16 Things to do in Ushuaia Argentina
Ushuaia Argentina has a surprising number of fun things to do. You would think that a place known as “del fin del mundo” - the end of the world - would be boring. Think again!
Before heading to Antarctica, my friend Amy and I spent 4 days there and could have done 1 or 2 more to fully experience all the things to do in Ushuaia. Here are all the things we did and loved. Plus a few things we didn’t do, but I wish we had time for.
Tierra del Fuego National Park
When first researching what to do in Ushuaia Argentina I found Tierra del Fuego National Park, and it did not disappoint! With miles a hiking trails, camping, and canoeing there are plenty of ways to explore that hidden treasure at the end of the world.
There are buses and taxis in town that can take you into the park. If you opt for the bus to and from town, you can get a round trip ticket. Make sure you don’t end up paying the tourist price. I was in such a state of bliss after enjoying the park that I ended up paying more than many of the others on the bus. According to Amy, because I passed out on the bus and enjoy a 25 minute nap, our driver was absolutely CRAZY. She sat in the front seat and got to “enjoy” his fast turns and questionable speeds. You can also rent a car or take the Train to the end of the World - more on that later.
Upon arrival to Tierra del Fuego National Park from Ushuaia stop by the visitors center and pick up a map of Tierra del Fuego. (pictured) The people working at the visitors center will give you information on trail closers and shuttles around the park. They can also stamp your passport with a really cool stamp! *Yes I am a sucker for fun and interesting passport stamps.
Amy and I decided to hike the Hito XXIV trail that take you to the border of Chile! I can know officially say that I hiked to another country. How cool is that? From the visitors center the hike took us approximately 3 hours, round trip. Majority of the hike was flat with a little bit of scrambling through rocks. We took our time during the hike, stopping for photos and a snack by the water. In total we saw 11 people on the hike. It was perfect!
When you reach the border you’ll see a big steal structure marking the end of the hike. Please note it is unlawful to cross into Chile even though there is a trail continuing after the marker.
Ice Bar Ushuaia
Wandering around town the first day we were there, we looked down a side street and saw a sign that read, “Ice Bar".” There were looks exchanged and without speaking we walked toward the sign. Unfortunately, they were not open as it was too early (Hours - 7 days a week, 4pm-1-pm). We went back the next day, obviously.
Upon entry we were greeted by an older gentleman, who seemed to be the owner. My Spanish is garbage, but I can get by. We were outfitted with silver capes which had fur-lined hoods and warm mittens, and escorted into the bar.
The bar was literally a giant walk-in freezer - the biggest one I’ve ever seen! The walls where covered in ice and there were sculptures in the room - one in the shape of a seal that also happened to be a chair. I sat on it like the Ice Queen I am!
Your ticket gives you 25 minutes in the Ice Bar with unlimited drinks; alcohol or not. I can tell you I did some serious damage in that 25 minutes we were in the bar. I may or may not have stumbled out, frozen toes and nose and all.
Is the Ice Bar set up for tourists? Yes. Is it a fun experience owned and operated by some extremely kind locals? Yes. If you’re wandering around and you don’t know what to do in Ushuaia, go inside. It will make for some great Instagram posts, and it one of the best off beat things to do in Ushuaia.
Shop local at Feria de Artesonos
Located just behind the Tourist Pier Information Office is the Feria de Artesanos handicraft fair. Inside there are dozens of local artists creating and selling original creations.
Inside the slender and artfully decorated building you can buy anything from Christmas ornaments to jewelry. It can get crowded on days when there is a cruise ship making a stop at the port, so go early to avoid the crowds.
I can never go into a handicraft fair and not buy anything, it’s a weakness. One of the artisans makes rings out of coins from all over the world. I purchased a ring made from an Argentinian coin to commemorate my time in Ushuaia. This is by far the best place to shop in Ushuaia for unique gifts and souvenirs.
Ride the Train to the End of the World
The Train to the End of the World or Tren del Fin del Mundo, is a steam train that covers the last 7 kilometers of the original 14km in which the train took convicts from the prison in Ushuaia to the foot of Mount Susana and into Tierra del Fuego National Park. Riding the train is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area and should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Ushuaia.
During the journey the train follows the Pipo river, Macarena cascade and through the tree cemetery. You will also hear the history of the train in a narrative during the train ride.
All trains leave from End of the World station about 20 minutes outside of town. There are several types of tickets, but I’d recommend the Tourist Service. The only difference between Tourist Service and First Class is a beverage and snack and a slightly bigger seat, but not by much. You hear the same information and make the same stops.
There are 3 trains into the park each day no matter the season and it is a round trip ticket that includes entry into Tierra del Fuego National Park. The train station inside the park is a stop for the park shuttle when it is running. We didn’t know that and ended up walking along the road and hitch hiking to get a ride to the visitors center.
