Highlights of Ushuaia
Cruises to or from Ushuaia
Two things that people might not realise about Ushuaia are firstly that it's a great point from which to go north as well as south, and secondly that you can buy a penguin there made out of just about anything. Stone, cork, tin, chocolate...
Sally Dodge Tailor-made trip & Lakes Specialist
Patagonia Tours including Ushuaia
Ushuaia: Your Questions Answered
The most direct way of getting to Ushuaia is flying from Buenos Aires. There are also flights from El Calafate to Ushuaia per day with a duration of 1hr 17m. To find out more about flights, see our Patagonia flights page.
Buses are also an option, buses board the ferry from Punta Delgada in Chile passing through Rio Grande before arriving in Ushuaia. However, this bus trip takes over 12 hours and although it's quite an enjoyable route, many people don't want to spend time on the bus.
We recommend taking the scenic route. First of all visit Los Glaciares National Park then make your way over the border to trek the W Circuit of Torres del Paine National Park. Afterwards, hop on a bus to Punta Arenas and board the adventure cruise, a 5 day cruise along the fjords and islands of the Chilean coast, round Cape Horn and through the Magellan Strait, finishing in Ushuaia.
The last point before Antarctica, Ushuaia is located in Tierra del Fuego or 'Land of Fire', known for its wild and remote landscape and the place where Darwin formed his theory of evolution. Ushuaia is the best place to base yourself as the region has a beautiful national park, only a small part of which is open to the public for day trips and many mountain ranges, some more accessible than others. The landscape here is green and wild, with many beautiful coastal walks, pebbled beaches and mountains everywhere you look.
Ushuaia is easy to access and is a great place to see Ushuaia as part of a longer, guided tour of Patagonia. We offer several trips that allow you to do this from 13 - 23 days in order to see the very best parts of Patagonia including Torres del Paine National Park and El Chalten.
A fantastic way of seeing the best of Tierra del Fuego is on an Adventure Cruise. You can take a 4-day cruise from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas (5-days vice versa), you'll round Cape Horn before travelling up the Magellan Straits and along the coast of Chile where you'll see glaciers, forests, penguins and sea lions. The cruise makes daily excursions in fast Zodiac boats, with guided walks and fantastic views. Cabins are comfortable and there's an open bar, 4 course meals, evening entertainment and informative videos and talks from the guides each day. We wholeheartedly recommend sitting back with a glass of cava as you sail past Glacier Alley; 5 hanging glaciers inaccessible by any other means.
Fewer people get out into the mountains here because it's so much more remote. Our partners offer a range of hiking trips in the mountain ranges surrounding Ushuaia and perhaps one of the most exciting is a 20-day trip that Explores the Darwin Mountain Range and combines sailing the icy waters of the Magellan Straits in amongst the glaciers of the Cordillera Darwin Mountain Range and trekking along the Atlantic coast.
Kayaking in the Beagle Channel is a unique experience and not for the faint hearted. The Beagle Channel is known for its strong winds and choppy waves, but kayaking in it is a one off experience which will take you to the channel's remote islands and wildlife.
There's a lot to see and do in this region, particularly if you like history and nature - on the coastal walk in the national park, you'll see where the Yaghan boat people used to live as all that remains are 'concheros', (from the Spanish word 'concha', or shell) which are circle shapes in the ground where the natives discarded their leftover mollusks and shells. More active options include canoeing in Lapataia bay, catching a boat to see the sea lion colony on the 'Isla de Lobos' in the Beagle Channel or join a tour to Isla Martillo to walk on a pebbled beach amongst hundreds of Magellanic penguins.
There are a multitude of museums to visit - the Maritime and Prison Museum, which actually gives a very informative and bleak insight into Ushuaia's past as a penal colony. The Yaghana Museum - A small but interesting museum, dedicated to documenting the way the Yaghana people lived in Tierra del Fuego. You can also take a taxi up to the Martial Mountain Range and catch a ski lift up to Glacier Martiel to look down over the whole port and Beagle Channel. The ski lift up and down costs $55 Argentinian pesos per person, approximately 9 pounds.
Alternatively, buy a ticket at the Ushuaia Boating ticket office in order to catch an early morning ferry to the Chilean naval settlement of Puerto Williams. From this tiny place, you'll be able to start a fantastic 5-day Dientes de Navarino trek along a beautiful mountain range whose name, 'Navarino Teeth' comes from their incredible formation.
Patagonia is a wonderful place to see wildlife. Penguins can be seen on various islands throughout Tierra del Fuego and in the Beagle Channel. If you're hoping to see penguins in their natural habitat there are several places to do this. On the Tierra del Fuego cruise you'll stop at Tucker Islets and watch as hundreds of Magellanic penguins dip in and out of the water.
You'll also see sea lions grouped together, fighting, eating and sunbathing on the 'Isla de Los Lobos' in the Beagle Channel, which is a great chance to get up close to them on a small boat and get some great photos. If you want to get up closer still, join a canoe trip in Lapataia bay within the Tierra del Fuego National Park. You'll see hundreds of cormorants and if you're lucky, a couple of seals will bob their heads out of the water around you.
Ushuaia is quite easy to find on a map as it is the capital of Argentinian Tierra del Fuego, (the broken up part of the very southern tip of Patagonia and South America). It is made up of an archipelago of islets and is divided between Chile and Argentina, although the majority of Tierra del Fuego is in Argentina and its borders follow the direction of the Andean Mountain Range. The biggest city in the area is Ushuaia in Argentina, whilst Puerto Williams, the last town before Antarctica, is in the Chilean part.
The climate is generally windy with a chill in winter so it's best to visit during the Patagonian summer months of November to March when it will be about 5-10 degrees celsius most days.
If you have only a few days to spend in Ushuaia, it's definitely better to get something booked for before you arrive. For example, if the ferry from Ushuaia to Puerto Williams doesn't have a sufficient number of passengers, it won't run and it's good to know that kind of thing before you turn up.
The distance between Ushuaia and Livingston Island in Antarctica is approximately 950 km or 590 miles. To get to Antarctica from Ushuaia you must sail across the famous Drake passage, this takes about 2 days. We have partners that run Tierra del Fuego trips and Antarctica trips, these can be combined to form one long adventure holiday. You might also like to ask one of our Swoop Antarctica specialists a question, they have all been to Antarctica and know the best vessels and times of year to visit.
Note that although express trips are available, trips to Antarctica are generally longer in duration than many of our other trips, sometimes lasting up to 23 days.
In 1833, a 23-year-old Charles Darwin joined the British Expedition on the HMS Beagle to survey the southern tip of South America. Darwin travelled with Captain Fitzroy who would eventually bring four captive natives back to England with the hope of 'civilizing them' through teaching them the Catholic faith, the English language, and manners.
Darwin made extensive visits throughout South America but it was in Tierra del Fuego where he was amazed at the differences between the 'uncivilized' aborigines that he found there and the 'civilized' people in Britain.