Snow-capped mountains, spectacular wildlife, awe-inspiring views. Ushuaia is a place that, in 3 words: stole my heart. It’s highly underrated, in my opinion, and most people visit Ushuaia as a base for their Antarctica adventures and don’t end up staying too long, which is so unfortunate because Ushuaia has a ton to see and do.
I spent seven glorious days there, and that still wasn’t enough to do everything I wanted to do, but that means I have to go back, right?.
When I planned to visit Ushuaia I new that I would have to take into consideration that I wouldn’t be able to go to certain places or do certain things because of my disability. There are tons of beautiful scenic hikes I had to miss out on, but I have always been grateful for what I can do, so although I couldn’t do a few of the hikes that the people I was traveling with were doing I was okay with that. I made the most out of my situation
Before visiting Ushuaia, none of us knew what to expect, nor did we know much about the region, but we did learn some pretty cool facts when we were there. Like, Ushuaia was home to Argentina’s most dangerous criminals because of how isolated it is; it was the perfect place to build a prison which seems to be the norm for many high security prison.
Or that you can’t drive from Argentina straight to Ushuaia. You have to drive into Chile and then take a ferry.
Also, penguins! There are three species you can see in Ushuaia, and there is even a tour you can take where you can walk with them, but we didn’t do that due to it being full during the time we were there. We instead saw them from afar on the comfort of an overcrowded ship, which is the next best thing!
Get ready for some gorgeous wanderlust fuel with this photo (and travel guide) of Ushuaia, Argentina!
Psst, are you planning a trip to Ushuaia? Check out some of these cool experiences.
Ushuaia Travel Tips & Faq's
How to Get to Ushuaia?
The best way to get to Ushuaia is by plane. there is one small airport that has flights from Buenos Aires, but with very limited itineraries and unfortunately, they can be expensive especially in the summer with everyone traveling to Antarctica.
Another option is driving, but you have to cross through Chile and then take a ferry. You can find more information about the ferries here.
Do You Need A Car for Ushuaia?
The short answer: No. you don’t need one, but it’s the best option if you want flexibility and freedom to explore the region. There isn’t much public transportation, and there are tours that take you to top tourist sites like Tierra Del Fuego national park, but they can be pricy.
I don’t drive so I was lucky that I was traveling with people who did so if I was visiting alone I would have had to either rent out a cab to take me where I wanted to go or invest in tours so if you have the means to I would recommend getting car. It will be the cheapest and easiest way to explore Ushuaia, and it allows flexibility to go off the beaten track!
When is the best time to visit Ushuaia?
Ushuaia is on the southern hemisphere, so for us Americans, it’s a bit weird to think that the best time to visit would be between Nov-Mar, but that is when the weather is best. Ushuaia is always a bit chilly, and you’ll see some snow on the peaks of the mountains, but generally, the weather during that time is pretty mild with the occasional downpour.
What should you pack for Ushuaia?
- Puffer Jacket: Even though we visited during the summer Ushuaia was still chilly. I was relieved that I brought my puffer jacket. It was perfect because I was flying to Europe after Argentina and having a lightweight and practical jacket to take with me was crucial. It kept me snug and warm the entire trip.
- Leggings: Whenever I go on a trip half my wardrobe tends to be leggings. I mean, they are just so easy to pack; you can wear them with almost anything and they can be worn during the summer by themselves or part of layers in the winter.
- Strong Sunscreen: The sun in Ushuaia is hella strong. I love neutogenas sunscreen. They have loads of different types to choose from depending on your skin type and different levels of SPF.
- Rain Coat: Even though it's summer expect to be greeted with some rainfall. It only happened once on our trip and we were told how incredibly lucky we were. Amazon has loads of really cute ones to choose from.
- Comfy Walking Shoes: DO NOT slack in the shoe department. Seriously. Pack shoes with good traction and that you find comfortable to walk in for long periods of time. You will be glad you did. Trust me.
- Gloves or Mittens: I know I know it's summer in Argentina so shouldn't it be hot? That's what I thought too, but some days were so darn cold I needed to pop on my mittens that I luckily packed for Europe. It doesn't hurt to pack them just in case.
- A Backpack: I always have a backpack with me when I am exploring a place.I probably stuff it with way to to many things but I always have what I need.
