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When it comes to things to do in Ushuaia, there’s no shortage of activities. The southernmost city in the world huddles at the very tip of South America, on Tierra del Fuego, the mountainous, windswept archipelago shared by Argentina and Chile. The town is sandwiched between the Beagle Channel and the snowy Martial mountain range.

There’s an exciting frontier feel here. The city buzzes with hikers and mountaineers who have come to explore the mountains of Patagonia, as well as adventurers setting forth across the Drake Passage to Antarctica.

Explore the town itself, but make time to take in some of the wild beauty of this extraordinary place, where history, adventure, and nature collide.

Snap a Selfie at the Ushuaia Sign

Iconic city sign of Letrero Ushuaia

Letrero Ushuaia

Few people can claim to have visited the world’s most southerly city, so commemorate your visit with a snapshot at the giant white Ushuaia sign, marked on maps as “Letrero Ushuaia”.

You’ll find it on the waterfront to the west of the port, with a backdrop of the sea and snowy mountains. Pick your moment, as this is a popular spot, and then strike a pose and post to Instagram.

There’s a second spot for selfies, the Fin del Mundo sign, which is in the opposite direction from the port and marked on maps as the “Cartel de Ushuaia”.

Ride the Tren del Fin del Mundo

Red exterior of Tren del Fin del Mundo

Tren del Fin del Mundo

The steam-hauled “train of the end of the world” follows the route along which convicts were taken to collect the timber, rock, and sand needed to construct the prison in Ushuaia, which was an Argentine penal colony in the early 20th century. A ride on the vintage railroad is one of the best things to do in Ushuaia.

There’s no such hardship today as you clatter up through the mountains of the Tierra del Fuego National Park, past deep green valleys and rushing streams.

You’ll see the tumbling Macarena Falls, as well as the winding Pipo River and the subantarctic lenga forest, populated by just one type of tree, the deciduous lenga. Travel in fall and the forest is a blaze of orange, red, and yellow.

Take a Trip Into Tierra del Fuego National Park

Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the best things to do in Ushuaia

Tierra del Fuego National Park

A day trip into the vast Tierra del Fuego National Park, part of the beautiful South American country of Argentina but bordering Chile, is the best way to get some perspective on the sheer scale and wildness of the landscapes here.

This national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans 150,000 acres. It encompasses remote shorelines, jagged mountains, wildflower meadows, peat bogs, and dense forests of trees you won’t find elsewhere: lengas, guindos, and ñires.

Some areas of this landmark are positively ghostly, where you’ll see vast tracts of forest that’s been burned and left as skeletal trees. It’s a dramatic contrast to the lush greenery all around.

You’ll learn about the history of the Yámanas people, who lived here as early as 10,000 years ago but were wiped out by diseases imported by European explorers.

Visit Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the best things to do in Ushuaia

Roca Lake, Tierra del Fuego National Park

There’s also a moment to pause for thought when you realize that Roca lake and Lapataia Bay are unchanged since the explorer Charles Darwin set eyes on this landscape in 1833 aboard the HMS Beagle, after which the Beagle Channel is named.

Explore the Prison Museum

Visit Prison Museum, one of the best things to do in Ushuaia

Prison Museum

While humans have inhabited Tierra del Fuego for thousands of years, much of the Ushuaia you see today was built by convicts at the beginning of the 20th century.

Some of Argentina’s most dangerous prisoners, including bandits and serial killers, were shipped here to labor on the construction of the city, building roads and bridges and installing essential infrastructure. Conditions were harsh and sentences long.

You can get a glimpse into convict life at the Prison Museum, where you can peer into the old cells that were designed for sole occupancy but ended up housing many more prisoners. The prison closed in 1947.

Learn About Seafaring History

Exterior of Ushuaia's Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum

Ushuaia’s Maritime Museum (Museo Maritimo) is also housed in the old prison building. This is a chance to look at the much broader history of Ushuaia and the Tierra del Fuego, a patchwork of native tribes, European explorers, gold prospectors, and other pioneers.

