Travelling to Antarctica from the UK


What Does 2021, 2022 & 2023 look like in Antarctica?

The future looks bright white as we gear up for the Antarctic season to take off after a massive halt due to Covid19. Multiple ships plan to operate their departures out of Punta Arenas and Ushuaia, heading back to the beautiful Antarctic Peninsula. How exhilarating it will be for the lucky few first explorers back down to the Great White Continent. After a break from visitors, Antarctica will be buzzing with wildlife and a fresh crispness in the air.

Antarctica From The UK

Thinking of travelling to Antarctica from the UK? There are 3 different ways to get to Antarctica from the UK, find out what each travel option entails…

Cruise in Antarctica on a sunny day.

Cruise in Antarctica on a sunny day. Photo credit: shutterstock

1.Cruise to Antarctica from Ushuaia

The first and most common way to get to Antarctica is to sail from Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina. The most direct way to get there from the UK is to fly in to Buenos Aires and then take another flight down to Ushuaia from there. British Airways offer the only direct flights from the UK out of Heathrow in to Buenos Aires (14 hours) otherwise there are many options that go via European hubs or Sao Paulo (16 – 18 hours). Buenos Aires has 2 airports with most international flights arriving in to Ezieiza (EZE) while most domestic flights go in or out of Aeroparque Jorge Newbury (AEP) which therefore means it’s recommended to spend at least 1 night in Buenos Aires before taking the flight down to Ushuaia (3.5 hours). It’s also recommended to spend at least 1 night in Ushuaia prior to the cruise as there can often be delays to flights heading there and the cruise ships won’t wait around for you!

Buenos Aires

City view of Buenos Aires

The standard Classic cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula will generally take 10-12 days but the longer trips which also include the Falkland Islands and South Georgia will last up to 22 days so depending on the cruise you have chosen will deter the overall length of your trip.

Take a charter flight from South America to Antarctica

Penguins and Elephant Seals on the shore of the Falkland Islands. Photo credit: shuttestock

When returning to Ushuaia at the end of your cruise it’s possible to fly back up to Buenos Aires the same day. You will however need to stay another night in Buenos Aires before taking your flight home the following day.



Night view of Ushuaia, the most south city in the Patagonia

You may also wish to tag on other destinations in Argentina before or after your cruise to make the most of the region while you’re there. Aside from Buenos Aires and Ushuaia there’s the magnificent Iguazu Falls, the famous Perito Moreno glacier in El Calafate and the wine growing region of Mendoza, a few examples which are all worth a visit.


Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Waterfalls

2. Fly/Cruise to Antarctica from Punta Arenas in Chile

The second option to get to Antarctica is from Punta Arenas in Chile. Departures from here will usually be fly cruises with flights either going directly to King George Island in Antarctica or to Port Stanley in the Falklands and then sailing across from there. If taking this option the most direct route from the UK is to fly in to Santiago and then down to Punta Arenas from there. British Airways have recently launched their longest direct service in to Santiago (14.5 hours) otherwise there are various options via European hubs (17-20 hours). From Santiago it’s a 3.5 hour flight down to Punta Arenas. It’s recommended to break the journey up with a stay in Santiago where you may also like to visit the wine region or Valparaiso but for those with limited time it is possible to get all the way down to Punta Arenas in one journey.

Fly and cruise to Antarctica with Chimu

It’s the most expensive option but perfect when you don’t have a lot of time: fly and cruise to Antarctica. Photo credit: Chimu stock

The fly cruise options can vary in length from 6 to 16 days and it’s usually worth adding a night in Punta Arenas at the end of the trip in case of any delays on the flight coming back. It’s possible to fly up to Santiago and connect with your flight home on the same day but its recommended to break the journey up with at least 1 night in Santiago.

Atacama Region

Sunset in the Atacama Region

You may also wish to explore more of Chile while there and options include the stunning Torres del Paine National Park, the Atacama region and Easter Island to name a few.

Spectacular sunset in Antarctica

Sunset in East Antarctica

3. Antarctica Cruise from Hobart in Australia

The third and final way to visit Antarctica is to sail from Australia (Hobart) or New Zealand (Bluff or Invercargill). This is not particularly common for British passengers because of the distances and costs involved but for those looking for something a bit different it offers a fantastic option. If sailing from New Zealand you fly to Auckland or Wellington and then connect to Invercargill. If sailing from Australia you travel to Sydney, Brisbane, Perth or Melbourne and then connect to Hobart.

These cruises will generally last 26 to 31 days and allow you to explore the eastern side of Antarctica and the which the cruises departing from South America are generally not able to offer. Depending on ice conditions and the cruise itinerary, you may also get the chance to see the famous Mawson’s Huts.

Adelie penguins

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Dreaming of seeing the world’s last untouched continent with your own eyes? We offer a range of Antarctica cruises and flights to suit all budgets and travel styles, and endeavour to match you up with the most suitable expedition option for you. From epic voyages to the Ross Sea to classic cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula and flights to Antarctic islands, our range of adventures is as varied and enticing as the icebergs you’ll no doubt come across! For more information Contact us today, or speak to a Destination Specialist from our London office. 

For more facts and all things Antarctica, check out our Antarctica Resource Centre.

Author: Simon Evans