- Adapter: For some reason, adapters are something I ALWAYS forget to pack. Luckily, this trip I remembered. It can be such a hassle to track adapters down when you arrive at a destination, so make sure you don't forget!
- Motion Sickness Pills: Chances are, you will be on at least one boat and if you are someone that gets sick on choppy water than motion sickness pills are a must. It's best to consult with your doctor before purchasing any over the counter pills.
Is Ushuaia Safe?
Absolutely! I explored Ushuaia on my own a few times and never felt unsafe. You will want to practice common sense when it comes to keeping yourself and belongings safe, but it’s not a place you have to be overly cautious.
I do recommend getting travel insurance, so if something does go wrong, you will be covered. Travel insurance has saved my butt a few times when I have ended up in the hospital and had some valuables stolen.
Where to Stay in Ushuaia: Hotel Arakur
Our drive up to Hotel Arakur was filled with a magical view over the city and majestic wild horses enjoying their best life. There were a lot of them. We parked our car and hurried out where we were greeted by a friendly doorman who offered to take our things.
Once inside, and after a gander around the lobby, it felt like we have been transported into a James bond movie, and Mr. Bond himself was about to come out and greet us. The lobby was lit by large floor to ceiling windows that had one of the best views of any hotel I think I have ever stayed in.
After gaping way too long at the view surrounding us, we finally were taken up to our hotel room and let me say: WOW! I thought the view in the lobby was unreal; our hotel room view was another level. I just started picturing myself every morning sitting by the window, staring out with a steaming cup of coffee.
One of my favorite features of the room was a giant window looking into the bathroom so you could take a bath or go to the bathroom and enjoy the view at the same time. There was a button that could be pressed to bring down some blinds, so if you are say traveling with the family like I was, they can’t look at you doing your business.
At this point, our tiredness quickly dissolved, and we were ready to explore the grounds. Our first order of business was to find the pool. Luckily, our floor had easy access to the pool. We just had to walk down our hallway to an elevator that took us directly down there.
As soon as we entered the pool area, we didn’t waste a minute and dived in. Seriously, this hotel keeps getting better and better. There were two parts to the pool; An inside room where all the lounge chairs were and then the outside part where there were two hot tubs and an infinity pool looking over the entire city and beyond. A glass window separated the infinity pool, and we were able to access the outside portion of it by swimming underneath, so we wouldn’t have to get our feet cold.
Even though we were visiting during the summer, it was windy, and the pool was the perfect amount of warmth. This was going to be the first of many swims.
Oh, there was also soft classical music playing out of underwater speakers. I loved dunking my head and listening to the soft music playing.
After what seemed like hours of getting our hair wet, we headed back up to the room to rest for a bit and get ready for dinner. Our first night we decided to eat in the hotel.
Dinner happened to be a buffet with an array of delicious foods and amazing-smelling aromas. We arrived at dinner with hungry tummies and didn’t stop eating until we felt like balloons ready to pop.
I decided to head up to the room after dinner to get a good night’s sleep while everyone else stayed downstairs ordering glasses of wine. I knew for sure that the next seven days, Arakur was going to spoil me, and I was ready!
The Town of Ushuaia
I didn’t know what to expect in the town of Ushuaia, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed exploring it. Our hotel had a complimentary shuttle that took guests down to the city on the hour, and I ended up taking advantage of that service every single day.
It let us off in front of this adorable old fashioned general store themed cafe where I got coffee and a cream-filled croissant every day and then went off exploring. The town was not big, so it was easy to explore on foot.
Ushuaia is filled with the cutest shops selling local products, delicious restaurants serving the freshest seafood, and loads of chocolate shops inviting us in with their sweet smells.
We passed by adorable and vividly colorful corrugated iron buildings and explored the waterfront where we got stunning views of the Beagle Channel and all of its unspoiled beauty.
Where to eat traditional food (and gain a million pounds)
Ushuaia is known to have the best of two things: crab and lamb, and although I am not a huge fan of crab. (it’s way more work than I am willing to put in for my food) I HAD to try some.
Bodegón Fueguino: I found this place online while researching the best lamb in Ushuaia, and it did not disappoint. Even before it opened, there was a huge line outside. They had an entire page in their menu dedicated to lamb, and I went with the leek lamb and mashed pumpkin.
