Spend 10 days discovering the sweet spot just above Patagonia, known as the Lake District. Straddling both Argentina and Chile, this wild alpine region is known for its sprawling azure lakes, snow-capped volcanoes, rushing rivers, and rich Indigenous history. You'll experience all of this and more as you witness the mighty Osorno volcano, the mountain retreat of Bariloche, and the waterfalls of Petrohué—plus city tours in Santiago and Buenos Aires.


  • Enjoy city tours of Santiago and Buenos Aires
  • Hike up volcanoes and visit waterfalls in Chile
  • Relax in the Argentine alpine retreat of Bariloche
  • Explore lakes and ancient forests in the Lake District

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago (Chile), Private City Tour Santiago
Day 2 Fly to Puerto Varas, Optional Activities Puerto Varas
Day 3 Day Trip to Osorno Volcano & Petrohué Falls Puerto Varas
Day 4 Half-Day Trip to Frutillar Puerto Varas
Day 5 Transfer to Bariloche (Argentina) by Boat & Bus Bariloche
Day 6 Half-Day Circuito Chico Excursion Bariloche
Day 7 Boat Tour to Isla Victoria & Arrayanes Forest Bariloche
Day 8 Fly to Buenos Aires, Optional Activities Buenos Aires
Day 9 City Tour, Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 10 Depart Buenos Aires  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago (Chile), Private City Tour

The Metropolitan Cathedral, in Santiago's historic Plaza de Armas

Welcome to Chile! What this narrow sliver of a country lacks in total area, it more than makes up for in stunning natural wonders. This nation boasts everything from soaring Andes mountains and gorgeous coastline to temperate rainforest and the vast wilderness of the Patagonian frontier. This itinerary focuses on one such corner of the country that is unrivaled in its beauty: the Lake District. Before arriving there, however, you'll have some time to enjoy the capital of Santiago.

Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city. There you'll meet a guide and embark on a half-day tour to discover the highlights of this metropolis of around seven million people. Highlights you'll visit include the Plaza de Armas, the city's main square. It's home to the Palacio de la Real Audiencia (Palace of the Royal Court), which was built in 1808 and houses the National History Museum of Chile. Also on the plaza is the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, an impressive neoclassical building with twin bell towers that dates back to 1753.

You might also hike (or ride a gondola) up Cerro San Cristóbal, a hill that rises 984 feet (300 m) over the city. Another great lookout is at Cerro Santa Lucia, a lovely park and remnant of an ancient volcano. Conquistadores used it as a lookout in the 16th century, and it was here that Pedro de Valdivia officially founded Santiago in 1541. Afterward, stop in at Mercado Central, a large municipal market with many restaurants and vendors selling fresh fish and seafood. Later, on your own, you can grab dinner at one of the cool eateries in Santiago's bohemian Bellavista neighborhood.

Day 2: Fly to Puerto Varas, Optional Activities

Puerto Varas will be your home base while in the Lake District
Puerto Varas will be your home base while exploring the Lake District

In the morning, transfer to the airport in Santiago for the two-hour flight south to Puerto Montt, a city in the Lake District that is the gateway to the Patagonian fjords. An English-speaking guide will pick you up at the airport, and you'll drive about 30 minutes north to the town of Puerto Varas. Upon arrival at your hotel, you'll check in and can then enjoy lunch.

After eating, you can join your guide for a walk. This charming village sits on the southern shore of Lago Llanquihue, the second-largest lake in Chile. The town boasts a captivating mix of German architecture and Indigenous Mapuche heritage, which you'll see on a stroll. You certainly won't miss the snow-capped cone of Osorno, an 8,700-foot (2,652m) stratovolcano that looms large over Llanquihue.

Day 3: Day Trip to Osorno Volcano & Petrohué Falls

The impressive Petrohué Waterfalls were formed by volcanic activity
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After breakfast, your guide will pick you up for a full-day scenic tour of the Osorno volcano, the famous Petrohué Waterfalls, and Lago Todos los Santos. The first part of the drive takes you along the shores of Llanquihue, where you'll pass the mouth of Río Pescado (Fish River) on your way to Ensenada, a small town that sits at the foot of Osorno. Here, you'll begin a hike up to the volcano's slope, stopping at different vantage points that look out over the lake to nearby the nearby volcano of Cabulbo. The trail ends at an impressive lookout at 4,068 ft (1,240 m) above sea level.

After hiking back down, you'll continue driving into Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park and the falls of the Río Petrohué. Fed by nearby Lago Todos los Santos (All Saints Lake), the Petrohué is famous for its electric blue waters and cascading waterfalls that have carved a network of chutes into the surrounding basaltic lava rock. Various pathways offer excellent vantage points where you can observe the thundering falls in all their glory. At the end of the day, you'll return to Puerto Varas and can enjoy dinner in town.

Day 4: Half-Day Trip to Frutillar

Discover German colonial history in the charming lakeside town of Frutillar

Another day trip is on the agenda today as your guide will pick you up for a drive up the western shore of Llanquihue to Frutillar. This region has a long history of German colonialism, which is particularly apparent in this lakeside village. The streets, biergärten, and Germanic architecture here conjure images of old Bavaria, and even the cuisine hails from that region (Frutillar is famous for its sausages).

