Take in the beauty and complexity of Argentine culture and natural landscapes on this 8-day journey. First, learn all about the history and people of Buenos Aires, also known as porteños on a full-day walking tour. Next, head just outside of the city to experience the culture of the gauchos, the traditional counterpoint to the modern porteños. Then, travel north to the iconic Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world. Top it all off with a trip back to Buenos Aires to enjoy a traditional dinner and tango performance.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a full-day walking tour of Buenos Aires and visit some of the city's most iconic sites
  • Experience the gaucho lifestyle in rural Argentina
  • Walk along the thundering cliffs of Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world
  • Enjoy a passionate tango performance over dinner in lively Buenos Aires

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Full-Day Buenos Aires Walking Tour Buenos Aires
Day 3 Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana Buenos Aires
Day 4 Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu Iguazu Falls
Day 5 Iguazú Falls - Argentine Side Iguazu Falls
Day 6 Iguazú Falls - Brazilian Side Iguazu Falls
Day 7 From Iguazu Falls to Buenos Aires & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 8 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 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: Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana

Gauchos are master horsemen
Gauchos are master horsemen

Just as North Americans has their cowboys, Argentines have their gauchos. This frontier culture is strongest in the Pampas (prairies) immediately surrounding the capital, as 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 the 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 even more entertainment. The gauchos will continue to showcase their abilities, this time as they perform a series feats known as carreras de sortijas ("ring races"). These are typical in gaucho equine competition and showcase these 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: Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu

Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls

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 5: Iguazú Falls - Argentine Side

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

After breakfast, 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. 

Circuit routes include:

The upper circuit, which features 800 meters (2,624 feet) of catwalks. These wooden walkways are elevated from the jungle surface so as not to disrupt the natural pathways used by the indigenous fauna. This 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, which consists of 1,600 meters (5,250 feet). These are also elevated and offer views from directly below and around Iguazú falls. This circuit takes you near the base of 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. 

Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Gorge) 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 1200 meters (3,937 feet) 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 82 meters (269 feet) 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. 

Upper circuit duration: One hour
Lower circuit duration: Two hours
Devil's Gorge duration: Two hours

Day 6: Iguazú Falls - Brazilian Side

Iguazú Falls
Iguazú Falls

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 a visitors center and restaurants complete 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. It will eventually stop at the entrance to a path leading to the falls.

The first stop after you disembark the bus is a balcony that offers panoramic views of the Argentinean side of the falls (be sure to keep your camera at the ready). You'll then hike 950 meters (3,116 feet) along the Iguazú River until you reach the falls on the Brazilian side. The walkway passes over the river and next 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.

Day 7: From Iguazu Falls to Buenos Aires & Tango Show

Enjoy a tango show in Buenos Aires
Enjoy an evening of Tango in Buenos Aires

This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to your hotel. You'll have the day to explore this incredible city at your leisure.

In the evening, enjoy 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 8: 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 Argentine Culture & Waterfalls Experience - 8 Days
Map of Argentine Culture & Waterfalls Experience - 8 Days
Deborah
Written by Deborah Hayman, updated Oct 23, 2019