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Situated on the Beagle Strait, Ushuaia is the largest city in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, and arguably the southernmost city in the world. In the past, the town has been a missionary base, penal colony and naval base for the Argentine navy. Ushuaia is now a major tourist town, complete with casinos and nice restaurants, and commonly used as a base for hiking, winter sports and cruises to Antarctica.
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Points of Interest in Ushuaia
- Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse (9 km east of Ushuaia). Reached by a short boat tour from Ushuaia, known locally as the Lighthouse at the End of the World, but the lighthouse made famous by Jules Verne in the novel of the same name is the San Juan de Salvamento lighthouse further east on Isla de los Estados.
- Estancia Harberton (~60 km/40 mi east of Ushuaia on the Beagle Channel). Open only in the summer months, Estancia Harberton is a worthwhile trip for those interested in the Bridges family and their role in the local history.
- Laguna Esmeralda. It's a short, but muddy hike through peat bogs to get there, but the stunning lake is worth it. The color of the water changes with the time of day.
- Mastil de General Belgrano (accessible by boat from Playa Larga). A remote area west of the city of Ushuaia on Isla Redonda, paying tribute to one of the founders of Argentina, and to the navy cruiser named after him which was sunk by the UK in the Falklands War. It was a stop on one of the televised Amazing Race contests, and features a one-person post office for sending letters from the end of the world. ~$100.
- Museo del Fin del Mundo. Highlights include the largest exhibited collection of birds from Tierra del Fuego, the figurehead of the Duchess of Albany (a sunken vessel), and library dedicated to the history and nature of Tierra del Fuego. Admission $20.
- Museo Marítimo. Yagones y Gobernador Paz. Located in an old prison displays a collection of the history of Tierra del Fuego. Admission includes entry into the Presidio which is on the same site as el Museo Marítimo.
- Museo Mundo Yámana, 56 Rivadavia (near the Museo del Fin del Mundo). Privately run museum with several dioramas of traditional Yámana life, origins and migrations, as well as displays of the period of early contact with Europeans. $35.
- Plaza Malvinas, Maipú (on the seafront). Monument to the Falkland Islands War of 1982.
- Presidio. Museum of the historical military prison of Ushuaia. One wing of the museum has been converted to an art gallery featuring the work of local artists. Adults $90, students $70.
Popular events in Ushuaia in the near future
Prior to the late 19th century, the land that is now called Ushuaia was inhabited entirely by Yámana and a handful of missionaries. Due to outbreaks of typhus, pertussis and measles, by 1911, the Yámana had effectively disappeared; as of 2007, there was allegedly one pure-blooded native-speaking Yámana left.
In the late 19th century, the Argentine government established a penal colony in Ushuaia intended for repeat offenders, serious criminals and some political prisoners, following similar examples by the French and British. The prison population became forced colonists who spent most of their time chopping down the now-protected lenga trees which they used to build the town. The prison shut down in 1947, but it and the railway to the settlement have now become the Museo Maritimo and the Tren del Fin del Mundo respectively.
Today the town is growing fast as a result of increased tourism since the 2002 economic crash. The government has encouraged this growth by designating Tierra del Fuego a virtually tax-free zone to encourage people to settle; many of the inhabitants of today's Ushuaia come from Chaco, in the north of Argentina. The cost of living however, is relatively high as all goods have to be transported long distances, usually by container ship.
Climate-wise, Ushuaia is warmer than many assume; although (arguably) the southernmost city in the world, it is no further south than Belfast is north, and temperatures rarely drop below -10°C. However, summers tend not to climb much above +12°C and, as in all of Patagonia, strong winds add a significant wind chill factor.
- Beagle Channel. Catamaran trips will take you around the Beagle Channel and give you nice views of the mountains, cormorants, penguins, orcas, seals and sea lions.
- Cerro Castor. This centre for winter sports offers skiing and snowboarding. Nearby, you can also ride snowcats or husky sleighs.
- Hike the Glacier Martial. Provided that you wear comfortable shoes and have the patience, a hike up the Glacier Martial will provide a very beautiful view of Ushuaia and the Beagle Chanel. There is also a single ski slope open during the winter months, and ski hire is available from the site.
- Kayak the Beagle Channel. Kayaks with a guide can be hired near the Aeroparque on the promontory jutting out from Ushuaia.
- Motonave Barracuda Sail. Ship trips will take you around the Beagle channel and give you nice views of the mountains, cormorants, sea lions and penguins.
- Mountain Biking. The downhill trails are not to be underestimated—bring your stamina. Club Andino sells mountain biking guidebooks with rough maps and trail descriptions.
