With its active volcanos, authentic gold rush towns, gigantic glaciers, and wildlife havens, there’s no shortage of amazing places to visit in Alaska. One for the travel bucket list, Alaska is truly breathtaking and voyages to this stunning part of the world are sure to leave you feeling enlightened and inspired.
While its snow-capped peaks and spectacular seafood are admired the world-over, many of its most interesting and beautiful spots remain a mystery to travellers. One of the best ways to see them all is on a luxury cruise, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises make sure of this with their unlimited shore excursions and experts guides onboard.
So, whether it’s gliding around Hubbard Glacier, watching humpback whales rise out of the North Pacific, cruising the Inside Passage, or studying Native American totem poles in Ketchikan, there’s something to pique your interest.
Check out our top picks for the most amazing places to visit in Alaska and prepare to set sail on an expedition of endless discovery…
1. Active Volcanoes in Anchorage
Situated at the terminus of the Cook Inlet in south-central Alaska, Anchorage is the largest city in the frozen U.S. state. It’s also the northernmost city in North America and sits at the base of the majestic Chugach Mountains, whose icy peaks provide a cinematic backdrop to the coastal city’s skyline.
Find a high vantage point, such as the highway system, and on a clear day you’ll see not one, but two active volcanos. Mount Spurr, located to the west of Anchorage, is roughly 10,000 years old and boasts a 5km lava dome at its summit. Mount Redoubt, further southwest of the city, stands at an incredible 8km above ground level and had its last eruption in 2009.
Watch the steam roll off these two geological wonders ― a sign that magma still bubbles deep within their chambers. An utterly unique feature of the Alaskan landscape, embark on a cruise of this stunning coastline and sail past these formidable formations on your way out of the Cook Inlet, into the North Pacific Ocean.
“Regent Seven Seas Cruises really excel in their Alaska programme. They offer a wide array of inclusive shore excursions that allow you to get to the heart of this incredible destination. You’ll experience its beauty close-up, all from the luxurious surrounds of Seven Seas Explorer.” – Denise, Luxury Cruise Specialist
2. Sail Around Hubbard Glacier
One of the largest tidewater glaciers in North America, Hubbard Glacier is an awe-inspiring sight. Stretching over 120km, this enormous body of ice shaves off huge icebergs into Disenchantment Bay and eventually into the Gulf of Alaska.
While the glacier can only be approached from a distance due to the risk of icebergs breaking off and rising to the surface of the water, travellers must see this epic block of ice with their own eyes to get a true sense of its scale.
Containing ice that’s over 500 years old, Hubbard Glacier is a major part of our geological history and remains on many a traveller’s bucket list. Drift past this natural phenomenon on a Regent Seven Seas Cruise and marvel at its glistening white façade from the stylish interiors of the ship’s Observation Lounge with a warming glass of Scotch in hand.
3. Visit the Gold Rush Town of Skagway
Step back in time with a visit to the old gold rush town of Skagway, where thousands of miners flocked to in the late 19th Century in search of the precious metal in Canada’s Klondike region. Today, the town retains the appeal of this bygone era, with streets that are lined with colourful, false-front buildings ― typical of Western boom-town architecture.
A town without stoplights, it’s now recognised as a National Historic Landmark. Tourists can learn all about the town’s fascinating history at the Trail of ’98 Museum, which contains an outstanding collection of gold fever memorabilia.
Other notable and quirky attractions include the Red Onion Saloon ― a museum dedicated to building’s history as a former brothel, which also serves booze and slap-up American cuisine. And be sure to take a picture outside the Arctic Brotherhood Hall on Broadway Street, which is decorated with over 8, 800 pieces of driftwood.
4. See the Totem Poles of Ketchikan
With over 80 Native American totem poles, Ketchikan in southeast Alaska boasts the largest collection of authentic totem poles in the world. In fact, visitors to this historic settlement would struggle to walk a few blocks without running into one of these monumental carvings.
Visit the museum at the Totem Heritage Center or wander around Potlatch Totem Park to see carvings of animals that hold great significance in Tlingit mythology. Marvel at the orca totem, a symbol of compassion and family; the raven totem, which is said to represent mischief; and the supernatural Thunderbird figure, offering strength, power, and protection.
Aside from the many totem poles, Ketchikan is also an intriguing town in its own right. From the colourful lodges on stilts that border Ketchikan Creek to the many sail boats that glide in and out of its harbours, this popular cruise route can be summed up in one word: charming.
