This 11-day Argentina adventure begins in Buenos Aires with a tango lesson followed by a trip south to the famous Lake District for excursions into Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. Then you'll travel north to Medoza and indulge your senses on a wine tour and cooking class. Finally, you'll head to the colonial city of Salta, your jumping-off point to explore the rugged gorges, salt flats, and painted deserts of Argentina's far north.

Highlights

  • Enjoy an eco-friendly bike ride in the capital of Buenos Aires
  • Go hiking around the beautiful lakeside mountain city of Bariloche
  • Sample great wines and take a BBQ cooking class in Mendoza
  • Visit the northern colonial city of Salta and tour the region's salt flats
  • Stay on a working estancia in the Argentine countryside and enjoy traditional Argentine BBQ

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Buenos Aires! Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires Walking Tour - Tango Lesson Buenos Aires
Day 3 Fly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 4 Hiking in Bariloche Bariloche
Day 5 Fly from Bariloche to Mendoza Chacras de Coria
Day 6 Mendoza Full-Day Wine Tour & Cooking Class Chacras de Coria
Day 7 Mendoza & Chacras de Coria Free Day Chacras de Coria
Day 8 Fly from Mendoza to Salta Salta
Day 9 Explore the Salt Flats & Quebrada de Humahuaca Purmamarca
Day 10 Winery Tour - Return to Salta Salta
Day 11 Fly from Salta to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Buenos Aires!

The famous Obelisco of Buenos Aires
The famous Obelisco of 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. The best starting point would be the city center.

Day 2: Buenos Aires Walking Tour - Tango Lesson

The National Congress building in Buenos Aires
The National Congress building in Buenos Aires

The absolute best way to experience the heart and soul of Buenos Aires is on foot. After a fortifying breakfast at your hotel, get ready for a fun four-hour walking tour throughout this European-inspired metropolis with the aid of an English-speaking guide. 

In the evening you'll experience an unforgettable night of dinner and tango performances in one of the best tanguerias of Buenos Aires. It's venues such as these that preserve the musical heritage of the city. You'll feel it in the ambiance, you'll hear it in the melancholy rhythms of the guitar and bandoneon, and you'll see it in the dances of fish-netted and besuited bailanderos. It's a dance that tells the story of loss and heartbreak, passion and love.  

If that's not enough, you'll have the opportunity to get up on the dance floor and partake in a tango class.

Day 3: Fly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche

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

This morning, after breakfast in Buenos Aires, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to Aeroparque Airport, located in the city. You will then catch a flight to Bariloche, located southwest 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. You'll find that it differs considerably from what's typically found in Buenos Aires. 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 4: Hiking in Bariloche

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

Today, it's time to partake in a half-day Lake District excursion, and you don't have to travel far from Bariloche in order to do it. A car will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to Llao Llao Municipal Park, located just a few miles northwest of the city. This protected area is situated on the lakeshore and takes up a relatively small area of Nahuel Huapi (just 3,000 acres). Here you'll find some of the most stunning scenery in the region plus a network of well-maintained hiking paths.

The hike you'll embark on is a moderate one that follows old trails and covers many of the area's natural highlights. One of these, Cerro Llao Llao, is the largest mountain within the park boundaries, standing 3,363 feet (1,025 m) high. You can hike up to the top of it where you'll be treated to postcard-worthy views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Other points of interest include the sandy beaches of Villa Tacúl, the ancient Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), and the little-visited Hidden Lake. Throughout the trip, you'll be making your way through Patagonian forest with towering arrayán and lenga trees flanking the pathways. You'll also stop at vantage points that offer panoramic views of Lake Nahuel Huapi, Lake Moreno, Puerto Blest, the Brazo Tristeza fjord, Mount López and Mount Capilla, before returning to Bariloche for the night.

Day 5: Fly from Bariloche to Mendoza

Mendoza's charming skyline
Mendoza's charming skyline

This morning you'll transfer by private car to the airport, where you'll catch a flight north to the city of Mendoza, located near the border with Chile.

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, and which date back to pre-hispanic times.

Upon arrival at the airport, a private car will transport you to your hotel in the traditional town of Chacras de Coria, located just south of the city. After checking in you'll be whisked off on a sunset horseback-riding tour to experience Mendoza's beautiful countryside first-hand. This excursion occurs about 35 minutes outside the city in both the foothills and up into higher mountains (some reaching 4,593-feet). From this epic vantage point, you'll watch the sunset over the valley below.

Tonight you'll get to indulge in the local cuisine and, of course, its famed wines. After the horseback ride, you'll enjoy a traditional mendocino bbq of sizzling grilled meats (vegetarian options available) paired with some robust local vino. Yes, Malbec will be on hand.

Day 6: Mendoza Full-Day Wine Tour & Cooking Class

See how the grapes are cultivated
See how the grapes are cultivated

Today you will dive headfirst in the Argentine wine experience. On a full-day tour of local vineyards and their facilities, you will learn much of what there is to know, including how the industry has developed over time, which grapes are grown in the region, and how the wines made from these berries are produced. But that's not all—of course, you will be able to taste the famous varietals of Mendoza and decide for yourself which ones are the best!

