Ushuaia is the capital of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego. It is located on the Beagle Channel on the south side of the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego, the Great Tierra del Fuego Island. With over 50.000 inhabitants, it is considered the southernmost city in the world.
The region was an Indian area until the 19th century. The British established the first base on the Beagle Channel in 1869, and Ushuaia was founded by the Argentines in 1884.
Ushuaia residents greet visitors
Well into the middle of the 20th century, Ushuaia was a lonely outpost at the tip of South America, best known for a prison that operated there from 1904 to 1947.
Tax advantages in the settlement of companies led to a growing population from 1972 onwards. And the increasing global tourism also discovered the spectacular landscape around Ushuaia.
Climate, Economy and Transport
The climate on the southern tip of America is balanced: mostly cold and humid. The annual temperatures fluctuate on average only between 2 degrees in winter and 9 degrees in summer. Frequent weather changes over the course of a day are not uncommon.
The timber industry, fishing and, for some years now, tourism are of economic importance. The unique nature attracts nature lovers and hikers. Ushuaia is the starting point for expeditions to the Antarctic. Numerous cruise ships also stop in Ushuaia on their way around South America.
Ushuaia has had a modern airport since 1998. There are bus connections to Rio Gallegos and to Punta Arenas in Chile, which can also be reached by ferry. The Ruta National 3, which is part of the Panamericana, ends in Ushuaia.
Sightseeing in Ushuaia
There are hardly any sights in Ushuaia. Only the old prison, the former prison railway and a few museums are attractive to visitors.
The place impresses with its blatant location in the south of Tierra del Fuego. The area around Ushuaia is a unique natural paradise.
Museums in Ushuaia
The End of the World Museum opened in 1979. It shows exhibits from the time of the settlement of Tierra del Fuego and is centrally located on the quayside in the former building of the Argentine Central Bank.
End of the World Museum
The Maritime Museum informs about the maritime heritage of Patagonia. There are also replicas of Native American boats. In the prison museum Museo del Presidium the history of the penal colony of Ushuaia is presented. Both museums are housed in buildings of the former prison.
Tren Fin del Mundo railway
The prison's former works train now serves as a tourist attraction. On the southernmost railway line in the world, a narrow-gauge train travels from the Fin del Mundo station, which is outside the city, to the national park. The route is eight kilometers long. In the 2018/19 season the trip costs a good 28 EUR.
Shopping and eating
Avenida San Martín is Ushuaia's main shopping street. It runs parallel to the coast. Ushuaia is a free trade zone and imported goods can be cheap. The shops are well sorted and nicely designed. Souvenirs with and without a penguin come in many variations.
And for those who have always wanted to eat king crabs: this specialty is on the menu in many restaurants.
Excursions on land and on the water
Ushuaia is surrounded by impressive nature: the sea, high mountains and forests are close together. In summer Ushuaia is the starting point for hikes in the national park and excursions on the Beagle Channel, in winter it is an extraordinary winter sports resort with ski slopes and cross-country ski trails with a view of the sea.
Sea lions on the Isla de los Lobos
"Glaciar Martial" glacier
The Glaciar Martial is only a few kilometers away from Ushuaia and can be easily reached by taxi. It is 1.300 meters high with a snow-capped summit. There is a chair lift that goes up - not always in summer. From the top you have a wonderful view over the city, the Beagle Channel and the Chilean mountains on the other side of the channel.
Tierra del Fuego National Park
The Tierra del Fuego National Park begins twelve kilometers west of Ushuaia. It is 63.000 hectares in size, begins at the southern foothills of the Andes and extends to the Beagle Channel. In the west it borders on Chile. In the national park you can experience the entire biological richness of the island of Tierra del Fuego: forest and moorland, rivers, lakes, mountain ranges and the coast on the Beagle Channel. In the 2018/19 season, entry costs around EUR 5.
The oldest farm on Tierra del Fuego is around 75 kilometers from Ushuaia. There are organized tours to get there by bus or boat. From the farm you can also take small boats to the island of Martillo and walk on separate paths through the colony of Magellanic penguins.
Boat trips in the Beagle Channel
The Beagle Channel connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In the eastern part of the canal, the border between Argentina and Chile runs in the middle.
Les Eclaireurs lighthouse - sea lions in front
Every day - depending on the weather - catamarans, sailing boats or yachts set off from Ushuaia into the Beagle Channel so that guests can marvel at the abundant wildlife. Whether sea lions, cormorants or condors, there is definitely something to discover. In the summer months between October and March, a few boats go to Martillo Island, around 75 kilometers away, where a colony of Magellanic penguins lives.
Ushuaia for crusaders
Ushuaia lies in front of a snow-covered mountain range directly on the Beagle Channel. Arriving ship travelers can expect an impressive backdrop.
Cruise ships dock at a centrally located pier. The main shopping street, Avenida San Martín, is just 200 meters away. There are banks, cafes, restaurants and many shops here. The tourist information is located on the corner of San Martin and Juana Fadul. There is an information stand at the pier.
When a cruise ship calls at Ushuaia, tours with minibuses or taxis to the sights in and around the town are offered at the port exit. Boat tours in the Beagle Channel are sold in the quaint cottages to the right of the port exit.
Boat trips are sold in these kiosks
Update October 2020