This active, outdoorsy itinerary gives you the chance to hike and bike your way through Patagonia's most stunning landscapes. Start your adventure with a walking tour of Buenos Aires and learn more about the "Paris of South America." Then, fly down to Bariloche for some mountain biking in Nahuel Huapi National Park. Finally, head to El Calafate and trek on top of the famous Perito Moreno glacier. 

Highlights

  • See the highlights of Buenos Aires with a 4-hour walking tour
  • Discover Bariloche in the heart of Argentina's lake district
  • Bike over the Manso River suspension bridges
  • Trek on top of the Perito Moreno glacier
  • Take in an evening of tango on your last night in Buenos Aires

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires Walking Tour Buenos Aires
Day 3 Buenos Aires to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 4 Mountain Biking “Manso River Suspension Bridges” Bariloche
Day 5 Bariloche to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 6 Perito Moreno Glacier Trek El Calafate
Day 7 Fly from El Calafate to Buenos Aires - Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 8 Depart Buenos Aires  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City

The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Buenos Aires! Also known as the "Paris of South America," the capital of Argentina is a city defined by passion, from its rich tango heritage to its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is by far the country's most popular sport. 

A driver will pick you up from the airport when you land and take you to your hotel, where you can rest and recharge after your long flight. But make no mistake: the city will be calling you. So after a quick break, make sure to venture out and explore. The best starting point is the city center.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the city's most famous monument. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is a little too reminiscent of the Washington Monument) is worth a visit for its location alone. It sits right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, which boasts a whopping 16 lanes, making it one of the widest avenues in Latin America.

  • Stop by the Teatro Colón, one of South America's premier opera houses, which is known worldwide for its incredible acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here later, it's still worth passing by to take in the exterior architecture. The Colon's neoclassical façade has made it one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.

  • Stroll through Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Puerto Madero may be the "new money" finance center of Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most pleasant places to walk in the city. Take a romantic stroll by crossing over the canal on the Puente de la Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 

  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives it's time to enjoy a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with delicious chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). Buenos Aires is a late-night city, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: Buenos Aires Walking Tour

Don't miss San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires
The Sunday market in San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires

The absolute best way to experience the heart and soul of Buenos Aires is on foot. After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, get ready for a fun 4-hour walking tour of this European-inspired metropolis, accompanied by an English-speaking guide. 

A few highlights include: 

  • Plaza San Martín, which is located at the end of downtown's commercial pedestrian thruway, Florida Street. This leafy plaza, anchored by a majestic ombú tree, is named after one of the heroes of Argentina's independence movement, General José de San Martín. 

  • The Obelisco, a monument that sits at the nexus of the city where the 16 lanes of Ave. 9 de Julio cross bustling Corrientes Ave. Here you'll find Buenos Aires' theater and music district. It's a hub of activity any day of the week, but it's particularly lively on weekend evenings. 

  • Colón Theatre, a nearly 2,500-seat teatro that is perpetually vying with Rio de Janeiro's Theatro Municipal for the title of most opulent opera house in South America. The building's elegant neoclassical exterior and pitch-perfect interior acoustics make it a must-visit.  

  • Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires' main square and home to the Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace. The famous "pink house" (as the presidential palace is colloquially known), is also rife with history. It's on this balcony that Juan Perón made some of his most famous speeches with his glamorous wife, Evita, at his side. 

  • Metropolitan Cathedral is the principal Catholic church in the city and another historic building that also faces the Plaza de Mayo. It was consecrated in 1791 but its earliest origins date back to the late 16th century, when a humble chapel first sat on the current site.

  • Puerto Madero, whose shimmering office towers and central canal make this one of the most elegant neighborhoods in the city. Upscale restaurants can be found here, as can the Puente de la Mujer (Woman's Bridge). 

  • Barrio San Telmo, which is BA’s oldest neighborhood and boasts a vibrant tango and arts scene. Its antique markets, cobbled streets dotted with faroles (French streetlamps), and old brick buildings with wooden balconies all add to the uniquely bohemian atmosphere. Sundays are especially abuzz with activity as the main street market comes alive around Plaza Dorrego.

  • Barrio La Boca is a well-preserved historic neighborhood that's nearly as old as San Telmo. It's home to the colorful Caminito Street, a pedestrian zone teeming with old restaurants and tanguerías.

In the evening, you'll have the opportunity to explore on your own and experience the city at night.

Day 3: Buenos Aires to Bariloche

Bariloche, Argentina
Bariloche, Argentina

After enjoying the exciting city life in Buenos Aires, it's time to head for the southern wilderness. A driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to Bueno Aires' local airport, Aeroparque. From here you'll catch a flight to San Carlos de Bariloche, the main city in Argentina's Lake District, which is home to some of the most impressive scenery in the entire country.

San Carlos de Bariloche was founded in 1902 on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi, which itself is part of the larger Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. If you detect some native influence in that name, you're correct. It comes from the Mapuche indigenous people who inhabit the area, and it means "jaguar island." The lake straddles the Chilean border, with the city of Bariloche located on the southeast shore. While beautiful in the summertime, Bariloche is famous worldwide as a prime winter ski destination. 