- Tren del Fin del Mundo. Located west of town just before the entrance to the National Park. A pleasant 45 minute train ride into the park on a narrow gauge railway rebuilt on part of the roadbed of the old logging train. Starting from $175.
- Ushuaia Divers located in the AFASIN Yacht Club, ☎ +54 9 2901 61-9782 (Carlos Giuggia). US$150 + AR$40 for 2 dives.
- Ushuaia Golf Club. Located west of town just before the entrance to the National Park. Probably the southernmost golf course in the world.
Most Ushuaia restaurants are centrally-located, clustered around San Martín and Maipú. The western part of the city offers affordable rotiserías (pre-prepared/fast food) with standard Argentine dishes such as pizza and empanadas.
Seafood and meat dishes are very typical as fruit and vegetables have to be transported from thousands of miles away and, as such, are rarely tasty and rather expensive. Be sure to try the centolla (king crab).
- Barcleit 1912, Juana Fadul 148, ☎ +54 2901 43-3015. Small restaurant with a variety of local dishes and a few unconventional options. Try the Pizza Alemana with mustard and sausage.
- Tante Sara, San Martín 701, ☎ +54 2901 43-3710. Coffee, sandwiches and hot fast food, along with beer, wine and other spirits.
- El Turco, San Martín 1410, ☎ +54 2901 42-4711. Argentine (not Turkish) cuisine.
- Chez Manu, Luis Fernando Martial 2135, ☎ +54 2901 43-2253. Local cuisine. Patagonia lamb, seafood and fish. Ask for a seat along the large windows for great views of Ushuaia.
- Chiko, Antartida Argentina 182, ☎ +54 2901 43-6024. Seafood.
- La Rueda, San Martín 193, ☎ +54 2901 43-6540. Typical Argentine parrilla (barbecue). All-you-can-eat meat with a self-serve veggie and side bar.
- Marcopolo Cafe Restaurant, San Martín 746, ☎ +54 2901 43-6612, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Local cuisine.
- Maria Lola, Deloqui 1048, ☎ +54 2901 42-1185. Local cuisine, seafood.
- Moustacchio Parrillada, San Martín 298, ☎ +54 2901 42-3308, e-mail: email@example.com. Argentine parrilla.
- Tante Nina, Godoy 15, ☎ +54 2901 43-2444. Local cuisine.
- Tía Elvira, Maipú 349, ☎ +54 2901 42-4725. Local cuisine.
- Volver, Maipú 37, ☎ +54 2901 42-3977. Known for its king crab.
- Gustino Restaurante, Maipú 505, ☎ +54 2901 43-0003, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Local cuisine.
- Kaupé, Roca 470, ☎ +54 2901 42-2704, e-mail: email@example.com. Expensive compared to other restaurants in Ushuaia, but the view is spectacular and the food is absolutely, positively guaranteed not to disappoint. Also known for its king crab.
There is not much of a nightlife in Ushuaia; most bars and pubs close early.
- Bar Ideal, San Martín 393, ☎ +54 2901 43-7860. Open until midnight. Irish pub.
- Bodegon Fuegino, San Martín 859, ☎ +54 2901 43-1972. Locally-sourced, artesanal, home-cooked food. Tapas-style picadas recommended as sampling menu. Good wine selection.
- Dublin Bar, 9 de Julio. Popular with tourists.
- Galway Bar (on San Martin). Another popular Irish pub although it usually has less atmosphere than Dublin.
- Kuar, Perito Moreno 2232, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A couple of kilometers outside town, right above the rocks by the sea, breathtaking bay views and good live music scene, sophisticated and good but not outstanding and a bit pricey dining. If you don't mind the occasional dropping by of a bunch of gringos, be sure to book a table by the window in the restaurant area or to take a seat by the big wooden steps in the bar area.
- Macario 1910, San Martín 1485, ☎ +54 2901 42-2557. Local pub food and beers.
- Nautico (on Maipu). Open until 6AM on the weekends. Ushuaia's only real nightclub/disco.
The main shopping district of Ushuaia is located near the waterfront, mostly on San Martín. There is a smaller centre west of the city, north of the airport, where the locals mainly shop.
Prices in Ushuaia are higher than central Argentina, but there is no sales tax (IVA). Furthermore, due to low tariffs on imports in Tierra del Fuego, imported goods (electronics) are a comparative bargain. There is a duty free store on San Martín that sells perfume, alcohol and cigarettes, but keep an eye on the prices as some items may be cheaper elsewhere.
While Antarctic travelers should (obviously) arrive with proper gear already in their possession, quality winter gear including boots, coats, and other necessities—as well as souvenirs—can be purchased from a variety of shops.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Ushuaia on Wikivoyage.