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Ushuaia is a magical – and somewhat underrated – town in southern Argentina. It’s surrounded by the Martial mountain range and sits close to the Beagle Channel, which separates Chile and Argentina, so there’s a ton of beautiful scenery to enjoy. Ushuaia is also the southernmost city in the world and has a fascinating, albeit dark, history, as the Ushuaia prison was used to house Argentina’s most dangerous criminals and political prisoners until the mid-20th century.
Today, though, Ushuaia is a vibrant and beautiful place to visit, and there are a ton of activities on offer, from trekking through its varied landscapes to visiting the resident penguins on nearby Matillo Island. In fact, we think it’s one of the most fun and interesting places to visit in the whole of Argentina. It really was one of the highlights of our travels through the country, and it’s also an excellent base for exploring the incredible Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Not everything in Ushuaia requires a tour, but since it’s pretty remote, lots of activities are made WAY easier by joining one. So with that in mind, we’ve put together a complete guide to the 15 best tours in Ushuaia, Argentina!
Why Book a Tour in Ushuaia
Ushuaia is known as “El Fin del Mundo” or “The End of the World”, so needless to say, it’s very remote. A lot of the activities and attractions are really difficult to reach by yourself, so going independently isn’t a great option. You don’t want to end up lost or stranded at the end of the world!
But when you join an organized tour, you’ll be with a local guide who knows the area well, and all of your transportation will be included.
This is a huge bonus, actually, because hiring a car in Patagonia is also really expensive, so joining a tour saves you money as well as hassle. Some activities, like visiting the penguins, also require a guide or a special permit, but when you join a tour it’s all arranged for you. All you need to do is turn up!
But besides all of that, there are some really excellent tours in Ushuaia that we are sure you’re going to love. The tours below are very highly rated and are ones we personally recommend.
Our Top Picks for Tours in Ushuaia
After many visits to Patagonia, we have been lucky to experience many tours and trips. However, not everyone has as much time and, as such, will only be able to choose a couple of tours on this list. If that’s you, these are our top 3 tours in Ushuaia:
Best boat tour:
This Beagle Channel navigation tour is the best way to explore one of Ushuaia’s most iconic sights, with some of the friendliest tour guides and a limit of just 25 people per boat. Our guides knew exactly the best spots for pictures, and were full of so many fun facts and stories.
At just $95 USD per person, this 4-hour tour books up fast, so don’t forget to secure your spot online here.
Best wildlife tour:
The thing that sold me about this walking with penguins tour was just how caring and knowledgeable the crew were – they knew exactly the best way to approach the penguins in a way you’ve never experienced before!
At $400 USD per person, this tour isn’t cheap, but if it’s been your dream to get to meet penguins up close in the wild, then this is a tour you can’t miss. You can select your dates and book online here.
Best value experience:
When it comes to sheer value, you really can’t beat this half-day guided tour, which showcases some of the best sights in Ushuaia. For just $59 USD, this half-day experience includes hotel pick-up and drop-off and is run by a local boutique tour operator.
So if you want to see the best of what Ushuaia has to offer, don’t forget to book online here!
The BEST Tours in Ushuaia
1. Half-day excursion to the Tierra del Fuego National Park
Ushuaia is the closest town to the Tierra del Fuego (“Land of Fire) National Park, which is famed for its mountains, glaciers, coastlines, and penguin colonies. It really is one of the most beautiful places on earth and it’s definitely worth checking out – especially since it’s also home to 20 different land mammal species, including Andean Foxes, and 90 different types of birds.
This half-day guided excursion takes you to some of the park’s most amazing highlights, including mountains, glacier-fed lakes, and of course, the famous penguins! It takes around 4 hours in total, so it’s perfect if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Ushuaia.
We also really love the fact that the tour is run by a local boutique operator who has gone to great lengths to craft a special and memorable experience. Plus, with a maximum of 20 travelers, this tour feels way more personal and intimate than your typical bus tour.
