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7 Days in Alaska: Two Weeklong Alaska Itinerary Options

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Looking back now, I can see how lucky I was. Growing up in Alaska didn’t seem like anything special when I was a kid – after all, there were never any cool bands on tour in town and everything from fashion trends to new movies and music took months to reach us from the Lower 48.

But that was then… Now, I can see that I was lucky to grow up in Alaska. I’ve also continued to be fortunate enough to visit Alaska again – several times, including most recently in February 2020 – as an adult. I know that Alaska is a bucket list destination and people usually only visit once – and I take it seriously that you’re here reading my advice on how to make that once-in-a-lifetime trip happen.

Despite my goofy faces, and love for colored walls and coffee, I’m here to help. I’ve put together not one but two itineraries for how to spend 7 days in Alaska, because I know that not everyone wants to do all the same activities. That’s why thought: Why not do two weeklong itineraries for Alaska, instead of just one 7 day Alaska itinerary? These two itineraries for a week in Alaska are my best suggestions, but you can also use these 7-day Alaska itineraries as suggestions and customize them for yourself.

As you plan to spend your week in Alaska, I’m happy to answer any questions you have! Once you’ve reviewed my suggestions for spending 7 days in Alaska, let me know any questions you have in the comments below.

Bonus! I just set up this new quiz to help suggest an Alaska itinerary to you. If you’re planning a trip, check it out to get a ✨customized itinerary✨ based exactly on your own travel details and preferences.

7 Days in Alaska: 2 Itineraries to Consider

To be honest, I couldn’t choose between the two 7 day Alaska itinerary options I typically recommend when friends and family ask for how to spend a week in Alaska. So… I put them both in this post!

Itinerary AItinerary B
Day 1AnchorageAnchorage
Day 2AnchorageAnchorage
Day 3DenaliSeward
Day 4DenaliDenali
Day 5SewardDenali
Day 6SewardFairbanks
Day 7GirdwoodFairbanks

And here are maps of each of these Alaska itineraries for 7 days, so you can get a sense for which one goes where:

Itinerary A

7 Days in Alaska - Itinerary A Map

Itinerary B

7 Days in Alaska - Itinerary B Map

The main differences between them are:

  1. Itinerary A works whether you want to rent a car, take the train, or a combination of both.
  2. Itinerary B is a little more complicated and specific. I recommend renting a car in Anchorage to visit Seward, taking the train from Anchorage to Denali to Fairbanks, and then flying from Fairbanks to Anchorage for your return flight.
  3. Itinerary A gives you more time on the Kenai Peninsula in Seward and Girdwood; Itinerary B takes you to Fairbanks to see Interior Alaska.

Both tours visit Denali, which is a little bit different this year. Here are my tips on how to visit Denali in summer 2021. Now that you’ve got the basics, let’s run through each one in a little more detail. Then you can choose the one that’s right for you and start planning!

7 Day Alaska Itinerary: Anchorage – Denali – Seward – Girdwood (Itinerary A)

Valerie in Alaska

My first suggested Alaska 7 day itinerary is based on a couple of trips I took in 2014 and 2017. This is an easy trip you can do by renting a car, but it doesn’t show you quite as much of Alaska as Itinerary B. Here it is, for your consideration:

Day 1: Anchorage

As I grew up in a small community just outside Anchorage, it’s funny to write about it as a travel destination – I just think of it a bit like ‘home,’ even after all these years!

I’m assuming that you arrive on Day 1, and probably some time in the afternoon or evening. Many flights to Alaska arrive ‘after dark,’ except that in the summer it’s light so late at night that you might arrive while the midnight sun is up!

On this first day, your only objective is to get to your hotel and get settled. If you’re staying in Downtown Anchorage, you can go for a walk around – but I’ve got lots of suggestions on that for Day 2, so if you’re feeling like a rest, that’s okay. You’ll see a ton the next day!

Resources for Day 1:

  • You’ll need a two-night accommodation in Anchorage:
  • For dinner, a nice place to consider is 49th State Brewing. This brew-pub has great views across Cook Inlet and is a fantastic spot to have dinner and watch the sun go down – and enjoy a pint of local craft beer if that’s your style!

Day 2: Anchorage

Today is your day to explore Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. There are a couple activities I love whenever I’m in town, so you can choose a few of them and plan your own day to explore the city.

No matter when you visit, be sure to make a stop at the Anchorage Market & Festival. There you’ll find local food vendors, farmers and growers, craftspeople and musicians, and plenty of opportunities to snag great Alaskan souvenirs right off the bat. I highly recommend making your way to the food stalls to try the corn fritters with honey butter (left, below).

