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Ultimate 7 Day Alaska Itinerary For Winter

Are you planning an Alaska Winter Trip this year or next? I put together the perfect 7 day Alaska itinerary for winter aimed at adventurous travelers who want to make the most of their trip and have the best chance to see the Northern Lights…

I loved Alaska when I visited in the summer back in 2015. As someone who loves hiking, epic scenery, and seeing animals in the wild, it was somewhere I had wanted to go for years and somehow it still exceeded my expectations.

But at the time, I wouldn’t have even considered visiting in winter. I had never been anywhere near as cold as Alaska gets and it was super intimidating and actually scary to think about experiencing that kind of cold.

But, Toby and I both wanted to see the Aurora Borealis aka The Northern Lights and Alaska is one of the best places in the world to do so, so I overcame my fear of extreme cold and we spent eleven days in Alaska in early March.

Add some wilderness time to your 7 day Alaska Itinerary

And it was absolutely incredible. I loved our itinerary, the food, the people, the activities, the Northern Lights, and even the cold. I don’t know what I was so worried about because although it can get really cold there, and it did get REALLY cold for a couple of days, it was FINE. You can always add more layers and take a break inside where there is heating when it gets too cold to handle.

I know most people only have a week to do an Alaska winter trip so I wanted to trim the fat on our Alaska itinerary so you will have the best 7 day Alaska Itinerary possible to enjoy Alaska in winter. 

Talkeetna at night

Why Visit Alaska in Winter and When To Visit

Alaska is an incredible summer destination and that is when most people visit. Winter is a quieter time to experience Alaska with fewer tourists, and because it is also one of the best places in the world to see the Aurora, winter is actually a really fun time to visit Alaska.

We visited in March and I would highly recommend you visit then too if you can. There are more sunlight hours and it’s generally warmer than December, January and February, but there’s still lots of snow so you can do all the fun winter activities. There are also more trains running so you can visit Talkeetna for a few days.

Talkeetna is my favorite place on this itinerary so you don’t want to miss it!

Add Conscious Coffee in Talkeetna to your 7 day Alaska itinerary

Getting Around Alaska in Winter

There aren’t as many options for getting around in Alaska in winter as there are during summer. You could look into renting a car and if you are traveling as a family, this may be the cheapest option, but I would recommend you have some experience driving in ice and snow because there will be a lot of both!

Renting a car does give you more flexibility but we didn’t have any issues catching taxis and Ubers in Fairbanks and Anchorage, although Talkeetna was a different story – neither really exist there, but everything in town is pretty much within walking distance.

Add Talkeetna To Your 7 day Alaska itinerary in winter

If you are traveling solo or as a couple, I recommend doing what we did and catching the Aurora Winter Train from Fairbanks to Talkeetna, and then Talkeetna to Anchorage.

The Aurora Winter Train is a fun activity in itself so I encourage you to take it at least once during your Alaska Winter Vacation. Make sure to check the schedule before making any other plans because there aren’t trains every day.

In 2025 the Aurora Winter Train will travel southbound every Sunday between September 21 and May 11, and then also every Wednesday and Friday in March (and select Wednesdays and Fridays in February).

We also stayed a night at Chena Hot Springs and they have a shuttle you can book if you do decide to stay there although I don’t recommend it – the resort is unfortunately quite rundown and expensive for what you get. Visit as part of an Aurora tour from Fairbanks instead.

Cold in Fairbanks

7 Day Alaska Itinerary For Winter

This 7 day Alaska itinerary has you flying into Fairbanks on Day 0 in the evening and flying out on the evening of day 7 (or morning of Day 8). The itinerary starts in Fairbanks and ends in Anchorage to maximize your time and prevent you from having to backtrack.

Day One: Fairbanks and Chena Hot Springs

Your 7 day Alaska itinerary starts with a day exploring Fairbanks, the largest city in Northern Alaska and one of the best places in the world to see the Aurora because of its northern location – only 140 miles as the crow flies to the Arctic Circle – and it’s often clear skies.

Sleep in a bit after flying in late the evening before, then head into town for a little look around and a late breakfast. I’m not much of a breakfast eater but The Crepery and The Cookie Jar (a short cab ride from town) are both highly-rated breakfast spots.

Next head to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center which has lots of information about the area as well as a free museum with interesting exhibits about Fairbanks and its history.

