Alaska’s biggest city, Anchorage has something to offer all year round. Every season brings distinct weather, landscapes and activities and the best time to visit depends on your budget, what you want to experience, whether you can put up with bigger crowds. Oh, and how well you deal with the cold weather!

When is the best time to visit Anchorage?

The sweet spot is the shoulder season in March to May or August to November. You’ll beat the big crowds while getting to enjoy mild-ish weather and get outside. The rainfall is usually heavier in fall compared to spring, but you might experience some muddy slush in spring with melting snow and ice. 

How cold does it get in Anchorage?

If winter wonderland landscapes and cold weather is your thing, you’ll be in your element. Alaska gets pretty darn cold in the winter with daily highs hovering to the mid-20s. Anchorage can be stunningly beautiful in the winter if you’re willing to brave the cold weather.

Average temperatures in Anchorage

MONTH

AVERAGE HIGH (°F)  

AVERAGE LOW (°F)  

January 

23

14

February

26.6

17.6

March

32

19.4

April

42.8

32

May 53.6 42.8
June  59 50
July 62.6 55.4
August  60.8 53.6
September 55.4 46.4
October  42.8 33.8
November  28.4 19.4
December  24.8 15.8

Spring

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

Spring is a great time to see whales and other marine life around the coast as they return to the rich waters around Anchorage to feed. You can also see adorable moose calves coming out of their dens and frolicking in the tundra, and bears start becoming more active. Early spring still has wintery weather and you’ll be able to enjoy the snow and glaciers without the bitterly cold temperatures. The snow and ice start to melt in April and it can be a bit of a sludgy mess, but the plus side is that there’s not too much rain and the skies are clear. 

Summer

Best for: hiking, wildlife spotting, festivals 

The peak season is from June to August. The weather is mild and there’s plenty of daylight (up to 20 hours around the solstice!) which is great for hiking and exploring Alaska’s great outdoors. The obvious downside of mild weather is that cruise ships arrive carrying thousands of tourists on summer vacations. This also means you might end up paying more for hotels or find it hard to get a room unless you book in advance. Summer is also the best time to see wildlife in action. Salmon return to the waters en masse and you can see beluga whales swimming close to the shore to fish.

Anchorage also has a sizzling summer festival calendar with a seven-day pride festival in June, the renowned Spenard Jazz Fest and the 12-day Alaska State Fair.

Fall

Best for: seeing the northern lights, hiking

Fall experiences a fair amount of rain and the temperature drops to the…, so make sure you bring warm layers and a waterproof/windproof coat. That being said, you’ll miss the big crowds and prices should drop slightly. With the days drawing in, the northern lights begin to appear again, but if it’s on your bucket list you should aim for the end of fall as you have a higher chance of seeing them. The conditions are still pretty good for hiking and cycling, just be mindful that it starts getting darker earlier. 

Winter

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

Winter is the quietest time in Anchorage in terms of the number of tourists, but there’s still plenty going on. Heavy snowfall means it’s a great time to do winter sports such as 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. There are also some amazing winter festivals on including the Anchorage International Film Festival.

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