This amazing 11-day trip combines some of the most spectacular scenery that Argentine Patagonia has to offer. After exploring Buenos Aires with a tour and tango lesson, you'll head to El Calafate—jumping off point for Los Glaciares National Park—where you'll get up close to several glaciers. Finish the adventure in Bariloche, surrounded by lakes, forests, and mountains, with ample hiking trails and local history.

Highlights

  • Dine and dance in Argentina's capital
  • Get up close to Perito Moreno—a glacier that is actually advancing
  • Take a relaxing full-day glacier cruise, complete with a gourmet lunch
  • Explore the Lakes District on a self-driving tour
  • Choose between several hikes with stunning views of Nahuel Huapi Lake

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires 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 Glaciers Gourmet Experience El Calafate
Day 6 From El Calafate to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 7 Bariloche History & Nature Tour Bariloche
Day 8 Hiking in Bariloche Bariloche
Day 9 Self-Drive: Exploring Bariloche Bariloche
Day 10 Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure Buenos Aires
Day 11 Buenos Aires Departure  

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! Known as the "Paris of South America," the capital city of Argentina is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), by far 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 break, venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The best starting point is the city center.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous monument in 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 one of the widest avenues in South America.
  • Stop by the Teatro Colón, 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 worth stopping to see its exterior architecture. 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 walks in the city. Take a romantic stroll over the canal on the Puente de la Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 
  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse, or parilla. When night falls, enjoy a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with famous chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). 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: Buenos Aires City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show

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

After breakfast, you'll join a fascinating tour for an overview of Buenos Aires as well as a better understanding of Argentina’s history and culture. During this three-hour tour, you'll visit the neighborhood of Retiro as well as Avenida 9 de Julio, one of South America’s widest avenues. Along this street, you'll see the Teatro Colón, the continent's most opulent opera house, and the iconic Obelisco.

You will also pass through the historic and architecturally impressive city center, home to the Congress BuildingPlaza de MayoAvenida de Mayo, and the Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace). Then, walk along the upscale waterfront promenades of Puerto Madero before heading to the oldest neighborhood in the city, San Telmo. Afterward, you'll stop by La Boca, the city's original port.

In the evening, watch a mesmerizing tango performance accompanied by a delicious meal and free-flowing wine. After this memorable experience, you'll head back to your hotel to relax for the night.

Day 3: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Lago Argentino
Lago Argentino

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. You can also learn about glaciers at the nearby Glaciarium, a multi-media center that includes an ice museum and various interactive displays 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 an exciting full-day excursion. It starts with a pick up from your hotel in El Calafate, followed by a one-hour transfer to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park you'll catch your first glimpse of majestic Perito Moreno, an expansive ice mass that flows down from the Andes out over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending abruptly in a great wall that curves around the lake. You'll witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the facade and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water a thundering crash echoes over the lake. 

While not the only glacier in the area, Perito Moreno is 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 via the network of wooden walkways strategically placed in front of the glacier. You'll also get up close to the glacier on a boat tour.

After a day spent at the glacier and wandering the numerous trails, you'll head back to El Calafate to enjoy the evening as you please.

Day 5: Glaciers Gourmet Experience

Cruising is the best way to get close to the glaciers
Cruising is the best way to get close to the glaciers

Today, you'll take part in an exciting full-day cruise through one of the most wonderful places in Southern Patagonia: Los Glaciares National Park. Sailing aboard the Glaciers Gourmet will allow you to enjoy the highest standard of comfort and gourmet cuisine for a truly memorable experience.

The UNESCO-listed Los Glaciares National Park offers a magnificent combination of forests, lakes, mountains, and is home to more than 200 glaciers. The most renowned ones include Spegazzini, which rises 442 feet (135 m) above sea level; Upsala, which is 32 miles (53km) long and covers an entire valley; and Perito Moreno, a massive glacier that is constantly advancing and calving—one of nature’s most impressive sights.

In the morning, you'll be picked up at your hotel in El Calafate for the cruise. A gourmet lunch will be served onboard, and you'll return to El Calafate in the early evening.

Day 6: From El Calafate to Bariloche

Aerial view of Bariloche
Aerial view of Bariloche

After breakfast, a driver will take you to El Calafate's airport, where you'll catch a flight to San Carlos de Bariloche, the main city in Argentina's Lake District. Bariloche (as it is usually called) is home to some of the loveliest Alpine scenery in the country.

Bariloche was founded in 1902 on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi, which itself is part of the larger Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, whose name comes from the Mapuche indigenous people and means "jaguar island." The lake straddles the Chilean border, and the city of Bariloche is located on the southeast shore. 