Downtown Fairbanks

There are a few well-priced souvenir shops on 2nd and 3rd Streets near Cushman Street where you can pick up some souvenirs, and if you aren’t in town while the World Ice Art Championships are on then check out the Fairbanks Ice Museum which has indoor sledding and an ice bar. Otherwise, you will be visiting the World Ice Art Championships tomorrow.

For lunch, I recommend Soba, a popular restaurant serving Moldovon cuisine, Yes! Noodles for incredible Thai food (I ate here twice it was so good), Thai House which I have heard great things about, or Chowder House for a delicious chowder – I loved their halibut and corn chowder.

If you want to try some local beer, Latitude 65 Brewing Co. is an easy walk from town, or catch a taxi to the popular HooDoo Brewing Company, a bit further out of the city center.

Make sure you are back and ready at your accommodations to be picked up at 4 pm. Tonight you will be visiting Chena Hot Springs to soak and hopefully see some Northern Lights!

Add Chena Hot Springs to your 7 day Alaska itinerary during winter

It is a 90-minute drive to get there and then on arrival, you will visit the small ice museum before going for dinner at the onsite restaurant. You will be at the resort until around midnight so soak in the hot springs after dinner – literally the perfect place to see the Aurora because there is little light pollution and you will be nice and toasty. Once you are done soaking, there is an Aurora viewing lounge you can hang out in as well.

You will get back to your hotel between 2-3am depending on whether there is more Aurora activity spotted on the drive back because your driver will stop for you to view it.

Chena Hot Springs Resort

We actually stayed at Chena Hot Springs but the resort is kind of rundown and the rooms are very expensive for what you get so I think it’s a much better option to do this tour and stay in Fairbanks instead.

If you did decide to stay, there are snowmobiling tours you can do to see the Aurora but being outside for so long in the early hours of the morning that far north would be VERY cold.

Day Two: Fairbanks

Sleep in a bit after another late night then grab a light breakfast in town or at your hotel before catching a taxi to the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The museum has a range of exhibits that cover the flora and fauna of the Alaskan interior, homesteading life, the native people, and the Yukon Gold Rush among other things. They also have films about various subjects, we watched one about the Aurora and it was really interesting.

Fairbanks Alaska mural

The bus that Chris McCandless (Into the Wild) died in now lives at the University as well. It wasn’t open when I visited but the exhibit should be opening to the public at some point in the future once they have restored it. Keep an eye on their website for up-to-date information.

Head back into town for a late lunch at one of the restaurants mentioned under day one then you can go for a walk along the river or relax back at your hotel.

TIP: I recommend grabbing breakfast items, snacks and easy meals from the Safeway in town to take to Talkeetna with you tomorrow – the only grocery store there is nearly impossible to get to without a car and there are only a handful of restaurants open there in winter.

You can get milk and some other perishables (but no fresh fruit or vegetables) from Nagley’s Store in Talkeetna but you don’t want to get anything else there because it is very expensive.

Alternatively, just eat at Denali Brewpub in Talkeetna for every meal – you can’t go wrong with any of the meals at that place.

Don't miss sledding at the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks - it's a must add to your 7 day Alaska Itinerary

If you are visiting between mid-Feb and late March, don’t miss the World Ice Art Championships – it’s a must add to any winter 7 Day Alaska itinerary.

It is best to visit in the early evening when you can walk around and see the incredibly intricate ice sculptures in the daylight, and then stay until after it gets dark when everything is lit up and even more beautiful.

Make sure you go sledding, there are a few different ice slides you can sled down. You can pick up a sled for free (just hand over your ID for insurance) at the warming lounge. We ended up in the warming lounge a few times because we visited on a very cold day. You can grab a hot drink and snacks here and give yourself a break from the cold.

Ice sculpture in Fairbanks

Back in town, grab dinner at Lavelle’s Bistro. We had one of our favorite meals of the trip here – King Crab Legs and Honey Apple Halibut. Head a few doors down to Lavelle’s Taphouse to try some local beer.

The Pump House Restaurant is another popular choice but you will need to catch a cab if you decide to go here because it’s out past the airport.

Tonight is another late one because you are going to be heading to the outskirts of town to an Aurora lodge or house near Fairbanks to give yourself the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights as light pollution in the city can make it harder to see them. We went to one called Aurora House but other popular Aurora houses are Aurora Borealis Lodge and Aurora Pointe.