Kalma: This place is a bit fancier and has a fantastic tasting menu. The chef changes the menu every few weeks, and all the food he serves is local and inspired by the Patagonian region. If you go, I suggest opting for the tasting menu; that way, you can try a bit of everything.
Volver: I adored this place. From the outside, it looked like a fisherman’s cottage, and on the inside, it felt like one. This is the place to try if you want crab. I got the crab bisque and garlic seabass. I could taste how fresh they both were. They also have crab legs you can order, but as I said earlier, I am not a fan of working for my food.
RAMOS GENERALES EL ALMACEN: This is where the shuttle from Arakur hotel drops off. This little gem of a place is perfect for a morning coffee and pastry. Their cream-filled croissants are delish. They also have an excellent cheese and meat board for two that I may or may not have eaten by myself.
The Best Things to do in Ushuaia
Let me start by saying, seven days is not enough to explore Ushuaia and all of its beautiful glory, but it's enough time to visit the top sites, and that's what we did.
Now, first off, if you decide to go to any museum in Ushuaia, it should be The Prison Museum. Here you will get all the crazy facts about Ushuaia's history which revolves around the prison.
What was cool about the museum was that all the cells were original. They had to renovate a few of them for safety reasons, but most of them are original.
You will learn about some of the most notorious prisoners sent to Ushuaia, and this museum also has a maritime history section, which I found fascinating.
Fun Fact: I hate being on boats but love learning about the history of them.
Galería Temática is another excellent museum. This is also a history museum, but instead of implementing a ton of text to read, they have audio guides and dioramas that take you through the history from when the indigenous people inhabited Ushuaia to when it was home to Argentina's most notorious prisoners.
This museum is great for kids, and adult kids like myself and many of the dioramas make great photo ops.
Now, there is no way you can go to Ushuaia and not take a boat trip. As I said earlier, I am not a fan of being on boats, but sometimes you have to do things you don't like doing to have certain experiences like seeing wildlife in their natural habitat or seeing the southernmost lighthouse in the world.
There are tons of tour companies in Ushuaia offering boat tours, and they all pretty much go to the same locations. There is one tour company that offers tours where you can walk on land with the penguins, but it sells out quickly because of strict regulations regarding how many people per day can get that close to the penguins (which I am happy about! We need to protect those cute little buggers.)
The boat tour we did was about 4 hours and consisted of multiple wildlife sightings, including seals, penguins, and several Patagonian bird species. We got a close look at the southernmost lighthouse in the world, and by the end of the trip, our hair was in complete disarray from the wind, but it was worth it.
Hiking Tierra Del Fuego with a Disability
Tierra Del Fuego National Park is the most popular place to visit in Ushuaia. Loads of people visit everyday mostly on tour busses, and it can get pretty crowded. Luckily, we had a car, so time was no issue for us. We were flexible and decided to visit in the late morning.
The first stop we made was Rio Lapataia. A stunning lake that had a perfect mountainous backdrop and walked around for a bit taking pictures and gawking at the beautiful flora and fauna. Oh, and there were wild horses!
After about 20 minutes of meandering around the lake, we got back in the car and headed for our next stop: Lapataia Bay
Here we were going to do some hiking, and I figured it wouldn't be too difficult because loads of people were doing it, and the start of the path was smooth and flat. I was wrong. About 15 minutes into the hike, the trail started becoming bumpy with rocks scattered all over the place and puddles blocking the walkway, which meant we had to tiptoe on the edge of the puddle, and I am sure you can imagine how that ended.
I had wet shoes as a souvenir.
My mom started holding my hand on the hike because I couldn't stop tripping, and I almost took her down with me a few times. Whoops! Eventually, I told my mom very dramatically to go on without me.
I couldn't go back on my own, or I would for sure trip in a puddle or hurt myself, so I stayed leaning against a very slanted tree and let my mom continue the hike with our friends. They were gone for well over 30 minutes, but luckily I had my book, so time went by quickly.
After Colombia, I should have learned I should not be hiking with Ataxia.
