, including colonies of Adelie, chinstrap, and gentoo penguins. There are plenty of newly hatched penguins to photograph.

Penguin feeding frenzies are common during this time as parents bring back food from the sea for their young – a sight not to be missed!

You may also be able to capture images of seals basking in the sun or whales breaching in the water.

What is more, due to higher temperatures, sea ice opens allowing for more landing sites (and, hence, more wildlife photography opportunities).

In addition to penguins, baby Antarctic terns are also hatching, presenting yet another photo opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts.

Baby seals are often seen lounging around with their parents during the summer months, offering a chance to capture their cute and playful behaviour.

A seal sunbathing on a sheet of ice.

As the summer progresses, the chances of spotting whales in Antarctica increase, providing a breathtaking and unforgettable photo opportunity.

South Georgia Island boasts the highest population of King penguins in the world during this time, making it an ideal location for photographing these magnificent creatures.

February: whales, chicks and breathtaking sunsets

February is the month for whale-watching enthusiasts to visit Antarctica. This is the optimal time to witness whales (orca, minke and humpback) in their natural habitat, as well as observe moulting penguin chick activity on the shore.

With the days getting shorter, visitors are treated to breathtaking sunrises and sunsets featuring the majestic tails of whales. While the weather is starting to cool down in February, it’s still an ideal time to visit before autumn sets in.

A penguin on an iceberg.

Orca whales arrive during this time to feed on seal pups and penguin chicks, providing an opportunity to observe their hunting and feeding behaviour.

With abundant populations of fur seals, visitors to Antarctica are treated to the sight of these cute and playful animals basking in the sun.

Elephant seals are also a common sight during this time as they come ashore to moult, offering a chance to observe and photograph these massive creatures up close.

On South Georgia Island, King penguin chicks are beginning to moult, providing a unique opportunity to capture them as they transition into adulthood.

March: large penguin rookeries and Aurora Australis

March marks the end of the tourist season in Antarctica, with cooler temperatures and shorter days. However, this is an ideal time to capture images of the unique and pristine landscape as the snow and ice begin to reform after the summer thaw.

You may also be able to capture stunning images of the Aurora Australis as the nights grow longer and the skies darken.


Antarctica is a breathtaking destination that offers endless opportunities for photographers looking to capture stunning landscapes, unique wildlife, and dramatic ice formations. Although Antarctica is only accessible to tourists for less than half a year, each of the months provides unparalleled photo opportunities. By choosing the best time to visit Antarctica for your specific photography goals and carefully planning your trip, you can have an unforgettable experience and capture photos that will last a lifetime.

Whether you are a professional photographer or simply someone who loves to take photos, Antarctica is a destination that should be on every photographer’s bucket list.

Gentoo penguins swimming in the water.

Other articles about Antarctic photography

I hope our article helped you choose the best time to visit Antarctica based on your personal photography goals. Here are some other articles you may like:

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