In 2018 we celebrated our birthdays with a trip to Ushuaia (a.k.a. The Southern Most City in the World) in Argentina. Back then we didn’t even imagine we would be starting a travel blog from across the globe just a few years later, and if we must confess, we were also not great with planning travels either. Nevertheless, our trip to Ushuaia was a dream come true! Being from Brazil, this was our first ever contact with snow and it couldn’t have been any dreamier.
Ushuaia is the provincial capital and tourism hub for the whole of Tierra del Fuego: the southernmost, smallest, and least populous Argentine province. It is dramatically situated between the snowy mountains and the icy Beagle Channel and it’s the perfect base to explore the beauty of the lands that border the channel.
Fun fact: Tierra del Fuego had been inhabited by indigenous people for more than 12,000 years and it remained under indigenous control even after Argentina achieved independence, up until 1885.
Experience winter at the end of the world with our Perfect 3-Day Winter Itinerary to Ushuaia!
When to Visit Ushuaia
Winter in Ushuaia, as in the rest of the Southern Hemisphere, happens from June to August, with the snowy period lasting for about 2.5 months, from the end of May until about mid-August. The month with the most snow is June and the coldest is July. The daily average temperature during winter is 1°C, and the snow in Ushuaia is recognized as the best in Argentina.
Days in winter are smaller as well, so you can expect to have sunrise at about 10 am and sunsets at 5 pm. We were shocked to arrive at the airport in a pitch-black sky at 9 am in the morning.
Fun fact: Ushuaia is cold all year round! The hottest it gets typically ranges from 6°C to 13°C.
Although the snowy period should start at end of May, we visited at the end of June and arrived right after the first big snowfall. So if you’re planning on getting the most out of your winter trip to Ushuaia (with lots of snow), we would definitely recommend playing safe and going either in July or at the very beginning of August.
How to Get Around Ushuaia
Getting from the airport to the city: The airport is located about 10 minutes away driving from the city center, so we recommend taking a taxi. The ride should cost something between 250-320 pesos (about 2-3 euros). You can also rent a car from the airport but we don’t recommend doing so unless you have plenty of experience with driving in the snow.
Getting around the city center: Ushuaia is quite small, so most places can be done by walking. Taxis are available in every other corner as well and are an inexpensive (and much warmer) way to get around. We do recommend agreeing on a
Getting from the city center to the outskirts: Most of Ushuaia’s attractions and activities are located on the outskirts, so if you’re getting a taxi, we recommend agreeing on a price beforehand and on a time and place for pick-up (you won’t be able to find a taxi in the mountains). We decided upon buying specific tours so we didn’t have to worry about transportation.
Day 1: 4WD Off-Road Lakes Adventure
Get ready for a full day of adventure right from the start! We bought this 4WD Off-Road Lakes Adventure from Info Ushuaia and at the time it cost us 2500 pesos per person (about 20 euros). We did a quick research and now the same tour is being sold for 14550 pesos per person (about 118 euros), and despite being much more expensive now, we both agree that this is a must experience and one of the highlights of this trip, so completely worth the price!
The tour begins at 9 am in the morning and they pick you up for free at the hotel. After everyone is picked up, we set off to the mountains. In our case, the first stop was the town of Tolhuin and the famous Emilio bakery for breakfast.
We then headed to Fagnano Lake, where we learned that the indigenous people who used to inhabit the area walked around completely naked, wearing nothing but whale fat, which they used to spread on their bodies to protect against the freezing cold (you gotta use what you have right?!).
On the way to the Valle de Lobos for lunch, we stopped in the middle of the Andes mountain range and the Garibaldi Pass, at the viewpoint of Lago Escondido. Unfortunately, it was snowing so much this day that we couldn’t see a thing. They offered us some cold cuts, bread, and wine, and even without the views the experience was amazing!
Once we made it to Valle de Lobos they prepared their famous Argentinian “Asado” (barbecue) for lunch, which consisted of steak, “chorizo” (a local sausage), salads, soda, and wine (they also have options for vegetarians and celiacs!). The food was delicious and it was the perfect moment to get to know more about the people who were on the tour with us.
Unfortunately, the dogs were not feeling well enough for a sled ride so we did a quad tour instead around the area which was equally exciting! Both the dog sled ride and the quad tour were not included in the price so if you plan on doing it, you should take some cash with you. We recommend checking with your tour agency about the price beforehand.
They dropped us at the hotel door at about 5 pm and we then headed for dinner at Hard Rock Ushuaia (yes what a rookie mistake!). We could have eaten something much better than the famously expensive Hard Rock burgers but we didn’t know better at that time, and that’s why we have separated much better options for you in this guide!
Restaurant options in Ushuaia
El Viejo Marino: one of the most popular restaurants on Ushuaia’s waterfront, this is the best place to try the famous King Crab. They fish all of the seafood themselves so everything is as fresh as it can be. It is also considered the cheapest place to eat King Crab in the city.
Volver and Tia Elvira: also located on the waterfront, they offer a wider menu in case you’re not that into King Crab. Although they are focused on seafood dishes only.
