Alaska travel guide

When to go, what to see and what to expect: your Alaska travel guide

Alaska is blessed by its location. With its upper half dipping into the Arctic Circle, it offers the rare opportunity to see the magnificent Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). This stunning phenomenon is delicate and fickle as it doesn’t always present itself (the aurora is most frequently seen in late February and early March). But when it does, in the quiet hours of the late night and early morning, it creates one of the most dazzling and inspiring images on earth. Witness these wisps of light in unexpected colour dance across the starlit Alaskan skyline and feel the awe of this majestic part of the world.

When is the best time to visit Alaska?

Long days and clear skies mean the best time to visit Alaska is between May and September. During these summer months, nature is at its peak and the temperature is at its mildest. That’s not to say there’s no chance of rain, however, as Alaska’s climate can be as unpredictable as the UK’s. The best time to see bears in Alaska is between May and September, particularly during July when the glacial meltwaters bring in a fresh supply of sockeye salmon to areas such as Denali National Park.

Why visit Alaska?

At around 1.7m sq km, Alaska is more than twice the size of the UK and France put together. This sparkling expanse, neighboured by Russia and Canada, offers daily moments of unique light, stillness and quiet unlike any place on earth, and clarity beyond compare – on a clear day in Denali National Park, the snow-capped mountains can be seen from 20 miles away. First established as a game reserve, Denali promises wildlife at every turn – grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and occasionally black bears and wolves can be spotted. Cruising from Valdez, wildlife is also abundant and the glowing glaciers are a reminder of Alaska’s unique position on the globe. Commonly seen on this quintessential Alaska preview are humpback whales, sea lions, harbour seals on floating ice, and maybe even land animals at times. Another great way to enjoy Alaska’s endless scenery is by train, watching the untamed wilderness from the comfort of the Alaska Railway.

This massive state is also well known for the iconic Iditarod National Historic Trail. Find out how goods were transported across great distances of cold and often dangerous land; check out Happy Trails Kennels – home of four-time Iditarod champion, Martin Buser, and his sled dogs. Take in the majesty of Kenai Fjords National Park, its vistas and sea life – perhaps witness glaciers calving into the sea, powerful whales, and playful sea otters.

“Catch of the day” can almost be taken literally in Alaska! Homer, the Halibut Fishing Capital of the world, is a dream destination for avid fishers. This state provides a unique opportunity to eat fresh meat and seafood, and sample flavours that can’t be found anywhere else. Food is a source of pride for the indigenous population of Alaska and it is not to be missed when traveling there. “Fireweed honey,” spruce tip syrup, and unique

Alaskan beers are just some of the flavours for sampling. Step out of everyday life and into the great Western frontier. This extraordinary state is an experience like no other – unparalleled power and beauty.

Alaska is the size of California, Texas & Montana combined, yet has fewer highway miles than Vermont. This sparkling expanse, neighboured by Russia and Canada, offers daily moments of unique light, stillness and quiet unlike any place on earth, and clarity beyond compare – on a clear day in Denali National Park, the snow-capped mountains can be seen from 20 miles away. First established as a game reserve, Denali promises wildlife at every turn – grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and occasionally black bears and wolves can be spotted. Cruising from Valdez, wildlife is also abundant and the glowing glaciers are a reminder of Alaska’s unique position on the globe. Commonly seen on this quintessential Alaska preview are humpback whales, sea lions, harbour seals on floating ice, and maybe even land animals at times. Another great way to enjoy Alaska’s endless scenery is by train, watching the untamed wilderness from the comfort of the Alaska Railway.

This massive state is also well known for the iconic Iditarod National Historic Trail. Find out how goods were transported across great distances of cold and often dangerous land; check out Happy Trails Kennels – home of four-time Iditarod champion, Martin Buser, and his sled dogs. Take in the majesty of Kenai Fjords National Park, its vistas and sea life – perhaps witness glaciers calving into the sea, powerful whales, and playful sea otters.