Anywho, with our hike completed, we got back in the car and headed to The visitors center: Centro de Visitantes Alakush. We sat down for a much-needed coffee and empanada break and then proceeded to walk around the visitors center, starting with the museum of Tierra Del Fuego National Park.
I spent almost an hour in there, and it wasn't even a big place. I have museum OCD and have to read everything. I am also a slow reader, so yeah, it took a bit of time.
After the museum, I headed to a desk right in front of the entrance that gave out passport stamps, so I got “an end of the world” stamp and excitedly left the visitors center ready for some lunch.
Although once we left, I started getting a migraine and ended up staying in the car and, sadly, sleeping for the duration of our time in the National Park.
If you don't know much about the migraines I get because of my disability, you can read more here. They aren't fun and can knock me out for an entire day. Luckily, this one only lasted a few hours, and I was happily swimming in the pool at my hotel in the evening.
If you visit Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego is a must, and if you can rent a car and explore it on your own, I highly recommend it.
What to Buy and How you Can Support the Locals
One thing I loved about Ushuaia was how easy it was to buy locally made items. When I travel somewhere and want to buy souvenirs I try and stay away from mass-produced products and stick to items that support the local economy and of course, the people who make the items. Here are a few of my favorite shops I ended up buying souvenirs from.
Feria artesanal Ushuaia has 48 stands selling handmade crafts such as jewelry, paintings, wooden bowls, and every stand sells something different which is pretty unique for such a touristy market. You can see the stall owners in the back working on their crafts. It’s a pretty neat place to check out even if you don’t buy anything.
Tip: Make sure you have enough cash. Most of the stalls don’t accept card.
Tierra De Humos sells items made by local artists. They had ceramic cups, wooden bowls, scarves, troll & penguin figurines, and they even had some items made with recyclable materials. I wanted to buy out the entire store.
Quelhue Wine Shop is the place to go for all your local (& international) wine needs. They have hundreds of wines and liquors to choose from and they have a small section stocked full of delicious local cheeses and meats. We shopped here a few times to bring wine and cheese back to our hotel room.
Ushuaia was a destination I had high expectations for and those expecations were very much met. I honestly loved Argentina as a whole. It's a country I definitely want to go back to and explore in-depth. When I go back Ushuaia will definitely be on my itinerary.
Have you ever been to Argentina? What was your favorite part of the country?
Helpful Travel Resources
Book your Flight: Check out Skyscanner and Momondo! They always seem to have great deals. Airfarewatchdog is also a favorite of mine. I get notified by email every time there is a good deal from my local airport.
Book your Transportation: Wanderu is usually where I check first. They check hundreds of different transportation companies all over the world and find you either the best bus or train deal. Flixbus is one of my favorite cheap options for Europe. The buses generally aren't too bad and they go to most countries around Europe. It's the perfect option for short distances. Train travel is my favorite mode of transportation and I always use Rail Europe to book my tickets. The Eurail pass makes train travel super affordable.
Book your Accommodation: On a budget and looking for cheap accommodation? Hostelworld is my preferred site to book cheap and reliable hostels through. Hotels Combined compares hundreds of sites to give you the cheapest hotel deal. If I know the hotel I want to stay at, This is the site I generally use. Hotwire has a fun mystery to it. It's a great site to use for last minute bookings. They don't actually tell you the name of the hotel when you are browsing. You will just get the area of the city it's in, the price, and how many stars it has. I love the surprise aspect of it!
Book your Travel Insurance: Getting travel insurance is such a crucial part of preparing for a trip. You never know what could happen and why take the risk? Before I travel anywhere I always book my insurance through World Nomads.
Book your Activities: Now, you have planned all the logistics time to think about what you will do once you get to your destination! These are a few of my favorite trip planning sites. I always use Viator when I am looking for tours. I have booked cooking classes, day tours and so much more through them and absolutely love the immense selection they offer in cities all over the world! Pinterest is great to get travel inspiration and plan an upcoming trip or share inspo with friends and family. I use Trip Advisor to plan itineraries for what I want to see & do in each city. I also use them to read reviews on restaurants and hotels.
Store Your Luggage: Do you have a long layover or a late flight and need to store your luggage? Luggage Hero has got you covered. You can book luggage storage in more than 35 cities worldwide for as little as $1 an hour or $8 for the day.
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