This itinerary is ideal for travelers interested in getting the full Buenos Aires experience and seeing some of Argentina's unique highlights. The tour begins in the cosmopolitan capital and heads south to Puerto Madryn, a seaside community famous for its diverse coastal ecosystem. You'll even have the chance to go whale watching and snorkeling with sea lions. Finally, finish off with a couple of days at Iguazú Falls, before returning to Buenos Aires to spend a day learning about gaucho (cowboy) culture on an estancia (ranch).

Highlights

  • Enjoy a tango show in Buenos Aires and learn the secrets of this seductive dance
  • Snorkel with sea lions and walk with penguins in Patagonia
  • Spend a day horseback riding with gauchos at a working Argentine estancia
  • Gaze down on the gushing water of the Devil's Throat at Iguazú Falls
  • Discover the canals of the Tigre Delta 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 City Tour, Dinner and Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 3 Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 4 Península Valdés & Whale Watching Tour Puerto Madryn
Day 5 Penguin Colony at Punta Tombo Tour Puerto Madryn
Day 6 Snorkeling with Sea Lions in Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 7 Fly from Puerto Madryn to Iguazu Falls Puerto Iguazu
Day 8 Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side) Puerto Iguazu
Day 9 Explore Iguazú Falls (Brazilian Side) & Fly to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 10 Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana Buenos Aires
Day 11 Boat Excursion to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 12 Goodbye Buenos Aires!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City

The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco, a 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), the country's most popular sport. 

When you land, a driver will pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel, where you can rest and recharge after your long flight. But make no mistake: you'll be itching to see what the city has to offer. 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 to take a tour or catch 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 a classic Argentine parilla (steakhouse). When night falls, 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: City Tour, Dinner and Tango Show

The Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace)
The Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace)

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 throughout this European-inspired metropolis, accompanied by an English-speaking guide. 

A few highlights include: 

  • Plaza San Martín at the end of downtown's commercial pedestrian thruway, Florida Street. This leafy plaza is named after one of the heroes of Argentina's independence movement, General José de San Martín. 
  • The Obelisco, an icon that sits at the nexus of the city where the 16 lanes of Ave. 9 de Julio cross bustling Corrientes Ave., Buenos Aires' theater and music district. It's a hub of activity any day of the week, but it's particularly alive 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 the most opulent opera house in South America. The building's elegant neoclassical exterior and pitch-perfect interior acoustics make this building 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 the front balcony that Juan Perón made some of his most famous speeches with his glamorous wife, Evita, at his side. 
  • Metropolitan Cathedral, is the main Catholic church in the city and 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 canal make it one of the most elegant neighborhoods in the city. Upscale restaurants can be found here, as can the Puente de la Mujer, or "Woman's Bridge."
  • 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 its bohemian atmosphere. Sundays are especially buzz with activity as the main street market comes alive around Plaza Dorrego.
  • La Boca is a well-preserved historic neighborhood that's nearly as old as San Telmo. It's home to colorful Caminito Street, a pedestrian zone teeming with old restaurants and tanguerías.

In the evening you'll experience an unforgettable night of dinner and tango at one of the best tanguerias in Buenos Aires. It's venues such as these that preserve the musical heritage of the city. You'll feel it in the ambiance, you'll hear it in the melancholy rhythms of the guitar and bandoneon, and you'll see it in the dances of fish-netted and besuited bailanderos. It's a dance that tells the story of loss and heartbreak, passion and love.  

 After dinner, more professional dancers will take part in a show-stopping performance of traditional Argentine folkloric music.

Day 3: Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn

Sealife in and around Puerto Madryn
Sealife in and around Puerto Madryn

After breakfast in the capital, a driver will pick you up and take you to Aeroparque Airport for your flight to Puerto Madryn, a coastal city in Argentine Patagonia.  

Puerto Madryn sits along the Golfo Nuevo (New Gulf) of northern Patagonia's Atlantic shore. Off the coast, there is an abundance of marine mammals—including the southern right whale, which typically breeds from May to December. 

Puerto Madryn is most famous for being the jumping-off to visit nearby Península Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best place to see sea lions, penguins, guanacos, whales, and orcas in their natural habitat. Puerto Madryn is also near Gaiman—a small historic town founded by Welsh settlers in 1875. Gaiman has preserved many of its Welsh traditions and you can still see tea shops, chapels, and gardens sprinkled throughout town.

