Things to do in Ushuaia Argentina
Ushuaia is commonly referred to as “The City at the End of the World,” but don’t let that fool you into thinking there aren’t plenty of things to do in Ushuaia.
This isn’t some remote city, even if it is isolated geographically.
A bustling tourist hub, things to do in Ushuaia are plentiful and diverse, including cruises to Antarctica as well as some others which we will mention below.
Deciding on going to Argentina for our next big trip was only half of the battle.
You’ve probably read, and seen on a map, just how big this country really is.
Well, you aren’t being lied to and your eyes aren’t deceiving you.
Argentina is massive!
Luckily, it was pretty easy to narrow down at least one of the places we wanted to spend our time. You see, once Samantha saw the word “penguin” used in a sentence talking about things to do in Ushuaia, there was no turning back!
Psst! Looking for more Argentina guides? We have a bunch. Browse them all here or check out the most popular post below:
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Ushuaia does have an “international” airport, the world’s southernmost international airport for that matter (there is going to be a lot of “southernmost ‘insert thing here’” in this post…).
There was really no “Customs” to speak of here other than putting our bags through a scanner, which didn’t really seem to be manned by anyone.
Bags in hand, we headed out to see the city! Our extremely gracious Airbnb host, Maria, actually picked us up at the airport and drove us the short 10 minutes into town.
With a jammed packed schedule of places to see and things to do in Ushuaia, this was a time-saver for us and a great start to our journey.
Don’t worry though, there were plenty of taxis (remis) right outside of baggage claim to take you into the city if you don’t have an arranged ride.
The cost is around ARS $250 ($4-5 USD).
Avenida Maipú runs along the water, which leads out to the Beagle Channel, and is where you’ll find the tourist pier to check-in for many of your day-excursions.
One block further up the hill, Avenida San Martín is where most of the action happens with just about everything you could need available here.
Just about all of your things to do in Ushuaia will center around or launch from these two roads. Get to know them.
There are restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, convenience stores, and even outdoor-gear shops for those last-minute cold weather necessities for your trip to Antarctica or your walk with penguins excursion.
Naturally, Ushuaia got its name from the language of the group of people indigenous to the area, The Yaghan (also known as Yámana).
The word Ushuaia comes from the Yaghan language and means “deep bay” or “bay to background”, which makes sense given the surroundings of the city.
Well done, Yaghan! Well done.
Ushuaia isn’t that big of a town (probably 15-20 minute walk from one end to the other) so you really can’t go wrong with where you stay, so long as it is near the two main roads we mentioned above and somewhat close to the harbor/pier.
With it being such a tourist town, accommodations are everywhere, including hotels, hostels, and numerous Airbnbs.
To be centrally located around all of the things to do in Ushuaia, we suggest staying in the area in red below – which is super walkable.
The yellow star on the map above is where we stayed here, with the aforementioned host (nicest host ever).
Disclaimer: this is just three blocks up from the main road although up a pretty steep hill!
However, being up a steep hill meant we had a fantastic view of the bay from the living room/kitchen window!
As we said, Ushuaia isn’t that big, so getting around can be as easy as using your two little feet. However, to get to and from the airport and/or Tierra del Fuego National Park, you’ll need to arrange some sort of transportation.
You can NOT flag down a taxi but hailing a taxi is rather easy (other than the language barrier) as there were several taxi stands throughout the city where the drivers would congregate waiting for passengers.
The most convenient taxi stand was located right near the tourist pier, the hub for things to do in Ushuaia.
Ushuaia is the most popular launching point for cruises down to Antarctica.
We saw a couple of different tourist shops along the streets advertising last-minute cruise openings for Antarctica!
If you have the flexibility in your schedule to do this, and the dollars in your pocket (these cruises aren’t cheap either – starting at $5,000 USD), why not?!
In addition to sailing down to Antarctica, which is an entire trip by itself, there are so many other things to do in Ushuaia that will take you less than a day.
- Tour: Departs at 9:30 am and 4:00 pm from the Tourist Pier
- Catamaran: Adult $28 USD / Minors (ages 3 to 11) $15 USD
- Yacht: Adult $32 / Minors (ages 3 to 9) $16 USD
- NOT included: Port fee AR$ 40 ($.67 USD)
We sailed on the Beagle Channel with PiraTour where we got to see the beautiful city of Ushuaia situated at the foothills of the Andes, and all sorts of wildlife, including thousands of Magellanic Cormorants (black and white seabirds), hundreds of sea lions, and even a few humpback whale sightings!
The tour we did started at 9:30AM and lasted about 3 hours, so it was the perfect morning activity to mark off our list of things to do in Ushuaia before the city really got going!
- Tour: Departs at 2:30pm from our Tourist Pier office
- Adults: $134 USD adults + $12 USD entrance fee to Harberton ranch
- Minors (3-11 years old) – $80 USD
We also booked the Walk with Penguins tour with PiraTour, which started at 2:30PM and lasted until about 9PM.
On the tour, and before we even got to the penguins, we rode along the iconic Route 3, which is the only way Ushuaia is connected to the rest of civilization (by land, at least), and toured the Acatashún Museum which had loads of skeletons of marine animals that we had seen during our earlier Beagle Channel excursion.
This is the only tour that allows you to walk with the penguins on Martillo Island. An absolute must-do and probably our favorite of things to do in Ushuaia!
- Train ride: Roundtrip about 2 hours
- Price: (depending on ticket class)
- Adults (ages 13+) $33-$65 USD
- Minors (ages 4-12) $16-$33 USD
Back in the early 1900s, this part of the country was actually used as Argentina’s penal colony where re-offenders and serious criminals were exiled to because of its remote location.
