Looking for things to do in Ushuaia, Argentina? Ushuaia (pronounced Oo-swi-yah) is dubbed, the “World’s Southernmost City” and “El Fin del Mundo” (the “End of the World”), and is the closest city to Antarctica. For most adventure-seeking travelers, Ushuaia is the gateway to the 7th Continent, which is what brought me to this small town.
The itinerary for my bucket-list adventure to Antarctica included two layovers in Ushuaia (before and after). This city is right on the border of Chile and is nestled between the Martial mountain range and Beagle Channel, at the southern tip of South America.
As a travel junkie, I try to make the most of every long layover. I usually plan ahead to ensure that I optimize my limited time in layover cities. But all the preparation and excitement about my journey to Antarctica totally eclipsed any plans for fun during my multiple layovers. This is why I arrived in Ushuaia with ZERO expectations!
When I stepped off of the plane I was floored by the beauty of the mountain ranges and the city’s brisk winds. I’d just left the smoldering capital city of Buenos Aires a mere two hours prior, and there was a drastic difference in the temperatures of the two cities. The massive snow-capped mountains, colorful buildings, and sweeping views of the Beagle Channel all made this port city enchanting.
In addition to its natural beauty, Ushuaia is a legit tourist hub, complete with hotels, restaurants, museums, and even a casino. Here’s a list of things to do in Ushuaia, Argentina:
TAKE A PICTURE IN FRONT OF THE FAMOUS USHUAIA SIGNS
There are two popular signs in Ushuaia that tourists queue up to take pictures with. There’s an older billboard-type sign along the pier and a newer sign that’s much larger. The new sign is composed of large letters that spell out the city’s name. The bigger sign can be found toward the entrance into town. Since my time was limited, I decided to take a picture in front of the older Ushuaia sign (since the queue was much shorter).
GET A STAMP ON YOUR PASSPORT
If you go to the Tourist Center along the pier, the staff there will be happy to give you directions, a map, and an original stamp on your passport to commemorate your visit to Ushuaia.
HAVE A DRINK AT THE “END OF THE WORLD”
I decided to carpe diem and have a drink while at the “End of the World.” After meandering around the city getting my passport stamped and scoring some much-needed Dramamine for my journey across the infamous Drake Lake. I ordered my favorite drink (a pale ale) and sang the chorus of the 1987 R.E.M. hit, “It’s the End of the World as We Know it” (softly) before chugging-a-lug.
TAKE A STROLL ALONG THE BEAGLE CHANNEL
The city is located along the base of a mountain. There’s a long coastal avenue that stretches the width of the city that offers pretty views of the Beagle Channel.
There are a variety of little shops that line the roads. You can pick up “End of the World” souvenirs or buy some last-minute supplies for a cruise to Antarctica. If you’d like to book an Antarctica cruise or a bus tour, there are a number of tiny buildings that house tour companies offering tickets.
TOUR TIERRA DEL FUEGO NATIONAL PARK
A tour of the Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) National Park was included in my Antarctica cruise package. As we waited for our departing flight back to Buenos Aires, my fellow Antarctica cruise passengers and I spent a day touring the park with a knowledgeable guide.
The national park has forests, mountains, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, and lagoons. There are quite a few hiking trails open to the public. A small museum and café can be found in the tourist center in the park.
Despite the fact that both of my visits to Ushuaia were short, I saw quite a bit of the city. Although I arrived with no expectations, I was thoroughly impressed by the natural beauty surrounding this city as well as the colorful buildings that dotted its streets. My only regret is that I didn’t have more time to explore. If you’re planning an Antarctica cruise that departs out of Ushuaia I highly recommend that you pad your trip with an extra day before your trip, to allow more time to explore this beautiful city at the bottom of the world.
If you have more time to explore be sure to check out the following activities:
- Ride El Tren Del Fin Del Mundo or the End of the World Train
- Hike Glacier Martial
- Visit the Prison Museum
- Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, skiing, or kayaking
- Visit Penguin Island or Take a Wildlife Tour
- Take a boat tour on the Beagle Channel
- See the world-famous Lighthouse
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