5. Spot Whales Cruising the Inside Passage
Cruise Alaska’s Inside Passage and weave through tidewater glaciers, frozen fjords, and past rugged Arctic coastlines. A ‘must see’ part of Alaska, the Inside Passage stretches 500 miles along the Pacific Ocean and is absolutely teaming with wildlife.
Spot sea lions, bald eagles and bears. And for a truly unforgettable sighting ― humpback whales! With over 500 whales habiting its icy waters, the Inside Passage is said to contain the highest concentration of humpbacks in the world.
Embark on a whale-watching expedition with Regent Seven Seas Cruises and witness them breach the surface of the water from the comfort of the ship’s main cabin. Let their on board naturalist talk you through the significance of this bucket list wildlife encounter, and tackle scientific mysteries that have swirled around humpbacks for decades, such as: why did they grow to such an enormous size?
6. Stop By Nugget Falls in Juneau
Travel to Alaska’s capital city of Juneau and set about the 40-minute hiking trail up to Nugget Falls. Situated alongside the dazzling blue Mendenhall Glacier, this stunning natural waterfall features 377ft of cascading water, falling in two tiers onto a sandbar in Mendenhall Lake.
Aside from the outstanding natural beauty of Nugget Falls and its surrounding wilderness, some lucky travellers have even spotted black bears fishing for wild salmon in region’s unpolluted waters. For more thrills, visitors can also go river rafting down the lake and enjoy spectacular views of the glacier.
Be sure to explore Juneau itself after you’ve felt the rejuvenating spray of Nugget Falls. Learn about the city’s natural history, native culture, and fine art, at the Alaska State Museum. Or discover the country’s unique flora with a botanical garden tour inside Tongass National Forest.
7. Eat Seafood in Sitka
Head just west of Juneau and you’ll happen upon the charming port city of Sitka. Founded by Russian fur traders in 1799, Sitka was once the centre of Russia’s Alaskan empire. Today, it’s best know for its thriving fishing industry and fresh local cuisine.
Wander along Lincoln Street in the city’s small downtown area, dotted with shops, cafes, and restaurants. Take a seat in one of these eateries and sample some of the fishermen’s harvest ― from creamy clam chowder to excellent Alaskan crab, and succulent seared scallops.
After dinner, take a stroll along the harbourfront. Spread across Baranof Island, the city’s buildings are encased by dramatic mountains and the sapphire blue of the Sitka Sound. Peaceful and picturesque, Sitka offers a window into everyday Alaskan living.
8. Explore Denali National Park
Denali National Park encompasses Alaska’s interior wilderness with just one singular road running through it. Spread over 6 million acres, its terrains range from spruce forests to glacier valleys, and is home to many species of native wildlife. Hiking through the park, travellers have known to spot grizzly bears, moose, caribou and wolves.
The centrepiece of this vast land, though, is undoubtedly Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) ― the highest peak in North America with a summit reaching 20,310ft above sea level. The third most prominent and isolated peak on Earth, experienced mountaineers flock to the site to test out their climbing skills.
Another big draw of Denali National Park is the chance to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis. It’s one of the best places in the U.S. to see the glimmering northern lights dance across the night sky, with winter being the time to experience this natural phenomenon.
After Alaska: Journey on the Rocky Mountaineer
After the pristine landscapes of Alaska, there’s only one other place in the world that rivals its natural beauty…and that place is Canada! Picture celestial lakes, endless pine forests and rugged mountains.
Extend your Regent Seven Seas Cruise to Alaska with a journey on the famous Rocky Mountaineer. Departing from Vancouver in British Colombia, traverse the mighty Canadian Rockies and glide through vast ranch lands, before ending your journey in beautiful Banff.
Take in Canada’s incredible scenery on this iconic rail route, as you sip on crisp white wines and feast on gourmet delights. Be sure to experience panoramic views from the train’s state-of-the-art glass-domed coaches or step out onto the outdoor viewing platform to breathe in the brisk mountain air.
Your Luxury Voyage to Alaska
Whether its wandering around the beautiful town of Ketchikan or admiring panoramic views of the Chugach mountain range, make Alaska the next place you tick off your travel bucket list.
Set sail on a luxury Regent Seven Seas Cruise and weave through Alaska’s frozen fjords in the upmost comfort and style.
Speak to one of our Travel Specialists today to arrange your luxury expedition to ‘The Last Frontier’ and discover its infinite wonders.