Discover things to do in Ushuaia and play at being an explorer in the city at the end of the world, where it all ends… or begins.
For anyone who travels to Patagonia Argentina, Ushuaia is almost a must. It has its drawback and that is that it is very far from everything. From Buenos Aires alone it is more than 3 hours of flight and about 3000 km, which would be the equivalent of driving 40 hours straight.
It is known as the city at the end of the world because of its southern location, as if there was nothing else beyond Ushuaia. And there is, it is one of the most traditional ports of embarkation to visit Antarctica.
It is surrounded by the beauty of the most original Patagonian landscapes, lakes of indescribable green and blue colors and the mountains of the Andes that gradually begin to submerge into the sea until they get lost in the depths.
📜 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Map, things to do in Ushuaia
Since the trip is long and it is not so easy to get there, it is best to dedicate at least a week to everything there is to see in Ushuaia. There are many excursions and visits that take a full day, so it is worth spending some time at the End of the World.
Foreigners visiting Argentina usually combine the visit to Ushuaia with a visit to El Calafate, where they also have to stay for a week (and go to El Chaltén to do one of its trekkings).
1) Maritime and Presidio Museum
At the end of the 19th century, military prisoners were taken to Staten Island. But later, for humanitarian reasons, they were transferred to the Ushuaia Re-offenders Prison.
The building is in the shape of a half star with 5 pavilions leading to a common area from which surveillance was easier. At the beginning it was used to hold political and military prisoners. Later, other recidivist or high-crime prisoners were added, who have filled this place with stories and legends.
During the visit you can learn about the stories of Petiso Orejudo (a psychopathic serial killer) or Simón Radowitzky (an anarchist who assassinated a National Police chief with a bomb).
In addition to visiting the old prison, there are also 3 other museums on site: the Maritime Museum, the Antarctic Museum and the Museum of Marine Art. In them are exposed on the relationship of the island of Tierra del Fuego with the sea, information about the great white continent and works of art related to the sea.
📌 General admission price to visit the Maritime Museum and Presidio in 2022: 4 ,000 pesos (13 € – 13 US$). Residents of Argentina pay 2,800 pesos. Discounts are available for students and retirees. Valid for two days.
In 2001, the Ushuaia prison gained some popularity because it was the setting for the filming of the Argentine movie “La Fuga” (The Escape). The story is based on a real event that took place in a National Penitentiary in Buenos Aires but, since it was demolished, this prison was used for the filming, which was filled with renowned actors of our country, such as Ricardo Darín and Miguel Ángel Solá.
📷 Book here the tour of Ushuaia to know the main attractions of the city center.
2) End of the World Train
From the End of the World Jail we go to the famous End of the World Train , which once connected the Tierra del Fuego National Park with Ushuaia. Built by the inmates of the Ushuaia Prison, it was used to transport the inmates from the city to the park to collect construction materials.
Today, the tourist train travels only about 8 km in the midst of spectacular scenery and with a lot of comfort, since the train is a luxury one. It is perfect to combine it with one of the treks offered by the park.
Practical information: The price of the ticket varies according to the class contracted, ranging from 6,500 pesos (€ 22) for the economy class fare to 15,500 pesos (€ 52) for the premium class fare. Updated prices and discounts for students, retirees and nationals are available on the website.
It operates throughout the year. It is located at km 3065 of RN 3 (on the outskirts of Ushuaia). The transfer is not included in the price, nor is the entrance fee to the National Park.
3) Tierra del Fuego National Park
It has more than 40 km of trails where you can go, if you want, to the border with Chile, see beaver dams, lakes and spectacular scenery. Tierra del Fuego National Park is worth a visit and is one of the main things to do in Ushuaia.
These are the trails that can be done within the park, most of which are of low difficulty. Some of them are interconnected with each other, so if you go with time you can do several of them in a day.
- Pampa Alta and Saltos del Río Pipo, which are located at the park’s entrance.
- Coastal Trail: the most popular, as it borders the Beagle Channel from Ensenada Bay to Lapataia Bay. Go through the End of the World Post Office.
- Hito XXIV (reaches almost to the border with Chile) and Cerro Guanaco (the most sought after for its views, although it is somewhat difficult to do). Both are to the north of the park, bordering Lake Acigami (Rock).
