Top 10 Things to do in Alaska
Nature dominates every aspect of life and travel in Alaska. It’s a big, rugged landscape where you can really get away from it all.
Here are our 10 favourite things to do in the Wilderness State when you visit. Use our itinerary ideas as a guide or we can tailor make a trip to suit you.
1. Go on a bear viewing walk in Katmai National Park
Of all the incredible wildlife that you’ll find in Alaska, bears are truly the star attraction. Hotspots include: Katmai National Park, home to 2,000 brown bears; Admiralty Island where the highest concentration of brown bears in the world live; and Kodiak Island where you will find around 3,000 brown bears so large that they merit their own special name, Kodiak bears. There’s also an abundant population of black bears.
Our collection of bear watching holidays and excursions to this remote state offer fantastic opportunities to see bears in their natural habitat. For a truly special experience, join experienced guides to observe (from a safe distance) grizzlies fishing, digging for clams, grubbing for roots and grasses, socialising or raising their young.
Itinerary idea: Ultimate Alaska Wildlife Safari »
2. Watch for whales and more in the Kenai Fjords
Alaska’s wildlife is as abundant in the water as it is on land, with several species of whale in particular calling in on their migrations up the coast of North America. Humpbacks, orcas, grey, minke, fin and even beluga whales can all be seen off the coast of Alaska during the year. Head out on a whale watching boat trip in the Kenai Fjords, Frederick Sound or Icy Strait to experience some of the best marine wildlife encounters in Alaska.
Itinerary idea: Glaciers, Grizzlies and Whales »
3. Visit in winter for an active adventure & the iconic Iditarod race
Alaska’s wild beauty is as appealing in winter as in summer – it’s a great time to visit for active adventures and warm welcomes. Soak in hotsprings and try all manner of activities from snowmobiling to skiing – as well as the most famous way to get around Alaska in winter – husky sled.
Alaska is home of the gruelling Iditarod sled dog race, which runs over 1,049 miles through some of the roughest, toughest wilderness terrain in North America from Anchorage to Nome. We offer a taster of this race, as well as the chance to try mushing your own huskies (in more relaxed circumstances!) on our Alaska winter adventure itineraries. The state is well equipped for winter; the Alaskan Railroad still chugs through dramatic landscapes softened by a blanket of snow – and roads are well maintained too.
Itinerary idea: Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race »
4. Watch the Northern Lights in the wilderness
Alaska sits within the auroral oval, and away from the towns and cities the big, dark skies offer excellent opportunities to view the northern lights. We like the Chena Hot Springs Resort where you can soak in natural hot water, and take an evening excursion travelling on board the Chena snow-coach. Head to the top of the hill for uninterrupted views and keep your fingers crossed for a dazzling display of the Northern Lights.
Itinerary idea: Northern Lights and Hot Springs »
5. Ride the Alaskan Railroad
The iconic Alaskan Railroad runs from Seward on the coast, 470 miles inland to the city of Fairbanks. The train an ideal alternative to driving, allowing you to sit back and enjoy travelling through some of Alaska’s most spectacular scenery, as you take in Whittier, Anchorage, Talkeetna and Denali National Park en route.
Itinerary idea: Alaskan Railroad Adventure »
6. Cruise the Inside Passage
Famed for its marine wildlife and spectacular icy scenery, the Inside Passage is a long-time favourite cruise destination – with good reason. Alaska’s coastline stretches for 6,640 miles with an abundance of fjords, glaciers, marine mammals and seabirds along the way. We offer cruises on small and mid-sized vessels which allow up-close wildlife encounters, as well as reach hidden corners inaccessible to larger cruise vessels. Glacier Bay National Park is a key attraction, whilst the coastal town of Sitka offers a fascinating glimpse into Alaska’s culture and past.
Itinerary idea: Inside Passage – Alaska Fjords & Glaciers »
7. Self-drive through epic landscapes
With the amount of breathtaking scenery that Alaska boasts, it’s just as well the one of the key benefits of a fly drive is the flexibility to stop along the way to take in magnificent views, delve into local history, and uncover hidden gems along the way. Hit the road for memorable drives along the Richardson Highway, renowned for its breathtaking scenery; the legendary Alaska Highway, which passes right through Canada’s Yukon and down to British Columbia; or the aptly-named Top of the World Highway from Canada into Alaska. Self-drives can be combined with ways of getting around Alaska (such as taking the Railroad, ferries and floatplane flights) so contact our Travel Specialists to discuss your options.
Itinerary idea: Alaska by Rail, Road and Sea »
8. Get cultural with visits to remote communities
Visiting Alaska’s remote communities is fascinating – you can visit one of Alaska’s most remote outposts, the frontier town of Nome on the wild coast of the Bering Sea in a flightseeing day trip from Anchorage. The town has a fascinating history that blends Eskimo culture and gold-rush quirks. Alternatively, visit Alaska’s northernmost settlement of Utqiagvik, formerly Barrow and the small community of Coldfoot from Fairbanks; this trip provides a memorable flight over Alaska’s vast and seemingly endless Arctic wilderness and the chance to stay overnight in the Alaskan arctic too.
Excursion idea: Discover Utqiagvik in a Day, Fairbanks »
Excursion idea: Discover Nome in a Day, Anchorage »
9. See Alaska from the sky on a floatplane or bushplane excursion
As well connected as Alaska is on land, some locations such as the capital city Juneau and the remote communities along the Aleutian Islands, are accessible only by plane or boat. Even if you’re not heading to these areas, don’t miss the chance to see Alaska from above on an unforgettable scenic flight. Soaring over braided glacial rivers and towering peaks (perhaps to Mt McKinley’s summit) gives you the chance to appreciate the magnitude of Alaska’s scenery as well as access its remote corners when you touch down to land.
Excursion idea: Experience McKinley by Air, Talkeetna »
10. Take a day cruise for a taster of glaciers and wildlife
Alaska’s ferry network, the extensive Alaska Marine Highway System, is a fantastic way to get a taster of the state’s waterways. It’s not just whales in these waters; sea otters, porpoises, dolphins, seals and sea lions – plus bald eagles, countless seabirds and more call Alaska’s coastline home. Savour the experience on a dedicated excursion though and you’ll be rewarded with a day you’ll never forget. One of our favourite routes is across Prince William Sound where not only will you get a chance to spot wildlife, but you’ll cruise past the incredible slight of ancient glaciers meeting the water, calving icebergs and the forests and mountains that stand watch.
Excursion idea: Prince William Sound Cruise, Whittier »
Feeling inspired and ready to start planning your trip?
Search all our Alaska holidays to find the right one for you, call us or send an enquiry now and we can help you choose, or tailor-make your ideal itinerary.