After experiencing the bustling city life of Buenos Aires, we flew down to Ushuaia to see what the southern tip of the country had to offer. While the city is clearly much smaller and quieter than Buenos Aires, there are still plenty of things to do in Ushuaia.
The city is a base for those embarking on cruises to Antarctica and a gateway to incredible outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, skiing, boating, and more. As outdoor enthusiasts, we were thrilled to be surrounded by beautiful mountains and coastline. If you decide to make the jaunt to El Fin del Mundo, here are a few great things to do while there.
1. Take a coastline cruise
Ushuaia sits on some beautiful coastline where rugged, snowcapped mountains drop steeply to the sea. There are many inlets, islands, and lakes along the coast where abundant wildlife can be seen. If you aren’t in planning to take a cruise down to Antarctica, there are cruise tours where you can see Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse, Estancia Harberton, islands, and other sights along the Beagle Channel. You’ll likely also spot tons of water birds, penguins, sea lions, and other wildlife!
2. Walk along the waterfront
Ushuaia sits directly on the coast, and there is a pathway along the Beagle Channel and Avenida Prefectura Naval Argentina. Along the path, there are some pretty green spaces and parks, lookouts over the water, and statues. Occasionally, you’ll see vendors that set up stalls to sell handmade goods here. If you are looking to book a tour of sorts, quite a few tour agencies sit along this road as well.
This pathway is a nice place to take in both the city and the mountain views. We visited Ushuaia just before winter when the sun rose late and set early, so we caught a few sunrises and sunsets along this path.
3. Shop for souvenirs in the heart of town
The area surrounding Avenida San Martin is where you’ll find most of the city action. This part of Ushuaia has many restaurants, bars, and shops. There are a few outdoor gear shops carrying jackets, shoes, general clothing, accessories, and more. For even more shopping, there’s a mall with a variety of gift shops and small restaurants inside.
Whether you’re looking for souvenirs for yourself, postcards, gifts, or other knick knacks, there are plenty of options. It’s pretty cool to bring something home from El Fin del Mundo (the end of the world)!
4. Hit the slopes
We arrived in Ushuaia a little too early for ski season, but we would have loved to get some turns in if we had been there in the heart of winter. Cerro Castor is a ski hill that sits about a 30-minute drive from Ushuaia. The hill isn’t huge, but it offers runs for a variety of skill levels. There are also dining options, clothing rental, and lodging at the mountain. Outside of boarding or downhill skiing, you can ice skate and cross country ski here too.
If you are looking for something a little more extreme, you can heli ski or ski one of the glaciers in the area. Glaciar Martial has a small ski area if you want easy access to one of the glaciers. There are also other ski touring options available if you want to further explore the nearby mountains.
5. Explore Tierra del Fuego National Park
Hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park was probably our favorite of things to do in Ushuaia during out short visit. We spent a day exploring it, admiring the stunning views and wildlife. We were there late in the fall, so the leaves brightened the park with their bold colors. Being there late in the season meant that the park was very quiet, something we really enjoyed after spending a bit of time in Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
If you want to see the park without involving much hiking, you can take a guided tour, rent a car yourself, or take a train into the park. For more information, see our post on exploring Tierra del Fuego.
6. Visit a few museums
Museums are a great way to learn more about the history and culture of Ushuaia. Plus, they make for a great option if you encounter rainy or extra cold days. The most popular museum in Ushuaia is the Museo Marítimo, or Maritime Museum. This large museum is set up in an old prison and contains many different themed wings, including a prison exhibit, art gallery, historic pavilion, maritime exhibit, library, and a rotating exhibit. You can access info on these exhibits in a variety of languages.
The Museo del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Museum) is another popular option. It contains information and exhibits on the indigenous people who first occupied the region, the people who settled here in later expeditions, and other historical things.
7. Hike to a glacier
There are a few glaciers in the mountains surrounding Ushuaia. While they may not be as incredible as Perito Moreno and some of Argentina’s many other glaciers, the views around Ushuaia are beautiful and hiking is a great way to see more of the area.
If skiing Glaciar Martial isn’t in your plans, you can alternatively hike to it. Take a taxi to the base of the mountain where there is a lodge and small ski area. Outside of winter, they still have the lift running at times for visitors to take it up the mountain a little further towards the glacier. The views of the channel from the mountain are stunning!
Glaciar Ojo del Albino and Glaciar Vinciguerra are options if you want to see other glaciers in the area. These both sit a little further from Ushuaia than Glaciar Martial and are less frequented. Tours to all of these glaciers are available if you’d rather not go on your own.
8. Grab some local eats
Anywhere we go, we always love trying the local cuisine. Being right on the coast, Ushuaia has so much great seafood. Crab, muscles, trout, and a wide variety of other fish dishes are common.
Ushuaia is also unique in that there is a great blend of traditional Patagonian cuisine with cuisine from various parts of Europe. With immigrants from Spain, Germany, Scotland, and more, you’ll find fondue, pasta, pizza, etc. Ushuaia is even home to the world’s southernmost Irish pub. For more traditional Argentinian cuisines, you’ll find empanadas, choripan, lamb, and steak.