Aurora in Fairbanks

They usually pick you up around 9.30 pm and take you to a lodge or house outside the city limits with great night sky views. You can hang out in the cozy house eating snacks and drinking hot chocolate until the Aurora shows itself, then you head outside to the deck to get lots of photos.

Our host took some great photos for us and was always checking the night sky to see whether the Aurora was out. You get dropped back at your hotel at around 2.30 am.

We only booked this the night before once we saw that the skies were going to be clear. It’s up to you if you want to risk it but I would recommend only booking a few days before once you get an idea of the weather and the Aurora activity. We use this website to check the activity. The higher the Kp the better your chance of seeing them, you want at least 2 but above 5 is even better.

Aurora House in Fairbanks

Alternatively, book an Aurora tour that will drive you to a place where there is the best chance to see the Aurora, this one is highly-rated.

Day Three: Aurora Winter Train To Talkeetna

You’re going to have to suck it up and get up early today, despite only getting in at 2.30 am, because today you will be riding the Aurora Winter Train all day to Talkeetna!

It’s a chilled-out and restful day and you can definitely take a nap so don’t worry too much about being tired. 

Alaska Winter Train

The train leaves Fairbanks at 8.30 am and although they say to be there an hour before, really 30-45 minutes is fine. Don’t worry about getting breakfast or coffee beforehand because there is a cafe and a restaurant on the train.

The ride is nine hours to Talkeetna and I highly recommend having either breakfast or lunch (or both!) in their restaurant car. They come around and take reservations beforehand. You can also visit the cafe which has drinks, snacks, and light meals whenever you want.

Take the Aurora train as part of your 7 day Alaska itinerary

Unfortunately, there are no windowed-ceiling panorama carriages on the Aurora Winter Train but the windows in the regular carriages are quite large so you can see all the beautiful scenery pass you by.

The scenery is especially spectacular when you are getting close to Denali National Park because you travel through a long canyon by a river. Make sure to keep an eye out for animals throughout the day, we saw four moose and a wolf from the train!

Train view in Alaska

You will arrive just before 5 pm in Talkeetna and after checking in, take a stroll into town for dinner and your first look around the adorable Talkeetna downtown.

Swing by iconic Nagley’s Store to see if the Mayor is around – the Mayor of Talkeetna is a cat named Aurora! She lives at the store and we often found her curled up on the sled halfway up the stairs to the second floor.

Aurora the Talkeetna Mayor

Not every shop and restaurant is open during winter in Talkeetna but luckily the best restaurant in town is – the Denali Brewpub. Try some of their excellent beer and have dinner here. It is a cozy spot that is also popular with locals and I loved the food and beer here. We ended up eating here four times!

Check the weather report and the Aurora report to see if there is any chance you will be able to see the Aurora tonight. Because there is so little light pollution here, you can see the Aurora from just outside your accommodation – we saw the best Aurora of our trip just out by the road in front of our accommodation in Talkeetna.

If it’s going to be cloudy or a low chance of Aurora activity, have an early night while you can!

Aurora hunting is one of the best things to do in Talkeetna

Day Four: Talkeetna

Winter in Alaska is all about sleeping in if you can because you will have late nights looking for the Aurora, and it takes a while for the day to warm up, making the afternoons generally better for activities. But check the weather before booking anything.

I also think Talkeetna is a better place to do outdoor activities like snowshoeing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling because it is a lot warmer than Fairbanks, and the wilderness is right on your doorstep here. You have a really good chance to see Denali, the highest mountain in North America, here too – right from the end of Main Street in town.

Denali view

Eat breakfast at your accommodation and slowly start your day. Walk into town to check out the gift shops that are open. My favorites are Blue Moose for good quality souvenirs and gifts, Dancing Leaf Gallery for local art and handmade gifts, Silverbear Sundries for natural products like lotions, soap, and salves, and Aurora Dora for incredible Aurora photos taken close to Talkeetna – chat to Dora, she’s a very friendly and interesting woman who is originally from Brazil.

Warm up with a hot drink and a crepe and/or bagel with various cream cheese flavors from Conscious Coffee, a cozy spot that is packed full of books for loan and sale.

Nagley's Store in Talkeetna

Swing by Nagley’s Store again to visit the Mayor if you didn’t get to see her yesterday (or if you want to see her again, she is a very cute Mayor after all).

Head back to your accommodations to be picked up for your Denali View Snowmobiling and Dogsledding Tour with Alaska Wild Guides. You could also do this in the morning if you prefer. I believe the start time depends on a mix of availability and preference.

