11 of the Best Things to do in Antarctica

Antarctica is fast becoming the supreme travel destination for the true adventure traveller. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, so people are seriously going to want to take advantage of all the things to do in Antarctica.

best things to do in Antartica
Seeing penguins is one of the best things to do in all of Antarctica

A visit to Antarctica seriously makes for the best bar conversation and bragging rights out of all your friends.

But there’s a lot more to Antarctica than just ticking off a list for bragging rights.

Antarctica is filled with great beauty, an abundance of wildlife, and a ton of fun and adventure.

You can visit Antarctica any way you like these days, from luxury vessels, to expedition ships and icebreakers. Antarctica has it all.

best things to do in antarctica expedition ship
Leopard Seal Waves at our ship

11 of the Best Things to do in Antarctica

Travel to Antarctica has come a long way baby and you don’t have to spend your time on a cot somewhere in the back of a research ship either.

There’s actually a lot of amazing things to do in Antarctica that make it the pinnacle of travel destinations.

And you don’t have to spend your day sitting on the deck looking for wildlife, there are tons of ways to explore the continent.

1. Kayaking

things to do in Antartica kayaking
Dave floats past a sleeping seal

When Quark Expeditions offered us the chance to go kayaking in Antarctica I didn’t know what to expect.

I was nervous about kayaking in such cold water and I thought that maybe we’d get out on the water once or twice during the cruise.

We ended up kayaking 8 times in Antarctica and it was magnificent.

We floated quietly past leopard seals sunning themselves on ice flows, we circumnavigated icebergs floating in the middle of the sea, and we paddled with penguins jumping through the air at the front of our boats.

It was an extraordinary way to quietly explore the Antarctic Peninsula and it was the adventure of a lifetime as we paddled through brash ice and along the wild Antarctic coast.

Read more about Kayaking – our favourite thing to do in Antarctica


2. Polar Plunge

If you asked me what I thought of the polar plunge while I was taking part in this zany adventure, I would have told you not to do it and it’s the lowest thing to do on my list.

However, now that I am home and in the comforts of a warm and cozy house, I say it’s one of the top things to do in Antarctica.

Why? Because how often do you get to tell people that you jumped into sub-zero waters in the South Pole and lived to tell the tale.

It’s the extreme spectrum of adventure travel and not many people will be able to top you once you’ve told them you survived the polar plunge.

Wondering what an Antarctica trip is like? Check out our Antarctic Expedition Explained


3. Camping

Few people have traveled to Antarctica and even fewer have actually stayed overnight on the continent.

People sleep on expedition ships or fly to Antarctica to step on the land, but not many people have actually camped in a bivy sack, in the middle of the snow beside snoring leopard seals.

Camping on Antarctica is a must.

Yes, it’s cold, it’s uncomfortable, and you can’t eat, drink, or pee on Antarctica, but once you are back on board your ship after surviving a night as the early explorers did, you’ll be filled with pride and gratitude that you never have to do that again.

Camping on the Continent is one of the best things to do in Antarctica, read more about it here. 


4. Zodiac Tours

things to do in Antartica zodiac tours
Astounding zodiac tours

Most expeditions to Antarctica will offer zodiac tours of bays and icebergs.

Seeing whales, seals, and calving glaciers from a zodiac is a moment you won’t soon forget.

We loved scooting around icebergs and puttering through thick brash ice in search of extraordinary formations and incredible wildlife.

Getting off the ship to see things in an intimate manner is a must.

We had whales surface right beside our boats and then dive underneath for a closer view. We looked at these great mammals in the eye as they seemed to give us a friendly hello.

See more of what it’s like on a Zodiac Tour in Antarctica


5. Mail a Letter at Port Lockroy

things to do in Antartica mailbox
Mailing a letter home from Antarctica

Stopping at Port Lockroy is a fun stop on an Antarctica itinerary.

It’s a spot where you’ll run into other expeditions and get the chance to talk with the staff of the English research station.

There you can browse the museum, play with the penguins and buy some souvenirs and even post cards that can be mailed from the bottom of the world to your loved ones at home.

Read all about it at – A Post Office in Antarctica?


6. Visiting Penguins

Speaking of penguins. A highlight of any Antarctica visit is to interact with penguins.

These are truly the cutest animals on the planet and watching them go about their daily lives will bring joy to anyone’s heart.

They waddle through their penguin trails making their way to the sea in frantic fashion.

It’s adorable to see the energy of penguins rushing about doing their business.

Mothers protect their chicks and penguins call out to one another.

But the most memorable of all penguin encounters are when you sit quietly and let the curious creatures approach so close that they end up walking on your legs or picking at your coat.


7. Deception Island

things to do in Antartica deception island
Oil barrels of Deception Island

One of the most ominous things to do in Antarctica is to visit Deception Island.

Deception Island is one of the safest harbors in Antarctica that just so happens to be an active volcano.

Deception Island is the caldera of said volcano and back in the day, it was an old whaling station.

Here on the shores of the island, you will see old oil drums, boilers, and whale bones from a darker time. It’s as horrifying as it is beautiful.

For more read The Ominous Deception Island


8. Cruising the Lemaire Channel

things to do in Antartica sunset
Sunset over the Lemaire Channel

Nicknamed the Fuji Funnel, Kodak Canal and Agfa Alley the Lemaire Channel is one of the top things to do in Antarctica for photographers.

If you took photographs pre-digital world, you will be familiar with Fuji, Kodak, and Agfa; all popular brands of film.

During our passing through the narrow channel, we spent hours standing outside on deck taking photographs of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.

