Airplane environments make me a little anxious usually. The best time in an airplane is when the wheels have touched the ground and we’re already steering into the ‘parking lot’. Landing in Ushuaia, however, was a complete different story. I’ve never experienced a better and more impressive landing anywhere in the world.
As the airplane was getting closer to the ground only a couple of hours after boarding in Puerto Iguazu, we were navigating through a tick deck of clouds, which is a little sleepy and misty. We kept descending until finally, we broke free from the clouds and the view was just majestic.
We were surrounded by steep, snow capped mountains and it felt a little as if we were in the first fifteen minutes of the movie ‘Alive’.
The scenery changed from: I don’t have a clue where we currently are’ to ‘Oh my god! Have you seen where we are!?’ Ushuaia can be reached by car, but I would definitely recommend taking an airplane to Ushuaia just to descend and land into this powerful setting at the end of the world.
First and foremost, Ushuaia is a major departure point for Antarctic cruises. We didn’t do that, but we do have some other cool things you can do in Antarctica!
We made a round-up for you of the best things to do in Ushuaia Argentina.
Boat tour on the Beagle Channel
Book a boat tour on the Beagle Channel and experience the sensation early explorers must have had when they sailed through the Beagle Channel. Make sure these activities are included in your tour before you book it!
Isla Martillo - Hammer Island
Isla Martillo is the island where Patagonian penguins and leopard seals reside. Your boat will navigate close by the island and you’ll be able to see and photograph the animals up close.
Regular tourist boat trips will pass by the island very closely, but won’t let you get onto the actual island.
It’s also possible to book a tour to walk on the island and actually meet the animals while walking through their nesting area. We didn’t do that and I wouldn’t encourage doing so, because you’re actually intruding into the habitat of these animals which is completely unnecessary.
Faro Les Eclaireurs
Faro Les Eclaireurs is also called ‘the most southern lighthouse in the world’. Even though this isn’t entirely true, it’s still cool to get to this one and it’s still one of the most southern beacons in the world.
This lighthouse guards the sea entrance to Ushuaia and the actual ‘lighthouse at the end of the world’ is located further to the South East.
The Faro Les Eclaireurs is the lighthouse at the end of the world for most tourist boats and it’s conveniently located a few kilometers from Ushuaia.
It’s is very iconic and definitely worth the short detour.
Ushuaia Prison has been operational since 1896 and it was equipped for serious criminals and repeat offenders.
Much like Tasmania and Devil’s Island, Ushuaia was a harsh environment to survive and planning an escape would most likely result in death.
Ushuaia Prison is build up in a star-like shape with five wings. One of these wings is in a more or less original state and you can see the cells. This was obviously not a fun place to be!
The other wings of the prison have been restored into the maritime museum and even a souvenir shop.
Maritime Museum and Antarctic Museum
As mentioned before, the maritime museum has been set up in the former jailhouse and each of the cells shows an exhibition about different parts of the history of Ushuaia and the discoveries in the area.
If you want to see and read every part of the museum, plan in a few hours, because the museum is quite extensive and it spreads over multiple wings. We enjoyed being in the museum a lot as the setting is so weird and you’re actually walking from prison cell to prison cell.
At the end of the museum visit, there’s a little souvenir shop, but there are a lot of souvenir shops in town as well.
Martial Glacier is probably the most visited glacier in the area. It can be hiked, but we chose to visit it by cable cart. It doesn’t take very long to get to the top and once you’re there, you’ll be surrounded by snow capped mountains.
From where the cable cart drops you, impressive views over the Beagle Channel and the town await you!
Tierra Del Fuego Argentina
Tierra Del Fuego is an archipelago that is completely cut off from the South American mainland by the Strait of Magellan. It’s almost a continent on its own and even though it’s officially part of Argentina, you’ll feel as if you truly arrived at the end of the world.
It’s possible to reach Tierra Del Fuego with a car or bus, but you’ll have to travel through Chile and use a ferry to reach the group of islands.
Due to a shortage in time, we decided to fly in and we didn’t regret that decision. But I can imagine that driving through this landscape will also give you a creeping feeling of complete desertion in this desolate landscape.
Conclusion: Things to do in Ushuaia Argentina
Ushuaia is the most Southern city in Argentina and the entire world, depending on who’s telling the story.
Puerto William is actually located further south, but it doesn’t have enough inhabitants to be called a city.
Ushuaia has been inhabited for more than 10 thousand years by the Yamana and the name is the actual native Yamana name for the area.
The city grew a lot in the 19th century when people claimed there was gold to be found in Tierra Del Fuego.
It’s the perfect starting point for an excursion or cruise to Antarctica, if your budget is up for that. The town of Ushuaia is located on the bank of the Beagle channel, which is quite famous in history books.
In order to boost tourism in the area, the Tierra Del Fuego archipelago is currently a tax-free zone.
Since all the goods you find in stores, supermarkets, and restaurants have to be shipped from the mainland, the cost of living and traveling here isn’t extremely cheap and it’s not always easy to find the products you need all year round.
We stayed in Ushuaia for a full week and had plenty of time to visit all the sights we wanted to, but since we loved the town so much, we could have easily stayed a lot longer.