Similarly, a great place to seek out Tia’s Reindeer Sausage on 4th Avenue. Her spicy sausage and pineapple sauce (right, above) is an unusual but delicious combo for lunch, and affordable too!

In the afternoon, choose between an outdoors stroll along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (keep an eye out for moose and cyclists!) or head indoors to the Anchorage Museum. The Museum underwent extensive renovations and improvements in the last two decades and has some outstanding exhibits on Native Alaskan culture, Alaska’s special relationship with Russia, and more.

Here are a few good restaurants for dinner:

  • The Glacier Brewhouse is an Anchorage institution, with tons of microbrews on tap.
  • Similarly, Humpy’s is a local spot with great burgers and beer.
  • If you want something fancier, consider dressing up for dinner at the Crow’s Nest atop the Hotel Captain Cook.

Resources for Day 2:

  • Stay a second night at your Anchorage accommodation.
  • No other info needed for today.

Day 3: Anchorage – Denali

Denali National Park - Hiking

Today is all about getting from Anchorage to Denali. I recommend taking the Alaska Railroad for Day 3 and Day 5; the train leaves Anchorage around 8am, and it takes the whole day to get to Denali. The train can also be the best way to relax while seeing Alaska and some of the most beautiful places in North America. For another, budget-friendlier option, check out Park Connection, a bus services that operates between Anchorage and Denali (and also connects down to Seward).

If you choose to rent a car instead, it only takes about 5 hours to drive from Anchorage to Denali. You may want to stop off at some of my favorite Denali viewpoints or other towns along the way (like making a detour to Talkeetna) which could take longer.

If you arrive in time by car or by train, consider booking the Denali Glacier Landing flightseeing tour from Fly Denali on their 6:15pm flight; tell them I (Valerie Stimac) sent you. This is my top excursion recommendation in Alaska and it’s worth every penny! (There are loads of other great things to do in Denali too if you need more suggestions.)

In the evening, go grab dinner at Lynx Creek Pizza. This restaurant is located on one of the resort properties but it’s got a very local Alaskan vibe and their pizzas are fantastic.

Resources for Day 3:

  • You’ll need accommodation for two nights in Denali (Day 3 & 4):
    • There aren’t a ton of vacation rental options near Denali National Park, so you’ll need a car if you choose to stay in a vacation rental instead of a hotel right in town. This house (from $325/night, good for families or small groups) or this house (from $443/night, good for large groups, also on are both good options.
  • Book everything in advance. Denali is expensive and sells out early – that’s just how it is!
  • If you take the train, arrange your hotel transfers directly with your hotel; they all offer this service so a car is not needed.

Day 4: Denali

Today’s the day: you’re headed into Denali National Park! This is one of two national parks that I grew up visiting (the other is Kenai Fjords which you’ll visit on Day 6 of this itinerary) and I love how open and wild it is.

The main thing people get stuck on when planning to visit Denali is that you can’t take private vehicles into Denali National Park. This means no rental cars either! Instead, you’ll need to book a bus tour which is a service offered by the National Park Service. Personally I love this solution: it protects the park, improves safety for wildlife and visitors, and cuts down on crowds and traffic. So please don’t email me asking why the NPS does this or complaining that you want to drive yourself into the park – I fully support the bus tours and encourage everyone to take one.

In 2022, there are a limited number of bus tours to choose from, but you’re in luck – I wrote an entire post about it so you can learn the scoop on Denali bus tours. To be honest, I don’t believe it’s worth it to go for any less than the Tundra Wilderness Tour. The DNHT (so-called by the National Park Service) is interesting but caters more toward travelers that can’t handle sitting on a school bus for long periods of time. The TWT is much more palatable, and a good duration at 7-8 hours long. There’s a good chance to see wildlife, and you’ll ride along a significant length of the park road. In sum: book the Tundra Wilderness tour!

After your bus tour, head back to your hotel before dinner at another local restaurant: the Alaska Salmon Bake. This restaurant is even more funky in its Last Frontier vibe, and is known for their towering blue McKinley Margarita – named for the mountain you hopefully saw on your bus tour.

Resources for Day 4:

  • Stay at the same accommodation in Denali for a second night.
  • No other info needed for today.

Day 5: Denali – Anchorage – Seward

Alaska in Autumn - Valerie in Denali

You’re now past the halfway point of this Alaska itinerary for 7 days, so sad! By whatever way you got to Denali, it’s time to head back south. If you are taking the Alaska Railroad, you’ll board a 12:30pm train which arrives into Anchorage around 8pm. You’ll then need to rent a car and drive south to Seward; it’s a 2.5-hour drive from Anchorage to Seward. This is a long day, so plan ahead to avoid being tired on the drive.

