The southernmost city in all the Americas, Ushuaia is properly the only city in all of Patagonia, because it serves as the port for cruises headed further south to Antarctica. Whether you’re headed to this southern Argentinian outpost for a cruise, or as the start to a hike through Patagonia, or just out of curiosity for its historical significance, there is loads to do here! After visiting many sleepy little towns through Patagonia, I was pleasantly surprised to find Ushuaia bustling with people and things to do. I came through primarily to round off my month of hiking in Patagonia, here at the Tierra del Fuego park. But I found lots more to do than I imagined in this city at the end of the world. Here are 10 totally awesome things to do in Ushuaia, Argentina:
- Hike to Glacier Martial
Just north of town is the big beautiful Glacier Martial. Take a taxi up to the start of the hill and then hike up to see the best views of the glacier. You can take a couple hours to enjoy walking back to town or call for a taxi. This is a great day trip to start your visit, because glaciers are so iconic to this region of the world!
- Visit the Tierra del Fuego National Park
The park itself is massive but the area open to visitors is relatively small, so you can make a day trip of going. As part of the Patagonia region, the park is famed for its beautiful views and diverse species of flora and fauna. Catch a shuttle from the bus station at Av Maipu and 25 de Mayo at 9, 10, or 11am, and return as late as 6pm. The park entry fee is $170 Argentine Pesos, and they provide a map and information at the entry. For those looking to enjoy more of the park, there are several campgrounds within the park that are worth a stay. On my camping trip there, I woke one morning to a pack of wild horses grazing nearby. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had!
- Train at the End of the World
This novelty train ride takes you from the city to the park, allowing you to enjoy the beautiful scenery aboard the world’s southernmost train. Although a bit touristy, it’s an experience you’ll never have anywhere else, and is worth adding to the itinerary.
- Try the local specialty dishes
Argentina is famous for its steak, and Ushuaia for its seafood, most especially the king crab. Be sure to try these dishes while you’re in town, with a side of Malbec, of course. I recommend the Paso Garibaldi restaurant, as it’s very lovely, not overpriced, and one of the few places off the main street. While you’re on the main street (San Martin), you’ll be able to get some penguin-themed souvenirs among others. And I would recommend a piece of jewelry with the Inca Rose stone, famous from Argentina and very beautiful!
- Visit Estancia Harberton
This was the first settlement here in Ushuaia, on the banks of the Beagle Channel, and it continues to be inhabited by the descendants of the original settlers. It’s incredible to visit and realize just how self-sufficient this family had to be, trying to start a new life on this rather inhospitable land. Lots of their facilities and machinery have been maintained as it was used originally. Tours from town usually allow you several hours to explore the property after a guided tour, allowing you enough time to enjoy lunch overlooking the estate and an informative tour at the maritime museum.
- Have a beer at Ushuaia’s oldest bar
Bar Ideal claims the title of oldest bar in the world’s most southern city, operating since 1951. It has all the charm you would expect of such a place, drawing in locals and tourists alike for a beer at the end of a long day of work or exploring. The ceiling is covered in flags and the walls with notes and drawings from their many customers over the years. Stop in for a locally famous Beagle Beer, and share in the roar of chatter and laughter that ensue.
- Visit the museum at the End of the World Prison
Long ago, Ushuaia housed many of the country’s worst prisoners at its End of the World Prison. Now, the facility serves as a museum, its five wings each featuring a different aspect of history and culture here. They are the Prison Museum, Maritime Museum, Antarctic Museum, Art Museum, and Art Gallery. At $180 Argentina Pesos, it’s worth the price of admission, and will give you a perfect introduction to the history of this important region of the world.
- Go sea kayaking on the Beagle Channel
This is the perfect way to experience the famous Beagle Channel, slowly working your way along the shore towards Tierra del Fuego, enjoying the breathtaking scenery along the way. I recommend taking the tour with Canal Fun, they’re really fun and knowledgeable guides, and they provide you with all the best gear so that you’re warm, dry, and comfortable the whole time.
- Dine at Ramos Generales
Without a doubt the coolest café/restaurant in town, Ramos Generales is the original general store from when Ushuaia was first established. They have kept up the original look and feel of the store, and have on display a museum of memorabilia and antiques from throughout Ushuaia’s history. Some of the tables are actually display cases! Stop in for a coffee and the Argentines’ favorite sweet, alfajores! This pastry/dessert is two crumbly shortbread cookies with dulce de leche in between, and sprinkled with coconut shavings. It’s super delicious!
- Sailing to see penguins
Sailing and catamaran trips are another great way to experience the Beagle Channel. They will pull right up close to the shore of several islands, allowing you to see loads of wildlife, like penguins and cormorants and sea lions! After all, no visit to the end of the world would be complete without a trip to see the penguins!
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