Ushuaia: Where is it, how to get there, what to do, where to sleep and even what and where to eat in Ushuaia.
In this mega-guide you will find everything you need to organize your trip to Ushuaia.
Although the Argentines say that Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, while the Chileans affirm that Puerto Williams (Chilean city) is the southernmost in the American continent. True or not, it is the southernmost within the Argentine territory and it is a place with a lot of history…
If you travel to Argentina , it is worth traveling to the extreme south to the southernmost tip of the country and the continent to visit the southernmost city in the world: Ushuaia.
The Pan-American Highway ends here, here Charles Darwin navigated the Beagle Channel, and where the intrepid travelers who come to start their journey to Antarctica arrive.
Ushuaia is not a destination for the budget-conscious adventurer. Many things are expensive here, and it’s not particularly close to the other tourist hotspots in Argentina.
However, it is worth including in your itinerary. If you are planning a trip to Ushuaia, keep reading to get all the information you need to put together your perfect trip to the southern city of Ushuaia.
The best way to get to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires is by plane. Both Aerolineas Argentinas and LATAM have daily flights to Ushuaia, and Aerolineas has multiple daily flights in high season. Other flight connections include El Calafate, Santiago and Punta Arenas.
Alternatively, you can take a bus.
From Buenos Aires , this would be a trip of more than 50 hours. Even from the closest tourist destination, El Calafate, it is a long journey. The distance is compounded by the fact that road access to the island of Tierra del Fuego is through Chile, and involves two border crossings and a ferry. This option is best if you are also visiting El Calafate, have time in your itinerary and are on a strict budget.
If you come from Chile , you can take a bus from Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas. From Punta Arenas, the trip is approximately 11 hours.
But except if the arrival is from one of these closest cities, Punta Arenas or El Calafate. The most convenient way to get to the Island is to do it by plane.
Although the province of Tierra del Fuego is a tax-free zone (an incentive for residents and industry to move here), Ushuaia is not cheap. Its harsh climate makes farm work challenging, and its location makes it difficult for fresh produce and other goods to enter. It’s an expensive place to live, which in turn makes it an expensive place to visit.
In Ushuaia a wide range of accommodation options are available, with youth hostels, hotels with spas, cozy B&Bs and Airbnb options for all budgets.
When you book your hotel, check the location on a map. Ushuaia is located on the side of the mountain and the roads are very steep.
Five blocks from the port may not seem like much on a map, but in reality, it will involve a strenuous walk up the hill.
While Ushuaia doesn’t have mind-blowing attractions on the level of the Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate or the Iguazú Falls in the north, there are a number of interesting and attractive places to visit.
Navigate the Beagle Channel, visit the Martial Glacier in Tierra del Fuego, ski center in the Andes mountain range, Cerro Castor, the Ushuaia Presidio Museum, enter the Tierra del Fuego National Park or visit the Maritime Museum of Ushuaia .
This park in the foothills of the Andes is where Route 3 ends, and where the old prisoner train runs, now called the End of the World Train. You have the possibility to visit it on a classic tour, on an adventure tour or go on your own and walk the trails through the spectacular landscape.
The most emblematic image of Ushuaia is the Les Eclaireurs lighthouse in the Beagle Channel. A cruise is a must. You can take a short cruise through the Beagle Channel to the lighthouse at the end of the world, a longer one to Isla Martillo to walk with the penguins, or go to Estancia Harberton. Whichever option you choose, do not miss out on a boat trip to navigate the Beagle Channel
Ushuaia offers a series of impressive hikes. One of the most beautiful, and quite easy, is the Laguna Esmeralda. There are also hikes to glaciers in the surrounding mountains, such as Glaciar Martial and Vinciguerra. During the winter, you can also take a night walk through the snow.
In addition to the mountains and glaciers, the other dominant feature of the landscape surrounding Ushuaia is the lakes. It’s worth heading north for a day to visit Lago Escondido and Lago Fagnano. This area is also a good place to see the fascinating and destructive beaver population. The best way to visit the lakes is with a 4×4 tour, which will take you off the beaten path for spectacular panoramic views.
With its mild oceanic climate (the climate is similar to Reykjavik, Iceland), temperatures in Ushuaia never exceed 17°C in summer, and rain and clouds are common. This makes the National Parks fabulously lush and the shots of the bay spectacular. It also allows for more than a few days of rain.
If you travel to Ushuaia in winter, don’t miss the snow activities. Ushuaia has become one of the most important ski destinations in the country, with Cerro Castor offering great facilities for skiing. Other popular winter activities include husky sledding, campfire dinners, snowmobiling and snow trekking.
The average length of stay in Ushuaia is 2 nights, 3 days. In this time, you can discover the Tierra del Fuego National Park, take a cruise through the Beagle Channel and explore the city.
No matter how long you have in Ushuaia, you are sure to have an amazing trip. It is much more than the portal to Antarctica. You can relive the experiences of Fitz Roy, Darwin, Chatwin and other adventurers on this fascinating island at the tip of South America.
Eating in Ushuaia is more expensive than in other parts of Argentina, even in Buenos Aires.
When in Ushuaia, be sure to try the local Patagonian specialties: lamb and trout. Ushuaia is also known for its spider crab and other shellfish. There are several restaurants on the main street of the city, San Martín, as well as on the coastal road, Maipú.
