48 Hours in… Ushuaia

May 27, 2015 Greg Snell

As the southernmost town on the South American continent and last outpost before Antarctica, Ushuaia earns its name of el Fin del Mundo. There is even a post office from where you can send family and friends a postcard with a stamp from the “end of the world.” I mean really, how amazing is that?

I was lucky to lead tours in Patagonia for two consecutive summer seasons and to visit a large portion of this vast region. The following are a few of my tips for 48 hours in Ushuaia, and the Land of Fire at the End of the World.

Ushuaia doesn't hold back when it comes to landscapes.

The first 24 hours:

DO – Upon arrival in Ushuaia the best thing to do is hike up to Glacier El Martial or Cerro Castor. As small ski resorts in the winter months, they both offer great views of the surrounding Martial Mountains and Beagle Channel. They are easily accessible half-day walks, but you will need local transport to the base. There are buses that can take you from the centre of town to either trailhead in fewer than 20 minutes. Be sure to pack layers, sunscreen, and lots of water, as these hikes can be somewhat challenging and the weather unpredictable.

EAT – After a morning of hiking and exploring the hills, get back to Ushuaia to indulge in loads of great options for incredible seafood right along the main drag, Avenida San Martin. The local specialties are king crab and black sea bass, along with the classic Argentine assado, which is basically a barbeque with what seems like every type of meat possible. Typical Patagonian dishes like lamb and hearty empanadas are not to be missed. Head over to Bar Ideal or El Turco on Av. San Martin, both within blocks of the city centre. Enjoy y buen provecho!

Get more than your fill of king crab here. Photo courtesy Michael S.

Get more than your fill of king crab here. Photo courtesy Michael S.

DO – One of the least assuming and most memorable experiences you can have in Ushuaia is a cruise on the Beagle Channel. It may seem cheesy or boring, but trust me; during whale season and in the summer months, it’s amazing!

All of the small stands near the docks sell a similar half-day tour. Why not try out your Spanish skills by speaking to some locals to help choose which one is best for you? There are a lot of English speaking people in this welcoming city as well. The tour weaves through the Alicia Archipelago, past seal and cormorant colonies, all the while looking out for penguins and humpback whales passing by. Cruise along the stunning channel to the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse (which is painted with Where’s Waldo style white and red stripes) before doubling back toward the port. Seems simple, but you’ll learn so much. Sometimes you can even get off and explore one of the nearby islands (weather permitting).

Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse.

Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse.

Wildlife viewing opportunities abound with these colonies of seals and cormorants.

Wildlife viewing opportunities abound with these colonies of seals and cormorants.

The next 24 hours:

VISIT – Tierra del Fuego National Park. After years of travelling in Patagonia, this small area is my absolute favourite. This is due in part to the incredible remoteness, stunning natural beauty, storied First Nations history, and vibrancy of the wildlife. The park is a 30-minute bus trip from Ushuaia. You can pick up a hiking map from the visitor information centre in town or at the park entrance station (if someone is there). The fee to enter the park is around 150 Argentine Pesos (roughly $20 CAD) but is subject to change.

The hiking is amazing! There are some really great trails but my personal favourite is the Cerro Guanaco, which offers stunning views over Ushuaia, Lapataia Bay, and the Beagle Channel. I would also recommend the lakeside hikes of both Hito XXIV and De La Isla, each relatively easy and spectacular for immersing yourself in the wilds of Patagonia.

There is also an impressive museum in the park highlighting the indigenous Fuegan culture and the colonization of the area, including the trips of Fitz Roy and Charles Darwin and the story of the Fuegan three children. It is a crazy and amazing story. Look up Jemmy Button.

This gorgeous national park makes it easy to walk around. Photo courtesy Lucas Z.
gorgeous national park makes it easy to walk around. Photo courtesy Lucas Z.

EAT – Possibly the best restaurant in Ushuaia is the Resto Maria Lola just off the main drag at the top of a small hill. With outstanding views over Ushuaia and the Beagle, take in the warm atmosphere with great beer and impeccable food (try anything with king crab). This resto has always been a favourite and a part of my time in Ushuaia that I often miss. Try the Risotto di Mare.

DRINK – The Dublin Pub. Self-proclaimed as the “first Irish Pub at the End of the World” this place is quite possibly the best bar in all of Patagonia – which says a lot because there is some really good beer here. Many fellow travellers (myself included) have had some legendary nights at “the Dublin” and recall our beer-induced clouded memories fondly. With an incredible selection of local brews on tap, a fun and warm atmosphere, great seating and cool t-shirts, the Dublin Pub is a sure bet for a great night out in Ushuaia. Try the Beagle Ale.

This ale won't disappoint. Photo courtesy Noel H.

Sheshnag Lake in India. Photo courtesy Noel H.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of things to do, places to visit, food to eat, and one great spot to drink during your first 48 hours in Ushuaia. Whether you’re about to embark on an epic journey to Antarctica, exploring Tierra del Fuego National Park, taking in the incredible scenery of the Beagle Channel, or just walking the streets, Ushuaia is a wonderful city and one I am sure you’ll enjoy.

Getting There

G Adventures runs a number of departures in [Patagonia]*(https://www.gadventures.com/search/?f=44ab2449f00e) encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.

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