Upon arrival at Bariloche's airport, a driver will pick you up and take you to your hotel. Once you've rested a bit, get out and explore the city. The charming chalet-style buildings and alpine architecture are worth seeing, 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 to visit souvenir shops, clothing stores, and confectioners. The street also passes near the waterfront, which is worth a visit. 

  • Visit the five-star Hotel Llao Llao, the nicest hotel in Bariloche, and quite possibly all of Argentina. This expansive chalet-style resort sits on a small peninsula overlooking the lake and is the embodiment of alpine luxury. Even if you're not staying here, you can stop in for a full afternoon tea service, which is served with delicious 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 3,444-foot (1,050-meter)-high mountain is breathtaking. You'll have 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 get out and sample the local cuisine, which is quite different from what's typically found in Buenos Aires. Here, you'll find regional fare like wild boar and lake trout as well as fondue (a culinary addition first introduced by the city's Swiss immigrants).

Day 7: Bariloche History & Nature Tour

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

This morning, you'll take part in a guided history tour in and around Bariloche. Along the way, your guide will explain the legacy of the city and its surroundings. This tour 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 popular cities in Argentina. As you experience the natural beauty of the region and hike around, 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—a fun way to end the day!

Day 8: Hiking in Bariloche

The view from atop Cerro Llao Llao
The view from atop Cerro Llao Llao

Today you'll travel a short distance into the Lake District to spend the day in the great outdoors. A car will pick you up from your hotel and take you to Llao Llao Municipal Park, which is located just a few miles northwest of the city. This protected area on the lake makes up a relatively small part of Nahuel Huapi Park (just 3,000 acres). But it's home to some of the most stunning scenery in the region, as well as a network of well-maintained hiking paths.

Your hike today is moderately difficult and covers many of the area's natural highlights. One of these, Cerro Llao Llao, is the largest mountain within the park boundaries and stands 3,363 feet (1,025 m) high. Hike up to the top to see postcard-worthy views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Other points of interest you'll see on this half-day hiking trip include the sandy beaches of Villa Tacúl, the ancient Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), and the little-visited Hidden Lake. You'll walk along pathways that weave through dense Patagonian forests, flanked by towering Arrayán and lenga trees. You'll also stop at vantage points that offer panoramic views of Lake Nahuel Huapi, Lake Moreno, Puerto Blest, the Brazo Tristeza FjordMount López and Mount Capilla, before returning to Bariloche for the night.

Day 9: Self-Driving Tour of Bariloche

Today, choose your own adventure. You can relax and explore the town of Bariloche, or you can see more of the natural beauty of Patagonia by choosing one of these routes:

  • Seven Lakes Road to San Martin de Los Andes: A 66 mile (107 km) road connects San Martin de Los Andes with Villa La Angostura. On this stunning route, you'll see magnificent landscapes and cross through two national parks. You'll also see picture-perfect lakes along the way, including Machónico, Falkner, Villarino, Escondido, Correntoso, Espejo and Nahuel Huapi.
  • El Bolson & Esquel: There are two ways to travel to El Bolson and Esquel. You can either take Route 40, a 100 mile (161 km) asphalt road that runs through foothills and plateaus. If you want a more adventurous experience and don't mind a longer, more difficult route, drive adjacent to Los Alerces National Park. This option takes you down a 120 mi (193 km) route along Route 40 and on the gravel of Provincial Route 15 and Route 71. You'll see the Rivadavia, Verde, and Futalaufquen lakes.
  • Mount Tronador: A volcano located along the border between Argentina and Chile, Mount Tronador sits between the Nahuel Huapi and Vicente Pérez Rosales National Parks. With an altitude of 11,400 feet (3470 m), the mountain is home to eight different glaciers and even acquired its name, "The Thunderer", from the sound of falling ice blocks that can be frequently heard near it.

In the evening, head back to your hotel in Bariloche for some rest and relaxation.

Day 10: Bariloche to Buenos Aires

Goodbye, Argentina!
Goodbye, Argentina!

Now that you have experienced Argentina's unforgettable south, a driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Spend your last day in the capital sight-seeing, souvenir shopping, or simply relaxing. 

Day 11: Buenos Aires Departure

It's time to say good-bye! Head to the airport to catch your flight back home. Buen viaje! 

Map

Map of Buenos Aires, El Calafate & Bariloche - 11 Days
Map of Buenos Aires, El Calafate & Bariloche - 11 Days