This exciting 9-day itinerary fuses Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital with the Iguazú Falls. Kick off in Buenos Aires where you'll explore neoclassical architecture, buzzing neighborhoods, and urban escapes by foot, boat, and bicycle. Next, fly north to the Brazilian border to experience hundreds of waterfalls in both countries. Circle back to the big city for a tango performance to complete the adventure.

Highlights

  • Dine like the locals (i.e. late) and order a steak drizzled with chimichurri
  • Boat along the peaceful canals to get to Tigre and its Maté Museum
  • Go horseback riding with real guachos on a working farm
  • Hike the thundering cliffs of Iguazú Falls in both Argentina and Brazil
  • Wine-and-dine during a tango performance for your last night

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires Bicycle Tour Buenos Aires
Day 3 Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana Buenos Aires
Day 4 Boat Excursion to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 5 Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu Puerto Iguazu
Day 6 Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side) Iguazu Falls
Day 7 Explore Iguazú Falls (Brazilian Side) Iguazu Falls
Day 8 Fly from Iguazú Falls to Buenos Aires - Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 9 Departing 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 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 walks 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: Buenos Aires Bicycle Tour

Your mode of transport: a bamboo bicycle
Your mode of transport: a bamboo bicycle

Today you'll get to experience the city on two wheels as opposed to two feet. On this full-day bicycle tour, you'll zip along the capital and visit every major neighborhood in and around the center of Buenos Aires. Moreover, you'll be doing so on a bambucicleta, an eco-friendly bike handmade from, you guessed it, bamboo. It's the perfect way to engage in responsible tourism around the city.

In the morning you'll meet your guide at the forecourt of the Museo de Armas (weapons museum), located on the south end of Plaza San Martín (transfers not included). Make sure you arrive ready to go, but there's no need to overextend yourself. This excursion is low-to-medium difficulty and is designed for leisure rather than endurance. Bikes and helmets are included, as is lunch, bottled water, and insurance.

The first neighborhood you'll hit is Puerto Madero, a mega-port that was once obsolete but has now been transformed into a modern business and finance center. Here you'll visit the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, an 865-acre protected area fronting the water, and share a round of yerba mate (a tea that is a cultural touchstone in Argentina). Afterwards, continue south to the La Boca neighborhood and La Bombonera, the home stadium of famous local fútbol (soccer) club, the Boca Juniors. You'll also visit the famous and colorful Caminito Street, which abounds with art, music, and tango dancing.

Then it's off to the oldest area of Buenos Aires, San Telmo, where you'll enjoy a traditional lunch that includes a wide range of carnivorous Argentine delights. Not to worry, though, as the menu can be adapted to accommodate vegetarians. Next, you'll visit nearby Plaza de Mayo and breathe in the rich air of Argentina history.

From the south of the city, you'll now peddle to the north, where the historic working-class barrios give way to the upper-class enclaves of the aristocracy. First, it's the Retiro neighborhood, which is famous for its ornate buildings and baroque architecture. This leads to the famous Recoleta neighborhood, where old French-inspired buildings feature arched doorways and windows.

Your next destination is the Recoleta Cemetery, the oldest and most famous final resting place in the city. Here lies the remains of the most prominent historical figures and the most famous citizens of Argentina including Eva "Evita" Peron. The grand architecture of the family crypts makes this an awe-inspiring place to wander around. 

Before ending the tour, you'll visit the historic and trendy neighborhood of Palermo, notable for its restaurants and expansive parks designed by legendary Argentine/French landscape architect Charles Thays.

Day 3: 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'll get a real gaucho experience. You'll be picked up in the morning and whisked off to a Santa Susana, a working Argentine estancia (ranch). Here you'll enjoy a welcome reception that includes wine, soft drinks, and empanadas. 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—and everyone's invited to get up and dance.

Lunch will be an Argentine asado (mixed grill) paired with even more of the country's fantastic wine. Real gauchos will then showcase their prowess with the bolas—traditional throwing weapons comprised of round weights connected by cords. Their displays will demonstrate how these deceptively simple weapons, when used in the right hands, can be effective at bringing down horses, cows, and even people. 

After lunch, you'll be treated to more entertainment. The gauchos will continue to showcase their abilities, this time as they perform a series of feats known as carreras de sortijas (ring races). These are typical in gaucho equine competition and showcase the cowboys' great skills on horseback. You will end the day at the estancia with a late-afternoon serving of mate, the popular tea-like infusion that is an indispensable part of Argentine culture. 

By the time you transfer back to your hotel in the evening, you can be happy in the knowledge that you've enjoyed a traditional Argentine frontier experience.

Day 4: Boat Excursion to Tigre

Tigre's iconic canals
Tigre's iconic canals

Today you will travel up the Río de la Plata to the point where it converges with the Paraña River Delta, which is comprised of a series of islands about an hour north of Buenos Aires. During the boat ride, take time to 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 this unique region. 

The main port on these canals is in Tigre, a Venetian-style village whose relaxed nature and small-town charm stand in stark contrast to Buenos Aires' bustling energy and expansive metropolis. This is where you'll spend the better part of the day. Enjoy free time to stroll the waterfront, stop in at the cafes and bistros, visit the museums, and experience this riverside gem any way you see fit. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Browse Puerto de Frutos. Right on the water, you'll find the "Port of Fruits," a mazelike network of craft markets, produce stalls, artisanal goods, and even garden centers. You're sure to find the perfect snack or souvenir to appeal to your tastes and suit your interests. 

  • See the town on a tour bus. The Bus Turistico is a hop on/hop off tour bus that covers the basic highlights of Tigre as it drives along the waterfront. The total circuit lasts about an hour and is a quick and relaxing way to get to know this town.

  • Visit Tigre's museums. Some of the town's museums are covered on the Bus Turistico. However, if you opt to explore Tigre on foot, you can see them at your own pace. the Museo de Arte is the most popular, as it's housed in the Belle Epoch-inspired Tigre Club for an impressive collection of Argentine artworks that span two centuries. Other highlights include the Naval Museum as well as the Museo de Maté. The latter is a fun little museum that offers an overview of maté (the tea-like herb cultivated in the Paraná region of the country) with tastings at their "mate bar."

After a day discovering this evocative 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 5: Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu

Fly into Puerto Iguazu
Fly into Puerto Iguazu

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Buenos Aires airport for your flight to Puerto Iguazu. This city is home to the Argentinian side of Iguazu falls, the world's largest waterfall system. Upon arrival in Puerto Iguazu, you will be transferred to your hotel.

You will have the rest of the day free to relax, visit the Three Borders Landmark in the tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, and enjoy a panoramic view of Iguazu Falls from the walking paths surrounding the cascades.

Day 6: 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 transfer you to the entrance of Iguazú National Park, on the Argentine side of the falls. This is where you will begin the day's adventure. It's a full-day excursion that involves traversing three circuit routes around the falls, each offering exceptional vantage points from which to view this magnificent natural wonder. 

The three circuit routes include:

  • The upper circuit (1 hour), which features 2,624 feet (800 m) of catwalks. These walkways are elevated from the jungle surface so as not to disrupt the natural pathways used by the indigenous fauna. The circuit affords views of the upper portion of Iguazú; that means you'll be treated to no shortage of panoramic vistas of the surrounding falls.

  • The lower circuit (2 hours), which consists of 5,250 feet (1,600 m). These are also elevated and offer views from directly below and around Iguazú falls. This circuit takes you near the base of the falls and provides a unique experience where you'll be up close with the natural surroundings, feeling the magnitude of the falls from up close. 

  • Devil's Gorge (2 hours), enjoys an intimidating reputation that will precede your arrival to the park. This is the star of the show and the biggest of the some 275 falls that makeup Iguazú. A small tourist train leaves from within the park at the Cataratas Station and travels 18 minutes to Garganta Station, where you'll find restrooms, a snack bar, and the start of the wooden pathway to the falls. Then a walk of about 3,937 feet (1200 m) will take you over the river, culminating at a viewpoint. Just hearing the plunging falls reverberating in your ears is a one-of-a-kind experience. Actually peering 269 feet (82 m) down into the cavernous abyss as the highest of Iguazu's falls thunders all around you is downright unforgettable. 

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

Day 7: Explore Iguazú Falls (Brazilian Side)

Pedestrian walkways with epic views
Pedestrian walkways with epic views

The Brazilian side of Iguazú may lack the number of hiking routes found on the Argentine side, but it makes up for it with a wealth of amenities in the form of conveniences and restaurants with terraces overlooking the falls. Upon arrival at the Visitors Center, you'll board a double-decker bus that embarks on a 30-minute ride into the park.

After you jump off the bus, your first stop is a balcony that offers panoramic views of the Argentine side of the falls (be sure to keep your camera at the ready). You'll then hike 3,116 feet (950 m) along the Iguazú River until you reach the falls on the Brazilian side. The walkway passes over the river to the Salto Floriano (Floriano Falls). This magnificent wall of plunging water makes quite an impression, as do the vistas of the lower Iguazú River and the Devil’s Throat Canyon.

Once you have the lay of the land, spend your day enjoying the various views and having lunch on a terrace before returning to your hotel.

Day 8: Fly from Iguazú Falls to Buenos Aires - Tango Show

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

This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel. Now you'll have the rest of the day to explore this incredible city at your leisure, perhaps visiting any places you may have missed at the beginning of the trip.

Later in the evening, you'll take part in a traditional Argentine meal accompanied by free-flowing wine and a tango show, one of Argentina's most iconic cultural highlights. Experience the heartbeat of Argentina first-hand before heading back to your hotel to relax for the night.

Day 9: Departing Buenos Aires

Sunset at Puente de las Mujeres bridge in Buenos Aires
Sunset at Puente de las Mujeres bridge in Buenos Aires

Eat one last breakfast in Buenos Aires, and at the appropriate time, drive the airport for your departing flight and head home after an unforgettable trip.

Map

Map of Buenos Aires & Iguazú Falls - 9 Days
Map of Buenos Aires & Iguazú Falls - 9 Days
Deborah
Written by Deborah Hayman, updated Mar 18, 2019