Gong to Ushuaia has been on our minds since we started thinking about taking a long term trip. Wouldn’t it be cool to spend some time at the bottom of the world we thought?! Well if we thought spending time at the bottom of the world would be cool, then we found the town of Ushuaia itself even cooler. With delicious restaurants, nice accommodations with great views and tons of outdoor activities nearby, Ushuaia became one of our favorite places we’ve been on our entire South America trip! This guide to Ushuaia will go through the fun things to do, places to eat, where to stay and how to get to this incredibly cute little town!
Ushuaia Travel Guide
Upon arriving by plane or bus, you will immediately be struck by the incredible scenery and quaint-ness of the town itself. With so much to see and do, we recommend spending at least 5 full days in Ushuaia to get the most out of it though you could easily stay a week! This is a longer stay than we usually recommend, however there are enough activities to justify an even longer stay! Besides, who knows the next time you’ll have an opportunity to spend some quality time at the bottom of the world!
Fun Things To Do in Ushuaia
We were blown away by how much there was to do in Ushuaia. From hiking to eating to interesting museums, here are our favorite things.
Glacier Vinciguerra Hike
Glacier Vinciguerra was the most spectacular hike that we did in Ushuaia. You hike from the lush river valley, up through the trees to a glacier that you can walk up to and drink the water dripping off of it. The hike takes between 6-8 hours and it is recommended that you start in the morning. Of course, Michelle and I ended up hiking it starting at 1PM, we moved quickly and had no issues however we were basically the last people to finish the hike. The trail can be a little muddy and is not 100% clear the entire time so charge your phone and use Maps.Me as your bible. I’m still blown away by how good that app is. Also, be sure to layer as it can be very windy and cold at the glacier itself.
There is no bus that will take you to the trailhead. Instead you will either need to take a taxi or a Remis. Remis is basically Uber. They charge a set fee for a set distance. Ushuaia is the largest city we visited that didn’t have Uber. We took an Remis there and a taxi back. The cost was roughly the same – $400 Argentine pesos each way.
Tierra del Fuego National Park (1-2 days)
Tierra del Fuego is a breathtaking national park positioned at the bottom of the world. Everyone you talk to will want to walk you through the trail map and give you the same advice. The entire park cannot be seen in 1 day. Most people going for a day will do a walk along the lake with the view of spectacular mountain ranges as the backdrop. If you’re looking for something a little more strenuous, you can devote a day to hiking the Guanaco trail to top of one of the highest mountains in the park.
The best way to get to the park is by bus. The bus leaves from the terminal in town and has set pick up times in the afternoon. Each way is roughly 45 minutes. Ask your host or hostel for the current schedule. To get the most out of the park, you’ll want to take the earliest bus.
The bus cost is $900 Argentine Pesos round trip and the park entrance cost is $560 Argentine pesos per person. You can also purchase a two day pass in which your second day is half price (total cost of $840 Argentine pesos per person).
Penguin Tour / Beagle Channel
Another super popular excursion you can do in Ushuaia is a Penguin tour, where you actually walk with Gentoo penguins on a nearby island. Included in the tour is a stop at a whale, dolphin and penguin museum along with a cruise down the beagle channel where you are likely to see whales, sea lions and Ushuaia’s iconic lighthouse.
There is only one company – PiraTour – that is permitted to walk on the island with the penguins. Due to it’s exclusivity, the price of the penguins tour is a little steep when compared to most tours that we’ve taken on our South America trip at a cost of $9,250 Argentine pesos per person. The tour starts at 7:30AM and arrives back in town around 3PM. The tour can be booked in person at one of PiraTour’s two offices in town.
If you’re looking for a cheaper way to walk with penguins, you can also walk with a colony of Gentoo penguins near Punta Arenas. The tour in Punta Arenas is roughly half the price but does not include a museum or cruise and has less knowledgeable guides. If your goal is only to walk with penguins and you already plan to go to Punta Arenas, then it is a great option!
The Martial Glacier is a gorgeous half day hike up to the glacier that sits behind the town. It can be accessed by a 45 minute uphill walk from the city center or a short taxi. The hike is relatively steep but since you’re basically at sea level it was much easiest than most hikes we did in Peru. There is also a popular tea house at the base of the trail but we preferred soaking in the view from the top and tea and brownies at Ana Y Juana (see below) so we skipped it.