Avenida San Martin is the main shopping and dining area in town and no visit to Ushuaia would be complete without at least a walk there. Amy and I spent a few hours popping into shops and restaurants along San Martin. It’s a must do thing to do in Ushuaia for both tourists and locals.
During one of our walks we came across Dooley’s Churros. We stood, drooling in front of the window before I decided I needed one of the chocolate covered donuts in my life. Inside I ordered 2 donuts and was nicely asked, “Do you want dulce de leche inside your donut?” Ummm, YES! For thos eof you who don’t know dulce de leche is like caramel on crack, you definitely want it inside your donut. It tasted glorious!
If you’re headed on any adventures and need gear San Martin also has a vast array of outdoor stores to help you with what you need. There are also a few places that rent gear for those who don’t need cold weather clothing upon their return home.
Take photos at the Ushuaia Signs
Everyone loves a good instagrammable sign photo. So if you’re coming all the way down to Ushuaia Argentina you need to go on the search for these.
There are 2 signs to take pictures with. The first is the Fin del Mundo Ushuaia sign. It is located right along the water and surrounded by several colorful huts where you can sign up to go out and cruise the Beagle Channel.
The second Ushuaia sign is giant letters spelling out Ushuaia. Once you leave the Fin del Mundo sign walk along the waterfront with the harbor on your left. You’ll pass the entrance to the port and an old shipwreck. By then you should be able to see the sign. The letters can be a bit slippery, so please be careful when climbing on the sign.
Both signs can get busy, so get there early before the crowds!
Eat a Penguin at Ramos Generales in downtoan Ushuaia
Not a real penguin silly! The penguins served as Ramos Generales are made from merange and chocolate, and are almost too cute to eat…almost!
Don Jose Salomon orginailly from Tripoli, Lebanon opened Ramos Generales in 1913. It served as the point of supply and the gathering place for both the people of and visitors to Ushuaia.
Now a restaurant catering to travelers it still houses artifacts from it’s past. The walls are adorned with dusty signs photographs. Next to our table was an old-timey cash register that looked as if it had been there for years.
Now on the Argentinian National Historical Register the restaurant has both table and counter services and deserves a little peak inside. If you decide to visit make sure you go all the way to the back of the building and check out the bathrooms. There’s a cute and pretty historical surprise back there.
Go to the Prison Museum
The old prison in Ushuaia is now the home of 4 museum under one roof: the Maritime Museum, the Prison Museum, the Antarctic Museum, and the Marine Art Museum.
The track for the Train at the End of the World originally began at the Prison and was used to transport convicts for work in the forest chopping down trees and collecting other materials to build the prison itself.
4 of the 5 cell blocks now house artifacts for the museums. The 4th block is in the condition the prison was found in before it was converted into the museum. Walking through that area fascinated and scared me. For a reason I can’t explain I was drawn to the cold silence of the area.
The rest of the museum, while a bit disjointed is filled with so many history artifacts and displays I was overwhelmed. Countless beautifully made model ships, clothing and equipment from the early days of Antarctic exploration and art created by locals and school children are just a few of the things that make this museum special.
Before you leave make sure you go outside into the small courtyard located to the left as you exit. In it you’ll find the original steam engine used to transport convicts.
Drink all the hot chocolate
There are several chocolate stores in town that not only sell chocolate, but have some of the most delicious hot chocolate.
Now, buying all the hot chocolate can get expensive, and since you know I love to save money I had to share this with you. You can find coupons at tourist attractions around town that will get you free hot chocolate! And who doesn’t like free hot chocolate?
We found several of them in our hotel room, but also received them with our admission at the Prison Museum. I saw them at the Tourist Pier Information Office as well.
Sail the Beagle Channel
If you don’t go out on the Beagle Channel did you actually visit Ushuaia? No.
The Beagle Channel is a must do for adventurers photographers, and wildlife enthusiasts. At 150 miles long and 3 to 8 miles wide depending on the spot. A day trip sailing the Beagle Channel can last from 3 to 10 hours.
Amy and I decided to take a morning catamaran sail to see the channel and get our first glimpse of penguins. Many hotels in the area offer discounts on trips with various companies.
We went to the Ushuaia Fin del Mundo sign where we found the the hut for Canoero Catamaran, the company taking us out on the channel. We needed to arrive 30 minutes before the ship left to pick up our tickets and go through security at the port. On board, the ship had a small snack and drink bar.
The trip took us to Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, sea lion island, and a smal island with penguins on it. While we saw plenty of sea lions, there were only a few dozen penguins. Overall the trip was worth it for the gorgeous views and the hundreds of Cormorans we saw soaring through the sky.
Hang out at a Cafe in Ushuaia
I always journal when I travel and there’s nothing I enjoy more than finding a nice comfortable booth to sit in and write.
When visiting Ushuaia Argentina you’ll find that there are dozens of adorable cafes. Some of them have a bit to be desired and the food ended up not being the best.
