Perfect for hikers and excursionists, this 15-day itinerary highlights Argentine Patagonia. After touring Buenos Aires, you'll head south to El Calafate, home to Los Glaciers National Park and its star attraction Perito Moreno. Next, you'll travel to El Chaltén for day hikes around the granite peaks of Mount Fitz Roy before finishing the adventure with more hiking, plus kayak trips around the Lake District town of Bariloche.

Highlights

  • Kick off the trip with dinner and a tango show in Buenos Aires
  • Walk along the surface of Perito Moreno on a glacier hike
  • Hike around El Chaltén and enjoys views of the iconic Mt. Fitz Roy
  • Visit Bariloche, the largest city in Argentina's beautiful Lake District
  • Kayak around Lago Mascardi and finish the day with a nature hike

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 3 Boat Excursion to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 4 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 5 Perito Moreno Glacier Trek El Calafate
Day 6 Glacier Boat Tour El Calafate
Day 7 Free Day in El Calafate El Calafate
Day 8 Transfer to El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 9 Full Day Hike to Laguna de Los Tres & Mt. Fitz Roy El Chalten
Day 10 Self-Guided Hiking in El Chaltén El Chalten
Day 11 El Chaltén to El Calafate - Transfer to Bariloche Bariloche
Day 12 Half-Day Excursion to Isla Victoria Bariloche
Day 13 Kayaking & Trekking on Mascardi Lake Bariloche
Day 14 Activities around Bariloche Bariloche
Day 15 Bariloche to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Explore Buenos Aires

The Teatro Colón opera house
The Teatro Colón opera house

Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America" and the "Queen of El Plata", the capital city of Buenos Aires is famous for its mix of European ambiance and Latin American zest for life. It's the birthplace of Argentina's rich tango heritage, home to some of its most beautiful architecture and its richest museums, and the nucleus of its fútbol (soccer) culture—a sport for which Argentinians have unbridled enthusiasm.

When you arrive at the airport—most likely Ezeiza International—your driver will take you to your hotel where you will have the chance to recharge from the journey. Once you're rested up, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The city center is your best starting point.

Suggested activities include:

  • Admire Plaza de Mayo, the city's oldest and most important square, and a site of both celebrations and protests. The plaza is ringed by ornate government buildings, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the 1580 town hall. In the middle of the landscaped plaza, the Pirámide de Mayo was built in 1811 as a monument to the May Revolution of 1810, representing Argentina's independence from Spain.
  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous landmark in the city. Erected in 1936, the stone obelisk commemorates the 400th anniversary of the city's founding. Sitting right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, and boasting a whopping 16 lanes, makes 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. You can opt to take a tour through the incredibly elaborate opera house or watch a show here. The Colon's stunning neoclassical facade has been regarded as one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.
  • Stroll through Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to Buenos Aires' downtown. Puerto Madero is known as the "new money" financial center of Buenos Aires. There is a scenic and lively walking route worth exploring and a canal-front lined with bars and restaurants. Enjoy a romantic stroll over the canal on the Puente de la Mujer at sunset—the innovative, modern footbridge swings open to allow boat traffic to pass.
  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse, or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, enjoy an authentic 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). But plan on dining late—Buenos Aires' culture thrives after dark, and it's common for locals to have dinner after 9 pm, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: Buenos Aires City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show

Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo
Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo

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 also 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 heading to the oldest neighborhood in the city, San Telmo. Afterward, you'll stop by La Boca, the city's original port.

In the evening, enjoy a delicious meal accompanied by free-flowing wine and a tango performance, one of Argentina's most iconic cultural highlights. After this memorable experience, you'll head back to your hotel to relax for the night.