This tour costs $59 USD including hotel pickup and drop off in Ushuaia, which we think is a pretty great price!
2. Private tour to Tierra del Fuego National Park
This private tour of the Tierra del Fuego National Park lets you explore all of the park’s majestic highlights at your own pace. If you’re able to fit it into your budget, we think that this is a really nice way to experience the park, as you’ll have your own private guide and driver, which means that you can tailor the itinerary and ask a ton of questions.
Typical stops include the Southernmost post office, where you can mail a postcard to friends and family from the “end of the world” and Lake Roca, which is home to amazing views of the Andes Mountains. You’ll also make a stop at Lapataia Bay, which is the end of the Pan-American route and you’ll be able to explore the island’s fauna and flora with your expert local guide. There’s also a chance to ride on the End of the World Train if you get your timings right!
If you want to add some shorter hiking trails to your trip, you’re also free to do so. That’s the great thing about a private tour; you can customize the itinerary to your interests!
This tour includes hotel pick up and drop off in Ushuaia, and can depart every 2 hours between 8 am and 2 pm, so you can easily fit it in even if you’re pressed for time. The more people you have in your group, the cheaper it works out per person, so if you’re a group of 2 travelers, it will cost you $263 USD each, while it’s only $97 USD per person if you have the maximum number of 15 travelers.
Reserve your spot early to keep your trip flexible and get this exclusive experience!
Related Read: Looking for more guided tours through South American national parks? You must visit Torres del Paine National Park while you’re in Patagonia!
3. Tierra del Fuego National Park hike and canoe tour
Bus tours are great for getting an overview of the park and covering a lot of ground, but if you’re anything like us, you’ll also be itching to get closer to nature inside Tierra del Fuego National Park, and that’s exactly what this tour is perfect for!
It’s a full day excursion that includes either a forest or coastal hike in the morning, depending on the conditions of the day, followed by a picnic lunch next to Roca Lake and a 1.5-hour canoe trip in the afternoon. You’ll canoe down the Lapataia River to the remote Lapataia Bay, which is surrounded by mountains and home to lots of interesting birdlife.
You do need to have a decent fitness level to tackle this tour, but we think it’s an amazing way to explore the heart of Tierra del Fuego and really get to know its wildlife and landscapes up close. It costs $208 USD per person, which includes all of your activities, hotel pick up and drop off, and a multi-course lunch accompanied by a glass of wine (or two). You will have to pay your National Park Entry Fee, which costs $7 USD per person, on the day, though, as this isn’t included in the price of the tour.
Book this Tierra del Fuego tour online here to secure your spot!
4. Beagle Channel navigation with mini trekking
The Beagle Channel separates the mainland from the Tierra del Fuego archipelago and is one of Ushuaia’s most iconic sights. This Beagle Channel navigation tour takes you cruising down the channel on a yacht to see several different islands, including Isla Alicia and Isla Pajaros, as well as the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse.
You’ll learn a ton about the local flora and fauna as you go with helpful commentary from your guide, which is always interesting – especially when you’re in such a remote part of the world!
You’ll also have a chance to get off the boat at Bridges Island for a guided tour, during which you’ll learn all about the local birdlife and the stories of the Yámana aborigines. This group is the world’s southernmost human population and their traditional territory includes the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and the Cape Horn, so it’s really interesting to hear stories about their culture and history.
The tour departs from the Commercial Port in Ushuaia and lasts 4 hours in total. There’s a maximum of 25 travelers so you can be sure that you won’t be lost in the crowd. It costs $72 USD per person and includes soft drinks and coffee along the way. We think that this tour is definitely worth doing because it’s such a cool experience to float along the Beagle Channel and it gives you a lot of insight into the local culture and history as well.
You can check availability and book this highly-rated tour online here!
