Iceberg shape sitting on an iceberg.

21 reasons why you should go to Antarctica

If you ever toyed with the idea of going to visit the white continent, we are here to provide you with a multitude of reasons why you should visit Antarctica as soon as you possibly can! The experience of going to the most remote location in the world was the best thing we had done in all of our years of travel (we continue to call it a trip of a lifetime). And the beauty of it is, that Antarctica has something for everyone (well, maybe not the party people). So here we go – our top reasons why go to Antarctica (and a few reasons why you shouldn’t)… 

A snowy mountain top in light clouds in the Lemaire Channel.

Why go to Antarctica?

1. Get up close & personal with Antarctic wildlife

Going to the Antarctic Peninsula, you are guaranteed to see a lot of wildlife. The beauty of it is that the majority of the animals are not scared of people, they are actually curious to get to know you. 

Antarctica is a unique haven for wildlife enthusiasts, where you can get up close and personal with a captivating array of creatures in their natural habitat. Adelie, Gentoo, and Chinstrap penguins waddle and slide along the icy shores, providing endless entertainment with their charming antics. 

The elusive leopard seals, with their sleek, predatory grace, offer a thrilling sight as they patrol the waters, while elephant seals and fur seals bask on rocky beaches. Crabeater seals and their adorable seal pups can be spotted in their icy nurseries too.

Humpback whales breach and sing their melodious songs. And don’t forget the majestic minke whales, gracefully gliding through the frigid waters. In Antarctica, the chance to connect with such a diverse range of wildlife is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, making it an absolute must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts.

Humpback whale tail with water dripping before it re-enters the water.

2. The most stunning landscape you’ll ever see

Antarctica offers a landscape unlike any other on Earth, characterized by its pristine beauty and awe-inspiring grandeur. From towering, ice-covered mountains to vast expanses of untouched snow and ice, the sheer scale of Antarctica’s icy wilderness is humbling. Exploring this remote location will allow you to witness nature’s artistry at its finest, making it an unforgettable destination for those looking for the most stunning and unspoiled landscapes our planet has to offer.

Hiker at Deception island.

3. Learn about and see the impact of climate change

Visiting Antarctica provides a front-row seat to the stark realities of climate change. Here, you can witness firsthand the impacts on our planet as the Antarctic ice sheet, a critical component of Earth’s climate system, undergoes visible transformations. Observing shrinking glaciers and diminishing ice shelves serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for global action to combat climate change. It’s a perfect opportunity to deepen your understanding of this critical issue and inspire greater environmental awareness and responsibility.

4. Go whilst it’s still there and open for tourism

Visiting Antarctica now, while tourism is still permitted, is of utmost importance due to the looming spectre of climate change and its impact on the region. With climate change leading to more unpredictable weather patterns and environmental shifts, the window of opportunity to experience Antarctica’s wonders may be closing rapidly. Travelers today have a unique chance to witness this pristine wilderness before it becomes increasingly challenging, or even impossible, to access. By taking advantage of this time, we not only savour the experience but also underscore the urgency of protecting Antarctica for future generations before the effects of climate change further limit our access to this remarkable destination.

Ship aproaching Antarctica.

5. Visit all seven continents of the word

If one of your life goals is to visit all the continents in the world, you absolutely cannot do it without setting foot on Antarctica – the 7th continent and one of the most remote places in the entire world. 

6. Get away from civilization

Antarctica, at the far end of the southern hemisphere, offers an unparalleled escape from the trappings of civilization. As one of the world’s most remote destinations, it truly feels like the end of the world, providing a sanctuary far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In this pristine wilderness, there are no politics, no wars, and certainly no supermarkets—just a serene and untouched landscape that allows you to disconnect and find solace in the heart of nature.

A woman on deck of the ship with Antractic landscape in the background.

7. Serenity at its purest

A trip to Antarctica brings a sense of peace you rarely find elsewhere. The quiet, untouched views make you feel calm and thoughtful. Activities like whale watching and admiring icebergs in the icy waters are breathtaking and connect you with nature. Plus, many Antarctica expedition cruise ships have a hot tub onboard that allows you to relax while surrounded by the serene beauty of Antarctica. It’s a place where your mind finds peace, away from the noise, letting you enjoy the untouched beauty all around.

