A Local’s Guide to Ushuaia, Argentina
Welcome to the ‘End of the World’ – Ushuaia, Argentina! As a jumping-off point for our Antarctic cruises, Ushuaia is a lively and adventurous place, filled with both the anticipation of visiting Antarctica but also the pure joy of those returning from their Antarctic adventures.
One of our much-loved, long-time staff members is born and raised in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. We thought, who better to tell you all about it? Here’s our ‘Local’s Guide to Ushuaia’, graciously provided by PL Expedition Team member, Mariela.
What was it like growing up in Ushuaia?
Ushuaia used to be a very small town. Everybody knew everybody! Ushuaia is an amazing place for outdoor activities: the mountains are just 10 minutes away from the sea, and we have a protected harbor to learn different nautical sports. Summers were all about hiking, walking the National Park, sailing and paddling the Beagle Channel, and enjoying long days with almost no night-time.
Winters were packed- cross-country and downhill skiing, ice skating, sailing, and kayaking… sometimes all on the same day. School had a special schedule, so we would have more free time during winter to enjoy the snow. In hindsight, growing up in Ushuaia was amazing!
What are the locals like?
First, it’s hard to find true locals! My generation is the first that was born in the town. Many before me (including my parents) came down from the North of the country, looking for working opportunities and a safe place to raise their kids. Many who were born in Ushuaia during the ’80s and ’90s left for university and never came back. If you ask me, locals are all who spent here more time than in any other place in the country.
How are we? Well, I’m sure I’m biased but I think we are a very welcoming town, fun and always eager to take new people exploring.
What is the weather like in Ushuaia?
The weather could be anything from sunny, windy, rainy, snowy, and sunny again… all on the same day! We say, “if you don’t like the weather, give it half an hour and you might get it better”. Usually, winter temperatures are around freezing, and summer temperatures oscillate between 5 and 20 degrees Celsius. Dressing up in layers is the best choice (and always have a waterproof outer layer with you).
What would you recommend to passengers looking to explore Ushuaia before or after their voyage?
Although every corner in Ushuaia is beautiful and full of adventure, there are a few highlights you can’t miss. Visiting the National Park for half a day will give the avid birders and scenery lovers the chance to enjoy one of the most unique environments in the country (and the world). If you love hiking, you can spend the entire day there and get to the top of Monte Guanaco or enjoy the “Senda Costera” (a beautiful trail along the coast of the Beagle Channel).
Hiking up the “Glaciar Martial” trail and coming back to a delicious tea and cake at the “Casita de té del Martial”, is one of the things you shouldn’t miss! You can choose how long to walk, usually taking about 1.5 hours to get to the first viewpoint.
There are many museums in Ushuaia and you’ll probably need a week to visit them all, but I would recommend two of them as the ‘must visit’: The Old Prison Museum, where you’ll enjoy some of the city’s history plus a maritime museum; and the “End of the World” Museum, with lots of information on the aboriginal groups who used to live in our Province. Both of them are located downtown, and you can get there by walking from your shuttle stop.
Ushuaia is well known for its sailing culture, and kayaking excursions. You can visit the local yacht club or contact any of the sailing companies for an adventure in the Onashaga (Beagle) Channel or hire a kayaking guide to explore the coast from a boat. Worth seeing sea lions, Humpback whales, cormorants, and more while you paddle the beautiful Channel!
If someone wanted to stick around and spend more time exploring the area, what would you recommend?
One of the great things about visiting Ushuaia is that there are as many options for travelers. You’ll find endless options depending on what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re into local food and delicatessen, visiting “Puerto Almanza” is a must. Located around 65 km to the East, this fisherman’s town has many different restaurants where you can enjoy fresh king crab and seafood, plus some delicious local desserts. If you spare a day for this experience, you can take a boat shuttle to Martillo Island and visit a Magellanic penguin colony, walk to one or two waterfalls and head to “Estancia Harberton” to visit the marine mammal’s bones museum.
The lakes area is also a beautiful and close place to spend a day or a few! There’s a town located at the head of “Lago Kami”, the biggest lake in the province, called Tolhuin. It is located at the center of the main island, going from West to East through both Chile, and Argentina. It sits right at the Magellan fault, so get yourself ready for great scenery and some amazing sunsets. If you choose to spend a night at Tolhuin, there are many walks and hikes around town you can do with or without a guide.
If you feel like having a more adventurous day trip, the Lakes district can be visited by Toyota Prado’s 4×4, which will take you through the old mountain pass, some off-road trails, finishing at the “Escondido” lake to enjoy a local ‘Asado’ (BBQ).
Hotel Arakur sits perched high above Ushuaia
What are your top 3 restaurants?
Only 3? Tough one! I would say Maria Lola (fish, seafood and homemade pasta with seafood); La Estancia (local lamb and Asado); Chez Manú (local delicatessen, meat and fish). If you’re looking for a vegan option, almost all restaurants will offer one or two dishes, but never miss “Isla Vegana”: you’ll find fresh, homemade vegan options and the staff is incredible!
Best place to grab a coffee?
Ana & Juana, by far! And I’m sure you won’t be able to take just a coffee, as you’ll get tempted with cakes, scones, brownies, and all sorts of delicious sweets!
Any other locals tips or suggestions?
Ushuaia is well known for producing excellent chocolates. The best shop in town is Edelweiss.
A big thank you to Mariela for giving us the locals inside scoop on Ushuaia. We hope you have the opportunity to enjoy some time there either before or after your Antarctic cruise with us.
On your way to the ship, as our guests, you will enjoy a stay at the spectacular Arakur Resort & Spa, perched on a natural balcony 800 feet above sea level inside the Cerro Alarkén Nature Reserve just above the town.
You can reach out to our team anytime with your questions about our voyages.