Ushuaia: Top Things to Do at the End of the World
Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, also nicknamed as the end of the world entice travelers who want to get the real Patagonian experience. Read our guide on top things to do in Ushuaia while traveling on every budget.
So, finally, after a month traveling the Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, we reached the true end of our journey, Ushuaia.
The world's southernmost city, the city we did not have on our Patagonia itinerary only a couple of days before our arrival. At first, we were not planning on visiting the south tip of Argentina, simply because we thought it is too far and too expensive, but we are glad we reconsidered our plans.
When looking on the map, we found out, that our original plan, traveling from hiking paradise Torres del Paine to Bariloche would have required spending at least 30 hours on a bus (plus plenty of hours more to get to Buenos Aires subsequently) and also, more importantly, we realized that after more than seven months on the road, we don't have any desire to see another volcanoes and lakes which we had already seen on the Chilean side of the borders.
This thought turned our attention to Ushuaia, and when we found cheap flight tickets from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, we didn't have to look any further.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM USHUAIA
When we first got the glimpse of Tierra del Fuego Province, our first thought was something like who the hell would like to live here as it is cold, windy and from the very first moment you can tell that living here won't be easy.
But believe it or not, Ushuaia was first settled more than 10 000 years ago, and the indigenous people had been living in this inhospitable part of the world unnoticed (or at least not bothered) for a long time, until the 19th century when British missionaries arrived, but apart from their religion, they also brought many diseases which significantly reduced the native population.
Sometimes, it is hard to believe that those people were able to survive in such hard conditions, had to deal with harsh weather and had to hunt every day to get food only to be wiped out by epidemics because they never had a chance to build their immune system.
When traveling from Torres del Paine by bus, we soon noticed that the land became unnaturally flat, something we haven't experienced for a while as our Carretera Austral road trip and later the journey through Argentinian Patagonia (Perito Moreno Glacier and El Chalten, home to Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre) were filled with an uncountable number of mountainous views, but the road to Ushuaia was all of a sudden completely different. Luckily, mountains appeared a couple of kilometers before we reached Ushuaia and we could breathe a sigh of relieve.
Our first impression of the city of Ushuaia was somewhat bland.
The wide-spread city, home to more than 50 000 people, is not attractive at the first sigh, and the omnipresent strong and cold wind is not very welcoming either, but its mountainous surroundings and the fact that the city is overlooking Beagle Channel make from Ushuaia a pleasant destination to spend two or three days.
When you made it that far south, here are the best things you can do in Ushuaia.
TAKE THE PICTURE AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Who wouldn't want to take a picture next to the sign saying you made it to the end of the world, right?
For this reason, there is not only one sign in Ushuaia, but we saw at least three, all of them near the visitors center close to the waterfront. By the way, staff in the information center in Ushuaia is very helpful, so if you need a piece of advice on things to do in the city and its surroundings or you only need to narrow down your itinerary, it is worth to pay a visit there.
We cannot deny that it is a great marketing trick, and we can completely understand why Argentine authorities fight so hard to keep this slogan as it surely attracts attention.
Yes, Ushuaia is the world's southernmost city, but you can find small settlements even further south, the one of at least notable size is Puerto Williams with 2000 inhabitants which belongs to Chile, not Argentina and also claim itself as the world's southernmost city to increase tourism.
Either way, Ushuaia still keeps the status as it is the biggest city far and wide.
HIKE IN TIERRA DEL FUEGO NATIONAL PARK
Hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park was our favorite activity when in Ushuaia.
Tierra del Fuego alias Land of Fire is split between Argentina and Chile, and when hiking from Ushuaia on the Argentinian side, you can even trek to the place overlooking those two countries (and you don't need passport here).
Tierra del Fuego National Park offers several hiking trails, although only a small portion of the park is accessible to visitors. After hiking one of the toughest, but absolutely rewarding accessible treks in the park, Cerro Guanaco trail, we completely fell in love with this place. When we left the easy trails leading around lakes, we soon appeared in the wild nature of Patagonia and could have enjoyed the tranquility and superb views.
Tierra del Fuego National Park might not have the leading magnets such as Mirador Las Torres in Torres Del Paine National Park, Hanging Glacier in Queulat National Park or Marble Caves on General Carrera Lake, but it has the soul.
Even when you don't have your own car, getting to the park is not difficult as there are public buses leaving from Ushuaia's bus terminal (it looks more like regular parking lot) every hour from 8 AM.
You cannot buy a ticket in advance, but we did not have a problem to get on the bus even during high season as most of all visitors travel by car or on a sightseeing tour - the tour is great for those who want to get the sense of the park, but don't want to hike. The bus does not come cheap, as of January 2019, the round trip cost 550 ARS per person and the entrance fee to the national park cost 490 ARS per person.
