Sample almost every major community up and down the Inside Passage in this comprehensive but unhurried seven-day itinerary of can’t-miss attractions like glaciers, whales, bald eagles, and steep-walled glacier fjords.
Day 1 Ketchikan
Arrive in Ketchikan, Alaska’s first port of call, via air, cruise ship, or Alaska Marine Highway state ferry. Pick up a walking tour map and explore downtown attractions including historic Creek Street, the Tongass Historical Museum, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, and unique local art galleries and shops. Spend the night in Ketchikan.
Day 2 Ketchikan to Sitka
In the morning, choose a half-day guided sportfishing trip or flightseeing excursion to the 2.3-million-acre Misty Fiords National Monument. As the name implies, Misty Fjords is filled with majestic, steep-walled glacier fjords. In the afternoon, take a commercial flight to Sitka.
Day 3 Sitka
Tour historic St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House in what was once the Russian capital of Alaska, then book a van tour with local guides to see the sites where Tlingit tribes successfully resisted the Russian occupation. Other must-see attractions include the collection of late-1800s Alaska Native artifacts at the Sheldon Jackson Museum, totem poles and a cultural center for Alaska Native artisans at Sitka National Historical Park, and the Alaska Raptor Center, where you can have up-close encounters with bald eagles and other birds of prey.
Day 4 Sitka to Juneau
Take the fast ferry or fly to Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. Don’t miss the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier and its visitor center; you can easily spend a full afternoon here. Other popular attractions include the recently renovated Alaska State Museum and the House of Wickersham, which offers a glimpse into Alaska’s territorial days and the life of a swashbuckling, mountain climbing judge.
Day 5 Juneau
Pick from dozens of soft adventure tours including sea kayaking, rafting, ziplining, whale watching and glacier trekking, or hike one of Juneau’s numerous trails. Make sure you leave time to wander the many locally owned shops and museums in the historic downtown area, just a few blocks from the cruise ship docks. Juneau’s pretty downtown area also makes a great photo op, with the buildings and orderly streets rising to meet a backdrop of dramatic green mountains.
Day 6 Juneau to Haines
Enjoy a morning ferry cruise to Haines; keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, sea otters, bald eagles and other wildlife along the way. Once in Haines, two of the biggest attractions are historic Fort Seward, an early-1900s fortification whose buildings have been assimilated into the town; cultural tours to the nearby Tlingit town of Klukwan; and visits to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Spend the night in Haines.
Day 7 Haines to Skagway to Juneau
Take a ferry or water taxi to Skagway, about an hour out of Haines. Here, you can walk the wide, frontier-era boardwalks of the state’s most-visited national park, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Ride in one of the vintage train cars of Skagway’s historic, narrow-gauge railroad for an unusual look into Gold Rush history, at times traveling within arm’s reach of the footpaths early prospectors wore into the rocks. Consider spending a night in Skagway before you return to Juneau via fast ferry or air taxi and from there, start your journey home.
Wrangell and Petersburg
From Ketchikan, hop on a ferry, jet, or air taxi to visit the small communities of Wrangell and Petersburg. In Wrangell, take an exhilarating jet boat ride up the Stikine River or visit Petroglyph Beach State Historic Site to view prehistoric rock carvings. In Petersburg, also known as “Little Norway,” you can see the traditional, flowery Norwegian artwork known as rosemaling on the buildings, streets and souvenirs, and enjoy a spectacular whale-watching trip or an excursion to the LeConte Glacier.