Stretching east–west along the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia (population 64,107) is 3,220 kilometers south of Buenos Aires and 190 kilometers southwest of Río Grande . Bedecked with beds of lupines, the main thoroughfare is Avenida Maipú, which continues west to Bahía Lapataia in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego . The parallel Avenida San Martín, one block north, is the main commercial street; the focus of Ushuaia’s nightlife, it gets gridlocked on summer nights as surely as any avenue in Buenos Aires. From the shoreline, the perpendicular northbound streets rise steeply—some so steeply that they become staircases.
Beneath the Martial range’s serrated spires, on the Beagle Channel’s north shore, Ushuaia is both an end (of the world’s southernmost highway) and a beginning (the gateway to Antarctica). The surrounding countryside is popular with visitors who enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and skiing.
After two decades-plus of economic growth and physical sprawl, the provincial capital is both declining and improving. On the one hand, the duty-free manufacturing, fishing, and tourist boom that transformed a onetime penal colony and naval base into a bustling city has weakened. On the other, it’s started to spruce up the waterfront and restore historic buildings that gave the town its personality. The streets are cleaner, and there are parks and plazas and green spaces, but it still has one of the worst particulate pollution problems of any Argentine city because high winds kick up dust in the unpaved streets of its newer neighborhoods.
Ushuaia has air connections to Buenos Aires and intermediates, and to Punta Arenas . Overland transport from mainland Argentina and from Chile is improving. Maritime transport is either tenuous or expensive.
By Air: Aerolíneas Argentinas/Austral (Roca 116, tel. 02901/421218) flies two or three times daily to Aeroparque, the Buenos Aires city airport, and sometimes to the international airport at Ezeiza.
Chile’s LAN flies several time weekly to Punta Arenas—Ushuaia’s only scheduled international service—while its local affiliate LAN Argentina serves Aeroparque and other destinations. LAN has no local office, so it’s necessary to purchase tickets from travel agencies or online (www.lan.com ).
In the Galería Albatros, LADE (Av. San Martín 564, Local 5, tel. 02901/421123) flies irregularly to Río Gallegos, El Calafate , Comodoro Rivadavia, Bariloche, and Buenos Aires.
For Puerto Williams , across the Channel in Chile, it may be possible to arrange a private charter through the Aeroclub Ushuaia (tel. 02901/421717, tel. 02901/421892) for about US$100 per person.
By Bus: Ushuaia has no central terminal. Lider (Gobernador Paz 921, tel. 02901/436421) goes to Tolhuin (US$5, 1.5 hours) and Río Grande  (US$10, 3.5 hours) eight times daily except Sundays and holidays (six times only). Transportes Montiel (Deloqui 110, tel. 02901/421366) goes to Tolhuin and Río Grande six or seven times daily except Sundays and holidays (five times only).
Tecni-Austral (Roca 157, tel. 02901/431408) goes daily at 5:30 a.m. to Río Grande, continuing either to Río Gallegos (US$32, 12 hours) or to Punta Arenas, Chile (US$35, 12 hours).
By Sea; The Chilean vessels MV Mare Australis and Via Australis offer luxury sightseeing cruises to Punta Arenas via Cape Horn and the fjords of Chilean Tierra del Fuego; while not intended as simple transport, they can serve the same purpose for those who can afford them. It’s possible to disembark in Punta Arenas (four days) or return to Ushuaia (in a week).
Political obstacles continue to complicate regular transportation across the channel to Puerto Williams , even though the two countries agreed to open Puerto Navarino, at Isla Navarino’s east end, as a Chilean port of entry. Nevertheless, Ushuaia Boating (Godoy 190, tel. 02901/436193, www.ushuaiaboating.com.ar ) sometimes shuttles passengers across the channel (US$100 pp, two hours).