There are many restaurant options in the city where one can devour the delicious Fuegian cuisine and savor dishes made from pollock, trout, salmon, sea bream or hake, king crab or Patagonian lamb.
As a main dish you can eat an empanada -a small cake with a meat or vegetable filling- and then finish the dessert with dulce de leche -caramelized condensed milk- or anything that contains the calafate berry.
Although Ushuaia is known as the southernmost city in the world, it is actually no further south than Belfast, Ireland is north.
But it has a subpolar oceanic climate comparable to cities like Reykjavik in Iceland and Unalaska in Alaska. On average, the city experiences 200 days of light rain or snow per year, with many cloudy and foggy days, and despite receiving only 530mm of average annual rainfall, Ushuaia has a very humid climate.
The months of November to March are cool with rain and some wind. There are also some snow days. The average temperatures range between highs of 16°C and lows of 12°C, while the temperature record reached 29°C.
The months between June and August can be very cold with common snow falls and a very strong wind coming up from Antarctica. For this time of year it is necessary to wear windproof and waterproof clothing and several layers of clothing. The average temperature oscillates between maximums of -1°C and minimums of -3°C, while a historical minimum reached -6°C.
|Average temperature (°C)||7.1||6.9||5.3||2.4||-0.6||-3||-3.1||-2.5||-0.6||1.6||4.2||6.1|
|temperature min. (°C)||3.7||3.5||2.2||-0.2||-2.8||-5||-5.1||-4.8||-3.2||-1.5||0.7||2.6|
|max temperature (°C)||10.7||10.6||8.8||5.3||1.7||-0.9||-1||-0.1||2.1||4.8||7.7||9.7|
|Rainy days (days)||17||14||14||13||11||11||11||11||11||12||15||17|
|Sun hours (hours)||7.2||6.4||5.1||4.2||2.9||2.3||2.5||3.8||5.2||6.8||7.5||7.4|
High season officially begins in August and ends in April, usually coinciding with Easter. During this period, tourists from all over the world travel to Ushuaia to enjoy its spectacular surroundings.
Ushuaia is a small city and is easy to get around on foot. The city also has public transport and taxis, as well as car and bicycle rentals, useful when you want to explore the surroundings and the many natural attractions of Ushuaia.
As Ushuaia is a duty free zone, there are some duty free shops in the city – these are good places to buy things like liquor and chocolate.
For normal shopping needs, Calle San Martin has plenty of options. There are numerous adventure clothing stores that carry well-known brands such as Patagonia, North Face, and Columbia. From trekking clothing to ski gear, if you’re short on warm clothing it’s easy to find the right clothing here. There are also two supermarkets in the city to buy food and other basic items.
If you are passing through Ushuaia on your way to Antarctica, you may need to buy or rent special equipment
Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego province, the southernmost part of Patagonia, Argentina, and is generally considered the southernmost city in the world (a title that is disputed by tiny Puerto Williams).
It is located on the border with Chile, within a large bay on the southern coast of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and extends from the shores of the Beagle Channel to the south and to the Cordillera Martial in the north.
It is often called “The end of the world”, which can easily conjure up an image of desolate wastelands, however nothing could be further from the truth! Ushuaia is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and is bursting with color and life.
The city of Ushuaia acquired its name from two Yagan aboriginal words: USHU which means “at the bottom” and WUAIA which means “bay, cove or port”. The lands surrounding the city of Ushuaia were discovered and named by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1520, who decided to call the province Tierra del Fuego. The name of Tierra del Fuego is due to the numerous fires lit by the native Yaganes (also known as Yamanes) that could be seen from afar from the boats, burning on the horizon.
The Beagle Channel was named after the British ship HMS Beagle during its first hydrographic survey of the southern coast of South America, which lasted from 1826 to 1830.
On the second voyage of the Beagle, Captain Fitzroy brought Charles Darwin as his companion, allowing Darwin to begin his historical naturalistic observations on evolution. It is documented that when they reached the Beagle Channel.
The small town of Ushuaia currently has a population of 58,000, but numbers have risen rapidly in recent years as a result of Argentina’s growing tourism industry since the 2001 economic collapse.
The government encouraged this growth by declaring the province of Tierra del Fuego a virtually tax-free zone, as an incentive for Argentines to settle there (many of the inhabitants of present-day Ushuaia come from the Chaco, in northern Argentina).
As a result, Ushuaia has developed a successful infrastructure for both residents and tourists, including a fully functional hospital, the Ushuaia International Airport, educational institutions, and a well-organized public transportation system.
However, the cost of living is relatively high, since all goods have to be transported over long distances, usually on container ships.
For a long time, only the indigenous Selk’nam and Yahgan (Yámana) tribes lived in this remote part of the world. British missionaries arrived in the early 1830s and established the first European settlements.
For a long time, Ushuaia was little more than a remote outpost. It was later used by the Argentine government as a high security prison.
Criminals were sent there. The city grew around him to house the families of those who worked in the prison.
Closed in the middle of the 20th century, the prison today houses the Museum of the Ex-Presidio of Ushuaia. The stories of the prisoners are told on the walls of their cells. Well documented and very interesting, the museum is, for me, a must-see in the city.
What used to be a sleepy little town has grown a lot in recent years, mainly thanks to the tourist development of the area. That said, Ushuaia is modest and unassuming, with a single main street and the star of the show, its waterfront.