Photo Credit: Sherry LaRose - Sitka, Alaska

Most visitors explore Alaska’s Inside Passage on a cruise ship. This area is an archipelago, after all, with towns situated on islands that aren’t connected to one another by roads, so traveling by boat or plane is the only way to get from place to place. Cruises, of course, do all the work for you—taking you seamlessly from port to port.

But you can also visit this spectacular area of Alaska on your own! Admittedly, it’s not as easy to travel the Inside Passage this way (which is why we often recommend small ship cruises, which give you that off-the-beaten-path feel). But if you’re all-in for a DIY trip, these itineraries are great places to start.

One caveat: You won’t be able to see all the towns in the same amount of time as you would on a cruise. To do that, you’d have to be hopping on a plane or ferry every day, which can be exhausting. Instead, choose a few towns in southeast Alaska and plan to stay for a few days in each. The upside: You won’t be limited to just a few hours in port, like you would on a cruise; instead, you’ll have time to really experience what life is like in whichever destinations you choose.

Juneau will serve as your major access point, and you can find several direct flights every day from Seattle. From Juneau, you can hop on smaller air charters to reach surrounding towns.