- Paseo de la Isla, Laguna Negra, Paseo del Mirador, Paseo del Turbal, Sendero Castorera and Sendero La Baliza are some of the most common treks to do. Some of them pass by the sign for the end of the RN3.
If you want more information, check the following article in GoPatagonic, with all the trails and trekking to do in Tierra del Fuego National Park.
📌 General entrance fee to visit Tierra del Fuego National Park in 2022: 3,200 pesos (11 € – 11.5 US$). Residents of Argentina pay 1,000 pesos. Discounts are available for children, students and senior citizens.
4) Navigation in the Beagle Channel
One of the activities to do in Ushuaia that is a must among visitors is to embark to visit the Beagle Channel. The objective is to go to see the Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse, touristy advertised as the Lighthouse at the End of the World.
But make no mistake. The real Lighthouse at the End of the World, immortalized in Jules Verne’s book of the same name, is located on Staten Island. Since it is in the open sea, it cannot be visited unless you go on an expedition.
There are three types of excursions usually offered by local agencies in Ushuaia, one shorter and the other two longer:
- To Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse, passing by the Isla de los Pajaros, where albatrosses and seagulls of different types can be observed, and the Isla de los Lobos, with a colony of sea lions. The duration is between 2.5 and 3 hours. [👉View tour]
- Lighthouse plus penguin colony, the tour continues to Martillo Island where there is a colony of penguins. [👉View tour]
- Estancia Harberton, in addition to the aforementioned, a tour of the estancia is included with the possibility of having lunch there. Then, we return by land to Ushuaia.
5) Climb the Martial Glacier
It is one of the winter centers of the city of Ushuaia and the most accessible, since it can be done walking in one day. But unless you feel like going up a steep hill, you can also go up in your own car, cab or remis.
Whichever way you go up, you will love the ride because from the top you will have incredible views of the Beagle Channel. Being a mountain resort with a ski slope, Cerro Martial opens its doors in both summer and winter.
At the top there are trails for hiking and a ski slope for children to learn to ski. Although the distances to be covered on the trails do not exceed 2 km, they have some slope. The trails are:
- Sendero del Bosque: this is the name given to the uphill trail from the Refugio de Montaña to the end of the chairlift. It is quite steep.
- Trail to the Martial Glacier: it is a little more than a kilometer long but it goes up to 1000 meters above sea level.
- Trail from the ridge to the panoramic viewpoint Mirador de Ushuaia and Beagle Channel: it is 600 meters long and climbs up to 700 meters above sea level.
- Cañadón Negro: it is the longest in distance, 1.6 km, and climbs up to 1050 meters above sea level.
- Waterfall trail: 400 m distance and 700 m above sea level.
– Ushuaia’s ski or winter centers
Ushuaia’ s two traditional ski resorts are:
- Martial Glacier Ski Resort
- Cerro Castor Ski Resort (on National Route 3)
But there are also a few winter centers in Ushuaia, where you can live other experiences such as cross-country skiing, hiking and snow tours, which can even last for several days. Most of them are located on National Route 3 and near Cerro Castor:
- Valle de Lobos
- Tierra Mayor
- Beaver Plains
- White Ushuaia
- Nunatak Adventure Winter Center
- Francisco Jerman Cross-Country Ski Circuit (located close to the city)
⚠️ Attention: in these winter resorts, one of the most common activities is dog sledding. Please, don’t do it! More information on the Faada Responsible Tourism website: “Although at first glance it may seem a harmless activity, mushing (dog sledding) is still the use of animals either to walk tourists or to compete. And as such, although it can be done in a responsible manner, there can be cases of abuse, negligence, overexploitation or mistreatment.”.
6) Emeralda Lagoon
It is one of the most popular hiking tra ils to do in Ushuaia outside the Tierra del Fuego National Park. The beginning of the road is on National Route 3 about 20 km from the city and it is about 5 km one way through the Tierra del Fuego Natural and Landscape Reserve. It is possible to hire transportation with fixed schedules that drop you off and then pick you up.
The trail is not difficult (it has hardly any slope), is well marked with blue signs and can be done both in winter (walking on snow) or in summer. On the route we cross the lenga forests so typical of Patagonia and a peat bog where millennia ago there was a glacier that has now disappeared.