If instead you’ve rented a car for this whole trip, I recommend heading out no later than 12:30pm so you can get to Seward by around 7pm.

Resources for Day 5:

Day 6: Seward

Get an early start and board a cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park. This national park can only be accessed by boat, and there are several other boat tour operators to choose from.

I prefer Major Marine Tours, who I’ve cruised with many times growing up in Alaska and visiting since. Their 8.5 Hour Kenai Fjords Northwestern Fjord Cruise Ship is ideal because it takes up most of the day, but also gives you extra time to see wildlife like whales, bald eagles, otters, and to view glaciers in the national park.

After your cruise, try dinner at The Cookery. They have insanely good fresh seafood and plenty of other options if you’ve seen enough marine creatures for one day.

Resources for Day 6:

  • Stay another night in your Seward hotel.
  • No other info needed for today.

Day 7: Seward – Girdwood – Anchorage

View from Alyeska Tram

On your final of these 7 days in Alaska, it’s time to make your way from Seward back to Anchorage. As I said, it’s a 2.5-hour drive, and you can set out after breakfast in Seward (try Sea Bean Cafe to fuel up before you hit the road).

Stop for lunch at Jack Sprat in Girdwood. This small town is a short detour off the Seward highway, but it’s popular year round for skiing in the winter and arts in the summer. If you have the time before your flight home, you can also ride the Alyeska tram up Alyeska mountain for some stunning views. It’s a great way to end your time in Alaska, looking out over the mountains and scenery.

7 Days in Alaska: Anchorage – Seward – Denali – Fairbanks (Itinerary B)

Alaska - Fireweed

If my first Alaska 7-day itinerary doesn’t quite strike you as the perfect Alaska itinerary for you, here’s another Alaska week itinerary you might like.

Day 1: Anchorage

Like Itinerary A, what you can do on Day 1 depends a lot on what time your flight arrives to Anchorage. If you arrive quite late, you should make your way to your hotel and rest for the night. Instead, if your flight arrives in the afternoon or early evening, consider some of my suggestions for Day 2 (below).

If you arrive in time for dinner, try the Glacier Brewhouse49th State Brewing, or Humpy’s.

Resources for Day 1:

  • You will need 2 separate nights in Anchorage (Day 1-2 and Day 3-4). I recommend researching which hotel you want to stay at, then contacting or calling them to book the nights directly:

Day 2: Anchorage – Seward

On your first full day of 7 days in Alaska, you have the morning and early afternoon to explore downtown Anchorage. Similar to my recommendations for Day 2 in Itinerary A, I suggest:

  • Wandering the stalls at the Anchorage Farmer’s Market & Festival to find great Alaskan souvenirs and sample local foods.
  • Visiting the Anchorage Museum to learn more about Anchorage history, culture, and art.
  • Walking along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail to admire scenic views.

You can also explore Anchorage by just walking around! The downtown core is pretty small and set up on a grid system, so it’s easy to stroll blocks and find interesting gift shops, galleries, and more. (Pro-tip: 4th & 5th Avenue are the best streets to ‘get lost’ on.)

In the late afternoon, pick up your rental car and drive south to Seward. It’s a 2.5-hour scenic drive along the Seward Highway; go slowly and don’t rush this drive to be safe as it’s a pretty dangerous two-lane highway. Depending on when you arrive in Seward, you may have time to visit the Alaska SeaLife Center. There you’ll be guaranteed to see some marine mammals that are living at this center for rehabilitation and treatment.

For dinner, try Seward Brewing Company or The Cookery, as I recommended above.

Resources for Day 2:

Day 3: Seward – Anchorage

Cruising in Kenai Fjords National Park

In this itinerary for 7 days in Alaska, this day is the same as Day 6 of Itinerary A above. That is, I recommend spending most of the day on the Major Marine Tours’ 8.5 Hour Kenai Fjords Northwestern Fjord Cruise to explore Kenai Fjords National Park. Keep your eyes peeled for Humpback whales, puffins, sea otters, and more!

After you disembark from your cruise, it’s time to make the 2.5-hour drive back to Anchorage. You’ll want to do this in order to make an early morning departure from Anchorage on Day 4 (tomorrow).

Once you get to Anchorage, consider dinner at the Crow’s Nest atop the Hotel Captain Cook. You’ll have stunning views and a splurge-worthy dinner on your last night in Anchorage.

