ALASKA

Travel Guide

Prachi Agarwal 

Updated on 6th August 2019

Alaska is many things: the land of the midnight sun, home to grizzlies and United States' last frontier. It is the largest (& 49th) state in US bought from the Russians in 1867 for $7.2 million. The Aurora Borealis (northern lights), amazing wildlife, glacier landings and wide variety of breathtaking landscapes will leave you in awe. One can take it easy and enjoy Alaska on a cruise. Another way, maybe a better way is to drive around Alaska and soak in the raw wilderness. 

Best time to visit 

August, September

If you want to see Bears hunting for Salmon go in August, otherwise visit in September for Aurora Borealis. 

Approximate Cost

$$

~$3k per coupledepends on where you are flying from & the duration.

Top Experiences

Adventure, Nature

Alaska is a gorgeous place offering sights and landscapes that are breath-taking.

Best places to stay 

Fairbanks for northern lights

Talkeetna for Denali

         Currency 

Dollar, $

Visas & languages

English

Getting to Alaska

Alaska has three big airports: Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Fairbanks is ideal for Northern Lights, Juneau for the glaciers and cruises and finally Anchorage for everything else. One can also get into Alaska from Seattle via various cruises that run on a regular basis and save on airfare. 

Alaska is huge.  Public transport is not ideal. So the best way to see it is either via cruises or via driving. Some of the recommended seven-day cruises are 1) Norwegian Cruise Line 2) Disney Wonder for kids & 3) Celebrity Cruise

Illustration by Rena Ortega .

Accommodation

Collapse

Many tourists in Alaska rent recreational vehicles and sleep on the go. On a cruise, one doesn't have to worry about accommodation. Thus, if you end up driving a regular vehicle we suggest staying/fueling in the following locations: 1) Fairbanks for northern lights 2) Talkeetna for Denali and Denali glacier landing 3) Anchorage for a nice midpoint stop 3) Seward, the gateway to Kenai Fjords 4) Juneau for Mendenhall glacier, Tracy Arm fjord and other day cruises. 

Recommended Hotels/B&Bs

IMG_2709.jpg

Taste of Alaska Lodge

Fairbanks (B&B)

Seward Windsong Hotel

Seward (***)

Best Western Grandmas..

Juneau (***)

Find hotels in Anchorage via Booking.com

Top things to do

See

IMG_2746.JPG

Northern Lights 

One doesn't have to go all the way to Europe to see Northern Lights. Fairbanks is a great location to spot northern lights from September - March. 

shutterstock_1362773180.jpg

Denali National Park 

Spot amazing wildlife and the gorgeous Mt.McKinley. Bus tours run from May to September. Stay at Talkeetna for this activity. 

More Info

shutterstock_665352535.jpg

Medenhall Glacier Tour

Ice calving & whale watching are something you will witness while on a cruise to Mendenhall. Best time to visit is May - October.

More Info 

More things to see 

If time permits, add the following to your itinerary:

  • Matanuska Glacier, open all year. Drive from Anchorage. - More Info

  • Tracy Fjords tour from Juneau.

  • Inside Passage Cruise for amazing wildlife, Ketchikan (Salmon capitol of the world) and Sitka National Park for learning more about the native culture & history. These usually start from Seward, Whittier, Seattle or Vancouver. 

  • Go fishing in places like Homer, Ketchikan etc. 

  • Go dogsledding in Juneau or Fairbanks

  • Alaska wildlife conservation center - very enjoyable if you have kids. 

  • Chena hot springs near Fairbanks

IMG_2995.JPG

Glacier Landing

Fly over Mt. McKinley in the Denali mountain range and land on glacier for an experience of a lifetime. Stay at Talkeetna for this activity.

shutterstock_1189855072.jpg

Bears catching Salmon

Find Bears catch Salmon in Katmai National park. The best time to photograph these grizzly bears is from June to September. 