If you do the trail without snow, the emerald green color of the lagoon will appear in front of you, with snow-capped peaks and the Ojo del Albino glacier behind. Also keep in mind that going through the peat bog area can be chaotic if you don’t wear good shoes, since there is a lot of mud and people tend to get very dirty.
And if you do it in winter, you will most likely find the lagoon frozen, but you will still enjoy the scenery. Undoubtedly a spectacular walk to do at any time of the year.
📷 If you feel like trekking with more people, check here the excursion to Esmeralda lagoon.
7) End of the World Museum
Many people get confused and think that the Museum of the End of the World is the old Ushuaia Jail. But no, on the waterfront is this museum located in a traditional Fuegian house, with lots of information and exhibits to preserve the roots of the area. It has several rooms and among them stand out:
- Ethnic Groups and Travelers Room: This room is dedicated to learning how the original settlers lived in this area and the explorers who have visited it. Highlights include everyday items used by the first inhabitants of the island, the figurehead of the prow of a ship flying the English flag, the “Duchess of Albany”, which was shipwrecked on the coast, photographs taken by the expeditionaries and much more.
- Sala del Presidio: Some of the stories of the most famous prisoners who passed through Ushuaia are exhibited (perhaps this is the reason for the confusion mentioned above).
- Tierra del Fuego Bird Hall: Collection of more than 180 species of birds of the region.
📌 General admission price to visit the Museum of the End of the World in 2022: 500 pesos (2.5 € – 3 US$). For Argentine residents the price is 200 pesos. Discounts are available for children, students and senior citizens. The entrance fee is also valid to visit the Old Legislature, 3 blocks from the museum.
The building of the Old Legislature of Ushuaia has been the Government House and the residence of the governors of the province of Tierra del Fuego until the construction of the current one. Later it was the Provincial Legislature and since 1983 it has been declared a National Historic Monument, exhibiting the social history of the province and diverse cultural and artistic expressions.
8) Downtown Ushuaia: Malvinas Island Square, Saint Christopher’s boat and much more.
Strolling through the streets and the waterfront of Ushuaia is another of the things you have to do in the city at the End of the World. Not only to admire the wooden houses and that unique charm of being a city away from everything, but also because it has special corners. Here are my favorites:
- Puerto Viewpoint: near the tourist pier, this is one of the best spots to see a sunrise or sunset over Ensenada Bay.
- Monumento Antiguos Pobladores: It is a simple sculpture but full of symbolism that pays homage to the original settlers of these lands.
- Philco Time Capsule: whose content aims to show the inhabitants of the year 2492 what our life and way of thinking was like 500 years before.
- Saint Christopher’s ship: it has been stranded for 65 years. It’s not just any boat. It is said that he participated in the Normandy Landings during World War II (read our experience visiting Normandy), as well as other adventures such as rescues at sea or smuggling in Africa.
- Ushuaia sign: Every self-respecting tourist city has a sign with its name on it somewhere where people line up to have their picture taken. Ushuaia could not be less and with the bay in the background is a beautiful memory.
- Malvinas Monument: memorial to the fallen in the Malvinas War. It is a large wall that has perforated the shape of the islands, being able to see the landscape through it.
- Galicia Monument in Argentina: monument that pays homage to the Galician community that has lived and lives in Ushuaia.
- Casa Beban: it is a house-museum of typical construction of the area that exhibits period furniture and photographs. Free admission.
- Museo Pensar Malvinas: it is a small house with an explanation of the Malvinas War, it does not have many things, but it is a nice tribute to those who fought for their sovereignty. Free admission.
- Bahía Encerrada Urban Nature Reserve: this small reserve protects flora and fauna from the advance of city construction. There is a promenade that borders it with several viewpoints from which you can see Ushuaia and the mountains in the background. Very nice.
9) Checklist of “End of the World” things to do in Ushuaia
If you are in the city at the end of the world, you will have to bring all your memories, do certain activities and have been to all the places that corroborate it. So we give you this checklist so you don’t miss any of them during your visit to Ushuaia (we will go deeper into all of them in this article):
- Riding the End of the World Train
- Photo with the sign of the End of the World in Ushuaia
- Send a postcard from the End of the World Postal Unit in the Tierra del Fuego National Park (you can also stamp your passport there).