Ship models, antique maps, artworks, and stories of some of the explorers who set out from here to Antarctica all help paint a picture of life on the edge of the continent.

Reflect on the St. Christopher Tugboat

View of St. Christopher Tugboat

St. Christopher Tugboat

The wreck of the St. Christopher, a former tugboat, lies in the Beagle Channel near the docks. Although you can’t get on board, it’s lit up after dark and has a fascinating history.

The wooden boat was built in Maine for the British Navy in 1943 and saw active service in the Second World War under the name of HMS Justice. This included participating in the Normandy landings in 1944.

It was sold to Argentina for salvage operations but was beached in 1957 and never used again. The black-and-white hull against a backdrop of jagged, snow-capped mountains makes for an atmospheric photo, especially if the water is still and you can catch the reflection.

Spot Sea Lions & Penguins

Sea lions spotted while cruising the Beagle Channel

Sea lions

One of the most popular things to do in Ushuaia is to take a catamaran cruise along the Beagle Channel to spot some local wildlife.

On Hammer Island, also known as Isla Martillo, there’s a colony of Magellanic penguins, which are among the smaller penguin species in South America. You’ll see the birds bustling around, building nests, raising their young, squabbling, and diving into the water to fish.

On Isla de los Pájaros, or Bird Island, there’s a colony of sleek, black cormorants. Isla de los Lobos, or Sea Lion Island, is home to a large colony of South American sea lions and South American fur seals. Depending on how close you get, you can hear the sea lions barking and smell their fishy aroma.

Send a Postcard From “El Fin del Mundo”

View of the post office in Ushuaia

Post office in Ushuaia

There’s nothing wrong with a little subtle bragging about the remoteness of your South American adventure. Send a postcard from Ushuaia’s tiny post office, a small hut of corrugated metal, perched on stilts in the Tierra del Fuego National Park. The next landfall from here is Antarctica.

Don’t expect your card to arrive in a timely manner; the chances are that you’ll beat it home, but it’s the thought that counts.

Read: Visit Patagonia: Everything You Need to Know

Drive a 4×4 Through the Forest

View while exploring Tierra Mayor Valley

Tierra Mayor Valley

Ride a 4×4 on a rugged lumberjack trail through the Tierra Mayor Valley, uncovering the natural beauty of the Fuegian Andes.

What’s interesting about these forests, particularly if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere, is that none of the trees or plants are recognizable. They’re all native to this windswept corner of South America and have adapted to the harsh climate and bitter winters.

There’s relatively little wildlife as there simply isn’t enough for large mammals to eat. You may, however, see the damage done by beavers.

Ten pairs of Canadian beavers were introduced here in 1946, the idea being to farm them for their coats. The project failed as the pelts had little value and the beavers had no natural predators.

As a result, the creatures ran wild, multiplied, and caused considerable destruction, felling trees to build their dams. Today, there are more than 200,000 animals here, and they are considered a nuisance.

You’ll notice that a lot of the trees are draped in a beard-like lichen. This plant, called old man’s beard, only thrives when the air is spotlessly clean, so take a few deep breaths and savor this delicious purity.

Hike With Huskies

View of the huskies in Ushuaia

Huskies in Ushuaia

You’ll feel a sense of being a rugged explorer as you hike through pristine landscapes accompanied by trusty husky dogs.

These are working dogs used in winter to pull sleds when the mountains and forests around Ushuaia are blanketed in snow. In summer, they’ll run alongside you, scampering off into the forest to explore, or walking peacefully with you on the trail, offering the perfect canine fix for anybody missing their pet back home.

The drive to the trailhead, deep into the Fuegian Andes, is spectacular, passing gleaming lakes and emerald-green peat bogs to the trailhead of an old lumberjack trail.

