Best things to do in Ushuaia
Find out more about those top places in Ushuaia
Located in the heart of the Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia is almost as far south as you can get in Argentina on paved roads. Sandwiched between the rugged slopes of Cerro Martial and Monte Olivia, which are themselves the southernmost peaks of the Andes, and the thrashing waters of the famed Beagle Channel, Ushuaia is a gateway to the vast wilderness at the tip of South America. While the town itself is little more than a chaotic tumbledown of houses perched on vertiginous slopes, Ushuaia makes an ideal base for exploring the surrounding fjords, penguin colonies and ski resorts. What is more, in the summer, when temperatures become slightly less frigid, the mountains that rise sharply behind Ushuaia are home to some of the Tierra del Fuego’s most breathtaking hiking trails.
Ushuaia is the gateway to one of the most (in)famous shipping passages in the world: the Beagle Channel. Daily cruises from the town take you out onto the frigid waters to see spectacular vistas of the glacier-capped Andes, the archaeological remains of Concharo Yámanas left by the Tierra del Fuego’s indigenous population, and Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, the symbolic ‘end of the world’.
Alongside the Amazon Rainforest, the Tierra del Fuego is South America’s last remaining wilderness. To best experience this unrivaled landscape of pine forests, snow-capped peaks and penguin colonies, head to the national park of the same name just west of Ushuaia. Day tours from the town encompass the ex-convicts railway line, the pastel blue glacial Lake Roca and Cross Cormorants Island.
Until it became a booming town for adventure tourism, Ushuaia was once Argentina’s primary penal colony. To explore the town’s dark legacy, head to the Museo del Presido, which is housed in a stark former prison. Guided tours of the brooding complex let you explore the cramped cells, the appalling work conditions prisoners faced and their day-to-day lives inside its walls.
Designated a protected area, Parque Yatana is safe from the fast-paced development of Ushuaia. The lush forest is kept as a space where the region’s indigenous peoples can practice their traditional crafts, which are displayed at the art center within the park and on the various scenic trails.
The waters around the Tierra del Fuego are famed for their rich stocks of seafood and one of the area’s most thrilling experiences is to accompany the local fishermen out to sea to collect the crab traps. Once you are back on terra firma you will be able to head to a local’s home where they will prepare a traditional Patagonian meal for you.
Set sail towards the Falkland Islands to visit the rugged Isla Martillo on a penguin tour. The island is home to one of Argentina’s largest colonies where you will be able to get up close to iconic bird species and marvel at the spectacular landscapes.
With its cragged fjords, placid lakes and rocky coves, there is no better place in all of South America for canoeing than the Tierra del Fuego. Tours run from Ushuaia that take you to the breathtaking Lapataia Bay.