In addition to the magnificent Inside Passage, Denali National Park and other wild reserves teeming with grizzly bears, Alaska has a number of very scenic cities, which are gateways to even more beautiful sights. Most Alaskan cruises call in at Juneau, the state’s remote capital. Unusual amongst American capitals in that no roads lead to Juneau, the city is hub for visitors wishing to view the Juneau Icefield. Of the 30 glaciers in this impressive icy mass, Mendenhall is the most popular and accessible via six hiking trails.
Other things to do from Juneau include dog sledding, helicopter flightseeing and bear-viewing on Admiralty Island, best done when the salmon run is in full swing (July to mid-August).
North of Juneau is Fairbanks, set at the crossroads between the Arctic, Canada and Denali National Park. Fly here for Aurora Borealis in winter, or to embark on epic day trips beyond the Arctic Circle in summer. You can also visit the United States’ northernmost city, Barrow, home to Alaska’s largest Inupiat community.
Picturesque Anchorage nestles between the Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet in southeast Alaska. From humble beginnings as a railway construction camp, the city is today Alaska’s most populous and home to first-class restaurants and fantastic museums. Anchorage also boasts a fabulous network of scenic trails, where you are likely to encounter some of the city’s 1,500 resident moose.
Some of the state’s most iconic destinations are within easy reach of Anchorage including Kenai Fjords, which is filled with glaciers and rich in marine life. There’s also Prince William Sound, a haven for millions of seabird as well as countless bald eagles and otters. Of course, Anchorage is your best entry point into Denali, which harbours grizzly bears, Dall sheep and wolf. You can also take a train from the city to Talkeetna, centre of flightseeing tours over Mt Denali, North America’s highest peak.