“Catch of the day” can almost be taken literally in Alaska! Homer, the Halibut Fishing Capital of the world, is a dream destination for avid fishers. This state provides a unique opportunity to eat fresh meat and seafood, and sample flavours that can’t be found anywhere else. Food is a source of pride for the indigenous population of Alaska and it is not to be missed when traveling there. “Fireweed honey,” spruce tip syrup, and unique

Alaskan beers are just some of the flavors for sampling. Step out of everyday life and into the great Western frontier. This extraordinary state is an experience like no other – unparalleled power and beauty.

Weather and climate in Alaska

Alaska has a subarctic climate resulting in cooler temperatures throughout the summer months. When traveling to the coast please keep in mind that the ocean breeze may give the sensation of colder temperatures. Higher elevations, like those found in Denali National Park will have drier air but may be slightly cooler than those found at lower elevations. We recommend checking local weather in each of your destinations prior to travel to ensure you are adequately prepared for the conditions.

To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures for Alaska.

 

 

 Anchorage

 Valdez

 Fairbanks

 January

 -21.5/-18°C

 -6/2°C

 -24/-14.5°C

 February

 -21/-16.5°C

 -5/3°C

 -21.5/-9°C

 March

 -6.5/2°C

 -3.5/5°C

 -17/-2°C

 April

 -0.5/7°C

 0/9°C

 -4.5/8.5°C

 May

 4.5/13°C

 3.5/12.5°C

 3.5/16°C

 June

 9/16.5°C

 7/15.5°C

 9.5/21.5°C

 July

 11.5/17.5°C

 9/16.5°C

 11/22°C

 August

 10/17°C

 8/16.5°C

 8/19°C

 September

 6/12.5°C

 5.5/13.5°C

 2.5/13°C

 October

 -1/5°C

 1.5/9°C

 -7/2°C

 November

 -7.5/-1.5°C

 -3/4°C

 -18/-8.5°C

 December

 -20.5/-17°C

 -4/3°C

 -22/-12°C

 

.

Alaska food and fun facts

Food specialties of Alaska

Enjoy some of the state’s specialties such as cold water seafood; like salmon, halibut, and Alaskan King Crab, or large game animal like moose, caribou, elk or bear. Sourdough bread is so popular that the word “sourdough” is slang for a person who lives in Alaska. For those with a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy all the amazing wild berries: blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries, salmonberries and more. Try some of the fresh made jams and jellies, pies, and chocolates.

Fun facts

  • Less than 1% of Alaska’s land is privately owned

  • Russia’s Big Diomede Island and Alaska’s Little Diomede Island are only three miles apart

  • Oil is Alaska’s leading industry, tourism is second

  • Alaskan fishing vessels catch more than 5 billion pounds of seafood annually

Things to consider before visiting Alaska

How to call Alaska: Country code

The country code for Alaska is +1. When calling to Alaska from overseas, dial your international access code, followed by the country code, area code, and phone number.

Alaska’s currency

In USA the local currency is the American Dollar ($).  In general, Alaska is more expensive than destinations in the continental United States. Although credit cards are widely accepted in the United States, we recommend our passengers carry some cash (~$50) to use in circumstances when credit cards are not accepted or in destinations where ATMs are not readily available.

Shopping in Alaska

Shop for Alaskan specialties: an ulu knife, beautiful hand-carved Totem poles, ivory, jade, and gold jewellery, native dream catchers and spirit masks, wild berry products, coffee table books, hats, scarves, mittens, and sweaters made from qiviut, the extra-soft and extra-warm under-wool from musk oxen. Make sure to stop by the Anchorage Market and Festival located at Third Avenue and E Street. On the weekend, there's no better place to shop for a variety of items including local art, souvenirs, jewellery, clothing, vegetables, and more.

When and how much to tip in Alaska

In USA, tipping is widely spread: the general rule is between 15 - 20% for bartenders or waiters ($1 - $2 a bag for porters). If in doubt, ask your Tour Director.

USA uses 110-120 volt power, so you may need a voltage converter, usually for appliances that heat up such as hair dryers and straighteners, However, you’ll definitely need a plug adaptor: USA uses a flat 2 or 3 prong plug. It’s better to have a two-prong adaptor which will fit either.

Browse our Alaska holidays

Available tours & cruises: 8

Select when you wish to depart and we will be able to show you all tours and cruises that depart on the day you have selected.

2019
2020