What to do in Ushuaia : A guide to the must-see places at the end of the world

Argentina

June 1, 2023

Welcome to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world! Known as "The End of the World", this fascinating city located in the southernmost tip of Argentina is a must-see destination for lovers of adventure and natural beauty. With its mountainous landscape, majestic glaciers and rich history, Ushuaia offers a unique experience that will leave you in awe. In this travel guide, we will show you the best places to visit, activities and useful tips to make your adventure in Ushuaia unforgettable.

How to get to Ushuaia?

Ushuaia has an international airport, Ushuaia - Malvinas Argentinas International Airport, which receives both domestic and international flights. It can also be reached by cruise ship from Punta Arenas, Chile, enjoying spectacular scenery during the trip.

When to visit Ushuaia?

Thebest time to visit Ushuaia depends on your preferences and the activities you wish to do. Our guide is focused on summer activities. We went in the month of October.

  • Summer (December to February): This is the high season in Ushuaia, as it offers the warmest temperatures and longest days. During the summer, temperatures range between 5 °C and 15 °C, with sunny and pleasant days. 
  • Autumn (March to May): Autumn in Ushuaia is a quiet season, with fewer tourists. Temperatures begin to drop gradually, ranging from 0 °C to 10 °C. 
  • Winter (June to August): Ushuaia is famous for its winter season, especially for those looking to enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Temperatures range from -1 °C to 5 °C, with frequent snowfalls. 
  • Spring (September to November): Spring in Ushuaia is a transitional season, with rising temperatures and longer days. During this time, temperatures average between 3 °C and 10 °C.

Lodging in Ushuaia

Ushuaia is an outstanding and exclusive tourist destination in the whole country, where prices tend to be high compared to other regions of Argentina. There is a wide variety of accommodation options, from luxurious hotels to more economical hostels.

The ideal location to stay in Ushuaia is near the Plaza de las Malvinas and around San Martin Avenue, one of the main streets of the city. Most of the hotels and restaurants are located in this area. 

Recommended lodgings:

Low budget: Hostel cruz del sur

Average budget: Antarctica departments

High budget: Los Cauquenes

What to do in Ushuaia?

1. Visiting the penguin colony on Martillo Island

One of the most incredible experiences we had during our visit to Ushuaia was the excursion to Isla Martillo, where we had the opportunity to walk with penguins.

The excursion begins with a visit to Estancia Harberton, founded by Thomas Bridges in 1886, considered one of the first estancias established in the region. After a guided tour of the ranch, we embark on a semi-rigid boat to Martillo Island where the penguin colony is located. Accompanied by guides, we will walk around the area, always keeping a prudent distance so as not to disturb the penguins and respecting the indications of the guides. We were able to see Gentoo penguins, Magellanic penguins and we were lucky enough to find a king penguin. 

This excursion can be done from October and the only agency authorized is Piratour. If you contact them, remember to tell them that you are going on our behalf 😉.

Harberton Ranch
penguins on hammerhead island
Penguins on hammerhead island

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2. Beagle Channel navigation  

One of the most famous tours in Ushuaia is the navigation through the Beagle Channel where you can see the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse (wrongly called "At the end of the world", the island of Lobos, bird watching and even see penguins. Depending on the excursion you choose, it can include a visit to Hammer Island (without going down) or Harberton Ranch. 

If you choose to do this tour you can book it from here.

3. 4x4 excursion to Escondido Lake and Fagnano Lake. 

This is a full day excursion that can be done all year round (in summer you can add a canoe ride).

We did it with the company Tierra Turismo, and we highly recommend it. They look for you in a 4x4, you cross the mountain range and walk along dirt and mud roads to the shore of Lake Fagnano. On the way you pass through the beautiful Carbajal Valley and the Garibaldi Pass. Then you reach a trail where you have to make a short hike to the Escondido Lake. On the shores of the lake you will find the refuge where you can eat a delicious asado with wine. 

You can book the excursion now here.

Hidden Lake

‍4. Trekking to Laguna Esmeralda

Considered one of the most popular trails in Ushuaia and a must on our list of recommendations. With a length of 9 km round trip, the estimated walking time is approximately 1 hour per section, and the difficulty is low.

However, due to the number of accidents and rescues that occur throughout the year, it is important to clarify that, although the trail is considered an easy level, it does not mean that it can be undertaken without taking adequate precautions in terms of clothing and schedules. In the mountains, it is always advisable to leave early in the morning to avoid mishaps and to be sure to return before nightfall, especially in the cold environment of Tierra del Fuego.

Last recommended trail entrance hours: 3 p.m. in spring/summer and 12 a.m. in fall/winter.

Much of the trail traverses peaty areas, a type of wetland, where the terrain can be muddy. It is therefore essential to wear appropriate clothing, such as waterproof boots and spare socks. The weather can change quickly, even if the day starts out sunny, so don't forget to bring waterproof clothing. It is also essential to bring water and some snacks to enjoy at the lagoon.

Overcoming these considerations, the Laguna Esmeralda trail is well marked and it is possible to do it alone. Along the trail you will cross an amazing landscape until you reach the beautiful lagoon surrounded by imposing snow-capped mountains. 