You’ll climb over Garibaldi Pass and, weather permitting, you should be able to spot Lake Escondido in the distance, known as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

Go Bird Watching

Andean condor spotted in Ushuaia

Andean condor

Join an expert to explore the Tierra del Fuego National Park in search of some of the 90 species of bird found here. The habitat in the park includes steppes, plains, and wetlands, as well as tumbling South American waterfalls and steep mountains, making for a wonderfully diverse environment.

Follow the hiking trails with a guide and look out for giant woodpeckers, the austral parakeet, and black-faced ibis. You could see austral pygmy owls in the southern beech forests and in the coastal areas, kelp goose and steamer ducks.

If you’re lucky, you could spot the majestic Andean condor, a spectacular raptor with a wingspan of up to 10 feet. You’ll see them soaring on the thermals over mountains and valleys, or perched watchfully in the trees.

Feast at an Asado Restaurant

Parrilla in Ushuaia


Asado is the Argentine word for “barbecue,” and no other country does this better. Meat lovers will be in heaven in an asado restaurant, or parrilla, where you’ll see lamb, beef, pork, chicken, and chorizo being slow-roasted over an open fire.

Some restaurants have their fire in the window to tempt travelers into the cozy warmth on a cool day.

An asado restaurant is not much fun for vegetarians, but most parrillas offer veggie options nowadays. Try Parrilla La Estancia in the city center for an authentic experience and dishes to suit all tastes, washed down with a few glasses of smooth Argentine or Chilean reds.

Understand Context at the Malvinas Memorial

View of the Malvinas Memorial

Malvinas Memorial

In 1982, Argentina and Britain entered a bitter 10-week conflict over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands located in the South Atlantic.

Argentina eventually retreated, and the islands, which are populated mainly by descendants of British settlers, remain a British Overseas Territory to this day. Although diplomatic relations have long since resumed, Argentina still claims the Malvinas as its own.

Animosity lingers, too. You’ll never hear the islands referred to as the Falklands in Argentina, only Las Malvinas. Find out more at the striking bronze Héroes de Malvinas memorial to the 649 Argentines fallen in the war, which stands on Plaza Islas Malvinas. There’s also a wall engraved with the names of the dead and an eternal flame.

Admire Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse

Visit Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, one of the best things to do in Ushuaia

Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse

The lonely, red-and-white Les Eclaireurs lighthouse makes a striking sight, guarding a bare, rocky island in the Beagle Channel, some five miles from Ushuaia. You’ll see it on a boat trip, standing 36 feet high and emitting a flash every 10 seconds.

The famous lighthouse has stood here since 1920, although its technology has been updated since; the light is solar powered nowadays. The lighthouse is unmanned and remote-controlled, but still plays a vital role in guarding the entrance to Ushuaia’s port.

Shop for Fun Souvenirs

Souvenirs at a shop in Argentina


Ushuaia is packed with outdoors shops where climbers stock up on gear and provisions for their expeditions. But there are some classy souvenir shops and craft stalls, too, where you can pick up a memento of your time at the tip of South America.

Even if you’re not usually given to shopping, it’s fun to bring back a souvenir from a destination as extreme as Ushuaia.

Look out for a pinguino, a jug shaped like a penguin, inspired by the Magellanic penguins on Isla Martillo. Bring back an oven glove in the form of a colorful salmon, or perhaps a snow globe with Les Eclaireurs lighthouse as its centerpiece.

Bombilla with yerba mate


An Argentine classic is a bombilla, a silver straw through which yerba mate, a warm, caffeinated drink, is consumed. The container, also called a mate, is traditionally made from a calabash gourd. It’s ornamental in its own right, regardless of whether you enjoy the herbal brew, which is an acquired taste.

You’ll find all manner of colorful Patagonian woolen items made from the fleece of the sheep that are widely farmed here.

Chocolate is a big deal in Ushuaia, too; locals claim they need the sugar hit during the long, dark months of winter. Chocolate filled with dulce de leche is even more tempting and is on sale in most souvenir shops.

Read: Best Time to Visit Argentina

Things to do in Ushuaia


Are you tempted to experience the extreme beauty of Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia? Browse our Ushuaia cruises and plan your South American adventure.

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