The prisoners were put to work building the settlement with the timber from the forest surrounding the prison and even built a railroad to help with the transport of construction materials.
Why all the random talk about a penal colony and timber?
Now that the prison is closed, this area has since been turned into a tourist attraction, El Tren del Fin del Mundo (The End of the World Train).
More details on the Train Ride
The 7-kilometer ride takes you from the train station, past La Macarena Waterfall, into Tierra del Fuego National Park, and through the Cementerio de Árboles (Tree Cemetery) where you will see the remnants of the prisoners’ work cutting down all those trees.
Along the ride, there is a pre-recorded narrative that gives you all of the history of the area and of the Convict Train.
Once the hour-long ride is over, you’ll end up at Estación del Parque (National Park Station) where you can either set off on a self-guided hiking tour of the park or meet a guide for a similar hiking excursion.
Since we were limited on time remaining in Ushuaia, we hopped back on the train for the 45-minute ride back to the starting point.
Although we would have liked to explore the park, it was on-and-off raining and we had a bottle of wine to drink…..and drink we did!
Yes, the train is probably one of the most touristy things to do in Ushuaia and it isn’t the cheapest thing to do in the city either, but it was neat to ride the southernmost (there it is again) railroad through all of the history of the area.
Check out their website for fares and schedules for when you’ll be in town. If you’re planning to make a day of it by riding the train, hiking in the park, and catching the train back to the beginning, make sure you plan your time wisely so you don’t miss the last train in the afternoon!
The train station was about a 15-minute taxi ride from downtown Ushuaia.
Being in a country that produces the fifth-most wine in the world, you can find wine literally everywhere….as evidenced by our many drinks throughout our time in Ushuaia.
Most of the souvenir shops had small wine shops attached to them making it very easy to pick up that last minute bottle for your excursion!
However, Ushuaia has numerous other places to throw back a cold one or sip on a glass of wine. They also have places to eat, for those of you who like to do that…
Mercado del Jardin
Along Avenida San Martín, and right down the road from the Hard Rock Cafe, Mercado del Jardin offers a wide variety of food and beverage options in a very relaxed environment.
The wide variety includes a bakery, a coffee shop, a diner, a candy shop, a pizza place, a creperie, a salumeria, a sushi truck, and a burgers & beers joint. We’ll give you one guess which one we chose!
Clearly, Pepo’s Burger – Beer didn’t try to get cute with its name. What you see is what you get!
They had many different styles of burgers and various toppings for each too, and they were actually pretty good!
The six beers on tap were from a couple of different breweries local to Argentina, so naturally, we imbibed a couple of pints to wash down our burgers and fries!
There were even some non-food shops in the market, including a technology store, an art/paintings shop, and a library.
If you’re in need of respite from the elements outside, or just need to kill some time, this mercado is a great option to do just that!
Quinquela has a diverse menu but also has pizza, which is an easy option after a long day.
We found one of Samantha’s favorites, a white pizza with spinach, and took it home to eat in the comfort of our living room while overlooking the city.
They are open from 9AM to 2AM everyday, so you’re sure to be able to satisfy your cravings at almost any time of day! Pretty cool shipping-container-as-its-walls vibe inside the restaurant too!
Tante Sara Café & Bar Ushuaia
At the suggestion of our Airbnb host, we ate breakfast at Tante Sara.
Samantha had an omelette and Chris had the continental breakfast and both were very good options to get us going for the day!
The continental breakfast was such a great deal too….a glass of orange juice, two eggs, a couple pieces of ham, a couple pieces of cheese, two croissants, a basket of toast, and a coffee, all for only about $8 USD.
The Birra is a great spot to enjoy a local craft brew in a bottle, on draft, or even grab a growler to go.
They had a pretty decent selection of beers too lining the shelves and in the refrigerators!
Of course, we had the honey beer made by Antares, a Buenos Aires brewery, and an IPA made by Ushuaian-brewer Beagle Brewery.
Head upstairs for more seating and if you can, grab the seats by the window so you can look out over the bay.
Although we didn’t order anything, they do serve up hamburgers and fries from the back of the store. Make sure you check their hours because they do take a “siesta” from 3PM until 7PM.
Don’t be like those people we saw when we were walking out who were trying to get in at 3PM. They were turned away and looked so dejected!
Because of our unexpected late arrival into Ushuaia, which is a whole other story, we didn’t have the chance to visit one of the most well-known bars in town, The Dublin, but all of our research mentioned that this place should definitely be on your list of things to do in Ushuaia.
Plus, it has got to be the world’s southernmost Irish pub!
Having not been, we don’t want to comment too much, but we suspect you’d find your typical pub food here, and of course, beer!
Overall – Things to do in Ushuaia
Overall, this was an adorable town set amongst snow-capped mountains on the water.
With views of Chile, access to wildlife, and cruises to Antarctica, don’t short-change yourself on time here.
We missed our incoming connecting flight from the US which robbed us of a half-day/night here and we were bummed we didn’t have more time because there was still plenty left on our list of things to do in Ushuaia.
That just means a return trip is in order!
Check out our full 10-day itinerary for Argentina here.
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We are Samantha & Chris and we are Boozing Abroad (literally). Together, we've traveled to over 40 states and 20 countries drinking local beers, wines and spirits along the way.
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Samantha and Chris fell in love with traveling together back in 2015. They met, married, and lived together in Richmond, VA for 7 years before becoming full-time travelers in 2020.
Along the way, they’ve traveled to over 40 U.S. states and 20 countries while drinking local beers, wines, and spirits during their journeys.
Join them as they share travel resources, stories, and guides based on their personal experiences drinking locally when traveling globally.