We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base

Miami Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
817 posts
57 reviews
Save Topic
Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base

I've been reading through some of the postings, but have a few questions regarding our upcoming 5 day trip in late July.   Anchorage will be our base, meaning as early as we might depart in the morning, we will return that evening.

There are 3 of us travelling, and while at first, we thought we could avoid a car rental, it appears that to do any tours you have to take a bus or the train. While we have enjoyed train travel in Europe, it seems the cost to do so especially gold star service round trip (where possible) each day on the Alaska Railway plus the cost of the tour starts adding up - especially if we do 3-4 tours.

Therefore, we will likely rent a car for at least a few of the days.

Here are the questions, and we would welcome subjective answers:

If we were to do goldstar service, which would be the best (most scenic) destination. Seward?

What is the difference between adventure class vs goldstar - is it worth it?

Some tours have an option of train or bus - the train seems to take longer, but are there advantages of one or the other.

As for driving- which destinations/routes would be best - again with the return trip that same day.

I realize in the 5 days we are in Anchorage, there is so much we can't see but we want to make the best of our time there.

Thanks again for any advice or suggestions.

Mentioned in this post
Alaska
Alaska
United States
Seward
Seward
Alaska
7 replies to this topic
Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
44,460 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base

Any reason for staying in Anchorage?

Any particular activities or things you want to see and do? :)

Mentioned in this post
Winnipeg, Canada
Level Contributor
6,243 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base

"If we were to do goldstar service, which would be the best (most scenic) destination. Seward?"

Anchorage to Seward is the most scenic stretch.

"What is the difference between adventure class vs goldstar - is it worth it?"

Goldstar is the domed cars: https:/…onboard-experience . To me it wasn't worth the extra cost, but it might be to others.

"Some tours have an option of train or bus - the train seems to take longer, but are there advantages of one or the other."

The train takes longer and runs only once a day in any direction. Costs more. Most have dining options that also cost a lot. With the bus you have more choices, and also more time at your destination.

"As for driving- which destinations/routes would be best - again with the return trip that same day."

I think you're making a HUGE mistake returning to Anchorage every night, wasting a LOT of time traveling back and forth. At the very least spend a night in Seward. But to answer the question: If you plan to do an easy guided glacier hike at Matanuska Glacier (2 hrs. NE of Anchorage), you'd save a lot of money taking a car as opposed to the tour from Anchorage. No public transportation goes there.

Without knowing your interests? Hiking, rafting, zipline, wildlife cruise, bear-viewing tour ($500+), museums, fishing, etc.?

Mentioned in this post
Seward
Seward
Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
Level Contributor
12,928 posts
224 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base

Please don’t ‘base’ in one place.

Please rent a car.

Anchorage, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Anchorage
Level Contributor
12,928 posts
224 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base

Do you have dates/times of arrival & departure?

Miami Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
817 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base

 

Thanks for all of your replies so far. The reason we are using Anchorage as a base is that our hotel will be "free" in that we are using "points". 

However, we can be flexible on one of the nights, and have considered the possibility of one night in another location, which we might do the last 2 days.

.

As for when we will be in Anchorage- end of July- early August. We already have a car reserved for our entire stay.

Here is where we would welcome advice or suggestions - which will then help with our other planning.   Which tour we could do on our own- we could drive there - and which we should do as a paid tour, with an operator - they provide the transportation and the tour.

For example, there are a variety of operators offering "Turnagain" tours from Anchorage ranging in cost from $169-$199 per person. This seems something that we could just easily do on our own. 

Wouldn't better options for using a tour company be for a glacier walk or flightseeing ?

Here are some other examples.  For whale watching, glacier water/boat tour -  couldn't we drive to the boat departure point, rather than board a bus or train to take us on the tour ?

Again, thanks for any comments or suggestions. 

Mentioned in this post
Winnipeg, Canada
Level Contributor
6,243 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base

"Wouldn't better options for using a tour company be for a glacier walk or flightseeing ?"

Yep!

"For whale watching, glacier water/boat tour - couldn't we drive to the boat departure point, rather than board a bus or train to take us on the tour ?"

Yep again!

The ones you mentioned are for people who don't have their own wheels.

Wasilla, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
6,572 posts
162 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base

" For whale watching, glacier water/boat tour - couldn't we drive to the boat departure point, rather than board a bus or train to take us on the tour ?"

Yes... that's the advantage of a rental car. You can drive to Whittier for a Prince William Sound glacier cruise or to Seward for a Kenai Fjords cruise.

Mentioned in this post
Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound
461 Reviews
Alaska
Seward
Seward
Alaska
Kenai
Kenai
Alaska
Reply to: Train, bus or car for 5 days - with Anchorage as a base
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted