Travel Tales of Argentina
At 55 degrees latitude south, Ushuaia is technically closer to the South Pole than to Argentina’s northern border with Bolivia. It is the capital and tourism base for Tierra del Fuego, the island at the southernmost tip of Argentina.
Once a penal colony, Ushuaia today has a bustling economy—even the historic prison is now a tourist attraction. Ushuaia’s slogan is the City at the End of the World (la Ciudad del Fin del Mundo) and it capitalizes on its status as the world’s southernmost city to attract tourists from around the globe. The city also serves as the first stop for a number of cruises to Antarctica. Tourism aside, other prominent economic activities include manufacturing, fishing, and fossil fuel extraction.
Today, Ushuaia is a popular tourist destination, with its main claim to fame being its status as the southernmost city in the world. Visitors can learn more about the region’s past through a number of museums, and other major attractions include the Tierra del Fuego National Park, the Beagle Channel, the Martial Glacier, and cruises departing for other Patagonia destinations and Antarctica. You can also learn more but reviewing our complete Ushuaia Travel Guide – but for the quick tips, read our latest blog post, Know Before You Go: Ushuaia Edition!
Argentina’s unit of currency is the peso, which has a history of devaluating (sometimes gradually and sometimes very quickly) against the US dollar. Notes come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 pesos. One peso equals 100 centavos; coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos, and also in denominations of 1 and 2 pesos. Don’t worry if you receive dirty and hopelessly tattered banknotes; they will still be accepted everywhere. Some banks refuse worn or defaced US dollars, however, so make sure you arrive in Buenos Aires with pristine bills.
There are many Cajeros Automáticos (ATMs) in the town, but they dispense just Argentinean currency. There might be a limit amount per transaction, depending on the bank, but you can always do many transactions in the same ATM. Beware of per-transaction fees. To avoid having a fistful of large-denomination bills, withdraw odd amounts like 290 pesos. Withdraw your cash before the weekend rush – it isn’t uncommon for ATMs to run out on Sundays. You can find ATMs in several of the banks on Avenida Maipú and Avinda San Martín.
The Spanish word for tip is «propina» – a synonym of ‘reward’ and derivative from the Latin word “propinare” meaning to give something. Tipping is a personal choice and should be based upon the quality of service provided. Nobody should expect a tip and do not feel obligated to give one if you are unsatisfied with the service.
It is difficult to give firm guidelines as to how much to tip a provider of services if you do decide to tip. In general terms, we can say that It is normal practice in Latin America to tip anyone who provides a service, including waiters, guides, porters, room-service and maid-service in hotels. For everyone, with the possible exception of guides, it is more convenient to receive a tip in local currency. In restaurants it’s customary to tip about 10% of the bill. Some Argentines just leave leftover change. Note that tips can’t be added to credit-card bills, so carry cash for this purpose. In Argentina we don’t regularly tip taxi drivers.
Given that the weather can change quickly in Ushuaia, it is a good idea to pack layers. Whether you’re going to Tierra del Fuego National Park or just walking around downtown, you’ll want to be prepared for strong winds and sudden changes in temperature. Pack comfortable walking shoes, a windbreaker and/or raincoat, and light layers all year round. In the winter, you’ll want some additional layers to stay warm.
Regardless of what time of year you plan on visiting Ushuaia, prepare for unpredictable weather and lots of wind. There can be drastic changes in temperature from one day to the next, or even on the same day. January is usually the warmest month of the year, with an average temperature of 10°C / 50°F, and there is sunlight for about 17 hours of the day. The coldest time of year is late July, when the average temperature is 1°C / 34°F, and daylight lasts for about 7 hours. Snowfall is likely between June and October.
From riding on the End of the World Train to crossing the Beagle Channel to see Magellanic penguins, there are plenty of things to do in Ushuaia. Check out our suggestions for Ushuaia trips here, and visit the excursions section of this guide for more ideas.
If you’re looking for more information, feel free to review our complete Ushuaia Travel Guide which includes must-see attractions, restaurant recommendations, and more helpful tips and tricks.
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