More Info

IMG_8973.JPG

Kenai National Park 

Hike the exit glacier, kayak along the fjords or cruise to see breathtaking wildlife. Stay at Seward to visit this park. 

More Info

Eat

Fairbanks

  1. Lemongrass Thai Restaurant

  2. The Cookie Jar 

  3. Jazz Bistro

Anchorage

  1. Glacier Brewhouse

  2. Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria

  3. Snowcity Cafe

Seward

  1. Woody's Thai Kitchen

  2. The Cookery

  3. The Highliner 

Popular Tours

Whale watching & Mendenhall Glacier

Talkeetna

Air Taxi

Prince William Sound Cruise - 26 glaciers

Harry Potter walking tour

Places on Google Map

Sample Itineraries

Basic Itinerary 

5 days: Denali, Anchorage, Seward, Whittier

7 days, May-August: Katmai, Denali, Seward, Whittier

7 days, September: Fairbanks, Denali,  Seward, Whittier

10 days, May-August: Katmai, Denali, Seward, Juneau

10 days, September: Fairbanks, Denali, Seward, Juneau

Detailed Itinerary 

7 days, no kids

Day 1: Fly into Fairbanks and check into Taste of Alaska. It’s an ideal B&B to view Northern Lights. Relax and enjoy Alaska your first night. Track the Northern lights on webcam from the comfort of your room. 

Day 2:  During the day, head to Chena Hot Springs & Ice Museum. Spend your night chasing Aurora either from the B&B or Creamery field, Chena Lake etc. 

Day 3: Check out of your B&B early in the morning and drive down to Denali National Park. Take the Tundra Wilderness (8 hrs) tour inside Denali. Make sure to carry a zoom lens if you have one :). Stay at Sustina River Lodge

Day 4: Reserve the day to do the Denali Glacier Landing in the morning. Spend the rest of the day hiking or chilling. If short on time, head to Anchorage and discover the Capital of Alaska. 

Day 5: If time permits spend the day discovering museums and heritage centers. If short on time, head to Seward the same day. The drive from Anchorage to Seward is breathtaking. 

Day 6: Spend the day discovering Kenai Fjords national park. Hike the Exit glacier. Be careful though as bears are often sighted there. One can kayak the fjords or go fishing instead of hiking. 

Day 7: Glacier cruise from Seward or Whittier

Day 8-10: Add Juneau. Add Mendenhall glacier tour, Tracy Arm fjord, glacier hiking at Matanuska. You can skip the Whittier/Seward cruise if doing Juneau. 

Note: If going in June/July/August instead of September then replace Fairbanks with Katmai national park.

7 days, with kids

Day 1: Fly into Fairbanks and check into Taste of Alaska. It’s an ideal B&B to view Northern Lights. Relax and enjoy Alaska your first night. Track the Northern lights on webcam from the comfort of your room. 

Day 2:  During the day, head to Santa's house, Reindeer farm & Ice Museum. Spend your night chasing Aurora either from the B&B or Creamery field, Chena Lake etc. 

Day 3: Check out of your B&B early in the morning and drive down to Denali National Park. Take the Tundra Wilderness (8 hrs) tour inside Denali. Make sure to carry a zoom lens if you have one :). Stay at Sustina River Lodge

Day 4: Reserve the day to do the Denali Glacier Landing in the morning. Spend the rest of the day hiking or chilling. If short on time, head to Anchorage and discover the Capital of Alaska. 

Day 5: If time permits head to Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The kids will love seeing the animals up close. If short on time, head to Seward the same day. 

Day 6: Spend the day discovering Kenai Fjords national park. Hike the Exit glacier. Be careful though as bears are often sighted there. One can kayak the fjords or go fishing instead of hiking. 

Day 7: Glacier cruise from Seward or Whittier

Day 8-10: Add Juneau. Add Mendenhall glacier tour, Tracy Arm fjord, glacier hiking at Matanuska. You can skip the Whittier/Seward cruise if doing Juneau. 

Note: If going in June/July/August instead of September then replace Fairbanks with Katmai national park.