The globe’s coldest continent sees extreme temperature drops in winter, with the lowest recorded temperature -128°F. The largely desert landscape of Antarctica gets little rain, with the South Pole receiving just four inches of precipitation a year. The coastal areas have less severe temperatures than the interior or areas of high elevation, with summer highs of 60°F, but commonly receiving heavy snowfall and strong winds. Visitors will want to wear sunscreen as the strong UV rays are reflected off the ground by the snow. Summer sees 24 hours of sunlight, while winter sees the continent plunge into darkness.
Best Time to Visit Antarctica
Peak travel season in Antarctica stretches from mid-December to mid-February due to the long daylight hours, the calm seas and the superb wildlife viewing, with the chance to see newly hatched penguin chicks. Of course, with these advantages comes high cruise prices and little availability unless you book months in advance.
Other times to consider are the shoulder months of November to mid-December and mid-February to March. The former allows visitors to see Antarctica in a more natural state as the crowds have yet to arrive and icebergs are often at their best. Cruises at this time are generally cheaper and have more availability, but temperatures are colder, seas are rougher and there is less wildlife activity. Mid-February to March sees similar discounts, but is a poor time for spotting penguins. To compensate, it is the best time for whale-watching.
The continent is off-limits to regular visitors from April to October, the winter period, as ice prevents ships from accessing landing points. There is little daylight, strong winds, frequent storms, and extremely low temperatures.