8. Perfect destination for soul searching and self-reflection

Antarctica is one of the best places for soul-searching and thinking things through. In this peaceful land, with icy shores and vast open spaces, introspection comes naturally. 

If you are going solo, dive into self-discovery amidst its untouched beauty. It’s like your own personal retreat, allowing you to ponder life’s big questions and find clarity in the midst of Antarctica’s tranquil expanse.

9. Photography opportunities abound

Antarctica is a photographer’s dream, with its longer days during the tourist season giving you plenty of time for incredible shots, whether you’re into landscapes, wildlife, or abstract photography. Going on a small ship is a big plus—they can squeeze through tight spots like the awesome Lemaire Channel, a jackpot for photography enthusiasts. Being closer to the shores means you can get unique angles for your shots too. For more information about photography in Antarctica, head to Antarctica photography tips: a guide for stunning photos.

Gentoo penguins making loud noises with a mountain behind in the distance.

10. For the adventure and outdoor activities

Antarctica cruises aren’t just about sightseeing—it’s an adventure! You can dive into the icy waters with a polar plunge (we braved the frigid waters in Deception Island and had a great time), making memories that’ll last a lifetime. Kayaking amidst colossal icebergs or even camping on the snow offer a rush like no other. Whether it’s the adrenaline of a polar plunge or the tranquillity of camping under the Antarctic skies, it’s a prime opportunity to turn a trip into an unforgettable experience full of heart-pounding moments and unique outdoor escapades.

Kayakers in the waters close to Orne Harbor in Antarctica.

11. Experience the roughest sees in the world

A trip to Antarctica means tackling the infamous Drake Passage, known for its wild waves—it’s like riding the rollercoaster of the seas. This stretch in the Southern Ocean can be a bit rocky, giving you a taste of some serious swells and rough waters. Brace yourself for an adventurous sail through the Drake Passage, where the ocean’s wild side shows its true colours.

A gps tracking map from Ushuaia to Antractic Peninsula sailing via Drake Passage.

12. First-class education

Antarctica cruises are typically focused on education, rather than entertainment. If you are looking for a trip that will enlighten you and enrich your brain with facts about Antarctic ice sheets, the impact of global warming, native animals of Antarctica and invasive species and their effect on the biodiversity of the frozen continent over the years, an expedition to the 7th continent is for you!

A lecture about whales in a lecture hall.

13. History of great Antarctic exploration

The history of Antarctica is rarely part of the school curriculum, and the Antarctic cruise may be a wonderful way to fill the gaps in your knowledge about the world. On our Highlights of Antarctica cruise with Hurtigruten, we learned about great explorers like Roald Amundsen, Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott. 

14. Modern history of Antarctica

We also discovered the dark past of the whaling industry and modern-day international relations set out by the Antarctic Treaty System. Sailing past and exploring old research stations and the remains of the whaling stations added another layer to our education holiday. 

Whale bones sticking out from a rock surrounded by snow.

15. Birdwatchers’ paradise

Antarctica is a dream for birdwatchers. It’s home to loads of incredible birds, like various types of penguins and albatrosses. You’ll see all kinds of seabirds too, from petrels to skuas, doing their thing in this icy land. What’s great is watching these tough birds survive in such a harsh place. They’ve got unique habits and ways of breeding that you won’t see anywhere else. Antarctica’s untouched beauty and the fact that it’s so remote make it a top spot for bird nerds who want a real, up-close look at their natural habitat. Interested in taking photos of birds? Read more about bird photography in Antarctica.

Blue eyed shag flying past the ship at port charcot.

16. Be a part of the scientific community

Antarctic cruises aren’t just about sightseeing; they’re a chance to be a part of real scientific research. Many cruise lines have great projects where regular travellers like us can help out. You might collect water or ice samples, then check them out in the onboard science centre. On a Hurtigruten cruise, they even encouraged travellers to take pictures of clouds for NASA and snap shots of whale flukes to track their migration. It’s a wonderful way to feel like a scientist and contribute to understanding this incredible place while having an awesome adventure.

Expedition team member talking about bird feathers on Hurtigruten Antarctica cruise.

