Río Grande is the economic center of Argentine Tierra del Fuego. It's on the island's north coast and had a population of 67,038 in 2010.
The area surrounding the town had been settled by the Selk'nam people since the Middle Ages. In 1880, a Salesian mission was established north of the present town. Three years later, gold prospectors installed themselves in the area. However, it was not until 1921 that the city was officially established by decree of then President Hipólito Yrigoyen. In 1972, a federal law encouraged the establishment of industry, which led to a rapid boom in the city, especially in the electronics and media sectors. However, things went downhill again in the 1990s due to increasing foreign competition as a result of liberalization. Today, a hesitant revival is noticeable.
The city's surroundings are flat to hilly, the cool climate, though warmer and considerably drier than in Ushuaia. Still, it's not enough for swimming - the water is rarely above 10°C, even in midsummer. The biggest attractions are in the surrounding area - although a walk in the Barrio Viejo (old town quarter), characterized by painted wooden houses, can be charming. Nevertheless, unlike Ushuaia, for example, Río Grande seems like a normal Argentine medium-sized city.
From the north and south, Río Grande can be reached via the Ruta Nacional 3 (National Route 3). It passes through Chile for a bit, and it is necessary to cross the Strait of Magellan by ferry (about US$30). From Punta Arenas, you can reach the city via Porvenir (ferry service, for more info, see the operating company, TABSA's website) and then via San Sebastián to Río Grande. There is another border crossing, south of San Sebastián, but it is recommended only for jeeps, since you have to cross a ford (Ruta Provincial 8).
There were ferry connections from Río Gallegos, but its unclear whether they ferry still operates (as of 2009).
- 1 Museo Virginia Choquintel (Virginia Choquintel Museum), Alberdi 555, ☏ . M–F 09:00–17:00, Sa 09:00–15:00. The museum has exhibits about the history of the town, fauna and flora, and finds from the region.
- 2 Museo Fueguino de Arte (Fuegian Art Museum), Av. Manuel Belgrano 319, ☏ .
- Old Suspension Bridge over the Río Grande.
- Fishing – there are numerous places to go fishing in Río Grande and in nearby rivers in the area.
- Birdwatching – on the beach, Río Grande is haunted by many birds. There is an observatory at the port, on Elcano Street between Av. M. Belgrano and Thorne
- Hiking to Cabo Domingo, 16 km north, a cliff 100 m above the Atlantic Ocean.
- 3 El Rincón de Julio, Av. Juan Domingo Perón Sur 95.
- 4 Parrilla Los Troncos, Islas Malvinas 954, ☏ .
- 5 Restaurant Leymi, 25 De Mayo 1335, ☏ .
- 6 Posadas de los Sauces, Elcano 839, ☏ .
- There is a splurge restaurant at the Status Hotel Casino (see "Sleep").
- 3 Patagonia Apart Hotel, San Lorenzo 80, ☏ , , , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00.
- 4 Status Hotel Casino, Av. San Martín 268, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00.