If you want to experience the best outdoor excursions and cultural activities in Argentina, look no further than this 13-day itinerary. It includes a tango show in Buenos Aires, BBQ cooking class in Mendoza, and a visit to a countryside cowboy ranch. Beyond that, you'll tour the mammoth waterfalls at Iguazú, go on a wine tour, and embark on nature excursions and lake cruises in Patagonia.

Highlights

  • Enjoy dinner and a tango show in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires
  • Walk along the edge of the thundering Iguazú Falls and witness its power
  • Visit different wineries in Mendoza on a tasting tour
  • Stroll the streets of Bariloche, a Patagonian town as beautiful as any Swiss village

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 3 Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana Buenos Aires
Day 4 Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú Puerto Iguazu
Day 5 Explore Iguazú Falls (Argentine Side) Puerto Iguazu
Day 6 Fly from Iguazú to Mendoza Mendoza
Day 7 Mendoza Full-Day Wine Tour Mendoza
Day 8 BBQ Cooking Class Mendoza
Day 9 Fly from Mendoza to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 10 Bariloche History & Nature Tour Bariloche
Day 11 Catamaran Tour of Victoria Island & Myrtle Forest Bariloche
Day 12 Activities around Bariloche Bariloche
Day 13 Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires

The famouos Obelisco in downtown Buenos Aires
The famouos Obelisco in downtown 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 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 recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. 

When evening falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and order 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 City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show

Views of Teatro Colon
Views of Teatro Colon

After breakfast, you'll join a fascinating tour for an overview of the city of Buenos Aires,  Argentina’s history and culture. During this 3-hour tour, you'll visit the neighborhood of Retiro and Avenida 9 de Julio, South America’s widest avenue. Along this street, you'll see the Teatro Colón, the continent's most opulent opera house, and the iconic Obelisco monument.

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

In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by glasses of wine and a tango performance, one of Argentina's most well-known cultural highlights. After this spectacular show, you'll head back to your hotel to for a good nights rest.

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 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 enjoy 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: Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú

Aerial view of Iguazú Falls
Aerial view of Iguazú Falls

After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport in Buenos Aires for your flight to Puerto Iguazú. This city is home to the Argentinian side of Iguazú falls, the world's second-largest waterfall system after Victoria Falls, in Africa. Upon arrival in Puerto Iguazú, you will transfer to your hotel.

You will have the rest of the day free to relax. Should you choose, you can visit the Three Borders Landmark in the tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. The landmark is situated at the confluence of the Iguazú and Parana rivers and there are three obelisks representing the three countries that meet here. 

Day 5: 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 drop you off at the entrance of Iguazú National Park, the Argentine side of the falls. This is where you will begin the day's adventure, a full-day tour that involves walking the three circuits that weave around the falls. Each of these offers different vantage points from which to view the water. 

The three circuits include:

  • The upper circuit (1 hour) is made up of 2,624 feet (800 m) of walkways elevated above the jungle floor to avoid disrupting the natural paths of indigenous fauna. On this route, you'll see the upper portion of Iguazú, including countless panoramic vistas of the surrounding falls.
  • The lower circuit (2 hours) is 5,250 feet (1,600 m) long and is also made up of elevated walkways, which go directly below and around the falls. This circuit takes you near the base of the falls and right up to the crashing torrents of water. You'll be able to feel the magnitude of the falls from up close.
  • The Devil's Throat (2 hours) is the star of the show. A small tourist train leaves from the Cataratas Station and travels 18 minutes to Garganta Station, where you'll find restrooms, a snack bar, and the start of the path. You'll walk 3,937 feet (1200 m) over the river until you reach the viewing platform. From there you'll be able to peer 269 feet (82 m) down into the water, as the highest of Iguazu's falls thunders all around you.

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

Day 6: Fly from Iguazú to Mendoza

Pretty fountains in downtown Mendoza
Pretty fountains in downtown Mendoza

It is time to say goodbye to Iguazu! This morning, you'll head to the airport for your domestic flight to Mendoza where a wine experience is waiting for you. Once you arrive in Mendoza, you will be picked up at the airport and taken to your hotel.

This relatively sleepy city of about a million people is more than the sum of its parts, as it sits in the heart of Argentina's world-famous wine region. This is ground zero for viticulture in the nation, and it's home to Argentina's flagship wine: Malbec. There's also impressive landscapes and interesting sights all around the city, from the high peak of Aconcagua to the Mendoza River to the little villages that dot the countryside, like Uspallata, which date back to pre-hispanic times.

You'll have free time to explore the city as you see fit. Or maybe, you'd just like to lounge by the swimming pool and make reservations for dinner at one of Mendoza's best restaurants. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your day in Argentina's wine capital.