5. Crab route through Tierra del Fuego
This is a super exciting tour through Tierra del Fuego National Park that will take you trekking towards the powerful Lasifashaj Waterfall, which you’ll actually walk through to reach a historical enclave where Selk’nam, Yámanas and Haush peoples came together many years ago to form a community. You’ll also be able to walk along the river and see where the bay meets the sea, before heading back to enjoy tea, coffee, chocolates, and pancakes cooked over an open fire.
You’ll also visit the fishing village of Puerto Almanza to discover the history of the area before chowing down on a delicious seafood lunch at a local spot – which just so happens to offer amazing views of the Beagle Canal.
If you want to get off the beaten path, drive through the jungle in a 4×4, and explore a different side of this already-remote part of the world, then we’d say that this is an ideal tour for you. It takes around 7 hours, so it’s a full day experience, and it costs $195 USD per person, including lunch, all activities, and hotel pick up and drop off in Ushuaia.
This absolutely jam-packed day of adventure, culture, history, and food will be well worth it, so book your tour here!
6. Canoeing adventure on the Beagle Channel and penguin colony
We love canoeing and go pretty much every chance we get, and we really can’t think of many better ways to explore Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego than canoeing down the Beagle Channel to visit an adorable penguin colony!
This tour takes you canoeing along the Lasiphashaj River towards the Beagle Channel, where you’ll see birdlife and sea lions basking in the sun! Then, when you reach the shore again, you’ll board a boat towards Isla Martillo to see the 6,000-strong Magellanic penguin colony. After that, you’ll head over to Gable Island for a lunch of wine, cured meats, baked potatoes, and lots of cheese (which is just what you need to refuel after a morning of canoeing!)
Then, you’ll head out for a guided hike around Gable Island, which takes about 1.5 hours and is a great chance to spot beavers and soak in the beautiful coastal views. After that, it’s back to Ushuaia where the tour ends. You’ll definitely be ready for a nap after this one!
The tour costs $400 USD per person, so it’s one of the more expensive ones on this list of the best tours in Ushuaia, but it really is an absolute blast and it’s well worth the price tag if you love nature and wildlife. Plus, hotel pick up and drop off, lunch, snacks, transportation, and entrance fees are all included in the price tag. If you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend booking this full-day tour online here!
7. Emerald Lagoon trekking tour
The Emerald Lagoon is one of Argentina’s most beautiful hidden gems, and this small group tour will take you trekking right up to this spectacular body of water, which is vivid green in color and surrounded by towering mountains – talk about scenic!
With a professional guide and up to 9 other travelers, you’ll head through the Lasifashaj Valley and along the Esmerelda River towards the lagoon, which you’ll reach after roughly 1.5 hours of walking. You’ll enjoy a packed lunch here as you soak in its natural beauty, and learn all about the local flora and fauna from your guide.
It is possible to do this hike on your own, but the starting point in the Lasifashaj Valley can be really difficult to find on your own, and you’ll run the risk of getting lost. This tour, on the other hand, will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the trailhead, and you’ll have an experienced local guide to keep you on track the whole way.
This experience costs $95 USD and we think it’s the best way to experience the Emerald Lagoon, so if you’re up for an adventure then you should definitely add this one to your list! Round up your small group and book your tour here.
8. Walk with penguins tour
Seeing the Magellanic and Papuas penguins on Matillo Island really is one of the most epic things to do in Ushuaia, and this tour will take you there to visit these friendly birds. You’ll take an inflatable boat from the Haberton Pier over to the island, which is a fun experience in itself, and you’ll see both types of penguins as you enjoy a guided walking tour around the island.
There are thousands of penguins on the island during the summer months and obviously, it’s important to protect them, which is why you have to visit the island with a guide. That’s right, if you want to walk with penguins in Ushuaia then you must go on a guided tour. This tour will ensure that you see plenty of penguins without disturbing them or encroaching on their natural habitat, and you’ll learn lots about them along the way.
In addition to your tour of Matillo Island, you’ll also get to enjoy an hour or so of free time at the Estancia Harberton before heading back to your hotel in the evening. This tour costs $350 USD per person, so it’s pricey, but we think that it’s absolutely worth it for the amazing chance to see these spectacular birds up close.