Dona Lupita: for a very local and inexpensive experience, head out to Dona Lupita. They serve pizza and Argentinean empanadas – make sure to try those! Lots of locals frequent the place which usually indicates that it is trustable. It has a casual atmosphere, fast and friendly service.
Kaupé and Küar Resto Bar: if you’re looking for a fine dining experience, these are the places to go. Both serve incredible meat and seafood. Kaupé is a family restaurant located in the city center, with beautiful views of the city and a modern ambiance. Küar Resto Bar, on the other hand, is located about an 8-minute drive from the city center, with a beautiful rustic ambiance and views of the Beagle Channel.
Day 2: Dog sledding in the mountains
Start your day heading for a walk in the city. We had breakfast at the hotel and managed to catch the sunrise at the Ushuaia monument at around 10 am, and do snow sculptures around the area (never knew it was so much fun to play with snow!).
We then headed to a sketchy little stall that was selling tours (definitely don’t recommend them so won’t cite names) and bought one for Centro Invernal Las Cotorras.
After we had paid and were inside the car, they informed us that the road to the mountains was closed to tourists due to a local strike. The driver simply said that he would take us to Tierra del Fuego National Park instead and that we would love it. Since we had seen the prices on the stall we knew that this tour cost half the price of the one we had paid, so we had a big discussion and decided to cancel the tour and ask for our money back.
The driver then took us to a parking lot and asked us to change cars and try to pass the strike as citizens so as not to lose the money. We agreed but with the condition that he would give us our money back in case his plan failed – it was actually a big success, we passed the strike and made it to Centro Invernal Las Cotorras after all.
Thinking back, we could simply have contacted a taxi and agreed on a pick-up time but we were rookies at the time so we spent a lot of money for this agency to simply drive us to the place we wanted to go and back… Oh, the things we do as first-time travelers.
Centro Invernal Las Cotorras
Centro Invernal Las Cotorras is a winter complex located in the Tierra Mayor Valley that offers activities such as snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. But the main reason why we wanted to visit this place is that the “Siberianos de Fuego” kennel also operates in this complex, training Siberian Husky and Alaskan Husky for sled rides.
We spent the day petting the dogs (almost got our hands frozen) and went on a dog sledding ride. It was amazing to see how much care and love the workers put into making sure all dogs are healthy and happy, and how much the dogs love to go on rides.
Fun fact: all the dogs are named and have their own house. They are “separated” by intelligence and strength, with the huskies almost always supplying the strength and the stray dogs the intelligence. Because of that, the stray dogs are usually the ones leading the sled, receiving commands from the rider, and guiding all of the other dogs.
Also in the complex, you’ll find a great restaurant that serves roast lamb, homemade ice cream, and the peculiar “café del mono” (coffee made from beans chewed and spitted by monkeys). We had roast lamb and it was delicious! It is a bit on the pricier side but the food is great, the views from the restaurant are breathtaking, the setting is super romantic and it all adds up to an exceptional experience.
Once back in town, we visited the ex-Casino Club in Ushuaia. When doing the research for this blog post we discovered that it closed in October 2018, right after our visit! Unfortunately, there are no other Casinos in the city so you can head out for dinner at one of our suggested restaurants!
Day 3: Skiing all-day
Skiing or snowboarding in Ushuaia is a must-activity during winter! Luckily, one of Argentina’s most modern and well-established ski resorts is located in Ushuaia. The Cerro Castor Ski Resort is located about 26 km from the city center and it’s easily reachable via taxi or a daily shuttle bus.
The daily pass at the resort changes every year and it’s very hard to find the prices online, but you can have an estimate by taking a look at this picture from 2019 (credits to NC Brad who posted it on Tripadvisor).
Note: You can monitor the opening of Cerro Castor on their Instagram Page.
Unfortunately, the resort had not opened yet for its winter season when we visited so we had to find a replacement. We discovered that high up above the city is Martial Glacier, a mountain where you can explore and ski for free. It is said that during ski season they assemble a chair lift but there wasn’t any during our visit. Since it was our first time ever on a ski mountain, we didn’t miss the chair lift at all. But if you’re an experienced skier or snowboarder, the lack of it might be a huge no-no.
At the base of the mountain, there’s a ski school where you can rent equipment and take on a few classes, a small restaurant, a tea & cake shop, and a gift shop. We got beers and empanadas, the perfect combo!
There’s also a photographer who takes pictures and sells them at the restaurant (she made us look like professionals in these pictures when in reality we couldn’t even stand up on the board).
We’ll confess that we had much more fun using a snow sled to go down the mountain comfortably sitting on our butts.
Once back at the hotel, we got ready for dinner night at the Küar Resto Bar. The place is incredibly beautiful and the food is delicious. Besides being on the pricey side, we find it totally worth it!
What to do if you have more time
- Trek to Laguna Esmeralda
- Beagle Channel boat tour
- Tierra del Fuego National Park
- Trekking in the valley with snowshoes
- Scenic Helicopter Flight
- Museums: Marítimo Museum & Presidio
- Cross Country Ski