The visitors center in Ushuaia will provide you with a map containing all the hiking trails so you can choose the right one for you depending on your level of fitness.
TAKE A TRAIN TO THE END OF THE WORLD
If you are looking for the way how to make the visit of Ushuaia even more special, why not to take a train to the end of the world using the Southern Fuegian Railway which is also known as the world's southernmost functioning railway.
When you think of it, destinations like Ushuaia are so remote, that no wonder someone back in the 19th century came with an idea to build a prison here and get rid off undesirable individuals. The railway was constructed in order to transport building material, but today when the prison is not there anymore, the railway has a new purpose: show tourists a bit of national heritage and the stunning nature of one of the most pristine places in the world.
START YOUR ANTARCTICA ADVENTURE HERE
For those lucky ones, who have visiting Antarctica on their itinerary, arriving in Ushuaia is almost unavoidable as the majority of cruises start here.
Sailing to the southernmost continent was not in our program this time as this adventure was way above our budget. In case you sign up for one of those cruises, make sure you will arrive in Ushuaia at least one day before departure date as this is an experience you surely don't want to miss because of a delayed or postponed flight.
But even us, who travel on a strict budget and couldn't afford a trip to Antarctica, watching big cruise ships which were about to begin their journey to uninhabited, remote, wild and ice-covered land, was something special and we could feel the atmosphere of excitement spread throughout the city.
WALK THE COASTAL WALK
Ushuaia as a city feels pretty safe, so you should take advantage of it and walk around the coast. The coastal trail is paved and when the weather is good, you can see the mountains on the background as well.
We walked this path quite often as our hostel was out of the city center (but close to the airport), and always enjoyed it.
START OR FINISH YOUR PATAGONIA ADVENTURE HERE
The location of Ushuaia raises the question of why not to start or finish your Patagonian adventure here.
We started our Patagonia travels in El Chaiten, Chile (where we visited the amazing Pumalin National Park) and from here began the ultimate road trip along Carretera Austral, then crossed borders in Villa O'Higgins to Argentina, hiked in El Chalten, visited Perito Moreno Glacier, then crossed borders to Chile again only with hiking in Torres del Paine in mind. Then we crossed borders to Argentina again to see what Ushuaia has to offer and flew to Buenos Aires to continue our South American travels.
You can follow our journey, or why not to travel in the opposite direction, rent a car in Ushuaia and travel from south to north? Make sure you have enough blank pages in your passport as jumping between those countries requires to have room for all those stamps.
WATCH THE SUNSET
The island Tierra del Fuego alias Land of Fire got the name in 1520 when Fernando Magallanes named it after fires he saw at night on islands. Hadn't we read the story, we would have easily believed that the poetic name of the island came up when colonizers were watching those everyday spectacular sunsets over Tierra del Fuego.
Take your camera, don't forget your down jacket to stay warm and go out to catch the last sunrays of the day.
HOW TO GET TO USHUAIA
Because of the remote location, the most common way how to get to Ushuaia is by plane. We bought flight tickets from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires only three days before the departure date for less than $200.
Several buses connect Ushuaia with the mainland, one of the most popular routes is routes is Ushuaia - Puerto Natales which also includes border crossing and a short ferry ride.
If you plan on staying in Ushuaia only for a day or two and looking for cheap accommodation close to the airport, we can recommend a homestay called Gladys House. From here, you can easily walk to the airport as there is a safe walkway - you will do something from your health plus save a bit of cash.
What to Pack for Ushuaia
One thing is for sure, it's cold and windy down there. Bring warm layers, waterproof clothes and sun protection.
Here are 7 essential things you should pack.
- Waterproof Jacket for Him & for Her | Down Jacket for Him & for Her | Beanie for Him & for Her | Gloves for Him & for Her | Hiking Boots for Him & for Her | Sunscreen | Lip Balm with Sunscreen
We've also created a useful post Patagonia packing list where you can find more detailed packing guide.
WHERE TO STAY IN USHUAIA
Be prepared to pay a little bit more for accommodation in Ushuaia, simply because of the fact that you have the privilege to stay at the end of the world.
We’ve recommended three hotels below:
Budget: B&B Cerro Krund - Perfectly situated hostel offers breakfast and sea views from each unit.
Mid-range: Oshovia Hostel - Well-run hostel which offers both, dormitories and private rooms, is newly-renovated and has awesome wifi and breakfast.
Luxury: Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa - The most special in Ushuaia has an impressive outside spa, well-appointed rooms, and although the hotel is a bit out of the city center, it is not a disadvantage as they run a free shuttle to Ushuaia.
Alternatively, search for your accommodation via Hostelworld.
TRAVEL INSURANCE - SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE
We never leave our home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover your trip essentials.
Travel smarter and safer!