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A Complete Guide to Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia Argentina

Ushuaia, Argentina: The World’s Southernmost City

Ushuaia, Argentina is only 1,000 km from Antarctica, and it’s home to memorable wildlife experiences and scenic hikes. The world’s southernmost city is beautifully tucked between the snow-capped Fuegian mountains and the Beagle Channel. I didn’t really know what to expect before visiting, and I was worried Ushuaia would be one of those superlative destinations that usually under deliver.

Visiting a nearby island inhabited by thousands of penguins was one of the most memorable experiences of my trip. Plus, being in such a remote city definitely did add a special feel to the experience. Overall, I had a fantastic time in Ushuaia and it was one of the highlights of South America for me.

Ushuaia features on the best places to visit in South America. Check out the rest of the list!

Where to Change Money

To change money at the blue dollar rate, go to Calle Rivadavia 176. The rates here are the same rate as in the rest of Patagonia and Buenos Aires.

Tips

  • Bring a sweatshirt, winter jacket, hat, and gloves for outdoor activities. Even if the temperatures aren’t that low, the wind and frequent rain make it feel a lot colder. 
  • Book boat excursions for the front end of your stay. Occasionally they get postponed due to strong winds. 
  • If you are flying out of Ushuaia and have a connecting flight, give yourself a few hours between flights. The strong winds often cause delays, and I had delays of over an hour flying both in and out of Ushuaia. 

*All prices are in USD due to Argentina’s high inflation*

How to Get Around

The city is very walkable, but most of the hikes require transportation to reach the trailhead. Thankfully, there are shuttle vans to the most popular hiking spots that can be booked at your accommodation. If you are a group of 3-4 people, a taxi might be the cheaper option.

Related: What to Book in Advance Before Visiting Argentina

What to Do

Walk with penguins on Isla Martillo – Spending an hour on an island inhabited by 3,000 penguins was incredible. I was laughing almost the whole time just watching the little guys waddle around. This experience alone was worth the trip to Ushuaia. Piratour is the only operator and the 6-hour tour costs $67. It’s best to book a couple of weeks in advance because it’s very popular. 

Ushuaia Argentina
Isla Martillo

Tierra del Fuego National Park – This is the best hiking spot in Ushuaia and my favorite in Argentina. There are all types of trails varying from 30 minutes to 6 hours long. The hike to Cerro Guanaco is difficult, but it’s a must-do.

The 360° views from the top make the near 1,000-meter ascent well worth it. On one side is the Beagle Channel and the other has turquoise lakes with snow-capped mountains in the background. You should budget 5-6 hours for this hike.

Tierra del Fuego National Park
Cerro Guanaco

Another nice hike is Sendero Costa which hugs the shores of the Beagle Channel. This one is flat and takes 2-2.5 hours one way. Most hikes start from the visitor center, but for Sendero Costa, the driver will drop you at the other end of the trail to make it a one-way hike. You can take a shuttle van to the park for $12.50 round trip and the entrance to the park is $10.50. 

Ushuaia Argentina
Sendero Costa

Cerro Martial – El Martial is a viewpoint near one of the snow-capped peaks behind Ushuaia with excellent views looking out to the ocean. The hike is moderately difficult and it’s uphill the whole way. You can get to the trail by walking from town or taking a taxi that will bring you within 3 km of the end of the trail. On foot, it takes 4-5 hours roundtrip and it’s 3 hours by car. 

Laguna de los Témpanos – This hike has some difficult parts and is quite muddy, but you arrive at a beautiful glacier lake at the end. Part of the trail is a very scenic walk through the valley, but you also have to walk through lots of mud and have a steep climb at the end. Proper hiking boots are best for this one.

I recommend waiting for a sunny day because the clouds hover above the lake and you won’t get to appreciate it as much on a cloudy day. The hike takes about 4 hours if you take a taxi to the trailhead and 6-7 hours if you walk from town. 

Related: A Complete Guide to Jujuy, Argentina

Laguna Esmeralda – This hike is to another glacier lake. But, this one requires hiking through a forest and bog. The hike is about 75-90 minutes in each direction and is mostly flat. It has a reputation for being wet and muddy, but they have since built a walkway over the muddiest parts. You can get to the trail by a shuttle van for $10 round trip per person or by taxi. 

Beagle Channel boat tour – Spend a relaxing afternoon on a catamaran where you will see dolphins, sea lions, and maybe a whale if you’re lucky. The short tour is 3.5 hours and $26, while the longer one, which goes past the penguin island but doesn’t disembark, is 5.5 hours and $40. 

Museo Marítimo y del Presidio Ushuaia – In the early 1900s, a prison was built in Ushuaia with the intention of creating a penal colony for the most serious offenders in Argentina. Now it houses a massive museum with exhibits on the prison’s history, the exploration of Tierra Del Fuego, shipwrecks, Antarctica, and an art collection.

If you like to read in detail at museums, it will take 4+ hours to see everything. The tickets cost $13 and are valid for 48 hours. The museum is closed on Sundays. 

Related 10 Important Things to Know Before Visiting Argentina

Where to Eat

Parrilla La Estancia – A traditional restaurant with fantastic steaks and maybe the best lamb empanadas in Argentina. The $13 all-you-can-eat menu is an attractive option after a day of hiking in the national park. 

Doña Lupita – A casual spot for both pizza and empanadas. 

Where to Stay

Antarctica Hostel – A centrally located modern hostel with an on-site bar and heated floors to keep you warm in chilly Ushuaia.

Lo De Momo – A relaxed mom & pop hostel with friendly owners that are very knowledgeable about the city. They were great with helping me book both transfers and tours.

How Long to Stay

5 days is a good amount of time to spend in Ushuaia before heading elsewhere in Argentina. A common sentiment among travelers who only stayed a few days is that they wished they had stayed longer.

Related: The Best 1 Month Argentina Itinerary

Bookaway is a great resource that allows you to compare the prices of both buses and flights, and secure your seat in advance!

Where to Next

El Calafate (17 hours by bus) – Trek on the famous Perito Moreno Glacier which is the size of Buenos Aires.

El Chalten (20 hours) – The trekking capital of Argentina has the famous Fitz Roy hike and a great overall vibe.

Buenos Aires (3.5-hour flight) – A food paradise with European influence and exciting cultural events including street parties, tango shows, and interactive dining experiences. 

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