Day 3: 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, enjoy views of the city skyline from the deck. You will 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. This is where you'll spend the better part of the day. Enjoy free time to stroll the waterfront, stop in at the cafés and bistros, visit the museums, and experience this riverside gem any way you like. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Browse Puerto de Frutos. Right on the water, you'll find the "Port of Fruits," a maze 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 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 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. If you opt to explore Tigre on foot, you can see them at your own pace. The Museo de Arte is the most popular housed in the Belle Epoch-inspired Tigre Club with an impressive collection of Argentine artworks spanning two centuries. Other highlights include the Naval Museum and the Museo de Maté. The latter is a fun little museum that offers an overview of maté (a herb cultivated in the Paraná region of the country for tea) with tastings at their "mate bar."

After a day discovering this town, board 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 4: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Sunset in El Calafate
Sunset in El Calafate

In the morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and take you to the airport for your flight to El Calafate. Known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers, the city is located on the shores of Lago Argentino, the nation's biggest freshwater lake. If possible, select a window seat to enjoy the stunning views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field as you fly over it. 

Upon arrival at El Calafate, another transfer will take you to your hotel. You can spend the rest of the day relaxing or wander around and enjoy the quaint cafés and souvenir shops around town. You can learn about nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium, a multi-media center that has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. Don a coat, boots, and gloves to enjoy a drink at the museum's Glaciobar BrancaIt, Argentina's first ice bar.

Day 5: Perito Moreno Glacier Trek

Hikers trekking Perito Moreno
Hikers trekking Perito Moreno

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll transfer to Los Glaciares National Park. As you enter the park you'll catch your first glimpse of the majestic Perito Moreno. This expansive ice mass flows down from the Andes Mountains into the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending abruptly in a great wall curving around the lake. With a little luck and patience, you'll witness "calving," the awe-inspiring sight of ice breaking off the facade and crashing into the tranquil waters below. Every time ice hits the water, a thundering crash will reverberate in your ears. 

Believe it or not, you'll be trekking on top of this glacier—your full-day excursion that involves walking over the ice while fully equipped with crampons and an ice ax. Traversing Perito Moreno is an amazing adventure, and a perfectly safe one, as you'll be accompanied by certified bilingual guides who know the terrain intimately. Enjoy the thrill of crossing over deep blue ice crevices and hiking over meltwater streams as you experience Perito Moreno up close. 

During the day you'll also have ample time to witness the glacier from one of the many viewing platforms in the park. These platforms are accessible via a network of boardwalks that run along the shores of the lake. They offer the best vantage points and sweeping views of the glacier and make for great photo opportunities.

Day 6: Glacier Boat Tour

Get up-close views of the glaciers by boat
Get up-close views of the glaciers by boat

Aside from Perito Moreno, there are a number of other incredible masses of ice in Los Glaciares National Park. You'll get a chance to visit a few of these on a full-day boat excursion around Lago Argentino. In fact, you will get so close to the glaciers' walls that you'll practically be able to reach out and touch them.

The morning starts with a transfer to Punta Bandera Harbor where you'll hear a quick speech about safety. You'll then board a modern catamaran and embark on your journey. As you travel north along the frozen waters of Lago Argentino, you'll weave between icebergs as you make your way towards the first site—Upsala Glacier. After crossing the Boca del Diablo, the narrowest part of the lake, you'll enter the Upsala Channel and shortly afterward reach the glacier.

The next destination is the towering Spegazzini Glacier. As you enter the Spegazzini Channel you'll first catch a glimpse of the Seco Glacier, a retreating wall of ice that is perpetually moving inland from the lakeshore. Finally, you'll reach Spegazzini. With ice walls 442 feet (135 m) tall, just being near this towering behemoth is enough to make you shiver.  

The tour ends with the boat's return to Punta Bandera where you'll transfer back to your hotel.

Day 7: Free Day in El Calafate

Take an excursion to Reserva Laguna Nimez.
Take an excursion to Reserva Laguna Nimez.