- Photo with the sign for the completion of National Route 3
- It is not the lighthouse at the end of the world, but almost: sailing through the Beagle Channel to Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse.
- Visit the museum of the End of the World.
- Visit the prison at the end of the world.
There are many excursions to do from Ushuaia, take a look at our article to find out more.
10) Flying over Ushuaia by helicopter
It is not many minutes of flight, but it is certainly a wonderful experience. If already climbing the Martial Glacier or landing on the plane you can see unique landscapes, imagine flying over Ushuaia in a helicopter with all the scenery for you.
📷 Check here the Ushuaia helicopter overflight tour and reserve your place.
11) Do you want to go even further south? Visit Puerto Williams in Chile
The island in front of Ushuaia belongs to Chile and there is a port founded in the middle of the last century called Puerto Williams. It is an important port for the country due to its trade and its proximity to Antarctica. That is why a town has been growing with its houses, government offices, schools and church.
At present, it is estimated that it has less than 2000 inhabitants and, even so, it fights Ushuaia for the tourist title of City at the End of the World.
Ushuaia has almost 80,000 inhabitants and in theory in Chile a town of less than 5,000 inhabitants is a village. Recently, the regulations have been modified and it has been established that all provincial capitals, regardless of the number of inhabitants, have the status of cities. That is why Port Williams, as a provincial capital, would be a city and , as such, could claim to be the city at the end of the world as well.
When I have been in Ushuaia several years ago, it was not so popular to cross to Port Williams. But lately I have seen that it is quite prepared for tourism, with hostels, restaurants and trails to visit the mountains that have as a backdrop, the Dientes de Navarino.
So if you are one of those who travels exploring and going even further, this is one more activity you have to do in Ushuaia, and dedicate at least a couple of days to visit Port Williams.
12) Travel to Antarctica
If you thought you couldn’t go any further south, you were wrong. Ushuaia is the main port of embarkation for expeditions that sail the southern seas and oceans to reach Antarctica.
It is not a cheap or quick trip, you have to save at least $5,000 and dedicate 10 to 15 days to the journey.
I (Flor) was about to travel to Antarctica in 2007. During my visit to Ushuaia, I had found out that an expedition cost about 3000 dollars (price of buying it at the last minute). I just had the time because I had quit my job to move to Spain. But it was investing EVERYTHING I had and I didn’t risk it. I promised myself to do it sometime and I will! Well, we will! 🙂
Practical information for traveling to Ushuaia
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🚑 Take a look at these tips for choosing the best travel insurance (updated to 2023 and with juicy discounts) for the type of traveller you are, and they will also help you clear up the most common doubts. Travel safe!
– Where to stay in Ushuaia
Ushuaia extends along the waterfront along the Beagle Channel. Then, as you move away from it, the streets tend to rise towards the mountains behind it. So if you don’t like to walk too much uphill and you are traveling without a car, perhaps it is best to be close to the center and the tourist pier.
I will leave some lodging options in Ushuaia that I recommend for different types of travelers:
- Antarctica Hostel: one block from the Presidio Museum and two blocks from the pier, this hostel is ideal if you are traveling alone or with friends. It has a kitchen and a common room where you can chat with other travelers, the possibility to book excursions and get advice on the best activities to visit Ushuaia. I stayed here during my visit in 2007 and I highly recommend it.
- Malvinas Inn: family-run inn, with twin, double and triple rooms. Simple, but beautifully decorated. Both its location and price, the close attention and even the breakfast that does not disappoint, makes it one of the best places to stay in Ushuaia.
- Beautiful Apartments in Downtown Ushuaia: these are luxury apartments for traveling with family or friends. They are spacious, bright, with spectacular views and all the amenities to make your stay spectacular.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in Ushuaia.
We also leave you this more complete article with all our recommendations on where to stay in Ushuaia, for all tastes and budgets.
– How to get to Ushuaia
The best way to get to Ushuaia is by plane. And while coming by car across the Strait of Magellan is a unique experience, so is flying to this wonderful island. Tip: ask for a window and travel during the day to be able to see everything!
✈️ Search here for cheap flights to Ushuaia.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
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