Discover Argentina's best family-friendly highlights on this weeklong itinerary. Begin with a walking tour of metropolitan Buenos Aires, visiting the city's most famous sites in an interactive setting. Next, you're off to the Lake District and the famous alpine city of Bariloche, where you'll enjoy kayaking, hiking, and whitewater rafting down the Río Manso. Finally, return to the capital city for one more day of food and fun.

Highlights

  • Go on an informative and exciting walking tour of Buenos Aires
  • Stroll the streets of Bariloche, the most beautiful mountain city in Argentina
  • Go kayaking on a lake and enjoy a nature hike all in one day
  • Tour the landmark sites around Bariloche
  • Go rafting on the Río Manso

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Buenos Aires! Buenos Aires
Day 2 Full-Day Buenos Aires Walking Tour Buenos Aires
Day 3 Buenos Aires to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 4 Kayak/Trekking on Mascardi Lake - Full Day Bariloche
Day 5 Bariloche History and Nature Half-Day Tour Bariloche
Day 6 Rafting the Río Manso Bariloche
Day 7 Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Buenos Aires!

The famous Obelisco of Buenos Aires
The famous Obelisco of Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America," and the "Queen of El Plata," the capital city of Buenos Aires is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is far and away the country's most popular sport. 

When you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you in a private car to your hotel where you can relax after a long flight. But make no mistake: the city will beckon you. So after a quick recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The best starting point would be the city center.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous icon of the city. 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 the widest city street in the world.

  • Stop by the Teatro Colon, one of South America's premier opera houses. The horseshoe-shaped gallery features 2,487 seats and incredible acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always breathtaking to pass by its exterior. The Colon's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.

  • Stroll 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 walking areas in a city famous for its walking areas. A romantic stroll involves walking over the canal on the Puente de Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 

  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy a thick, juicy steak—Argentina has some of the best beef in the world—drizzled with the nation's famous chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). Know that Buenos Aires is a culture that thrives after dark, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: Full-Day Buenos Aires Walking Tour

The Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace
The Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace

To properly experience Buenos Aires, you must do so on foot. So after a fortifying breakfast prepare yourself for a day of walking and sightseeing throughout this European-inspired metropolis. You'll hit all the main points of interest, aided every step of the way by an English-speaking guide. 

Some highlights of the walking tour include: 

  • Plaza San Martín, 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, an icon 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 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, which is Buenos Aires' main square and home to the Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace. The plaza is the site of some famous events, including the May Revolution of 1810 that kicked off this former Spanish colony's quest for independence. The famous "pink house" (as the presidential palace is colloquially known), is also rife with history. It's on the front balcony that dictator Juan Perón made some of his most famous speeches with his glamorous wife, Evita, at his side. Ultimately it was she who won the hearts and minds of the  Argentine people.

  • 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. Some upscale restaurants can be found here, as can Puente de la Mujer, a bridge whose sleek and sensual lines define its title of "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 buzz 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. The area is known for La Bombonera the stadium of one of two principal soccer teams in the city: Boca Juniors. It's also home to colorful Caminito Street, a pedestrian zone teeming with old restaurants and tanguerías

  • Cementerio de Recoleta, this sprawling cemetery is located in the "old money" enclave of Barrio Recoleta. It's filled with the ornate mausoleums of famous, notable, and wealthy Argentines from throughout history. It also happens to be where Evita Perón is interned. 

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. At the scheduled time, a driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer 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 once inhabited 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 became globally famous as a prime winter ski destination. So be excited, because you're about to experience the best slopes in the whole of Argentina.