We had a fantastic time on our tour and it was definitely one of the highlights of our time in Ushuaia. You can book this exact same tour as us online here!
Related Read: If you love penguins, seeing Penguins in nearby Punta Arenas is also very popular!
9. Gastronomic experience with spider crab
In all my travels, I’ve found the food in a place gives you such a unique view into the culture and its people. That’s no different here! Ushuaia has an abundance of seafood, here is your opportunity to learn how to cook spider crab with a chef on this food tour.
With all the outdoor adventuring you’ll be doing, this is a good chance to change it up and indulge in the food scene. You’ll also get hands-on experience making other local foods while enjoying some included beverages.
I love learning from someone like a local chef who is passionate about cuisine and culture. It’s such a fun and personalized cooking session and a unique way to learn more about this part of the world.
The class takes place about 35 km (21 miles) from Ushuaia near the Lasifashaj River, but don’t worry, transport is included in this awesome tour. When you arrive, you’ll work with local seafood and seasonal fruits to create an authentic and delicious meal.
The highlight is, of course, the spider crab, which is one of the main industries in this area and a delicious crab you just need to taste! Good food and the ability to recreate it with your own local ingredients for friends and family at home – what more could you ask for?
Related Read: If you’re a foodie at heart, don’t miss The Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires. Seriously the food was so good!
10. Escondido and Fagnano Lakes – 4×4 off road experience
If you’re looking to explore off the beaten path, you can most definitely get your adventure fix on this full-day 4×4 tour through some of Tierra del Fuego’s most spectacular scenery. You’ll visit the beautiful Escondido and Fagnano lakes, take hidden trails through the forests to spot bird life and foxes, and see all of the natural beauty that this remote part of the world has to offer.
It would be really difficult to try and do something like this alone without a local guide, which is why this tour is so great. You’ll be picked up from your hotel and travel in a sturdy 4×4 vehicle along with an experienced driver who will share all of their insider knowledge with you, and you get to enjoy lunch by Lake Fagano, too!
The tour costs $159 USD per person and we really thought that it was worth every penny – we had so much fun, and felt like our little tour group were the only people for miles around! You can embark on this epic day of adventure by booking your tour online in advance here.
Related Read: For more 4×4 adventures in Patagonia, check out the BEST Tours in Torres del Paine National Park!
11. Trekking to Vinciguerra Glacier and Témpanos Lagoon
Some of the best hikes in the whole of South America can be found close to Ushuaia, and this full day tour will take you on a stunning journey through the Fuegian forest towards the Vinciguerra Glacier and the Témpanos Lagoon. There are some amazing viewpoints along the way and if the conditions are right, you can get up close to the Vinciguerra Glacier to admire its natural features.
The hike is 10.5 kilometers (6.5 miles) long and takes about 6 hours in total, but you’ll also spend one hour at the Vinciguerra Glacier, so there’s a nice break in between. You’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken to the trailhead, so there’s no need to worry about finding it by yourself.
It can get muddy, so you’ll definitely need mountain clothing, hiking boots, and waterproof gear to tackle this one. One thing we really like about this tour is that if you don’t have the right clothing with you, you can always rent it from the tour company as well, which could help you save on valuable packing space!
The trek costs $160 USD per person and you’ll have a maximum of 12 in your group, so this is another great chance to get off the beaten path and explore the natural beauty of Ushuaia in a small group. We had an amazing time hiking this trail, but you should be in pretty good shape to tackle it because it’s one of the more difficult ones in the area. If you’re up for the challenge, and an unforgettable experience, book your tour here!
Related Read: For another unforgettable hike in Patagonia, add Mt. Fitz Roy to your list!
12. Overflight and landing in the Andes Mountains A30
By now you’ve trekked through mountains and glaciers, visited the exotic animals at the end of the world, and eaten your heart out with world-class seafood. But have you seen Ushuaia from the sky? This helicopter tour gives you a chance to see the area like never before!