Today, you'll have a free day to explore El Calafate. Arrange a spa treatment at a resort or head out and find more adventures in and around El Calafate, such as horseback riding on a ranch or joining a kayaking tour. Perhaps you'd like to see more glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park, such as the Spegazzini Glacier, which straddles the border of Argentina and Chile.

For a break from the glaciers, you can also take a short 15-minute walk from El Calafate to the Reserva Laguna Nimez ecological reserve. This protected area is a haven for a great variety of birds, including the Chilean flamingo. A self-guided walk along a boardwalk takes visitors around the whole reserve. 

Besides the Glaciarium, you can visit the town's history museum: Centro de Interpretación Histórica. Covering the history of Patagonia since the Ice Age, the museum offers useful information on glaciers, as well as dinosaurs, extinct animals, Indigenous Peoples, and the formation of other geographical landscapes.

Day 8: Transfer to El Chaltén

Up-close vistas of Mount Fitz Roy
Up-close vistas of Mount Fitz Roy

After breakfast, head to the bus station in El Calafate to board a bus to El Chaltén. This is a northbound journey that covers about 124 miles and takes between 3-4 hours. Ride along Ruta 40, the famous Patagonian highway that cuts through great expanses of barren steppe, and affords views of snowy peaks on the horizon.

Eventually, the popular tourist town of El Chaltén will be in sight. El Chaltén sits at the foot of the iconic Mount Fitz Roy and is nicknamed "Hiker's Paradise," due to the abundance of mountaineering options around.

Day 9: Full Day Hike to Laguna de Los Tres & Mt. Fitz Roy

Hikers near Laguna de los Tres
Hikers near Laguna de los Tres

Today you'll set out on a full-day outing in Los Glaciares National Park. El Chaltén is the perfect starting point for hiking because there are a number of trailheads that start just outside of town. Many of these lead into the Fitz Roy range and offer wonderful opportunities for day hikes.

A "day hike" here means a full day of hiking, since most trails can take up to 11 hours to complete, depending on the route you take.  You'll most likely hike to Laguna de los Tres today. The trail leads up through an alpine forest—where you'll have beautiful views of Piedras Blancas Glacier—and all the way up to the lake. Laguna de los Tres earned its name from the panoramic view it offers of the three peaks: Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Torre.

At the end of this 16-mile (26 km) hike, you'll descend the mountain and return to your hotel in El Chaltén for a well-earned rest.

Day 10: Self-Guided Hiking in El Chaltén

Admire the view from Laguna de los Tres
Admire the view from Laguna de los Tres

Today is yours to enjoy.   You can easily take a self-guided tour and choose from a variety of trails without fear of getting lost since all the paths are clearly marked and well-maintained.

If you have the energy, you can opt for a "day hike," which can last up to 11 hours depending on the route you choose. Trails lead from town up through alpine forests and feature a diverse range of landscapes. One of the most popular full-day treks is to Laguna de los Tres, which offers rewarding views of Mount Fitz Roy and its Aguja Poincenot granite spire. 

There are easier trails, too. You can head out on a short, 1.9-mile walk through lenga forests and along the Rio de las Vueltas. This option allows you to see various endemic birds, such as woodpeckers. For even more mountain views, head to the Cerro Torre lookout. Or, set out on a two-hour brisk hike amid the native forest to a lagoon with deep blue waters. This is Laguna Capri, a lake that sits at the foot of the mountains with unobstructed views of the Fitz Roy massif. 

In the evening, after a day spent enjoying nature, you'll return to your hotel in time to enjoy a leisurely dinner and a nightcap in El Chaltén.

Day 11: El Chaltén to El Calafate - Transfer to Bariloche

Civic Center in downtown Bariloche
Civic Center in downtown Bariloche

In the morning you'll leave your hotel in El Chaltén and transfer to El Calafate by bus. From there you'll take a 2-hour flight north to San Carlos de Bariloche, the main city in Argentina's Lake District. This region is home to some of the most impressive scenery in the country.