They are located south of town so you can pay extra to organize a ride with them as there is no taxi service or Uber in Talkeetna.

Snowmobiling during Talkeetna in winter

The first part of the tour, after getting kitted out in cold weather gear and helmets and after a safety talk, you will be driving a snowmobile through the forest and in open meadows. Toby was my passenger and I had so much fun driving us around! We saw a couple of moose at the beginning too.

Then you will arrive at a cozy 40ft yurt with (hopefully) views over Denali. You get a hot drink and time to warm up here before meeting the sled dogs of Battle Dawgs, a non-profit that helps rehabilitate veterans suffering from PTSD.

Dog sledding dogs

After meeting the dogs you will do some dog sledding through the forest to another excellent viewpoint over Denali. You can take turns standing on the back of the sled and sitting in the basket at the front. Then it’s back on the snowmobiles for another fun ride back to your starting point.

Dogsledding in Talkeetna in Winter

Dogsledding is one of the top Takeetna winter things to do

This was my favorite tour we did and I highly recommend Alaska Wild Guides.

You can ask to be dropped back into town after rather than your accommodations to grab dinner, either going back to Denali Brewpub or trying the pizza at Mountain High Pizza. Alternatively, cook something back at your accommodations (if you have a kitchen).

Check if there is any entertainment at the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar tonight or tomorrow, you can check what’s on and get tickets on the events page of their website. We saw the Roland Roberts band here and it is a lovely little venue where you can get a really good inner look at community life in Talkeetna.

Live Music in Talkeetna

If there is nothing going on at the Hangar, grab a drink or two at the historic Fairview Hotel on the main street before heading home. Don’t forget to check the weather and Aurora forecast to see if there is any chance to see the Northern Lights tonight.

Day Five: Talkeetna

After having a light breakfast at your accommodations, walk into town for another look around the stores and visit the Talkeetna Historical Museum, housed in three historic buildings and showcasing exhibits about the town’s history.

Downtown Talkeetna in Winter

Grab lunch at Conscious Coffee again and then meet your guide for your snowshoeing tour right in town. We did a three-hour Snowshoeing Tour with Alaska Nature Guides and took a trail across the river, with an excellent view of Denali along the way.

I had never been snowshoeing before and we did some off-trail snowshoeing in deep snow as well as walking on more well-worn trails. Our friendly guide was a very knowledgeable naturalist and we learned a lot about the flora and fauna of the area.

Talkeetna snowshoeing

We stopped for a break with hot chocolate and delicious cookies by the river before crossing back over to town over the railroad bridge. If you didn’t want to pay for a guided tour, you could hire snowshoes from the Talkeetna Gear Shop and go snowshoeing yourself, but I really enjoyed our experience.

Snowshoeing in Talkeetna

Head back to your accommodations to rest and relax before heading back into town for dinner. Eat at everyone’s favorite restaurant, Denali Brewpub, again, or you could try the restaurant at Latitude 62 Motel or the Burger Barn if it is open.

Go to a concert at the Hangar if there is one on, or grab drinks at the Fairview Hotel. Make sure to check the Aurora forecast again – this is your last good chance to see them on this trip.

Make sure to add a drink at the Fairview Hotel to your 7 day Alaska Itinerary

Day Six: Talkeetna and Train to Anchorage

Sorry to break it to you but unfortunately, it’s your last day in Talkeetna. You will be catching the train at 4.45 pm to Anchorage.

Today you have a few different choices depending on your budget and interests. If you have the budget for it, I highly recommend doing a Flightseeing tour. I did one when I visited in summer and I loved it. 

Add Denali Flightseeing to your 7 day Alaska Itinerary

There are fewer tours to choose from during winter but you can choose whether you want to land on a glacier or not, and no matter where you go, the scenery will be spectacular. I went with Talkeetna Air Taxi and they offer winter flightseeing, otherwise, go with K2 Aviation.

Alternatively, you could hire some fat tire bikes from Talkeetna Gear Shop and bike some trails, ask at the shop for options, or hire some ice skates to skate on the local free ice rink. Or just relax and enjoy your last few hours in town.

Say goodbye to lovely little Talkeetna and catch the train three hours to Anchorage. I highly recommend eating dinner in the dining room, and if you’re lucky, the train will stop to give you a spectacular vantage point of Denali – it did for us.

