If you are visiting Ushuaia as part of a Patagonia trip rather than a starting spot for going to the Antarctic then you MUST see the penguins. You can easily do this in the morning or afternoon and there are a number of different tours available. For the majority of tours, you go to Isla Martillo and you view the penguins from a very crowded boat. However, there is one tour where you are taken in a much smaller boat onto the island and are able to see the Penguins up close living in their natural habitat. The price for this was around $140 but I cannot say enough how good a decision it was to spend the extra money. If you make it all the way to the end of the world then you may as well pay a little extra to experience this potentially once in a lifetime opportunity rather than battling other tourists to get a picture.
Tierra del Fuego National Park
The nature is, of course, the reason people go to Ushuaia and whilst here the Tierra del Fuego National Park is a must-visit. There are a range of different hikes for every level and timeframe catered for. There are buses running to and from Ushuaia and markings along all routes. It is of course relatively weather dependent but if you manage to go on a good day you will be blown away by the scale of the landscape, feeling as far away from a city or stressful life as you ever have before. The land has not been destroyed by humans, the water is clear, you will see very few people across your hike however there is a restaurant you can work towards if you would like a treat at the hallway or end of your trip.
We decided to do this however having done it I would highly recommend making food and taking it with you as there are a never-ending amount of beautiful places by the water, in the forest or large green spaces where you can eat. The restaurant had limited choice and was expensive.
The amount of time you spend in Ushuaia is very subjective – we met people who had been there for a few weeks and wanted to explore Tierra del Fuego to its fullest extent but some people also went just for a couple of days to tick off the end of the world. I would recommend going for at least 4 days. Give yourself a full day of jaw-dropping penguin experiences, a couple of days for Tierra del Fuego and at least one extra day just in case you are unlucky with the weather. My recommendation would be to fly there and take the roads back up but this again is subjective and if you think you have the drive in you and have good company then go for it!
I’d definitely recommend Ushuaia to all Patagonia visitors, when else will you be this south, ever!