This fast-paced itinerary gives you a taste of the most iconic sights and experiences in Alaska, starting with the state’s biggest city and ending in one of the world’s largest protected wilderness areas, Glacier Bay National Park.
Day 1 Anchorage
Begin your journey by sampling the rich culture and history of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. Don’t miss a chance to visit Anchorage’s Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, and the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, which gives fascinating insights into how aviation still serves as a lifeline for transport and exploration in this enormous, sparsely populated state. You can also enjoy fine dining and shopping downtown without having to pay a sales tax, and cap the evening off with a walking tour before you turn in for the night at your Anchorage hotel or bed and breakfast.
Day 2 Seward
Rent a car and make the scenic, two-and-a-half-hour drive south to Seward. For almost the entire trip you’ll enjoy the sight of fast-moving ocean tides on one side and steep, forested cliffs and mountains on the other. Once you reach Seward, spend the day exploring the coastline of Kenai Fjords National Park on a day cruise. You’ll see glaciers, a few crumbling World War II artifacts, and an abundance of marine wildlife including Steller sea lions, sea otters, humpback whales and a variety of birds. Spend the evening at the Alaska SeaLife Center or take a short hike to the face of Exit Glacier before returning to your lodgings in Seward for the night.
Day 3 Homer
Get up early and make the three-and-a-half-hour drive to Homer, on the far side of the Kenai Peninsula. Along the way you’ll see the famous turquoise waters of the Kenai River, and panoramic views of four active volcanoes on the other side of the inlet. Once in Homer, make sure to visit the Alaska Islands and Oceans Center, which doubles as a visitor center, along with the small but excellent Pratt Museum. You can also squeeze in a short, guided nature walk, kayak outing or fishing trip. End your day by strolling the Homer Spit—a four-mile finger of land that stretches into Kachemak Bay and is lined with some of the state’s best gift shops, restaurants and art galleries. Spend the night in Homer, which is famous for its many excellent B&Bs.
Day 4 Kodiak
Enjoy breakfast at one of Homer’s bakeries, then hop on a commuter plane to the massive island of Kodiak. Learn about Kodiak’s Alaska Native history in the tiny but exquisitely curated Alutiiq Museum, then discover its more recent Russian history at the Baranov Museum and the oldest Russian Orthodox parish in Alaska. Go to bed early; tomorrow is going to be a big day.
Day 5 Kodiak
Start the day early with your choice of big adventures: Either fly out to a remote lodge for an unparalleled day of fishing, or hop on a small plane bound for bear-viewing opportunities in Katmai National Park or Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. If either of these trips represent your grandest life’s dream, you might want to skip the rest of the itinerary and stay in Kodiak. Otherwise, cap your evening off with a gourmet dinner cruise, then head back to your accommodations for one last night in Kodiak.
Day 6 Juneau
Depart Kodiak and fly to Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, via Anchorage. Two of the city’s biggest sights involve ice: The beautiful Mendenhall Glacier is just a short shuttle bus ride from downtown Juneau, or you can take a helicopter flightseeing tour to go trekking or dog-sledding on a nearby glacier. You can also stick close to downtown and visit the newly remodeled Alaska State Museum, then ride the tram to the top of Mt. Roberts, which rises steeply above the cruise ship docks, for an bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area. End the evening with a relaxing dinner at one Juneau’s fine restaurants before retiring to your accommodations for the night.
Day 7 Gustavus
Take a small plane from Juneau to Gustavus, a small island community that serves as the gateway to the vast, untouched sweep of Glacier Bay National Park. The dramatic landscape and rich wildlife are the main draws here. Explore the island via mountain bike or on a guided hiking tour, or go sea kayaking, fishing or whale watching in the surrounding waters. Gustavus offers a number of places to stay the night.
Day 8 Glacier Bay
Transfer to Bartlett Cove in the morning and take a full-day cruise up Glacier Bay aboard a multi-deck catamaran. Have your camera ready to capture images of the many glaciers you’ll see, and keep an eye out for humpback whales, orcas, seals, sea lions and sea otters in the bay. You might also see wildlife on the shore: Look for mountain goats, black bears, brown bears, moose and abundant bird life, including puffins. Upon your return to the dock, you will be transferred to Gustavus for your flight back to Juneau, which makes a good travel hub for either continuing your Alaska adventure or heading back home.