Things to Do in Antarctica

The Antarctic region or the South Pole may seem to be just one white gigantic barren wasteland with nothing to offer to tourists, but appearances can be deceiving. There are actually quite a number of things to do in Antarctica, activities that make it the ideal destination for adventure travelers.

For one thing, there’s the annual Antarctic Ice Marathon (1). Organized by Polar Running Adventures, the event is composed of several races including the 100-kilometer Ultra Race, the White Continent Half-Marathon, and the Antarctic Mile. Registration for the five-day event costs €9,900 and includes a round-trip flight from Chile to the South Pole, accommodation and food, entry to the races, and commemorative memorabilia like photographs and T-shirts.

Mountain climbing is another option for those looking for an athletic adventure in the Antarctic region. Two of the most challenging destinations for mountaineers are Vinson Massif or Mount Vinson (2), which is the highest peak in Antarctica, and Mount Jackson, known as the highest mountain on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Water sports such as kayaking are also on the list of things to do in Antarctica. Paddlers, accompanied by an experienced guide, are able to get up close and personal with some of the glaciers floating in the sea. And if the weather conditions are right, they may even go camping on the ice.

Extreme sports aren’t the only recreational options for tourists to Antarctica, however. The region is home to a variety of wildlife such as penguins, seals and whales, viewings of which can be organized. Guided tours to scientific research facilities like the British Antarctic Survey’s research stations are also available. The ceremonial South Pole located in front of the Amundsen-Scott Pole Station is likewise a popular destination for tourists.

These activities and other things to do in Antarctica are organized and offered by cruise companies and other organizations that are members of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO(3)). Formed in 1991 to ensure safe, ethical and environment-conscious travel to the Antarctic region, IAATO member companies such as Quark Expeditions and Adventure Network International, typically provide tours from November to March when temperatures are warmer and cruise ships can navigate the area more easily.


  1. Antarctic Ice Marathon Races
  2. Moutaineering and Rock/Ice Climbing in Antarctica
  3. Antarctica Tourism: FAQ