Denali from train

The sunset from the train was gorgeous and it’s nice to arrive in Anchorage at a reasonable time. Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska so it’s easy to get an Uber or cab from the train station to your hotel.

Have a quiet night in preparation for your last day in Alaska tomorrow. Or head into town to try some local beer at 49th State Brewing Company or the iconic Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse.

Fun things to do in Anchorage

Day Seven: Anchorage

Start your morning at one of the best breakfast places in Alaska, Snow City Cafe, before checking out downtown Anchorage. Head to the Captain Cook Monument just around the corner from Snow City Cafe first, there are excellent views over Cook Inlet where massive chunks of ice flow past – it’s a pretty cool thing to see.

Don't miss seeing Cook Inlet frozen over -it's one of the fun things to do in Anchorage in winter

Next stop by the Log Cabin Visitor Center and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center – you have to go through strict security to get in because it is a Federal building but the free museum about Alaska’s nature and animals is worth it. There is also an interesting video about the 1964 earthquake that devastated Anchorage.

Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Anchorage

Do some last-minute souvenir shopping at the many stores along W 4th Ave before visiting one of the best museums in the state, the Anchorage Museum. It is home to lots of well-curated exhibits about the history of Alaska and has lots of information about Alaska’s native people.

It’s time for lunch now and you have a few great options. 49th State Brewing Company has excellent beer and really good food as well – I loved my parmesan and asiago-crusted halibut and Toby loved their King Crab Legs. Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse is another solid option – I love their King Crab nuggets, and Simon and Seafort’s is a popular seafood restaurant.

Halibut at 49th State Brewing Company in Anchorage - eating here is one of the fun things to do in Anchorage

Walk off your lunch on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail from Elderberry Park downtown to Westchester Lagoon. Alternatively, you could hire fat tire bikes and bike all the way to the trail’s terminus at Kincaid Park, eleven miles away.

There is a groomed ice skating trail on Westchester Lagoon and it’s a beautiful place to go skating. You can hire skates at numerous places in town, check with the staff at the Log Cabin Visitor Center before setting out.

Iceskating on Westchester Lagoon is one of the fun things to do in Anchorage during winter

Grab an early dinner at one of the places you didn’t choose for lunch, and then head to the airport for your evening flight, or spend another night in Anchorage and catch a morning flight the next day.

And that’s a wrap on your 7 day Alaska Itinerary! I hope this inspires you to visit Alaska in winter, I promise you, it is worth it.

Moose in Anchorage

Where To Stay For Your 7 Day Alaska Winter Trip


There is only one hostel that is open in the winter months, Billie’s Backpacker’s Hostel. It is a little outside of the downtown so you will need to use taxis or Uber to get around. There are both dorm and private rooms available. For a super affordable private room closer to downtown, we stayed at this Airbnb which was cozy and the hosts were friendly.

We stayed at The Adamina and really loved this small mid-range lodge. Another highly-rated midrange option is Sophie Station Suites. Pike’s Waterfront Lodge is the most luxurious option in Fairbanks.

Ice art at the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks

If you would prefer a vacation rental, here are my top picks:


My top pick is Susitna River Lodging. It’s a 15-minute walk from town, right on the river, the suites are very spacious but cozy, and they are excellent value for money – especially for Alaska. They also have cozy cabins.

Susitna River Lodging

Other great cabin and lodge options include Denali Fireside Cabin & Suites which offers studios, suites, and cottages, and the iconic Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, which is located on the edge of town but has a restaurant on-site and a free shuttle to town.

For vacation rentals, there are so many cool places to stay, and this is generally the most affordable option if you are traveling with friends or family. Here are the best vacation rentals in Talkeetna:

Talkeetna Road House


There is only one highly-rated hostel in Anchorage if you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation, Base Camp Anchorage which has small dorm rooms and one private room. The beautifully designed Qupqugiaq Inn is another option that offers affordable private rooms.

For good mid-range options, stay at Snob Hollow Inn or Maria’s Creekside B&B. If you are looking for more luxury, you can’t beat the elegant The Hotel Captain Cook.

Anchorage downtown

If you would prefer a vacation rental, here are my top picks:

Snowshoeing in Talkeetna in Winter

If you like this post, check out some more of my Alaska content:


Ultimate 7 Day Alaska Itinerary To See the Aurora Borealis Detailed 7 Day Alaska Itinerary To See The Northern Lights

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