Resources for Day 3:

  • You’ll stay another night at the Anchorage accommodation you’ve already arranged.
  • No other info needed for today.

Day 4: Anchorage – Denali

Here’s the halfway point in this Alaska itinerary for 7 days… and this day is exactly like Day 3 in Itinerary A, described above – except your only option here is take the train:

  • Rise and shine early to catch the 8am Alaska Railroad departure from Anchorage.
  • Arrive in Denali around 4pm.
  • Book the 6:15pm Denali Glacier Landing flightseeing tour from Fly Denali. Tell them I (Valerie Stimac) sent you!
  • Have dinner at Lynx Creek Pizza.

It’s a long day but offers some of Alaska’s best experiences: the AKRR, seeing Denali*, and some of the best pizza in the state!

Resources for Day 4:

  • You will need two nights in Denali (Day 4 & 5):
    • There aren’t a ton of vacation rental options near Denali National Park, so you’ll need a car if you choose to stay in a vacation rental instead of a hotel right in town. This house (from $325/night, good for families or small groups) or this house (from $443/night, good for large groups, also on are both good options.
  • Book everything in advance. Denali is expensive and sells out early – that’s just how it is!
  • If you take the train, arrange your hotel transfers directly with your hotel; they all offer this service so a car is not needed.

Day 5: Denali

Best National Parks - Denali National Park

Day 5 in Itinerary B is identical to Day 4 in Itinerary A. Here’s a reminder of what it includes:

  • Rise and shine to catch an early Tundra Wilderness Tour into Denali National Park. This is an 7-8-hour bus tour and the best option to see as much of the park as you can in a single day. (If you need a refresher on different Denali bus day tours, click here.)
  • Return to your hotel in the afternoon before dinner at the Denali Salmon Bake. Be sure to try the McKinley Margarita!

Resources for Day 5:

  • Stay at the same hotel in Denali for a second night.
  • No other info needed for today.

Day 6: Denali – Fairbanks

Since you’re still enjoying the Alaska Railroad, you have the morning and early afternoon to yourself in McKinley Village, the town near Denali National Park. This is a great opportunity to walk around and do any souvenir shopping you still need to buy.

The Alaska Railroad departs Denali at 4pm and arrives in Fairbanks at 8pm. Based on my recommended accommodation below, you’ll head straight there for dinner and relaxation on your last night in The Last Frontier.

Resources for Day 6:

Day 7: Fairbanks – Anchorage

5 Days in Alaska - Fairbanks

Your departure time will have the biggest effect on how much you can do during your day in Fairbanks. You may choose to spend the whole day at Chena Hot Springs – and seriously no judgment if that’s the case!

If you choose to wander into town, here are some of the best places:

  • Fairbanks has some surprisingly dynamic museums, including the Museum of the North (all about Alaskan culture and history) and the Fairbanks Ice Museum (the name says it all; open in the summer!).
  • Pioneer Park is a quirky historic theme park that will teach you more about Interior Alaskan history, including the Pioneer Air Museum (focused about aviation in Interior Alaska) and Tanana Valley Railroad Museum.
  • If you can arrange transport, Gold Dredge No. 8 is a little way out of town but offers an interesting peek at the gold mining history in this part of Alaska.

This Alaska 7-day itinerary ends in now, in Fairbanks… so how do you get back to Anchorage to fly home??? To do this, you’ll take a one-way flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage, then catch your flight (or cruise) home. Check the links in the resources section below.

Resources for Day 7:

  • Book your flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage with Alaska Airlines, or compare flight times and prices using Kayak or Skyscanner

Which 7-Day Alaska Itinerary Will You Choose?

Still not sure which weeklong Alaska itinerary to choose? Try this quiz! Make sure you select ‘7 Days’ on the first question and your final result will be one of the two itineraries listed above:

Okay, with that, I’ll step back from the computer and eagerly await your comments, questions, and emails to help you finish planning the rest of your trip.

Have other questions about how to spend 7 days in Alaska? Let me know in the comments or join me in my Alaska Travel Tips Facebook Community!

Alaska Itinerary Pack Hero

Love this itinerary

… but want to make it your own?

Go from overwhelmed to awestruck in less than half the time thanks to my Alaska Itinerary Planning Packs. With three “starter” itineraries, you can customize using a database of hotels, restaurants, and attractions curated with my expertise and experience.

Before you know it, you’ll be watching glaciers calf, breathing the clean Denali air, and dreaming of your return trip.

Help others discover this post too!

