Antarctica is a mysterious icy continent surrounding the South Pole, at the ends of the earth. It’s also on the bucket list of many intrepid travelers. Among the first questions travelers consider is how to get to Antarctica. The answer is not as difficult as it seems.

They best way to get to Antarctica is to cruise or fly. Cruises to Antarctica depart from Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Flights to meet your ship in Antarctica depart from Chile.

Here we answer common questions about how to get to Antarctica, with a focus on cruises from Argentina and fly cruises from Chile – the most common and therefore easiest way to get to Antarctica.

IN THIS POST – HOW TO GET TO ANTARCTICA:

How Hard is it to Go to Antarctica?
How to Get to Antarctica – by Ship
How to Get to Antarctica – by Plane
Starting Your Journey
Passport & Visa Requirements
The Best Way to Get to Antarctica

How Hard is it to Go to Antarctica?

How hard is it to get to Antarctica? With a little planning it is not hard at all. The easiest way to get to Antarctica is to fly to Ushuaia, Argentina and take an Antarctica Cruise. Indeed 90% of all visitors to Antarctica get there this way. You can also fly to Antarctica as part of a tour or cruise.

There are many ways to get to Antarctica. Read on to learn how to go to Antarctica from South America, U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand the U.K and Europe. 

How to Get to Antarctica – by Ship

Specially outfitted tour operators run a fleet of purpose-built Antarctica 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.

Cruise to Antarctica From South America

Ushuaia, Argentina is the most popular port used to get to Antarctica. Ushuaia, also known as the end of the world, is well worth a visit. We recommend travelers arrive early to avoid any tight connections and to enjoy the southern tip of South America.

Some cruises will also depart from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, or Port Stanley, Argentina, in the Falkland Islands.

  • How Far is Antarctica from South America?
    The Antarctic Peninsula lies just over 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the port of Ushuaia, Argentina. The Antarctic Circle is about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from Ushuaia. 
  • How Long Does it Take to Get to Antarctica from South America?
    The voyage from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula takes about 2 days by small ship. Most cruises will make this crossing each way. So, a typical 11-day cruise will include 4 days crossing the Drake Passage and 7 days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula. 

Cruise to Antarctica from Australia & New Zealand

Each year a handful of specialty cruises may depart from Australia and New Zealand. These are true expeditions and take much longer than cruises from South America.

The most common embarkation points in New Zealand are Invercargill and Dunedin. Cruises from Australia typically depart from Hobart, Tasmania.

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 Far is Australia from Antarctica?
    The Antarctic continent is over 1600 miles (2,600 kilometers) from Australia. The Ross Sea is over 2100 miles (3,500 kilometers) from Australia. 
  • How Long Does it Take to Get to Antarctica from Australia?
    The crossing from Australia to Antarctica can take up to 7 days depending on weather. 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.  

How to get to Antarctica – by Plane

For travelers short on time, or those prone to seasickness, flying over the Drake Passage is the best way to get to Antarctica. This cuts out 1.5-2 days of cruising through potentially rough seas. Options are limited, and some departures cruise one way and fly the other.

Punta Arenas, Chile, is the most popular departure point for Antarctic air cruises. These trips utilize flights to cross the Drake passage, landing on King George Island near the Antarctic Peninsula. Travelers then embark the ship in Antarctica.

  • Can You Fly to Antarctica?  
    Yes, you can fly to Antarctica, but only in conjunction with an organized tour or cruise. Flying is a great way to get to Antarctica because it avoids the potentially rough crossing across the Drake Passage. There are no commercial flights to Antarctica. Antarctica air cruises utilize one-way or round-trip flights from Punta Arenas, Chile, to the Antarctica Peninsula where guests board a ship. Specialty tours to Antarctica’s interior utilize flights.
  • Is There an Airport in Antarctica?
    There are no commercial airports in Antarctica. There are numerous landing strips associated with research stations. Antarctica air cruises utilize the airstrip at the King George Island Antarctica airport. This landing site is associated with Chile’s Frei Station. This relationship is the reason why flights to Antarctica originate in Punta Arenas, Chile. The flight from Punta Arenas, Chile, to King George Island near the Antarctic Peninsula takes about two hours.

Starting Your Journey: 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 get to Antarctica. There are several daily flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and Santiago to Punta Arenas.

Transfers in Buenos Aires and Santiago

  • Transfers to/from Buenos Aires and Ushuaia:
    Buenos Aires has two airports. International travelers will arrive at Ezeiza International Airport (EZE). Flights to and from Ushuaia (USH) operate out of the Jorge Newbery Airpark domestic airport (AEP). So a transfer 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.
  • Transfers to/from Santiago and Punta Arenas:
    International travelers will arrive at Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, also known as Santiago International Airport (SCL). Flights to and from Punta Arenas also depart from this airport making connections easy. 

STARTING YOUR JOURNEY:

From the U.S.A.
From Canada
From Australia
From New Zealand
From the U.K. & Europe

Get to Antarctica From the U.S.A.

  • To Buenos Aires:
    The most popular flight routes from the U.S.A. to Buenos Aires depart from New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Boston.
  • To Santiago:
    The most popular flight routes from the U.S.A. to Santiago, Chile, depart from Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and New York.

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.

Get to Antarctica From Australia

  • To Hobart:
    If you are on a specialty cruise departing from Hobart, Tasmania, there are numerous options. Popular flight routes depart from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. Most travelers from Australia will fly to South America to get to Antarctica from there.
  • To Buenos Aires:
    There are no direct flights from Australia to Buenos Aires. Travelers getting to Antarctica from Australia might consider connecting through Auckland, New Zealand, or through Santiago, Chile. 
  • To Santiago:
    Flights from Sydney, Australia, to Santiago, Chile, operate four days each week. Once in Santiago there are regular daily flights to Punta Arenas, Chile (or Buenos Aires, Argentina). 

Get to Antarctica From New Zealand

If you are on a specialty cruise departing from New Zealand there are numerous options, depending on your departure port. Most travelers from New Zealand will fly to South America to get to Antarctica from there.

  • To Invercargill or Dunedin:
    Most specialty cruises from New Zealand will depart from Invercargill or Dunedin (therefore, 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:
    There are four direct flights each week from Auckland, New Zealand, to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • To Santiago:
    Flights from Auckland, New Zealand, to Santiago, Chile, operate four days each week.

Get to Antarctica From the U.K. & Europe

  • To Buenos Aires:
    There are numerous flights from Europe to Buenos Aires each day. Popular routes depart from London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome.
  • To Santiago:
    There are numerous flights from Europe to Santiago each day. Popular routes depart from London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid and Barcelona.

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. 

Conclusion – 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. Our experts are here to teach you how to visit Antarctica and to help you get there.

MORE ANTARCTICA RESOURCES

Antarctica Travel Guide – How to Choose Your Antarctica Cruise
Best Time to Visit Antarctica
Antarctica Cruise Cost
Things to Do in Antarctica
Places in Antarctica
Can You Visit Antarctica? And Why Go
Antarctica Ships
Antarctica Cruises
Best Antarctica Cruise Lines
Luxury Antarctica Cruises
Antarctica Cruise Deals