As Antarctica is in the Southern Hemisphere, summer occurs from December to February and winter falls between June and August. The Antarctic is only accessible during the warmer months – generally between December and March – when the sea ice melts enough for expedition vessels to cruise through Antarctica's waters. 

The warmest month in Antarctica is January. Coastal areas experience milder weather, with summer temperatures generally reaching a maximum of 5° to 15°C (41 to 59°F), with long periods of sunlight. Due to its polar position, it can stay light all day long. Around the time of the summer solstice, some areas record 24 hours of sunlight each day. So, if you're travelling in summer, perhaps pack an eye mask for sleeping.

On the west coast of the continent (the Pacific Ocean side), the temperature reaches above 0°C (32°F) for three to four months during summer and rarely falls below -10°C (-14°F) during winter. On the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula (the Indian Ocean side), it's much colder, with average temperatures sitting at 0°C for a month at most and winter temperatures ranging from -5°C to -25°C (23 to -13°F). In winter, average temperatures are usually between -10°C and -30°C (14 to -20°F) near the coast, falling to below -60°C (-76°F) on the high interior plateau, with long periods of constant darkness. The coldest temperature ever recorded on earth was in Antarctica in 1983, with -89.2°C (-128.6°F) at Soviet Vostok Station in inland Princess Elizabeth Land. Severe low temperatures vary with latitude, elevation and distance from the ocean.

This weather plays a major role in any breathtaking experience in Antarctica. And don't fear – when you travel on an Intrepid Antarctic tour you'll be equipped with warm gear and have a heated vessel to keep cosy on during your adventure. 

Why is Antarctica called a desert?

Usually, any place on earth that receives less than 250 mm of rainfall each year is classified as a desert, because without enough rainfall the land won't have enough vegetation cover to support human life. Antarctica receives, on average, around 160 mm of rainfall yearly, with coastal regions and the Antarctic Peninsula receiving more than the high interior. Most of Antarctica's precipitation falls as snow due to its low temperatures, but some rainfall is recorded along the coast, especially in summer. That's why Antarctica is recognised as a polar desert!

When is the best time to visit Antarctica?

Click here to read more Antarctica FAQs

Our tours in Antarctica

11 Days From 9720

Capture the essence of the Antarctic Peninsula and its incredible islands aboard the...

11 Days From 9470

Set off on an 11-day expedition on board the Ocean Endeavour, revealing the landscapes...

11 Days From 11810

This is one Christmas you’ll never forget – journey to Antarctica on board the Ocean...

14 Days From 14660

Take an adventure of a lifetime to the Antarctic and beyond. Cross the Antarctic Circle...

14 Days From 12468

Experience the rare opportunity to explore both the eastern and western sides of the...

21 Days From 19470

Embark on a 21-day Intrepid expedition including the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia...

21 Days From 21108

Explore South Georgia, the Antarctic Peninsula and the Falkland Islands with Intrepid...

Tailor-Made trips

Take two or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

12 Days From 9720

Take to Antarctica on an 12-day expedition on board the Ocean Endeavour via Puntas...

14 Days From 15720

Join Intrepid and special guests from the World Wildlife Fund-Australia’s whale...

11 Days From 10976

Join Intrepid and special guests from the World Wildlife Fund – Australia’s whale...

11 Days From 9080

Follow the whales of Antarctica as they migrate south on this 11-day expedition cruise,...