On the shores of the Beagle Channel and at the footsteps of Tierra del Fuego National Park, a quaint city on the edge of the Argentine Patagonia. While researching my trip to Antarctica, I learned that most cruises leave from Ushuaia. Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, giving it the nickname “del fin del mundo” – or the the end of the world.
Dad and I got to Ushuaia early since I’m
paranoid – I have anxiety. So we had plenty of time to explore the area and find some of the best things to do in Ushuaia!
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Top Attractions in Ushuaia
Ride the Train to the End of the World
The Tren del Fin del Mundo (the train at the end of the world) is a steam train that runs for 7 km into Tierra del Fuego National Park. The train was built by prisoners to help bring wood from the National Park to build the town of Ushuaia. Riding the train is one of the most popular attractions in the area – and should be at the top of your list of things to do in Ushuaia. Read more about the train here.
Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego – Tierra Del Fuego National Park
At the end of the train ride, you can either take the train back, or you can explore Tierra Del Fuego National Park. If you don’t want to take the train, there are buses and taxis in town that can take you. At the visitors center, pick up a map of all the trails in the park. They can also stamp your passport!
You can go hiking on your own at a number of paths. The Correo del Fin del Mundo (which looks out to the Beagle Channel) begins an 8km coastal path. It goes through the forest before ending at the Alakush Visitor Center (which also has a cafeteria for snacks). There are a variety of shorter trails around as well/ – you can go to the Black Lagoon, Mirador Bahia Lapataia, or Lago Roca.
Travel Tip: You can hike the Hito XXIV trail all the way to the border of Chile! From the visitor’s center, it’s about a 3 hour round trip. It’s illegal to cross into Chile this way, but you can say that you hiked to another country!
Shop at Feria De Artesonos – Handicraft Fair
I absolutely LOVE any kind of market – so when I saw this I absolutely HAD to go in. It’s an artfully decorated building that is home to incredible art. From jewelry to Christmas ornaments – you’ll find some fun and quirky souvenirs!
Wander and Shop along Avenida San Martin
The main shopping and dining area in town is the Avenida San Martin. It’s impossible to miss because it’s central to the town. Spend a few hours popping into shops and restaurants along the road. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do in Ushuaia – for both tourists and locals.
Travel Tip: Keep an eye out for the city’s unusual and colorful churches. On Avenida San Martin you can spot the Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Merced which stands out in red and yellow! It was built by the prisoners when it was still open.
Enjoy a Churro at Dooley’s Churros
I was casually walking down Avenida San Martin when a captivating scent entered my nose and my body forced me to find the source. The delightful scent? Freshly made churros. I’m not one for impulsive buys, but I literally couldn’t get the money out of my pocket fast enough. Dad and I got chocolate-stuffed churros but you could also get dulce de leche stuffed or original churros. They also had donuts that were chocolate covered and stuffed with chocolate or dulce de leche depending on your preference. Remember – calories don’t count on vacation!
Travel Tip: Ushuaia is very walkable. The main area of town is so easy to walk around. You can easily find a taxi or uber for getting out of town or to an attraction.
Visit the Ushuaia Prison Museum
Ushuaia was originally built as a prison town. The prisoners built the prison and even part of the town using wood from the Tierra del Fuego Park. Public works projects and houses were often built by prisoner labor as well. The prison got shut down in 1947 and has gone through numerous renovations.
It’s now the home four museums under one roof: the Maritime Museum, the Prison Museum, and the Marine Art Museum. There were 600 cell mates in 380 cells across 5 cell blocks. Four of those blocks have the artifacts while the fifth is is the condition the prison was found in before the renovations.
Since there are four museums in one, it feels a bit more disjointed than other museums. Entrance is 1,900 pesos but allows access to all the areas and is valid for 48 hours. There’s a lot of historical artificats, model ships, clothing and equipment. Give yourself plenty of time to explore this museum.
Explore Museo del Fin del Mundo
if you don’t have a lot of time in Ushuaia and don’t want to spend it in the prison museum, this is a good alternative. The Museum at the End of the World is a small museum in an old bank. It has artifacts from the Selk’nam and Yamana indigenous people and the earliest explorations – shining a light on the beginning of civilization in the area.
Seasonal Activity: Dog Sledding
If you’re there in season, which I wasn’t (of course) you can visit Las Cotorras Siberian Huskies Kennel. It’s supposedly one of the best things to do in Ushuaia.
Sail the Beagle Channel
The Beagle Channel is 150 miles long and 3 to 8 miles wide depending on the coast. You can take a sailing trip along the channel can last a few hours to a full day depending on the tour. There are a variety of types of ships and boats that typically leave from the harbor – so select the type of boat you like – whether it’s a catamaran or a yacht! Keep an eye out for the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. The red and white lighthouse is not open to the public but is beautiful.
Walk along the waterfront at sunset
From the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia is built on an uphill slop to the mountains. Near the edge of the water is a long coastal walking path. It travels parallel to the Avenida Precetura Naval Argentina. This is one of the most beautiful things to do in Ushuaia.
Take photos at the Ushuaia Signs
I always love taking photos of me at signs in front of places – so when I had the opportunity to mark that I was at the end of the world – I took it! I did not realize that Ushuaia actually has TWO pretty cool signs!
The first is the Fin del Mundo Ushuaia sign. Located along the water and really shows the end of the world, this is the easier one to get to.
The second Ushuaia sign is a bit further down the waterfront – past the old shipwreck. You can climb on the giant letters that spell Ushuaia but be careful – they can be slippery! This one gets crowded, so if you want a picture without others be sure to get there early. These are great ways to have a free souvenirs from your time in Ushuaia.
some a LOT of Chocolate
There are several chocolate stores in town that have some incredible varieties to try! Many of them also have fresh hot chocolate. Learn about the chocolate making process and the different types of dark chocolate.
Travel Tip: You can find coupons at attractions around town that will get you free samples or a free hot chocolate. Our hotel gave us a coupon for a sample of chocolate and we got a free hot chocolate at the Tourist Pier Information Office (near the Ushuaia sign).
Visit Martial Glacier for the views
Located about 7 km outside city center, Martial Glacier (or Ushuaia Glacier) is a great location to see the city. You can take a chairlift or hike up the ski slope. It’s a moderate hike if you choose to go that route – taking about 3-4 hours round trip. Even if you can’t get all the way to the glacier, you can stop at Mirador Wallner for a beautiful view of the city. It’s a great way to get an aerial view of the city – and one of the best things to do in Ushuaia.
Day Trip from Ushuaia Idea: Estancia Harberton!
Estancia Harberton was the first ranch in Tierra del Fuego, founded in 1887. It’s about 85km (52 miles) outside of Ushuaia. You can stay overnight if you have the time, visit the Acatushun Museum, and even go hiking.