Upon arrival at Puerto Madryn, a driver will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. If you have any energy after your flight, stretch your legs with a stroll around this tranquil city. It's a safe, walkable community and the charming waterfront promenade is lined with cafes and restaurants, some of which have outdoor seating and ocean views. You can also make the short trip to Gaiman for a spot of tea.

Day 4: Península Valdés & Whale Watching Tour

Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn
Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn

After breakfast in Puerto Madryn, a driver will pick you up at your hotel for a full-day tour—by land and sea—starting in Península Valdés. The first stop will be the Istmo Ameghino Interpretation Center, which will give you some useful information before you venture into this marine eco-system. Through various educational exhibits, you'll gain insight into the different types of fauna that call the peninsula home. There's even a lookout tower, with stunning views of the Golfo Nuevo and the Golfo San José.

After visiting the interpretation center you'll continue to Puerto Pirámides, where you will board a boat for your wildlife-watching tour. The ship will sail along the coast and give you plenty of opportunities to spot some wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and (if you're lucky) right whales and killer whales. You'll also pass a local lighthouse and get a chance to see the rugged coast for which Patagonia is famous.

On the way back to Puerto Madryn you'll see salt flats and the Isla de Pájaros, where lots of different avian species like cormorants, egrets, rheas, and flamingos live. The tour ends in the late afternoon, and your driver will take you back to your hotel for the evening. 

Day 5: Penguin Colony at Punta Tombo Tour

Magellanic penguins sharing a moment
Magellanic penguins sharing a moment

Today involves a boat tour down the Atlantic coast to one of the most unique attractions in Patagonia: Punta Tombo. This tiny protected area (less than a square mile) is home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in Latin America.

First, a driver will meet you at your hotel and take you to Puerto Rawson, a fishing village located about 31 miles (50 km) south of Puerto Madryn. From here, you will board a ship and start the tour. As you head down the Patagonian coast, be sure to keep an eye out for black-and-white Commerson dolphins, which are the smallest dolphin species in the world. 

Exact estimates of how many Magellanic penguins live in Punta Tombo vary, but at one point it was home to over one million. Even today that figure might be close to accurate, and the area is covered with more penguins than you can count. You'll be able to explore the area on foot and walk amongst the cute, waddling birds. Of course, you won't be able to touch them, but you will get lots of close-up photos to take home. 

After the tour ends your driver will take you back up the coast and drop you off at your hotel. 

Day 6: Snorkeling with Sea Lions in Puerto Madryn

Snorkel with sea lions in Puerto Madryn
Snorkel with sea lions in Puerto Madryn

There are only a few places in South America where you can swim with sea lions in their natural habitat, and Puerto Madryn is one of them.

In the morning a guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the tour office, where you'll be able to change into your swimwear. You'll then board a boat at Puerto Pirámides and depart for a nearby bay, where the sea lions nap, swim and sunbathe. 

Upon arrival, hop in the water (wetsuits and equipment will be provided). Sea lions are curious by nature and will swim up to offer a friendly hello. A guide will be in the water with you and will give you specific instructions on what to do when a sea lion approaches. The experience is nothing short of magical. 

Day 7: Fly from Puerto Madryn to Iguazú Falls

Iguazu Falls
Iguazú Falls

After breakfast, a driver will meet you at your hotel and take you to the airport to catch your flight to Iguazú Falls via Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in Puerto Iguazú—which will be your base to explore both sides of the waterfalls—you will be taken to your hotel and have the rest of the day free. 

Day 8: Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side)

Touring Iguazú from the Argentine side
Touring Iguazú from the Argentine side

After breakfast at your hotel, a driver will pick you up and drop you off at the entrance of Iguazú National Park, on the Argentine side of the falls. This is where you will begin the day's adventure, a full-day tour that involves walking the three circuits that weave around the falls. Each of these offers different vantage points from which to view the water. 

The three circuits include:

  • The upper circuit (1 hour) is made up of 2,624 feet (800 m) of walkways elevated above the jungle floor to avoid disrupting the natural paths of indigenous fauna. On this route, you'll see the upper portion of Iguazú, including countless panoramic vistas of the surrounding falls.

  • The lower circuit (2 hours) is 5,250 feet (1,600 m) long and is also made up of elevated walkways, which go directly below and around the falls. This circuit takes you near the base of the falls and right up to the crashing torrents of water. You'll be able to feel the magnitude of the falls from up close. 