Although we never had the opportunity to do the half day hike to Laguna Esmeralda ourselves, it is a favorite of locals and many tourists alike. Just like for Glacier Vinciguerra, the weather can play an important role in how much you enjoy it. The trail can be quite muddy after a rain so just be prepared to get a little dirty. You can take a roundtrip bus from the town bus station and you will be provided a set pick up time.
Galeria Tematica Historia Fueguina Wax Museum
If you’re looking to do something a little more relaxing and educational, then it is worth spending 2 hours exploring the Galeria Tematica Historia Fueguina Wax Museum. Ushuaia has a very interesting history starting with an indigenous population that survived the harsh environment without clothes, to becoming a penal colony and eventually growing into the large town that it is today.
It costs $390 Argentine pesos to enter the museum. You are given a free audio-guide, access to a historical film with English subtitles and are even allowed to become a part of some of the exhibits. Plus, there’s a restaurant on the top floor with local beer and pastries! It was one the few museums I’ve visited where I didn’t get bored after 30 minutes!
Where to Eat in Ushuaia
El Viejo Marino – Ushuaia is known for it’s king crab. One of the most popular spots in town is El Viejo Marino. They’ve got the live crab tank and everything so you know that your crab will be fresh. In order to avoid waiting in long lines, get there 10 minutes before they open around 6:50PM. The cost for wine, an appetizer and crab for 2 was roughly $2,800 Argentine pesos.
Ana y Juana Cafe – Even though king cab is the local specialty, by far our favorite culinary experience was at Ana y Juana. It is this super cute cafe and work space that opened in November 2019. We had soup, tea and a brownie. Everything was delicious, the portions were generous and eating one of their brownies should be included on the things to do in Ushuaia!
Ushuaia is known for having good quality restaurants, just expect to spend more than usual, especially if you have your heart set on king crab or lamb. If your budget is tight, make sure you pick a hostel with a nice kitchen!
Sample Ushuaia Itinerary
Here’s a sample itinerary based on our opinion and experience in Ushuaia!
- Day 1: Hike Martial Glacier + Galeria Tematica Historia Fueguina Wax Museum + El Viejo Marino
- Day 2: Tierra del Fuego National Park: Trail by the lake
- Day 3: Laguna Esmeralda or Tierra del Fuego National Park Guanaco trail
- Day 4: Penguin Tour + Ana Y Juana Cafe
- Day 5: Glacier Vinciguerra
How to Get To Ushuaia
Coming South From Chile: It is a 12 hour daytime only bus from Punta Arenas, Chile to Ushuaia. It is recommended that you buy this bus a day or two in advance.
Coming South From Argentina: Since Ushuaia is so remote, there are no buses that arrive directly from the Argentina side. You can fly to Ushuaia for roughly $100/person from most major Argentine cities, Buenos Aires being the most popular.
Where to Stay
Expect to pay more for lodging in Ushuaia than in most cities in South America. As a main cruise ship port for Antarctica, it has a wealthier tourist crowd. It is best to stay at a hostel in the city center so that you are only a short walk from the town’s only bus station.
There are some gorgeous AirBnBs about a 30 minute walk from town on the slopes of the Martial glacier that are worth it if you are looking to have a little more space and privacy.
Where to Go Next
El Calafate – If you’re not yet done with Argentine Patagonia, you can fly from Ushuaia to the town of El Calafate. Here you can visit the Perito Moreno Glacier and then take a 3 hour bus to El Chalten to hike Mount Fitz Roy.
Punta Arenas, Chile – Contrary to what we had read on the Internet, there are buses everyday between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas, Chile. The buses only run during the day and take approximately 12 hours. It is recommended that you book your bus a couple days in advance. These buses are run by obscure companies. We stopped by the Tolkeyen Turismo Travel Agency in town and paid what we believe to be a fair price of $2500 Argentine Pesos per person.
There you have it, our Ushuaia Things to Do guide! From us to you, happy adventuring!
All prices are current as of March 2020.