You'll spend half a day here enjoying the sights and taking in the culture. German settlers founded the town in 1856, and you can learn more about this colonial history on a visit to the Museo de la Colonización Alemana (German Colonial Museum). There's also a handicraft market here that is well worth browsing. After lunch in town, you'll return to Puerto Varas and have the rest of the day free.

Day 5: Transfer to Bariloche (Argentina) by Boat & Bus

Spend time relaxing in the alpine town of Bariloche

Wake up early and embark on a full-day excursion that will take you from Chile to Argentina. The scenic trip involves boat rides across three stunning lakes plus overland bus journeys. Over 11 hours, you'll enjoy views of glaciers, volcanic peaks, and alpine forests on your way to San Carlos de Bariloche.

This mountain resort destination is the largest city in Argentina's Lake District, a region home to some of the most impressive scenery in the entire country. It was founded in 1902 on the southeastern shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi, part of the larger Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. The name's etymology comes from the Mapuche native people who once inhabited the area ("Nahuel Huapi" means "Jaguar Island"). Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and can spend the evening relaxing.

Day 6: Half-Day Circuito Chico Excursion

Visit some of the most impressive viewpoints in the Lake District

In the morning, meet your guide and embark on a half-day excursion that follows the famous Circuito Chico (Short Circuit) tourist route. You'll follow the lakeshore west from the city to Playa Bonita, a tranquil pebble beach that looks out to Isla Huemul. Then continue to some of the area's most famous viewpoints, like Cerro Campanario and the Llao Llao Peninsula. The former is a mountain offering 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.

Continue over a bridge that crosses the Río Angostura, which joins the lakes of Moreno and Nahuel Huapi. You'll then stop at another fine lookout point to snap photos. Afterward, head to Laguna el Trebol, a small lagoon surrounded by woodlands. From there, you'll turn back toward Bariloche and complete the circuit. Throughout this tour, your guide will impart knowledge about the region's rich Indigenous history.

Day 7: Boat Tour to Isla Victoria & Arrayanes Forest

Explore the otherworldly arrayán forest in the Lake District

After breakfast, you'll embark on another nature tour—this time by boat. First, transfer from Bariloche 30 minutes west to Puerto Pañuelo, where you'll hop on a catamaran and ride to Isla Victoria. This little island is located on the northern end of Nahuel Huapi and is filled with unique flora. One example is the Antarctic beech, an otherworldly tree defined by its deep red bark and serpentine, moss-covered roots. On the island, you'll be free to explore the hiking trails or spend time lazing on a pebble beach fronting crystalline waters.

After Isla Victoria, you'll visit Los Arrayanes National Park. This protected area covers 6.7 square miles (17.3 sq km) and is home to a vast arrayán (Chilean myrtle) forest. It's quite a sight, as the thin red stalks of these exotic trees jut upwards like long fingers reaching for the sky. Wooden walkways cut through the park, allowing you to enjoy the forest at your own pace. You'll even follow the same route Walt Disney once hiked—legend has it that he got the inspiration for Bambi's forest after visiting Los Arrayanes. 

Day 8: Fly to Buenos Aires, Optional Activities

General Information about BUENOS AIRES
The famous Obelisco monument looms large over downtown Buenos Aires

Leave the Lake District behind today as you transfer to the airport in Bariloche and catch a two-hour flight north to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. Then you'll want to head out and explore Argentina's capital, a massive metropolis home to around 15 million people. This is one of South America's most exciting cities, which you'll see after just a few minutes of wandering its restless streets.

Perhaps stop by Teatro Colón, one of the world's premier opera houses. Since its opening in 1908, the theater's neoclassical facade has marked it as one of the finest buildings in the city. Then, take a stroll through Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood just outside the city center. Definitely don't miss historical San Telmo, the oldest barrio (neighborhood) in the city. And when night falls, do like the locals and enjoy a thick, juicy steak drizzled with chimichurri at a local parrilla (steakhouse). 

Day 9: City Tour, Dinner & Tango Show

Stroll the streets of Buenos Aires' historic San Telmo neighborhood

Today, you'll embark on a three-hour tour of Buenos Aires' most colorful neighborhoods. A vehicle will pick you up in the morning, and you'll head over to Plaza de Mayo, home to the famous Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace). Continue down the charming streets of San Telmo, past the colorful zinc houses in La Boca, along the Puerto Madero waterfront, and to the parks of Palermo before ending the tour in Recoleta. While in this affluent barrio, visit the stately Recoleta Cemetery, where notable Argentine historical figures like Eva Perón are buried.

At the end of the tour, you'll have a few hours to relax. Then, at dinnertime, head over to the Monserrat neighborhood and Café de los Angelitos. This historic dining hall boasts over 100 years of history, starting with its humble beginnings in 1890 as a dirt-floor bar. Remodeled over the years, today it's an ornate three-tiered café and theater that hosts nightly tango shows featuring 21 artists, which you'll enjoy with dinner and local wine. At the end of the evening, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 10: Depart Buenos Aires

Sunset over Plaza del Congreso in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the last stop on the itinerary. Wake up early, grab a coffee and medialuna pastry, then meet your driver for the ride to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Adiós!

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Map of Discover the Lake District of Chile & Argentina - 10 Days
Map of Discover the Lake District of Chile & Argentina - 10 Days