Of all the cafes Amy and I visited we’re liked Dali the best. We ate there 3 different times and had great food and drinks each time. I was a big fan of their hot chocolate with honey.
The day we departed for Antarctica Amy and I, plus at least 10 other ladies from the ship were hanging out there. There was plenty of room because they have a large table at the center of the dining room we could spread out on.
This activity is dependent on the season you choose to visit Ushuaia Argentina. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to find out upon arrival that I was there in the wrong season. Going dog sledding has always been a dream of mine, and to do it in an area as wild and free as the mountains surrounding Ushuaia would be a treat.
The Tourist Pier Information Office recommends the Siberian Huskies Kennel - Las Cotorras. If you’re there in season I’ve been told and read this is one of the best things to do in Ushuaia.
Take in the views from Martial Glacier
Martial Glacier is 7 kilometers outside the city center. If you have a group of friends going it’s best grab a cab and split the fare. If you’re flying solo you can get a bus and get a round trip ticket.
There are 2 ways to get up to the viewpoint to see the city; take the chairlift or hike up the ski slope. During our visit the chairlift was not operating, so we hiked up the slope. There wasn’t too much snow so it wasn’t too difficult a hike. However, I will say it was a little steep. When doing research I found a review on the Martial Glacier and one person wrote they hated the entire experience because the hike was difficult. Keep in mind this was from the perspective of a non-hiker. Once you get to the top of the chairlift it isn’t as steep.
From there follow the sign that points you towards the glacier. Soon after we passed the sign, it became extremely windy. We hiked a bit further, but because of the wind and lack of micro-spikes we decided, for safety reasons, to turn around.
On the way back, instead of going down the same trail, look for the small path up by the two benches by the small clearing. It will be a tree lined path that winds back to the top of the chairlift. We were there in November, so the trees were leafless, but the buds where getting ready to bloom. In total we were there for around 4 hours. The view was spectacular, and I’m hoping to go back one day and hike to the foot of the glacier!
Bowling at the Hard Rock Cafe, Ushuaia
This is one of the things that I we planned on doing while in Ushuaia and we couldn’t make it happen. We were going to meet up with our roommates for Antarctica before the ship left, but we couldn’t make it happen.
While we were there the bowling alley opened at 4pm. They also had a weekly special event where games were 50% off. It seemed like a fun place to meet up. Plus, who doesn’t want to say they went bowling at the end of the world.
Lunch at La Cabana Casa de Te
After a hike up and down Martial Glacier you’ll be hungry. Right near the parking lot, where you start the hike up to the glacier is La Cabana Casa de Te. It is the cutest little tea house with delicious food! I thought I was in a doll house.
Yes, it was a little too pink for me, but it was like something out of a movie. It was adorable. The selection of tea - surprise, surprise for a tea house, was spectacular. I got the Happy Chai. My tea was served with a hot kettle and a timer so me tea was steeped perfectly.
I ordered the chicken sandwich, which ended up being served on a huge sub roll. Amy got the same thing. When our sandwiches arrived at the table we knew we should have ordered 1 instead of 2.
They also have a little shop out front where you was purchase any of the teas served at the restaurant. I HAD to bring some tea home.
Take in the History at Estancia Harberton just outside Ushuaia
Founded in 1887 by Thomas Bridges, Estancia Harberton, the first ranch in Teirra del Fuego still stands today 85 kilometers outside of Ushuaia Argentina.
A visit to the ranch can include a stay at their adorable Bed and Breakfast, a guided visit of the ranch, seeing the Acatushun Museum, hiking the Bridges Trail, camping, and eating at Acawaia Restaurant or the Manacatush Tea House.
Estancia Harberton owns Isla Martillo also known as penguin island. On that island with the permission of the ranch you can disembark on the island and walk with the penguins.
Tips and Tricks when Visiting Ushuaia
Make sure you visit the Tourist Pier Information Office located directly across the street from the pier. They have some amazing passport stamps there. I got one with a penguin on it! Don’t want them to stamp your passport? That’s ok, they’ll stamp your travel journal or whatever else you want them too.
In addition, they can recommend additional things to do in town or refer you to companies that can bring you on extended adventures like fishing, canoeing , mountain biking, trekking.
Town is extremely walk-able. Seriously, I know I’m always up for walking, but the area is so small that it’s easy to walk around. Only hire or rent a car for getting outside of town.
Where to stay in Ushuaia Argentina
If you’re looking for the hostel experience try Oshovia Hostel. For $20 you can’t go wrong with the free breakfast and luggage storage. It’s a little out of the way from the hustle and bustle of town, but worth it for the cost.
If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel in a good location with a view try the Las Lengas Hotel. The delicious breakfast is a plus too.
For those of you looking to treat yo self while in Ushuaia Argentina book a room at the Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa. Located just 2 miles outside of town it provides it’s guests with unparalleled views of the harbor, especially from it’s infinity pool. With on site spa you’ll be in full on relaxation mode during your stay.