This was a truly amazing experience, and I wish everyone could partake in this adventure! Seeing the Tierra del Fuego region from an ariel view is a unique opportunity, I don’t know if I was more overcome by the astounding beauty or the astounding height we were at!
You’ll see glaciers, mountains, lagoons, valleys, the town, and the Andes themselves from above. Why settle for just seeing these sights from above? Before heading back, you get to interact with the landscape by landing on the mountains to take photos.
Even little kids and infants can join, as long as they are on an adult’s lap.
If you have some extra money set aside for your trip (tickets are in the $400 USD range), this is a worthwhile adventure that truly does feel like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To me, it’s easily one of the best tours in Ushuaia. Book your experience here!
13. Full-day Gable Island eco-adventure
If adventuring is your thing and you’ve got limited time in Ushuaia, then this Gable Island Eco-Adventure Tour is my pick for you. You get 10 hours to canoe, hike, and take a boat cruise south of Ushuaia.
The birds, seals, and penguins of the Beagle Channel tend to be the highlights of boat tours in this area, and you’ll get to see them from the water. This is even more up close and personal than any couple-hour cruise would be, and you get to hike around Gable Island afterward. It takes the excitement of animal tours and pairs it with the adventurous spirit of excursion tours!
I love that you get to paddle in a canoe here to really slow down and enjoy the experience but then take a boat back – a welcome break from all that hiking and paddling! Plus, you can enjoy a gourmet lunch and relax as you sightsee.
Alcohol, drinks, snacks, and local taxes are included in the $275 USD cost to ensure that you have a truly hassle-free day.
If you enjoy the physical aspect of this, anyone over five years old can be a part of this excursion. This is especially fun for families with older kids or anyone that is looking to add some real adventure to their trip to Ushuaia. This tour can accommodate up to 15 people, so be sure to reserve your spot online here before it fills up!
14. Beaver watching tour
For those wildlife lovers, this tour is an amazing opportunity to see the unique habitat of twilight-dwelling animals. You’ll spend the evening exploring the area which is home to many active beaver lodges. As dusk falls, these busy beavers come out of their homes to eat and work on their dens.
The tour will teach you about the important history and impact these beavers have on the land. These animals are not only cute but incredibly resourceful, and seeing them in action is a sight to behold.
You’ll have fun tromping through the muddy wetlands just like the beavers do. To be sure you stay clean, the tour provides rubber boots. After, you’ll return to the refuge where a delicious dinner is provided for you and your group.
This tour runs in the evening, as this is the best time to see beavers in their natural habitat. This is a fun evening activity if you’re looking for something to do later in the day. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing because this isn’t a hike per se, but there is quite a bit of walking involved. For a truly unique Ushuaia experience, book your beaver tour here!
15. Full-day tour of Cabo San Pablo and Estancia Pirinaica
Cabo San Pablo is an isolated mountain in the Argentine Sea, east of Tierra del Fuego. This full day tour takes you out to Cabo San Pablo to explore its diverse natural landscape and on a hike up to the famous wonky lighthouse on top. You’ll also learn about the maritime history of this remote region of South America, including the famous Desdemona shipwreck, which is still visible from the beach at low tides.
You’ll trek to the lighthouse, with plenty of chances to spot foxes, guanacos, and other wildlife along the way. Then, you’ll visit the island’s camping ground to enjoy meat at a local family-owned restaurant, which includes either smoked bass or salmon (depending on the catch of the day), pizza, and homemade flan. Plus, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the shore and the Desdemona shipwreck as you dine!
Then, before returning to Ushuaia, you’ll visit Estancia Pirinaica, a Patagonian ranch that has been running for almost a century. You’ll get to learn all about what life on a ranch looks like and sample some local snacks and goods, which we think is a really fun way to learn about Argentine culture and the southernmost region’s dedication to agriculture.