If you do not dare to do the trail alone there are many agencies that organize the excursion. Here we leave you one for you to look around and book.

Emerald Lagoon
Emerald Lagoon

5. Trekking to the Ojo del Albino Glacier

It is one of the lesser known natural wonders of the area and one of our favorites. The Ojo del Albino Glacier is located past the Esmeralda Lagoon and the trail is approximately 20 km total. It is considered a difficult trail and is not well marked so we do not recommend doing it alone. Also, depending on the time of year you go you will need crampons. 

It is an excursion that takes all day. We did it with the people from Titan 4 elements and we had a very good experience. During the month of October, which was when we did it, the glacier lagoon is still frozen, which allowed us to walk up to the walls of the glacier, a unique experience. Here are some pictures of how we saw it. 

Ojo del Albino Glacier
Ojo del Albino Glacier

6. Trekking to the Vinciguerra Glacier

This is another magnificent glacier located near Ushuaia. The trail is 13 km long and is of moderate difficulty (it can be more difficult when there is snow). The route starts in the Andorra Valley, about 8 km from the center of Ushuaia.

When we went (October) the lagoon was still frozen and we could not appreciate the famous color of the Laguna los Témpanos, but we were able to enter an ice cave that was surreal and incredible.

As there was still snow we decided to do the trekking with a guide as the signage was not so clear, we did it with Nacho from TahuanWe highly recommend him (if you contact him tell him that you are coming from us 😉). If you are going to do it during the summer months and you usually hike in the mountains we do not consider it necessary to hire a guide. 

Los Tempanos Lagoon
Frozen Los Témpanos Lagoon
Vinciguerra Glacier
Inside a cave the glacier

7. Visit Tierra del Fuego National Park

Tierra del Fuego National Park is a unique destination in Argentina, where the majestic Patagonian forests and the imposing Andes Mountain Range merge with the sea, offering a unique landscape of mountains, bays, fjords and an extensive lake.

It is located only 11 kilometers from Ushuaia and offers a wide range of outdoor activities. You can go hiking, biking or even take a kayak ride on the rivers and lakes of the park. It is also a paradise for bird lovers, with a great diversity of species. You can see seabirds, condors, woodpeckers and many more.

The park has several trails that will allow you to go into the woods and discover panoramic views. There are 4 long trails and 6 shorter ones (totaling 40 km), all marked and of varying degrees of difficulty. We leave you the page of the park with information about the trails. .

We did the path to Lapataia Bay and the coastal path, both of low difficulty. We arranged for a cab from downtown to take us to the coffee shop near Lapataia Bay inside the park and pick us up at the end of the coastal trail. It is important to note that there is no telephone signal in the park, so it is important to agree on schedules. 

There are also many agencies that offer a shuttle service where they leave you in Lapataia Bay for a few hours to walk the trails and then pick you up.

If you visit the park, remember to respect the park regulations, wear appropriate clothing, be prepared for changing weather conditions and, above all, take care and preserve this valuable natural environment.

In this link you can find all the excursions to the National Park.

8. Helicopter Flight

In Ushuaia, it is possible to experience helicopter flights that will allow you to explore the panoramic beauty of the region from above. These exciting helicopter excursions offer breathtaking views of the majestic peaks of the Andes, glaciers, lakes and the picturesque landscape of Tierra del Fuego. There are different circuits that can be done. 

If you like this experience you can book it here.

9. Cape San Pablo

‍CaboSan Pablo is a breathtaking place located about 75 kilometers southeast of Ushuaia. This coastal area is known for its natural beauty and unique landscape. We rented a car for the day to go, but it is possible to go by excursion from Ushuaia.

One of the main attractions is the historic abandoned ship known as "Desdemona". This fishing boat stranded on the coast adds a mysterious and photogenic touch to the landscape. It is a well-known place to take pictures and enjoy the unique atmosphere offered by this old shipwreck.

10. End of the World Train

The End of the World Train offers a historic journey through breathtaking scenery. This old railroad, built by prisoners, crosses the Tierra del Fuego National Park, providing panoramic views of forests, rivers and mountains.

11. Trekking Laguna del Caminante

It is a long trail of 25 km of high difficulty and it is recommended to do it in 2 days. The crossing starts in the Andorra Valley and it is 13 km to the Laguna del Caminante, where you can camp (fire is forbidden). The return can be done through the Andorra Valley or return through the sheep canyon. 

We were not able to do this trail due to weather conditions, but we are looking forward to it. The photos we saw of the lagoon are beautiful. 

Being a high difficulty trail, it is recommended to have some experience in the mountains.

12. Turquoise Lagoon

This 3 km round trip trail of medium difficulty starts 1 km before the trail to Laguna Esmeralda (on the right hand side of National Route 3 - direction south north). The trail is very well marked and is quite steep. We could not do it either due to bad weather.

13- Packrafting on the Olivia River

Another experience that we really wanted to do but due to the bad weather we couldn't was the packrafting in the Olivia River. Here we leave you all the information about the excursion..