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. The name comes from the Mapuche Indigenous People who once inhabited the area, and means jaguar island. The lake straddles the Chilean border, with the city of Bariloche located on the southeast shore.  You'll be able to experience the majesty of this region 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 on a brisk walk around the city center, which abounds with waterfront plazas, chocolate shops, and upscale restaurants. 

Some suggested activities in and around Bariloche include: 

  • Stroll Mitre Street, the main drag that runs through downtown and near the waterfront. Here you'll experience all the buzzing commerce of the city, including souvenir shops, clothing stores, and confectioners.

  • Visit the five-star Hotel Llao Llao, the nicest hotel in Bariloche, and quite possibly the best in all of Argentina. This expansive chalet-style hotel sits on a small peninsula overlooking the lake and is the embodiment of mountain luxury. Even if you're not staying here, you can stop in for a full afternoon tea service with decadent desserts, such as brownies and chocolate mousse.

  • Ride a cable car to the top of Cerro Campanario. Located just a couple of kilometers outside town, the view from atop this 1,050-meter (3,444-foot) high mountain is nothing short of breathtaking as you're treated to panoramic views of Lago Nahuel Huapi and the snow-covered mountains surrounding it. Enjoy a drink at the lounge or a meal at the restaurant at the top.

Be sure to sample the local cuisine at lunch or dinner, which differs considerably from Buenos Aires. Wild boar and lake trout are regional fare and are popular and delicious, as is the fondue—a culinary addition first introduced by the city's Swiss immigrants.

Day 12: Half-Day Excursion to Isla Victoria

Take a boat ride on the vivid blue waters of Lago Nahuel Huapi
Take a boat ride on the vivid blue waters of Lago Nahuel Huapi

Today you'll have the pleasure of sailing around Nahuel Huapi Lake on a half-day tour. First, you'll take a thirty minute transfer from Bariloche to Puerto Pañuelo, where you'll board a catamaran cruise bound for Isla Victoria. This is a little island located on the northern end of the lake and filled with unique flora, including the Antarctic beech, an otherworldly tree defined by its deep red bark and serpentine, moss-covered roots. Some of the Antarctic beeches on Isa Victoria are over 600 years old. 

Once on the island, you can enjoy it as you wish. There are hiking trails if you want to exercise and immerse yourself in nature. Otherwise, pull up a seat on a pebbly beach and relax as you gaze out at the glassy, crystalline waters. Don't worry about getting lost, as bilingual guides will never be far off. 

After the island, you'll visit the Quetrihué Peninsula portion of Los Arrayanes National Park. This relatively small park (just 17.3 square kilometers/6.7 square miles) is home to a vast arrayán (Chilean myrtle) forest. It's a sight to see, as the thin, red stalks of these exotic trees jut skyward like long fingers reaching for the sky. Wooden walkways cut through the park, so you can enjoy the forest at your own pace. Legend has it that Walt Disney got the inspiration for Bambi's forest after a visit to Los Arrayanes.

Day 13: Kayaking & Trekking on Mascardi Lake

Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi
Enjoy lunch on the shore of Lago Mascardi

Today is a special day with a combined excursion that mixes kayaking on Lago Mascardi with a nature trek through the forest. The adventure begins with a pickup at your hotel followed by a forty-five minute drive south of Bariloche along the famed Ruta 40 to get to the lake.

Your first destination is a lakeshore campsite owned by the local indigenous community. Here you'll hop into your kayak and begin paddling for Playa Leones, the most beautiful beach on Mascardi. Once you arrive at this tranquil pebble beach you'll be able to relax on shore and enjoy the surrounding wilderness.  

Afterward, you'll embark on a nature trek through native coihue forests until you reach a secluded lagoon. Then it's time to head back to Playa Leones, where you'll enjoy lunch while relaxing on the shore. Finally, you'll kayak back to the starting point and return to Bariloche in the late afternoon.

Day 14: 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 15: 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!