Posted in Visiting Alaska

How much is a trip to Alaska? It can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! It’s a popular destination with most people wanting to visit in the peak of summer. For many, it’s a faraway location. Moreover, Alaska is not part of the contiguous United States, meaning shipping costs are higher. So, visitors to the 49th State may end up paying more for gas, food and other goods. Spending a little extra dough to get the most out of your vacation is worth it, but if you’re trying to save, a little planning and these budget tips will deliver an amazing and affordable trip to Alaska!

You can enjoy some of Alaska’s best features and activities without breaking your budget. Alaska is rich in natural beauty, and there is no price tag on that. Keep reading for everything you need to know from cheaper times to visit and the best transportation, lodging, food, tours and activities for planning a trip to Alaska on a budget.

How much does a trip to Alaska cost?

Prices differ based on many factors including the activities you plan to do, the type of accommodations you choose and how many people you are traveling with. In Alaska, Westmark Hotel rates range from $119/night to $399/night depending on the location and season.

We recommend visiting for at least a week to experience what Alaska has to offer. In addition to budgeting for accommodations, you should plan for meals, travel (it’s a big state, and you may want to rent a car, hop on the railroad or take a bus tour to see more of it) and adventure activities. There are many things (like hiking and wildlife viewing) you can do for free, but you may want to pick one or two tours to splurge on.

When is the cheapest time to visit Alaska?

The northern lights over a lake in Alaska


The cheapest time to visit Alaska is during the tourism shoulder season from early September through early May. If you travel in this time period, you’ll enjoy more budget-friendly prices and less crowds. You can often get the best of both worlds by visiting in April or September when the weather is either heating up or just starting to cool down. If you visit in April, it’s likely there will still be snow on the ground but there’s also plenty of sunshine to enjoy! We’re also fans of a winter trip, especially if you want to catch the northern lights or try a winter sport.

Budget tip: be flexible with your travel dates and look around at different locations. The time and location will really impact the total cost of your trip.

What is the cheapest way to travel to Alaska?

Flying is the most affordable way to get to Alaska and many airlines offer direct flights from large cities such as Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Honolulu, and more! Planning ahead is key; be sure to book flights and excursions months in advance to get the best deals.

Getting around Alaska while you’re here

There is a lot of land to cover in Alaska but traveling Alaska on a budget is possible! While your two feet can take you around the city you’re staying in, if you’re looking to venture further, you’ll need to rent a car or RV, book a bus tour, or take a ride on the Alaska Railroad.

What are the most affordable places to stay in Alaska?

Westmark Fairbanks


Westmark Hotels has budget-friendly locations across the state so you never have to worry where you’re going to lay your head.

If you want spectacular views of both the Chugach Mountains and the Cook Inlet, Westmark Anchorage is the place for you!

The premier hotel in Dawson City is the Westmark Inn which features an expansive outdoor deck where visitors can enjoy home-cooked meals and a comfortable lobby to relax in.

Wanting to see North America’s tallest peak and spend a night or two taking in the view? Stay in Denali at the McKinley Chalet Resort which is located in the heart of the Denali Canyon.

If you are planning time in the second-largest city in Alaska, Westmark Fairbanks has all the amenities including comfortable rooms, a fitness center, a restaurant and a conference center.

The quaint city of Skagway, not far from the cruise ship docks and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, you can unwind at the Westmark Inn.

If you’re not planning to stay in a hotel, try camping or renting an RV. Whatever you decide, be sure to book early for the best deals!

What are the best budget-friendly places to eat?

Chicken sandwich at Karstens Public House


There are many local restaurants and food trucks for more affordable options. We also recommend stocking up on groceries so you can pack lunches and snacks for when you’re out exploring.

For a really budget-friendly snack, keep an eye out for blueberries, salmonberries and more along the hiking trails. Alaska is a foodie’s paradise so make sure to do your research before you arrive so you know all the best spots to try.

What are the best low-cost activities to do?

Denali National Park sign


Whether you’re looking for an Alaska family vacation on a budget or a romantic trip for two, there are a ton of low-cost activities to enjoy from outdoor activities for the whole family to wildlife viewing, cultural attractions and more!

Explore the outdoors and nature

  • Visit Alaska’s National Parks. Denali National Park and Preserve is one of the most popular.
    • In Denali National Park, it’s possible to enjoy the park without spending too much. The Visitor Center is a great place to stop and map out your trip, learn about the area and talk with park rangers. There is a $15 entrance fee to the park, but it is valid for seven days and is well worth the captivating sights.
    • Also in Denali National Park, you can take the free shuttle to the Savage River day-use area and campground to get the most out of your trip to the park. Enjoy hiking, biking and even camping if you want to stretch out the journey to a couple of days.
  • Enjoy local parks like Pioneer Park in Fairbanks.
    • In the heart of Fairbanks, Pioneer Park gives visitors a chance to step into Alaska history with artifacts from the gold rush era. Explore a riverboat, train cars, historic log cabins, a carousel, a miniature golf course, and more for the young and young at heart.
  • Stroll through botanical gardens.
    • Love flowers? Stroll through the beautiful blooms at Georgeson Botanical Gardens in Fairbanks. The suggested donation for admission is only $7. Stop by and take a self-guided tour between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Take a hike!
    • Check out Anchorage’s best trails and some favorite walking trails in Alaska and the Yukon to see what hike would best suit your group. Many hikes around Alaska will feature wildlife spotting opportunities and glacier views!

See Alaska wildlife and animals

  • Take a trip to the Zoo.
    • The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage provides hours of fun for the whole family. Children under two get in free, and admission for youths and adults ranges from $7-$17.
  • Dog lovers rejoice – it’s free to visit the sled dog kennels at Denali National Park.
    • Sled dogs play an essential role in the park, and visitors can learn about what they do with a 30-minute demonstration that takes place three times a day during the peak season.
  • You are more likely to see wildlife in their natural habitat the more time you spend outside. It’s free to enjoy the outdoors so be sure to keep an eye out any time you go outside.

Visit cultural attractions

  • Experience culture at Alaska’s museums.
    • In Anchorage, you can purchase an Alaska Culture Pass for access to two of the top cultural attractions in the city at a reduced rate. Visits to the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center can fill a whole day with history and discovery. The pass can be purchased for $32 and includes a shuttle between locations.
    • Visit the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka to see Alaska Native artifacts and art, including tools, boats, and more that Dr. Sheldon Jackson collected on his travels across the state.
  • Stroll through local farmers markets like the Tanana Valley Farmers Market in Fairbanks.
    • In Fairbanks, stroll through the Tanana Valley Farmers Market during the summer months to look at all the Alaska products from produce to crafts. This is the oldest farmers market in Alaska, and it even has a building for comfortable shopping.
  • Check out historic sites and parks.
    • The Sitka National Historical Park preserves a piece of Alaska history. It is the site of a battle between Russian traders and Indigenous people. View Tlingit and Haida totem poles along the park’s trail and tour the Russian Bishop’s House.
    • In the charming city of Skagway, a tour of the Red Onion Saloon is only $10. For that small fee, you’ll be treated to colorful stories of Alaska and gold rush history while visiting the former brothel, and you can bet the stories will be anything but stuffy. Each tour includes a Red Onion souvenir garter.

Book your tickets to Alaska now!

Packing for Alaska


With a little planning and the value of a stay at Westmark, rest assured that you can visit Alaska on a budget and still have an incredible vacation. So, get your gear ready, pack your bags and book your hotel reservations with Westmark Hotels today!