Upon arrival at Bariloche Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Even though you may be tired from your flight, try to get out and explore the city. Take a walk and enjoy the charming chalet-style buildings and alpine architecture, and don't miss the many waterfront plazas, chocolate shops, and upscale restaurants. 

Some suggested activities in and around Bariloche include: 

  • Stroll Mitre Street, the main drag that runs through downtown. Here you'll experience all the city's buzzing activity, including souvenir shops, clothing stores, and confectioners. Mitre Street passes near the waterfront, which makes the walk even more pleasant.

  • Visit the five-star Hotel Llao Llao, the nicest hotel in Bariloche, and quite possibly in all of Argentina. This expansive chalet-style hotel sits on a small peninsula overlooking the lake and is the embodiment of mountain luxury. Even if you're not staying here, you can stop in for a full afternoon tea, complete with decadent desserts like brownies and chocolate mousse. 

  • Ride a cable car to the top of Cerro Campanario. Located just a couple of kilometers outside town, the view from atop this 1,050-meter (3,444-foot) high mountain is nothing short of breathtaking, with panoramic views of Lago Nahuel Huapi and the snow-covered mountains that surround it. There's also a restaurant and lounge at the top.

When dinnertime comes around, be sure to sample the local cuisine. You'll find that it differs considerably from what's typically found in Buenos Aires. Here regional fare like wild boar and lake trout is popular and delicious, as is the fondue (a culinary addition first introduced by the city's Swiss immigrants).

Day 4: Mountain Biking “Manso River Suspension Bridges”

Biking along the Manso River

Challenge yourself today with a mountain bike tour near the southern boundary of Nahuel Huapi National Park. A driver will pick your group up and take you 37 miles (60 km) south along Ruta 40 towards the Manso Inferior River Valley.

Once you arrive, it's time to strap on your helmets and start pedaling across the first hanging bridge that crosses the river. The 14-mile (22 km) trail winds its way through the wooded areas and farmlands that border the emerald-green waters of the Manso River

Take a break for a picnic lunch in a beautiful prairie, then continue until you reach the second suspension bridge, which marks the end of the tour. Your driver will pick you up and drive you back to Bariloche, where you'll have the evening free to rest your muscles at your hotel or head into the city for dinner. 

Day 5: Bariloche to El Calafate

Hiker at the base of Cerro Torre
Hiker at the base of Cerro Torre

Spend your last few hours exploring Bariloche and buying last-minute souvenirs. In the afternoon, you will be transferred from your hotel to the airport for your flight to El Calafate

El Calafate sits on the shores of Lago Argentino and is known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers. If you can, get a window seat so you can take in the stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field as you fly over it. 

Upon arrival in El Calafate, a driver will pick you up and take you to your hotel. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing or venture out into El Calafate to enjoy the quaint cafes and shops around town. One option is to learn more about the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium, a multi-media center that has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and lots of educational information. It even has a bar made totally of ice.

Day 6: Perito Moreno Glacier Trek

Trekking Perito Moreno
Trekking Perito Moreno

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll transfer to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park you'll catch your first glimpse of the majestic Perito Moreno. This expansive ice mass flows down from the Andes out over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending abruptly in a great wall that curves around the lake. If you wait a bit, you'll witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off of the glacier and crashing into the waters below. Every time ice hits the water a thundering crash echoes on the lake. 

Believe it or not, you will be trekking on top of this glacier. It's a full-day excursion that involves walking over the ice while fully equipped with crampons and an ice axe. And while hiking on Perito Moreno is certainly an active adventure, it's perfectly safe—and you'll be accompanied by certified bilingual guides. So enjoy crossing deep blue ice crevices and hiking over meltwater streams as you experience Perito Moreno up close. 

During the day you'll also have ample time to see the glacier from one of the many viewing platforms in the park. These platforms are accessible by a network of boardwalks that run along the shores of the lake. They offer the best vantage points for sweeping views of the glacier, with lots of great photo opportunities.

Day 7: Fly from El Calafate to Buenos Aires - Dinner & Tango Show

A cobbled street in San Telmo
A cobbled street in San Telmo

After completing a wonderful adventure in Argentina's deep south, you will be transferred to the El Calafate airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. 

Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, a private car driver will take you back to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to sightsee and hit any sights you may have missed at the beginning of your trip. 

In the evening, it's time for dinner and a show: you'll savor Argentina's traditional cuisine while watching the most spectacular tango show in Buenos Aires. As the elegant performers move to the music of love, sorrow, and passion, you'll enjoy a delicious dinner of flaky empanadas, steak, and dulce de leche (vegetarian options available).

But the night doesn't end with the meal. After dinner, more professional dancers will introduce you to Argentina's lesser-known but equally-mesmerizing traditional folkloric music, featuring dances from around the country.

Day 8: Departing Buenos Aires

Goodbye, Buenos Aires!
Goodbye, Buenos Aires!

In the morning, you'll have time for one last breakfast at your hotel or for a quick brunch in the city. When it's time to go, your driver will pick you up and take you to the international airport for your flight home. Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Argentina Outdoor Adventure: Buenos Aires, Bariloche and El Calafate - 8 Days
Map of Argentina Outdoor Adventure: Buenos Aires, Bariloche and El Calafate - 8 Days