17. Romance at its best: experience polar sunsets

Imagine catching those polar sunsets, painting the sky in dreamy colors, all in that stunning, peaceful setting. On our Highlight of Antarctica cruise with Hurtigruten, we had honeymooners soaking it all in, and honestly, who can blame them? It’s like stepping into a postcard, the kind of place that makes you feel like you’re in a movie scene. So yeah, if you’re up for breathtaking views and sharing cosy moments in a picture-perfect setting, Antarctica’s got that romance game strong.

A ship within the Lemaire channel at sunset.

18. Massive icebergs that will blow you away

Encountering colossal icebergs in Antarctica astounded us at every turn. From the ship’s deck, their towering majesty captivates, gleaming in iridescent hues as they carve through crystalline waters. On landings, these frozen behemoths stand as silent sentinels, offering a surreal backdrop to the rugged landscape at each landing site. Cruising aboard Zodiac boats, you’ll navigate with awe through a labyrinth of icy giants, feeling the sheer magnitude as they dwarf the vessel. Each perspective — shipside, from shore, or in the intimate proximity of Zodiac boats — crafts an indelible encounter, an invitation to witness nature’s breathtaking sculptures in their most magnificent form, drawing you to the heart of Antarctica’s frozen wonders.

An icicle on the iceberg structure in Antarctica.

19. Meeting like-minded explorers

Let’s be honest, not everybody dreams of going to Antarctica, right? Going on an Antarctic voyage unveils a community of fellow passengers bonded by a shared passion for adventure. The exclusivity of small ships that cruise in Antarctica fosters intimate connections, allowing travellers to mingle and truly get to know their fellow adventurers.

20. Experience the midnight sun

Antarctic tourist season which spans from October to March boasts long hours of daylight. During the Antarctic summer months, you can, therefore stay up late and experience the midnight sun. Wondering when the best time to go to Antarctica is? Visit our Month-By-Month Antarctica Guide

21. All the things you will see on the way

Going to Antarctica is a long trip no matter where your starting point is. The majority of Antarctic cruises start in South America. We personally spent two days in Buenos Aires, before flying to Ushuaia, where we boarded the ship. Other cruises start in Punta Arenas, Chile. Before you get to your final destination, you are sure to see a lot of beautiful places. Depending on the itinerary of your voyage, you may sail in the scenic Beagle Channel, visit sub-Antarctic Islands (like Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island), and visit a bunch of smaller South Shetland Islands, like the famous volcanic Deception Island

Deception island hikers taken from the ship.

Reasons Not To Go To Antarctica

  • To mingle with the polar bears: you will need to go towards the North Pole for that!
  • To have a party cruise experience: Antarctic expedition cruises do not typically have any traditional entertainment (like Broadway shows) nor do they have clubs or dance floors. 
  • If you cannot deal with changes in itinerary: sea ice and constantly changing weather conditions in the polar regions often mean that itinerary changes last minute. You also need to consider the fact that medical evacuation and any technical issues with the ship would mean turning back immediately.  
  • To relax: If your ultimate goal is to relax on your holiday, there are cheaper locations to do that. To understand the costs involved, go to our article on How Much Antarctica Cruise Costs!

Let’s Go! Where Do I Start?

First, decide on the best time to go to Antarctica based on what your personal goals are. Antarctic summer is the only time of year that tourists can safely travel and explore the continent. If you need a little help deciding on the best months during the tourist season to visit, head to our dedicated article on When Is The Best Time To Go To Antarctica

Second, understand what you’re getting yourself into (in a good sense). Here are some great articles to get you started:

Research Antarctica cruises, including different cruise lines, expedition ships, itineraries and the starting points of the expedition. 

And start planning: from getting the right clothes to the best photography gear for Antarctica, and the more boring things like travel insurance and getting the doctor’s note that you’re fit enough to travel (yes, that’s right, many cruise lines require medical screening before the trip!). 

A zodiac boat going towards Hurtigruten MS Fridtjof Nansen.

Bottom Line

An Antarctic expedition cruise had been on our bucket list for years, and… after we came back from the trip, it stayed on our bucket list. We are desperate to go back for more (and we have never gone to the same place twice, convinced that the world is too big to go back). Where to next? The South Pole? Mount Erebus? 

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