Day 7: Mendoza Full-Day Wine Tour

Vineyard in Luján de Cuyo
Vineyard in Luján de Cuyo

Today you'll enjoy a full-day Argentine wine experience. You'll travel to several wineries to learn all about how the wine is produced and, more importantly, how it tastes. 

After breakfast at your hotel in Mendoza, you'll head to the region of Luján de Cuyo, located at the base of the imposing Andes mountains. Boasting many centuries-old vineyards, this area is known as the cradle of Malbec. Over the course of six hours, you'll visit three different wineries accompanied by a multi-lingual guide. Note that the proposed wineries change according to the season, so we can't give a specific list here. 

Regardless of what season and which specific vineyards you visit, today you'll enjoy a delicious three-course meal paired with a selection of delectable wines right at the winery. And looking out over the grapevines to the Andes mountains beyond is the perfect way to enjoy your meal.

Day 8: BBQ Cooking Class

A typical lamb barbeque in downtown Mendoza
A typical lamb barbeque in downtown Mendoza

Today, you'll take part in a unique culinary experience in Mendoza. This is your chance to learn how to cook rustic country fare under the tutelage of a professional Argentine chef who will help you prepare a traditional recipe that you will later enjoy for dinner.

During this masterclass of Argentine BBQ, you'll learn how to use the most primitive method of heat—glowing red flames and smoky embers—to cook vegetables and meat while delighting your senses with proper wine pairings of varietals that are produced in the region.

Day 9: Fly from Mendoza to Bariloche

The beautiful shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi
The beautiful shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi

At the scheduled time a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport to catch your flight to San Carlos de Bariloche, located in Argentina's Lake District

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. This region is beautiful and you'll be able to experience its majesty on nature hikes and excursions.

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. 

When dinnertime comes around, be sure to sample the local cuisine. 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 10: 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 partake in an active history lesson with a guided 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—a fun way to end the excursion!

Day 11: Catamaran Tour of Victoria Island & Myrtle Forest

Myrtle forest path
Myrtle forest path

Today, you'll take part in another guided tour in the area, this time by boat. In the morning or in the early afternoon, you will be picked up from your hotel and taken to Puerto Pañuelo. This is where you begin a catamaran ride on the clear waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi to get to Victoria Island, surrounded by snowy mountains and lush forests. 

Disembark the boat and walk into the pine forests and birch coihues to get a sense of the stories and legends of this magical place. Keep an eye out for the native residents, including exotic red deer and golden pheasants, as well as a ranger school and warm lodge—all of which give life to the island. 

Once you're back on the boat, the tour continues up to Quetrihue Peninsula, where the famous Myrtle Forest (consisting of an Andean tree species) is located—unique in the world because of its size, density, and development. Covered with white flowers or snow, the forest is undeniably a magical place and on a different dimension.

Day 12: Activities around Bariloche

Perhaps take a mountain-biking excursion
Perhaps take a mountain-biking excursion

Today you can choose between two exciting excursions around Bariloche.

The first option is a Kayak trip on Lago Mascardi. This V-shaped lake lies about 18 miles (30 km) south of Bariloche and is a popular spot due to its calm, glassy waters and pebble beaches. On the drive down you'll be treated to a number of beautiful sights, including Lake Gutierrez and Cerro Catedral—Argentina's premier ski destination. You'll also cross the Continental Divide before arriving on the shores of Lake Mascardi where it meets the Manso River.

This is your starting point from which you will embark on a moderate 2-3-hour kayak excursion. First, you'll navigate through the Tronador (east-west) branch of Mascardi, paddling over turquoise waters and flanked by evergreen forest surrounded by the dramatic mountains of Nahuel Huapi. You’ll stop in at a remote beach to have lunch and relax before paddling back.

Another option is an off-road mountain-biking trip. This excursion follows a route through the suburbs of Bariloche and into the Andes foothills. It's a moderate ride comprised of mostly backroads and dirt tracks, many flat but some with uphill ascents (and one long downhill stretch). Starting from the hotel, you'll transfer to the base of Cerro Catedral to begin the 2-3-hour bike ride.

Along the way, you'll enjoy beautiful panoramic views featuring Lake Gutierrez, Lake Moreno, and the surrounding mountains. Highlights include riding across creeks and visiting Colonia Suiza, a traditional village dotted with chalets that was founded by Swiss pioneers in the late 19th century. The ride finishes with a refreshing beer tasting at a traditional microbrewery.

Day 13: Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure

Goodbye, Argentina!
Goodbye, Argentina!

Having experienced Argentina's unforgettable south, you'll take a private transfer from your hotel to the airport for a plane ride back to Buenos Aires. You'll then go to the international airport where you'll catch your flight home.
Adios!

Map

Map of Buenos Aires, Iguazú Falls, Mendoza, & Bariloche - 13 Days
Map of Buenos Aires, Iguazú Falls, Mendoza, & Bariloche - 13 Days