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Best time to visit Anchorage

The best time to visit Anchorage depends on the activities you want to do and how much you enjoy the cold weather.

The city is generally considered to be at its best in the summer (June to August) when the skies are clearer, temperatures are mild and there are extended daylight hours to explore.

Just note that the summer is also one of the busiest times of the year.

Weather in Anchorage

Anchorage is located in Alaska's Southcentral region and has a subarctic climate. This means it's cool throughout the year. Even in July, at the height of summer, average highs climb to 17°C and drop to 10°C at night. Winter in Anchorage is cold with sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow.

Spring (March-May)

Best for: wildlife watching (especially grey whales), wildflowers.

Spring is a great time to see whales as they return to feed in the rich waters surrounding Anchorage. Wildlife are also more active after their winter hibernation, and you might be lucky to see adorable moose calves coming out of their dens in the tundra.

Spring weather can be unpredictable, but toward the end of the season there are many clear days with little rainfall. One thing to note about spring is that it can be very muddy due to rapid snowmelt, especially in April, so take extra care if you're out hiking.

Summer (June-August)

Best for: hiking, cycling, wildlife spotting, festivals.

There are up to 20 hours of daylight around the solstice in June, so summer is prime time for hiking, cycling and exploring Alaska’s great outdoors. The downside of summer is that it coincides with the peak cruising season, so you might end up paying more for hotels or find it hard to get a room unless you book in advance.

Wildlife viewing is fantastic in the summer, from salmon returning to the waters en masse to beluga whales swimming close to the shore to hunt.

The events calendar is also jam-packed, including a seven-day Pride festival in June, the renowned Spenard Jazz Fest and the Alaska State Fair.

Autumn (September-November)

Best for: seeing the northern lights, hiking, autumn colours.

The temperatures drop considerably in autumn and there's a fair amount of rain, so you'll need plenty of warm layers and a waterproof coat. On the flip side, you’ll miss the summer crowds and hotel prices typically drop. The northern lights start appearing again as the nights get darker – but if this is on your bucket list, you have a greater chance of seeing it in winter. Autumn is a great time to go hiking as you'll have a backdrop of golden foliage in Chugach State Park, Eagle River and Psalm Lake.

Winter (December-February)

Best for: skiing, snowshoeing, mushing, seeing the northern lights.

Winter is the quietest time in Anchorage, but there’s still plenty going on. Plus, the cold weather is the perfect excuse to enjoy the city's cosy pubs, restaurants and craft breweries.

Thanks to heavy snowfall, it’s a great time to go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and mushing (dogsledding with huskies). It’s also the best time of year to see the magical northern lights.

Accommodation is more widely available and rates are usually a bit cheaper. Be sure to check out the city's winter festivals including the Anchorage International Film Festival.

Our tours in Anchorage