Since I was traveling far to cruise around Antarctica, I decided to spend a week in Argentina before the cruise and a week in Uruguay after the cruise. You can learn more about my Antarctica trip here. This was at the end of January 2016.
- Give yourself a couple of days in Ushuaia before the cruise in case of travel delays. One cruiser’s luggage didn’t show up before our departure time. She had to quickly run around Ushuaia to buy all of her gear. The cruise will leave without YOU or your luggage!
- Buenos Aires is a city of distinctive neighborhoods. I had difficulty figuring out where I wanted to stay. Based on recommendations and research, I decided on Palermo, which was fun–lots of good bars and restaurants. It was easy to take taxis to the other neighborhoods.
- Speaking of taxis, scams are common in Buenos Aires. You should have ask your hostel, hotel, waiter, etc to call you an official cab. Here’s a great list of tips. I mostly did that, but occasionally, I had to flag down a taxi on my own. It helps that I speak enough Spanish to give addresses and directions. I didn’t have any issues. One of my taxi drivers did express concern that I was traveling by myself. I was as cautious as I would be in any big city.
- The tourist office in Ushuaia is amazing! Everyone is very friendly and knowledgeable. There are a ton of free resources to make the most of your trip, including hiking trail maps. And you can get a stamp for your Passport that says “Fin del Mundo” (End of the World) since Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world.
- Everything, especially accommodation, is expensive in Ushuaia. I got a dorm room at Hostel Yakush. I had a great stay there–the owner is very friendly, the guests are awesome and the location is perfect.
- Aside from bus transport, I found Uruguay to be as expensive as traveling in the United States. Prepare your budget accordingly.
- I was surprised at how much there is to do in Ushuaia. You can hike Glacier Martial. There are several trails of varying difficulty in the Tierra del Fuego national park. The museums about the city’s history are small, but quite interesting. You can easily fill up two days, if not more, there.
- Even if you don’t go to Uruguay, take the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia for an amazing day trip. The city has beautiful architecture, great food and interesting history. Plus you can rent a golf cart to explore!
- Get to the iconic El Mano (The Hand) sculpture early in the morning to get tourist-free photos!
- In Punta del Este, go to the Museo Taller de Casapueblo for sunset. I had a cloudy sunset but it was still scenic. The museum is really cool too.
- Eat lots of beef, pizza and gelato!
If I had more time:
- I did a bus tour around Montevideo. It gave me a good sense of the city, but I would have liked a bit more time to explore the old city. However, that part of town is not the safest.
- The other big do over is that I would rent a car to drive along the Uruguayan coast (the bus system isn’t really set up for that type of exploring). I’d see Cabo Polonio, La Pedrera, and Punto del Diablo to name only a few.
Download my itinerary and packing list here.
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