Upon arrival at Bariloche's 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. The charming chalet-style buildings and alpine architecture can be seen and enjoyed on a brisk walk around, and the city center abounds with 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 buzzing commerce of the city, including souvenir shops, clothing stores, and confectioners. It also runs near the waterfront, which only enhances the pleasantness of the walk.
  • Visit the five-star Hotel Llao Llao, the nicest hotel in Bariloche, and quite possibly the nicest 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 service 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 as you're treated to 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 than 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: Kayak/Trekking on Mascardi Lake - Full Day

Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi
Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi

This is a special day as you'll get to embark on a combined excursion that mixes kayaking on Lago Mascardi with a nature trek through the forest. The adventure begins with a pickup at your hotel followed by a 45-minute drive south of Bariloche along the famed Ruta 40 to the lake.

Your first destination is a lakeshore campsite owned by the local indigenous community. Here you'll hop into your kayak and begin paddling for Playa Leones, the most beautiful beach on Mascardi. Once you arrive at this tranquil pebble beach you'll be able to relax on shore and enjoy the surrounding wilderness.  

Afterward, you'll embark on a nature trek through native coihue forest until you reach a secluded lagoon. Then it's time to head back to Playa Leones, where you'll enjoy lunch while relaxing on the shore. Finally, you'll kayak back to the starting point and return to Bariloche.

Day 5: Bariloche History and Nature Half-Day Tour

Take a ride up to the top of Cerro Campanario
Take a ride up to the top of Cerro Campanario

In the morning you'll partake in an active history lesson as a guide leads you on a tour in and around Bariloche. Along the way, he or she will explain the legacy of the city and its surrounding locales. This tour comprises a classic circuit that covers the city as well as some of the most famous viewpoints outside of it, like Cerro Campanario and the Llao Llao Peninsula. The former offers panoramic views of Lago Nahuel Huapi from its summit, while the latter is the site of the most impressive hotel in the country, Hotel Llao Llao

Over the course of this tour, your guide will explain how San Carlos de Bariloche evolved relatively quickly from a small mountain village into one of the most attractive and popular cities in Argentina. As you experience the natural beauty of the region and hike around its terrain, you'll begin to understand why Bariloche was voted Argentina's national capital of adventure tourism. At the end of the tour, you'll visit a local microbrewery for lunch and a beer tasting.

Day 6: Rafting the Río Manso

Get ready for some rafting
Get ready for some rafting

In the morning a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you and other passengers down Route 40 to the edge of the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Eventually, you'll arrive at John´s Camp, a Patagonian ranch near the Manso River that serves as the starting point for today's river rafting excursion. Upon arrival at John´s, you'll be struck by the beauty of the grounds. More than 50 years of work are reflected in this property, from the main house to the beautiful garden abounding with flowers and trees, all of it surrounded by an unobscured view of Mt. Bastion.

A light breakfast of coffee and croissants will be provided, and after eating your group will change into wetsuits. Then it's time for a safety talk from the head guide, after which you'll embark down the Río Manso.

This stretch of river you'll travel down cuts through a canyon, and it's at once beautiful and challenging. You'll find fertile vegetation on the riverbanks and some of the best whitewater in the region stretching out in front of you. The rapids here are class III and IV, so be prepared to get wet. Just the names of these rapids evoke excitement and adventure: Ozone Hole, Shout and Turn, Little Toboggan, and Scrambled Egg are some of the sections you'll brave before pulling up to the riverbank at the Chilean Border. Here you'll leave the river behind, change clothes, load up all the gear, and enjoy a bit of lunch. Afterward, you'll transfer back to Bariloche.

Day 7: Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure

Goodbye, Argentina!
Goodbye, Argentina!

Having experienced Argentina's unforgettable south, you will transfer from your hotel to the airport and hop a flight back to Buenos Aires. This is where you started your journey and it's also where everything comes full circle, as you'll now take a connecting flight back home. 

Despite the bittersweet goodbye, rest assured that we will be waiting for you with open arms should you ever decide to return!

Map

Map of Family Adventure in Patagonia: Buenos Aires & Bariloche - 7 Days
Map of Family Adventure in Patagonia: Buenos Aires & Bariloche - 7 Days