There are only three real ways to get to Antarctica.
The first is to work there, but this is often reserved for scientists, researchers, construction workers and other trades required to operate government-run research stations on the continent.
The second – and most expensive – is to fly to one of the research stations for the day.
The third and most popular way is to take a ship from either the bottom tip of South Americ, from New Zealand or from Australia.
These voyages are usually guided tours of Antarctica, and you can either join a familiar cruise-ship style trip, or a more adventurous small-vessel expedition, run by companies like One Ocean Expeditions.
From South America, the journey to Antarctica by sea involves (at the very least) a two-day crossing through the Drake Passage, the narrow and historically dangerous stretch of ocean between Ushuaia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Don’t let a fear of the sea put you off though! With modern polar expedition ships, the passage is quite safe and the time spent on the ship is well worth the reward at the end.
A number of companies also run trips from New Zealand, but these are much longer, with more sea time, and come with higher prices.
If you have the experience and skills you can also sail on a private yacht to Antarctica, but the majority of people sign up for one of these amazing multi-day adventures with a reputable tour operator.
You can travel to Antarctica from Australia with a number of guided tour providers. Hobart, the capital of Australia's southernmost state, Tasmania, has for a long time been one of the gateways to the polar region for scientists and tourists alike.
Antarctica peninsula cruises typically take at least seven days (sometimes more) and are one of the cheapest ways to get there.
As to be expected, the winters in Antarctica are long, extreme, dark and cold. For this reason, the only people that visit the continent from May to September are usually scientists and researchers working for government organisations.
For regular passengers, October to April is the only viable time to visit Antarctica, with the months of December, January and February being considered peak season. During this time the days are longer, there is a higher chance of sunny weather, and much of the wildlife is quite active.
That’s not to say the shoulder season isn’t a great time to go. In October and November, the snow from the previous winter is still prominent, leaving the entire continent blanketed in a glorious, white coat. The wildlife is stirring at this time as well, so it’s an excellent time to see penguins and seals. March and April bring about the whale migration, where thousands of humpbacks make their way to warmer waters.
An added benefit of going in the shoulder season is the possibility of less people on your ship, placing less pressure on the ecosystem and often costing you less.