  • Devil's Throat (2 hours) is the star of the show. A small tourist train leaves from the Cataratas Station and travels 18 minutes to Garganta Station, where you'll find restrooms, a snack bar, and the start of the path. You'll walk 3,937 feet (1200 m) over the river until you reach the viewing platform. From there you'll be able to peer 269 feet (82 m) down into the water, as the highest of Iguazu's falls thunders all around you.

At the end of the tour, the driver will pick you up and take you back to your hotel.

Day 9: Explore Iguazú Falls (Brazilian Side) & Fly to Buenos Aires

View of Iguazu Falls from Foz do Iguacu, Brazil
View of Iguazu Falls from Foz do Iguacu, Brazil

Now that you have seen the Argentine side of the Iguazú Falls it's time to visit the Brazilian side, which takes half a day. Once you arrive, you'll have a panoramic view of the entire waterfall complex that you visited yesterday and get an overall sense of its vastness.

In the afternoon, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. Enjoy the rest of the evening on your own to relax or visit any of the restaurants or lounges you missed at the beginning of the trip.

Day 10: Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana

Argentinian gauchos in colorful garb
Argentinian gauchos in colorful garb

Just as North Americans have their cowboys, Argentines have their gauchos. This frontier culture is strongest in the pampas (prairies) immediately surrounding the capital since this is where the country was first settled. Gauchos are national symbols in Argentina, whether it's the real-life horsemen who still exist today or the folk heroes of epic Argentine poems—like Martín Fierro, whose stories are passed down over generations.

Today you're in for a real gaucho experience. You'll be picked up in the morning and whisked off to Santa Susana, a working Argentine estancia (ranch). After a guided tour of the property, you'll do some horseback riding (or perhaps a carriage ride) before settling in for a traditional folkloric music performance.

You'll have an Argentine asado (mixed grill) for lunch, paired with even more of the country's fantastic wine. Real gauchos will then show off their prowess with bolas—traditional throwing weapons made of round weights connected by cords. They will demonstrate how these deceptively simple weapons can be used to bring down horses, cows, and even people. 

After lunch, you'll be treated to more entertainment. The gauchos will continue their show with a series of feats known as carreras de sortijas (ring races). These are typical in gaucho equine competitions and are a true test of horseback-riding skill. The day ends with a late-afternoon mate, the popular tea-like infusion that is an indispensable part of Argentine culture. 

Day 11: Boat Excursion to Tigre

Tigre's iconic canals
Tigre's iconic canals

Today you will travel up the Río de la Plata to the Paraña River Delta for a boat tour of the area. During the boat ride, enjoy views of the city skyline from the deck. You will then enter the network of freshwater canals and sail among the many islands that make up the Delta. 

The main port on these canals is Tigre, a Venetian-style village whose small-town charm stands in stark contrast to Buenos Aires' bustling energy. You'll spend the better part of the day here. Stroll the waterfront, stop in the cafes and bistros, visit the museums, and experience this riverside gem your way. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Browse Puerto de Frutos. Right on the water, you'll find the "fruit market," a maze-like network of craft markets, produce stalls, artisanal goods, and even garden centers. This is a good place to shop for snacks ad souvenirs. 

  • Visit the town on a tour bus. The Bus Turistico is a hop on/hop off tour bus that covers Tigre's main attractions along the waterfront. The total circuit lasts about an hour and is a quick, relaxing way to get to know the town.

  • Visit Tigre's museums. The Museo de Arte is the most popular and is located in the Belle Epoch-inspired Tigre Club. It includes an impressive collection of Argentine artworks spanning two centuries. Other options include the Naval Museum and the Museo de Mate, a fun little museum dedicated to mate (the tea-like herb cultivated in the Paraná region of the country). They also offer tastings at their "mate bar."

After a day in town, hop on a train back to Buenos Aires. Your tour officially ends at the Retiro station, where you'll have the rest of the evening to explore on your own.

Day 12: Goodbye Buenos Aires!

Goodbye Buenos Aires
Goodbye Buenos Aires

Spend your last few hours in Buenos Aires sightseeing or souvenir shopping. When the time comes, your driver will pick you up and take you to Ezeiza International Airport, where you'll catch your return flight home.