Antarctica is truly the final frontier of natural beauty and the Lemaire Channel is the most beautiful of the top destination. Now that’s saying a lot.


9. Photograph Icebergs

things to do in Antartica iceberg
Antarctica is a beautiful place to take photographs

Speaking of photography, one of the greatest things to see on earth is actual icebergs.

Before going to Antarctica, we had never seen an iceberg in the ocean.

In Antarctica, the ice is massive, colorful, and it creates some of the most interesting formations.

At one point we took a cruise through an iceberg graveyard where icebergs have grounded on the bottom of the sea and this is the spot where they will spend the final days breaking apart in the water until they dissolve into nothing.

It’s eerie and beautiful all at once.

Check out our photographs of Icebergs in 23 Epic Photos of Antarctica Ice


10. Whale Watching

things to do in Antartica whale
Whale tail in Antarctica

I don’t think there is a better place on earth to watch whales than in Antarctica.

Here whales have no fear of man and they are the top of the food chain. Therefore, they have no reason to hide.

Whales haven’t been hunted in Antarctica for decades, so when they see a kayak, zodiac or ship, they don’t run the other way, they come in for a closer look.

Seeing a whale in the wild is a magical experience and when traveling to Antarctica, you can get so close to them, you can almost reach out and touch them.

During one of our days at sea, we had a mother and calf follow our ship and the calf continued to breach for 45 minutes putting on a dazzling show for the spectators on board.


11. Cross the Drake Passage

things to do in Antartica sea spirit
These ships were made to cross the Drake Passage

Okay, so it’s not in Antarctica, but to get there you have to cross one of the most treacherous bodies of water on the planet.

Crossing the Drake Passage is truly a badge of honor.

If the weather is calm, it’s uneventful and easy, if the seas are rough, the Drake Passage will set you on a rumble and tumble two-day journey that will turn even the most seasoned sailor into a ball of mush.

We had a smooth crossing out, but coming back to civilization was another story and our crew told us it was one of the worst of the season.

How do we know it was bad? When Dave went down for dinner one night, only 2 other passengers joined him in the dining room.

Throughout a very rough day, lectures were canceled due to passengers and crew alike stuck in bed with a bad case of seasickness. It’s a rough ride, but it makes for a great travel tale.

things to do in Antarctica meet the penguins
Dave gets to know the locals
best things to do in Antarctica
things to do in Antarctica Icebergs

So there you have it. These are the top things to do in Antarctica according to Dave and Deb.

We did every one of these excursions and adventures and we can attest that they are magnificent.

Some of them are better in retrospect (hehem, the polar plunge) others were pure perfection from beginning to end. The Antarctic is astounding.

You will be in awe from beginning to end and you will talk about this journey for years to come.

It’s been 3 years since we were in Antarctica and we still can’t stop talking about it.


Read More:

Arctic or Antarctica, how do you choose your polar expedition?

Antarctica Travel Guide

Camping on Antarctica

How to Pack for an Antarctica Cruise

Amazing Antarctica in Photos

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

21 thoughts on “11 of the Best Things to do in Antarctica”

  1. Were you being literal when you said that you cannot eat, drink or pee in Antarctica? Or was that just hyperbole, meaning that it was it’s really difficult to do those things but not illegal. Forgive my ignorance. 🙂

    Reply
  2. those snow it must be freezing cold out there, some people are just more adapted to cold weather than the others. But for my favorite beautiful animals like the eels, penguins and whale it’s definitely worth a visit. it’s great you two are living the live you truly love, that’s very courageous i must say.Thanks for sharing those exotic views.

    Reply
  3. Deception Island has such an enchanting and ominous aura and Lemaire Channel is breathtaking. Your post is so helpful . Great photograph. Thanks for sharing information exotic views.

    Reply
  4. Love your website! Such great information and stunning photographs! I’m in the early stages of research regarding cruise excursions to Antarctica, and came across Quark Expeditions a few times. I was wondering which of Quark’s itineraries you chose. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  5. Antarctica probably the most incredible locations on the planet.Though investigating hundreds of excellent skiing conditions the idea have to be snowy frosty around, some are even more tailored that will cold weather ?n comparison to the other individuals. Particularly the best delightful canines for example the penguins not to mention whale it’s positively valued at a call. Many thanks for the excellent publish as well as superb image.

    Reply
  6. All of these suggestions are beautiful and intriguing! Deception Island has such an enchanting and ominous aura and Lemaire Channel is breathtaking. And the whale watching is such a unique and fun way to connect with wildlife! Great post.

    Reply
  7. Antarctica must be an amazing place to visit even though looking at all those snow it must be freezing cold out there, some people are just more adapted to cold weather than the others. But for my favorite beautiful animals like the eels, penguins and whale it’s definitely worth a visit. it’s great you two are living the live you truly love, that’s very courageous i must say.Thanks for sharing those exotic views.

    Reply
  8. Gorgeous pictures but I will say, polar plunge looks really terrifying. I am not sure that i have guts to plunge in such icy cold water. I don’t how these guys do it, it’s truly madness.

    Reply
  9. You’re right on! Antarctica is truly a breathtaking place to visit – one of the most amazing places in the world we’ve cruised to. Your post brings back fond memories! Seeing thousands of penguins waddling about and tobogganing down icy slopes on their tummies was the best :-). The Drake Passage not so – it was quite rough for us (though seasick medication did the trick).

    Reply
    • Glad we could bring back some memories for you. We had a very rough crossing on our way back from Antarctica and although unpleasant, I say it’s a badge of honour. It’s bragging rights that you survived the Drake Passage and lived to tell the tale. So, Congratulations! 🙂

      Reply