In the morning a semi-private car service will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the region of Luján de Cuyo, which is known as the cradle of Malbec due to its centuries-old vineyards located at the base of the towering Andes Mountains. Over the course of a few hours, you will visit three different wineries accompanied by an expert guide. Note that the wineries on the itinerary change according to the season, as not all of them are open to the public year-round.

At lunchtime, you will stop at one of the best restaurants in one of the area's wineries. Here you'll enjoy a delicious three-course menu that perfectly pairs the food on your plate with the most extraordinary wines in their bodega. And you'll enjoy it all amid scenic view of the Andes.

In the evening, don your chef's hat as you learn how to prepare asado (Argentine BBQ). The process is a time-honored one, as it dates back to the earliest days of the gaucho cowboys grilling meat over an open flame. It's nothing short of an art form, as Argentine grilling relies on striking that perfect, delicate balance between temperature and space, between the proximity of the fiery coals to the sizzling meat and vegetables.

During this class, the cook/instructor will teach you these secrets as you prepare a traditional recipe that will serve as your dinner for the evening. Needless to say, you'll pair your culinary creation with different blends produced in the region.

Day 7: Mendoza & Chacras de Coria Free Day

Relaxation in Chacras de Coria
Relaxation in Chacras de Coria

Today is a free day to enjoy Mendoza and Chacras de Coria at your leisure. Perhaps you'll want to stroll around the surrounding vineyards and enjoy the region at an easy pace, or simply relax at your hotel and enjoy the amenities.

You might also consider getting out and exploring more of Mendoza. The city features expansive plazas and wide boulevards shaded by canopies of bushy green sycamore leaves, which makes for a pleasant stroll. You'll note the difference in energy between the capital of Buenos Aires and Mendoza, as here people move at a much more relaxed pace.

Day 8: Fly from Mendoza to Salta

A charming corner in Salta
A charming corner in Salta

This morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport. You'll then hop a flight bound for Salta. This well-preserved colonial city has been a traveler's favorite for years and has recently come into its own as a popular tourist destination. It's easy to see why—Salta offers fascinating museums, great nightlife, and an expansive plaza lined with patio cafes that make great people-watching spots. 

Upon arrival, a shared car service will transfer you to your hotel, whereupon you'll have the rest of the afternoon to explore the town.

Day 9: Explore the Salt Flats & Quebrada de Humahuaca

The salt flats of northern Argentina
The salt flats of northern Argentina

Today you will leave Salta and tour the natural highlights of the region on a full-day excursion (10 hours). This is an overnight trip in a private vehicle that travels mostly around Jujuy Province, just north of the city. Since you'll be returning to Salta the next day, it's best to leave your main luggage at the hotel in favor of daypacks.  

Your excursion begins early in the morning. Initially, you'll travel along the same route as the famous Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds), a tourist train that connects the Argentine northwest to southern Chile via the Andes Mountains. This route zigzags between lonely mountain roads and vast expanses of high desert plains. Along the way, you'll even have the opportunity to stop and visit pre-hispanic ruins.

Your first stop will be the small town of Campo Quijano and later the impressive Quebrada del Toro, a gorge through which the Tren a las Nubes also passes. Here you'll stop for a coffee break and to enjoy the views. Then you'll visit Santa Rosa de Tastil, a pre-Incan settlement dating back to the 8th century. After a visit to the village of San Antonio de los Cobres, you'll arrive at the Salinas Grandes salt flats. Be sure to take plenty of photos.

Finally, later in the afternoon, you'll arrive at your comfortable hotel in Purmamarca. This popular village, filled with adobe houses and craft markets, is located at the base of Jujuy's iconic Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of the Seven Colors) in the historic valley of the Quebrada de Humahuaca.

Day 10: Winery Tour - Return to Salta

Take a drive through the Quebrada de las Cochas
Take a drive through the Quebrada de las Cochas

After breakfast at your hotel, you will begin the return trip to Salta. But first, you will first stop at another winery. Even in the desert north of Argentina you'll find bodegas producing delicious Malbec and Syrah varietals, so enjoy a tour and tasting along the way.  

Continue your trip to Salta by driving along the bright red mountains of Quebrada de las Conchas. In this gorge, wind and rain erosion of the topography has resulted in some fascinating natural rock formations. Many of these protrusions are so wildly shaped that they've earned colorful nicknames, like Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat). There's also a natural amphitheater here which has excellent acoustics.

Day 11: Fly from Salta to Buenos Aires - Departure

Goodbye, Salta
Goodbye, Salta

After breakfast, say goodbye to the city of Salta and transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival you'll head to the international terminal for your return flight home. Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Classic Argentina: Buenos Aires, Bariloche, Mendoza, & Salta - 11 Days
Map of Classic Argentina: Buenos Aires, Bariloche, Mendoza, & Salta - 11 Days