I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


  • Carol Schneider

    I would like to use Trip One but I have 11 days. I would like to drive to Homer and fish for halibut. Where should I stop for hotel along the way. I don’t want to drive back to Anchorage until the very end.
    Need hotel recommendations AND fishing charters for 5-7 hours?


  • maria hanggi

    hi valerie. . thank you for sharing your itinerary options. We will visit Alaska the end of July for one week. We would like to follow your tour but have interest in:
    * a day trip on the train to the Yukon (where should we fit that in?)
    * fishing for Salmon and Halibut (can we book this in Seaward?)

    • Valerie

      Maria, thanks for reading. Unfortunately, I don’t believe you can actually go to Canada right now based on the border closures. And given that I haven’t done any fishing, I recommend just doing some google research to find and book a fishing charter in advance!

  • Pam Marsh

    Hi Valerie, thanks for the great itineraries! I was wondering why, in itinerary B, the train is the only option to get from Anchorage to Denali, Denali to Fairbanks? Thanks!

    • Valerie

      Great question, Pam! I typically advise the train for one-way travel like that because one-way rental cars are more expensive and the train ride is much more scenic. I hope that helps as you plan!

  • Lauren

    Hi there! I am planning a 7 day trip from Anchorage at the end of June. Your sample itineraries have been so helpful, however I am stuck on which to choose. Which do you recommend for those who have never explored Alaska before?

    • Valerie

      Thanks for reading, Lauren! It depends on what you want to do! If you’re set on seeing glaciers and whale watching, itinerary A is the best choice; if you want to explore further into Alaska, see the midnight sun (given your visit in June), and visit Chena Hot Springs, then itinerary B is the one to pick!

  • HeatherM

    These plans are super-helpful as I start my research for my family of 5 (3 teens). I was looking at some of the hotels you recommended, and they don’t seem to accommodate 5 large people. Are there ones I should specifically be looking at? We usually stay at air bnb’s, but the hotel options in Denali and Fairbanks seem better, as we wouldn’t have a rental car then.

    • Valerie

      Thanks for reading, Heather! Thanks for asking – with that many people in your group, you will need to look at booking 2 rooms at the hotels I recommend. There aren’t many options in Denali for sure, but that’s the only way to do it. I hope that helps!

  • Siobhan Callahan

    These are great resources, thanks for sharing! I’m starting to plan an extended family trip for summer 2022 and we are leaning towards the main trip starting/ending in Anchorage and including Denali and Seward/Kenai National Park, similar to your first itinerary. Some of us have extra time and I’m wondering if it’s worthwhile to extend our trip in Juneau and go to Glacier Bay National Park? I’d love to do the Uncruise trip but we don’t have quite enough time! If we’re seeing the scenery/glaciers in Kenai, is it different enough to try to include Glacier Bay?


    • Valerie

      I’d recommend holding off on the Southeast/Glacier Bay for a separate trip – it’s really worth giving it more time so you can enjoy that region!

  • Brian

    These are wonderful options, if wee arrive on Saturday night and leave the following Saturday night after 10pm, does this give us an 8th day? If yes, could we easily option 1 and Fairbanks? Are Car Rentals in short supply this summer?

    • Valerie

      Thanks for reading, Brian. Based on your dates, that’s only 7 days so no, there are additional days for Fairbanks. Also, yes, rental cars are impossible to find; if you haven’t booked one yet, you likely won’t find one.

    • Brian


      Thank you Valerie, I will go with your option 1. This site is fantastic you have helped make a task of booking a trip to an unknown place extremely easy.

      Thank you again

  • Prat

    Thanks for such a detailed guide. I have about 8-9 days in Alaska and option a sounds good. What is your opinion about matanushka glacier? I have heard that’s a must see and was surprised as it was not mentioned? Is it worthwhile and if yes when exactly can I fit that in?

    • Valerie

      To be honest, I don’t know why everyone is talking about Matanuska Glacier this year – where did you hear it was a “must-see?” I don’t consider it a must-see if you only have 10 or fewer days; I’d spend more time in Denali or down on the Kenai Peninsula instead.

  • Tanvi Bhagat

    Hi Valerie! Both your itineraries were super helpful while planning our trip. We did a combination of both – landed in fairbanks(Chena), then took the train to denali and then to anchorage. Rented a car and covered Girdwood and Seward and took the flight back to San Francisco from Anchorage.
    Your accomodation options were really helpful and our trip was a success.
    Thank You so much.

  • Grace

    This is a silly question but what are you supposed to do with the luggage in-between checkout times? For example when you check out of the hotel and are exploring the town before you get on the train for the next stop…do you have luggage recommendations if you have to walk around with it?

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