Ushuaia, The World’s Most Southern City

USHUAIA, Argentina — Ushuaia claims the title of the world’s southernmost city. These days its main industry is tourism, serving as a gateway to Antarctica. But the town also has charms of its own.

Monte Olivia Ushuaia with Clouds
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Filed Under: Argentina

This little town is surrounded on three sides from the snow-covered peaks of the Punta Arenas). Before those were explored and charted, the only other way around was to go below Cape Horn and brave the notoriously wild conditions of the Drake Passage and the Great Southern Ocean.

Ushuaia is about as far south as you can go without getting on a boat or plane. And that’s precisely what brings most people to the town these days. Years ago, it was known for its prison and its naval base. The naval base is still there—although it’s not huge—but the prison has long since been converted into a museum.

Now the town’s main industry is tourism. While the region definitely has charms of its own, and it serves as a jumping-off point for hiking in the Tierra del Fuego and even offers skiing resorts nearby, Ushuaia is best known as a gateway to Antarctica. Many of the ships that head down to the Antarctic Peninsula during the southern summer depart from the docks right next to the center of town.

The town is small, and much of it is geared toward tourism, with several small hotels, some basic restaurants, and even some small casinos. There are several shops selling outdoor gear and even more selling souvenirs. Aside from those, the only real respite if the wind picks up and the cold sets in is the impressive Maritime Museum and Presidio on the eastern end of town next to the naval base. But if the weather’s nice, the waterfront makes for a pleasant stroll, with the charming wreck of the Saint Christopher lilting in the harbor as both a monument to Ushuaia’s maritime history and a reminder of the perils of the ocean, as well as an impressive new war memorial dedicated to the Guerra de las Malvinas (known to the British as the Falklands War).

If you’re not arriving by boat, there is an airport. Of you can take the scenic route by driving the nearly 1,900 miles down Argentina’s National Route 3 from Buenos Aires, which comes to an end on Ushuaia’s waterfront. Or if you’re really set for a drive, you can start even higher, and start in Colombia along the Pan-American Highway.

Photos of Ushuaia

National Route 3 Endpoint in Ushuaia, Argentina
Ruta Nacional 3 actually ends a few miles to the west of downtown Ushuaia, but for all intents and purposes Ushuaia marks the end of the very long highway that runs over 3,000 kms up to Buenos Aires. Photo © David Coleman /
Wreck of Saint Christopher in Port Ushuaia Argentina
Wreck of the Saint Christopher. Photo © David Coleman /
Ushuaia and its Mountains at Dusk
Even in the middle of summer, there’s plenty of snow on the mountains that surround Ushuaia. Photo © David Coleman /
Stella Australis Cruise Ship in Ushuaia Argentina
Photo © David Coleman /
Elevated View Over Ushuaia, Argentina
Looking east, with the mountain range including Monte Olivia (the sharp peak to the left of the frame). Photo © David Coleman /
Puerto de Ushuaia View
Photo © David Coleman /
Ushuaia Port Welcome Sign
Photo © David Coleman /
Street and Moutnains in Downtown Ushuaia Argentina
Photo © David Coleman /
Local History Mural in Ushuaia, Argentina
Photo © David Coleman /
Falklands War Memorial (Guerra de las Malvinas) in Ushuaia, Argentina
Falklands War Memorial (Guerra de las Malvinas). Photo © David Coleman /
Shipping Port at Ushuaia, Argentina
Photo © David Coleman /
Ushuaia Town Buildings
Photo © David Coleman /
Adrien de Gerlache Statue in Ushuaia Argentina
Adrien de Gerlache monument. He was an officer in the Belgian Royal Navy who led the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897–1899. Photo © David Coleman /
Ushuaia Tourism Offices
Photo © David Coleman /
Argentinian Navy Plane Monument
Argentinian Navy Plane Monument next to Ushuaia’s airport. Photo © David Coleman /
Navy Memorial and Argentine Navy Boat ARA Towwora
Navy Memorial and Argentine Navy Boat ARA Towwora. Photo © David Coleman /
Beagle Channel at Dusk with Heavy Clouds
The Beagle Channel at dusk. Photo © David Coleman /
Craft Market in Ushuaia, Argentina
A arts and craft market for tourists down near the waterfront (ie. near where the tourism ships pull in). Photo © David Coleman /
Puerto Ushuaia Sign
Photo © David Coleman /
Mountains and Clouds of Ushuaia Argentina
Photo © David Coleman /

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David Coleman / Photographer
by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »