There are many reasons, believe it or not, to come to the “Southernmost City in the Americas,” Ushuaia, Argentina (with a nod to neighboring Puerto Williams, Chile, which shares that tourism tagline). Though most people are here en route to an Antarctic tour, or hike into Tierra del Fuego National Park, they may find themselves charmed by Ushuaia’s other activities and attractions.
Between the incredible, outdoorsy offerings, from hiking and kayaking to glacier cruises and catamaran tours, and a handful of quirky city sites such as the “Museum at the End of the World,” you could easily keep yourself busy for a week in this small city of some 60,000 people. But save a little bit of time (and luggage space) for the truly outstanding duty-free shopping for which Ushuaia is also justly famed.
Of course, you’ll find the usual coterie of craftspeople selling the region’s fine woolen textiles and other Argentine souvenirs in the tourist quarter and around the docks. For the best deals, skip the fabulous Feria Artesanal de Ushuaia (Ushuaia Handicrafts Festival), selling beautiful artisanal products close to the cruise ship corridor and find smaller shops hidden all around town. But that’s not the kind of shopping we’re talking about.
Here on one of the world’s most storied trade routes, named for Magellan himself after he successfully circumnavigated the world, you’ll find a tax-free, duty-free shopping paradise and plenty of stores that take full advantage of the loophole. The widest selection of international clothing brands, excellent wine and liquor, cheap cigarettes, gourmet groceries, fine cosmetics, perfumes, electronics, and much more from all over the world are located on Avenida San Martin.
The biggest, best, and most famous store on the strip is the Atlantico Sur Duty Free Shop, and if you only have time for one quick shopping trip, make a beeline for this behemoth. Serious bargain hunters, however, should set aside a full day for wandering Avenida San Martin and checking out all the shops. If you’re a savvy shopper, you could save enough to pay for your excursion to see the penguins (or even plane tickets to Argentina).
Note that there are some restrictions on duty-free shopping, depending on your country of origin and current regulations. You may also need to make a minimum purchase to take advantage of the tax-free status, which shouldn’t be difficult. Ask at the shop, and check your own country’s customs regulations, to learn more about local and international restrictions before committing to too many cameras and bottles of fancy vodka.