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If you’ve ever wanted to travel to the end of the world, you’re in luck. Located at the southernmost end of South America, Ushuaia is literally a city on a hilltop and a famous Argentine resort town. Getting here on a South America cruise is an adventure in and of itself, as Ushuaia is often called a doorway to Antarctica.
Ushuaia is an important port city and the capital of the Tierra del Fuego province of Argentina. The town boasts incredible natural beauty through its national parks like the Tierra del Fuego National Park with cultural institutions like the Museo del Fin del Mundo, or the End of the World Museum. Skiing, boating among snow-capped mountain vistas, and hiking are some of the most popular Ushuaia excursions. While stopped on your Ushuaia cruise, catch views of both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans from Beagle Channel. Animal lovers can’t miss a stop at Gable Island and Port Williams Navy Base, where you spot penguins and sea lions in their natural colonies.
Don’t miss out on the Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the area’s top natural attractions. Lose yourself in a hike among the glaciers and the natural, untouched forest. There are even buses that take passengers from Ushuaia directly to the park entrance. You won’t be able to see it all in a day, but it’s still a sight you won’t soon forget. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the sheer variety of athletic activities to do here, whether that’s hiking at every skill level, sledding, or taking a replica of a train that once brought convicts to the isolated, harrowing Ushuaia prison.
Learn about the history of this part of Argentina from when the indigenous population ruled for thousands of years all the way to colonial occupation and modern day times. You’ll see ancient artifacts, preserved sailboats, and relics of daily life from hundreds of years ago along with tributes to the rich history of the “end of the world”.
Charles Darwin once explored Beagle Channel during his 19th century expedition through Argentina. The channel itself is named for Darwin’s ship, the H.M.S. Beagle. Beagle Channel offers views of the Pacific on one side and the Atlantic on the other, and there are only two other places in the world that can say that. Tour the lighthouse at the end of the world and watch carefully to spot rare dolphins.
Venture outside of the town on your Ushuaia cruise to Lake Escondido for some blissful solitude at one of Argentina’s most beautiful lakes. You’ll be surrounded by the Fuegian Andes mountains as you kayak or canoe here, and it’s perfect for an adventurous afternoon on the water or a relaxing paddling trip.
Have you ever seen an undisturbed colony of penguins? Observe them in their natural habitat during your time in Argentina. You’ll feel like you’ve been dropped in the middle of a nature documentary when you take an excursion to Martillo Island to watch the Magellanic penguins that call the island home.
Ushuaia was once a famous penal colony, and today you can tour the prison facilities that once imprisoned hundreds of convicts and kept the city of Ushuaia afloat with their back-breaking physical labor. The prison is also the site of the Museo Maritimo y del Presidio, where you can tour exhibits dedicated to the area’s important maritime history.
Strap on your scuba gear and dive the incredible Beagle Channel during your Ushuaia, Argentina cruise. You’ll swim alongside the area’s rare marine life and get a feel of the cool Patagonian waters. Underwater wrecks and tunnels await for an adventurous dive.
The dense forests and incredible natural landscape of the Tierra del Fuego National Park and other areas make for a breathtaking horseback ride in the wilderness of Argentina. Family businesses in Ushuaia often advertise rides along the Beagle Channel or will take you on horseback to the top of Mount Susana.
Ushuaia offers some of the best seafood in Argentina like mussels, crab, and sea bass. For perfectly prepared seafood, Volver regularly gets rave reviews from publications and locals alike. Kaupé offers dishes like sea bass marinated in spicy butter with capers and other mouthwatering options like tenderloin with plum sauce, or simply an appetizer of king crab without any accoutrements. Looking for a more relaxed cafe? Almacen Ramos Generales offers carb-laden classics like croissants, baguettes, and sweet pastries, and they’re open till midnight. Pair with a beer on tap for an inexpensive treat.
Indigenous peoples have inhabited the southern tip of South America for centuries, but Ushuaia as we know of it today began to develop as a trading and shipping port city as early at the 14th century. During the 19th century, Charles Darwin spent four years in Patagonia and the surrounding regions on an expedition that helped shape his theories on evolution. In 1885, Ushuaia was named the capital city of the Tierra del Fuego province.
Along the way, Ushuaia has worn many hats: missionary colony, home to a major prison, naval base, resort town, and more. It has also acted as a popular hub for travelers en route to Antarctica and is affectionately nicknamed “the end of the world” because of its latitude. Culturally, Ushuaia takes its museums and institutions very seriously, and exploring them on a cruise to Ushuaia, Argentina is crucial to understanding the pride locals take in their town.
The Ushuaia port is mostly used for shipping, but the terminal does include some essential amenities like complimentary WiFi, a tourist information center, and a few souvenir shops if you’re interested in shopping close to port. If you’re looking to arrange a boat tour or other type of excursion, there will be more information available at the port.
It’s fairly straightforward to rent a car to get around in Ushuaia, and that will give travelers freedom to explore and go off the beaten path during their Ushuaia cruise. The roads are a tough gravel, so a strong driving approach is recommended. If you’re only interested in seeing the heart of Ushuaia and its downtown, you can mostly get to and from the major attractions on foot. Taxis are readily available as well, and you can arrange a tour of multiple stops with a particular taxi driver if you’d like. They tend to be really in-the-know about what to see during your time in this part of Argentina.
The better, higher-end shopping in Ushuaia is located in the center of town, and you’ll find souvenir stalls by the cruise port. Head into downtown Ushuaia for Patagonian wool products, South American tea and other delicacies, and a variety of t-shirts and other trinkets to commemorate your time there. The area also boasts tax-free shopping.
While you won’t find any ATMs at the Ushuaia cruise port, there will be ATMs available in the downtown area. The official currency is the Argentine peso (ARS), but the currency exchange is poor in the area. Don’t take too much cash out, because you won’t get a very good exchange rate to another currency once you leave Argentina. Tipping isn’t mandatory in Argentina, but it’s considered very polite. You can leave a 10% tip at restaurants and for tour guides and round up to the nearest peso for your taxi driver when you’re getting around on a cruise to Ushuaia, Argentina.