We are often asked when is the best time to travel to Antarctica. The answer is that every month is exceptional and offers different and breathtaking experiences. Each period has its charms, so choosing is a challenge. Ultimately, the ideal time to visit depends on what you want to see or whether you want to do a particular activity. To help you make this choice, we offer you a comprehensive guide.

October / November

Antarctica undergoes a remarkable transformation from late spring to early summer. After a long winter with plenty of snowfall, when the first ships arrive at the beginning of the season, the landscape remains untouched and pristine. Nevertheless, the penguins must patiently wait for the snow to melt before they can begin building their nests.

An exciting aspect of this time is witnessing the sea ice environment, featuring pack ice and ice floes, which may harbor seals resting on the frozen surfaces. However, it’s important to note that some areas, such as channels, bays, and landing sites, can be blocked by ice.

The temperature at this time of the year is between -7 to 2°C (20-36°F), and you can see beautiful ice sculptures like ice floes and icebergs that haven’t changed since winter.

You might have a chance to see whales, but they are rare because they’re still traveling from warmer waters to the Southern Ocean for food during this time. In November, the Falklands/Islas Malvinas become vibrant with colorful wildflowers on the green hills. In South Georgia, you can watch cute elephant seal pups on the beaches and later see fur seals.

Overall, these months offer a fascinating experience, where you can see penguins and other animals courting and nesting in the beautiful Antarctic landscape.

Leopard Seal©LorenaBerutti Leopard Seal ©Lorena Berutti

December / Early February

December to early February marks mid-summer in Antarctica, bringing longer days with up to 20 hours of daylight and relatively higher temperatures ranging from -2 to 4°C (28-39°F). Glaciers calve more frequently, and there is less snow on the shores and rocky cliffs.

During this time, penguin eggs are ready to hatch, and you can observe fluffy chicks snuggled under their parents’ legs. The parents take turns traveling between the water and their nests to feed the young.

In January, adult penguins lose their old feathers and look like fuzzy pillows while looking after their chicks. Seals and their cute pups can be spotted resting on the shores or sea ice, and the chances of seeing whales get higher as they come around.

In early February, more whales come, giving you better chances to see them than at the start of the season. The sea ice begins to melt, creating open channels for travel. But remember, some areas may still get blocked by ice because of how the sea ice and ocean currents work, regardless of the time of year.

It is a perfect time to witness incredible animals.

Gentoo Penguins © Lorena Berutti

Mid- February / March

From mid-February to March, summer is ending in Antarctica. The days get shorter, but whales come to feed, making it a wonderful time for whale-watching. Seals rest on the beach, and adult penguins molt their feathers.

In late summer, adult penguins have new feathers, and their chicks grow up and start swimming. Whales come in large numbers to eat krill. You might see colorful snow algae thriving in the sun, adding extra colors to the white landscape. And the sunrises and sunsets create beautiful pink and orange hues on the ice.

As summer says goodbye, the Adelie penguins leave first, allowing the chicks to finish feathering; they are the only ones who exhibit this behavior. Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, on the other hand, depart after their chicks have already fledged.

Travelers can have a great time taking the best photographs.

During the season, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in various activities and explore Antarctica through photography, snowshoeing (Nov/Dec), camping (until mid-Jan), and kayaking.

Humpback Whale_Paradise Harbor©LorenaBeruttiHumpback Whale, Paradise Harbor © Lorena Berutti