Explore the highlights of Argentine Patagonia on this six-day adventure. Begin in the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires, and explore its vibrant city streets and delicious dining opportunities with a city tour and tango show. Then, head to El Calafate to visit Los Glaciares National Park to get an up-close look at the majestic Perito Moreno glacier. Next, you'll take a trip to Estancia Cristina to visit the local folkloric museum as well as the Continental Ice Field Refuge for incredible views of Upsala Glacier and Lake Guillermo. 

Highlights

  • Enjoy a three-course dinner and a passionate tango show in Buenos Aires
  • Explore Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the only advancing glaciers in the world
  • Take a boat tour of the Upsala Channel and view more glaciers

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Buenos Aires! Buenos Aires
Day 2 Half-Day City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 3 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 4 Perito Moreno Full-Day Tour El Calafate
Day 5 Estancia Cristina Excursion El Calafate
Day 6 El Calafate - Buenos Aires - Home  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires

The famous Obelisco of Buenos Aires
The famous Obelisco of 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 and is 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 sauce (made of garlic, herbs, and vinegar). 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: Half-Day City Tour - Dinner & 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 four-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 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-see.  
  • 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 sleekest neighborhoods in the city. Upscale restaurants can be found here, as can the Puente de la Mujer (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 the uniquely bohemian atmosphere. Sundays are especially abuzz 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 the 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 performances in one of the best tanguerias in Buenos Aires. Tango is a romantic dance that tells the story of loss and heartbreak, passion and love. You'll get lost in the atmosphere as you listen to the melancholy rhythms of the bandoneon and watch the dances of fish-netted and besuited bailanderos. After dinner, more professional dancers will take part in a show-stopping performance of traditional Argentine folkloric music.

Day 3: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier

This morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight to El Calafate, a city that 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 at El Calafate, another transfer will take you to your hotel. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing or venture out and enjoy the quaint cafes and shops around town. Maybe prime yourself with information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium, a multi-media ice museum that has various interactive displays and lots of information about glaciers. It even has a bar made totally of ice.

Day 4: Perito Moreno Full-Day Tour

Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier

Today, you're in for some excitement. After breakfast at your hotel, it's time to make the one-hour trip 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 and ends abruptly in a great wall of ice that curves around the lake. You'll see "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the glacier and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water a thundering crash echoes on the lake. 

While it's not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is definitely the star of the park. It's also one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, which is what causes the calving mentioned above. You'll be able to admire Perito Moreno from a number of different vantage points thanks to the network of wooden walkways that zigzag strategically in front of the glacier. You'll also be able to see the massive ice wall up close on a boat tour. 

After a day spent viewing the glacier and wandering the numerous trails, you'll head back to El Calafate for a free evening.

Day 5: Estancia Cristina Excursion

The views around Estancia Cristina
The views around Estancia Cristina

Today, a driver will pick you and other passengers up early in the morning and drive you 28 miles (45 km) to the port at Punta Bandera, located on Lago Argentino. The drive along this route is scenic and pleasant, affording sweeping views of the Patagonian countryside and the charming wooden houses that intermittently dot the landscape. 

Once you reach the port, you'll board a ferry and embark on a journey on the Upsala Channel, passing towering icebergs along the way. As you reach the northern section of the channel you'll see the western front of the Spegazzini Glacier. At over 10 miles long and a mile wide, the length, breadth, and towering ice walls of this ancient glacier are awe-inspiring. 

After taking the time to admire Spegazzini, you will continue sailing north and into the Cristina Channel. At the far end of this channel, you'll disembark at Estancia Cristina. Expect to arrive late morning. 

Estancia Cristina is one of the most impressive ranch-style lodges in the region. It was founded in 1914 by pioneers and built on a valley once covered by the Upsala Glacier. A visit to the Folkloric Museum here (located in an old sheep-shearing shed), offers insight into the history of the estancia. And the surrounding scenery is breathtaking—all around you'll see panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, rivers, lakes, and glaciers. 

All told you will stay for about six hours. After the museum, you'll set out on a 6-mile (9.5 km) journey by 4x4 over an unpaved road that ascends into the mountains. After reaching the Continental Ice Field Refuge, you will exit the vehicle and begin a 20-minute walk through the glacial landscapes and Andes mountains until you reach the Upsala viewpoint. Here you will have an unobstructed view of the eastern face of the Upsala Glacier as well as Lake Guillermo and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. 

In the late afternoon, you will board the boat again and begin the return to Punta Bandera. After disembarking, you will be taken back to your hotel.

Day 6: El Calafate - Buenos Aires - Home

Sunset in Buenos Aires
Sunset in Buenos Aires

In the morning, your driver will take you to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, you'll be transferred to the international airport for your return flight home. ¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Buenos Aires & El Calafate Exploration - 6 Days
Map of Buenos Aires & El Calafate Exploration - 6 Days
Deborah
Written by Deborah Hayman, updated Oct 31, 2019