This full day tour costs $200 USD per person and we think it’s a fantastic way to experience both an underrated natural beauty spot and a traditional Patagonian ranch. It includes hotel pick up and drop off, your meals, a guided trek to the Cabo San Pabo lighthouse, and your ranch experience. This is definitely one of the more unique tours in Ushuaia, so if you love nature and want to see something a bit different from the regular tourist spots, then we highly recommend booking this one!
Where to Stay in Ushuaia
To make time for as many tours as you can book, make sure you stay here for a few days! We stayed here a week and found that was a perfect amount of time to really enjoy our time here.
Even if this isn’t your final destination, don’t rush your stay in Ushuaia. There are plenty of options for accommodations in this remote town so you can rest after long days spent exploring. From budget-friendly options to luxury hotels, we have our top recommendations for all price ranges.
This lodge is in a great location overlooking Ushuaia Bay and offers large and cozy rooms. The views are beautiful and there’s a really nice central area with a fireplace that you can relax in. Rooms here are around $80 USD.
I mentioned this hosteria in the above activities to do because it’s that nice! It’s truly the best bang for your buck at $50 USD per night. The hosts here are so charming, they treat you like family. Breakfast is great too. We’ve heard people call this the best hostel in Argentina!
Valle Frío Ushuaia – $$
This family-owned inn has panoramic views of the mountains and stunning sunrises! It’s cute and cozy with colorful decor and a great family atmosphere. Just look for the pink building! It is just outside the center of town, so if you prefer peace and quiet, this is the place to stay. Rooms here start at $100 USD per night.
Las Hayas Ushuaia Resort – $$$
Tucked into the hill below the Martial Glacier, this luxurious hotel overlooks all of Ushuaia. Every room has huge windows overlooking the sea and mountains. There’s a spa, swimming pool, and hot tub on-site and free shuttles to the city center. The restaurant here is great too with yummy crab risotto. Rooms start at $400 USD per night.
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Planning your Trip to Patagonia
Accommodation in Patagonia
Booking accommodation is one of the biggest aspects of your trip, and we should know as we stay in a new hotel up to 40 times per year! Funny enough, we make 99% of these bookings on one website and that’s Booking.com – and there are a few reasons why we use this site!
Number one is the website is easy to use and sorts accommodation options. That takes the stress out of planning which honestly still affects us and we do it more than not.
Second, is the price guarantee. We have literally booked a hotel months before and then 1 week out found it cheaper (we always do a quick search), and they’ll match that price from anyone’s website including the hotels!
And third, is the Genius loyalty program. If you make a certain amount of bookings per year you get a Genius discount. We are level-two geniuses because we make more than 5 a year. At participating hotels, we get things like free breakfast included, early check-in, and up to 15% off.
You can check out all their accommodation options throughout Patagonia!
Renting a car in Patagonia
We enjoyed a rental car for our second trip to Patagonia – and wow, what a way to travel! But the best part was that we only paid $40 USD per day for a 5-person sedan!
But how? Well if you’re renting a car the cheapest company is Discover Cars. We often get questions from readers asking us if the website is fake because it seems too cheap! The truth is, they are a great company that we actually used for our own rental car.
If you do want to compare prices (and you should) do a quick search on Airport Car Rentals too. They’re another big competitor and each company often has its own deals to offer!
Tours in Patagonia
Tours are a tricky one. We love booking online because we can check reviews of that exact tour but they can be pricier than booking directly in person. So for this, we often do it 50/50 – half of the time in person and the other half of the time we book tours online in advance.
Thanks for reading!
Experiencing the Ushuaia, “the end of the world”, is a once in a lifetime experience. It can be difficult to choose how to spend your time, so we hope these guided tours allow you to maximize your experience. I loved taking tours because they took care of the details and let us see things we never would have been able to! If you have any questions or awesome tours you’ve been on in Ushuaia, leave them in the comments below!
While you’re exploring South America, be sure to check out these other amazing cities in Argentina and Chile!