This itinerary is ideal for those who want to discover the wonders of Buenos Aires and Patagonia. Begin in the cosmopolitan capital for city tours, after which you'll head south to Puerto Madryn, famous for its diverse ecosystem featuring exotic marine mammals. Here, you'll enjoy whale watching and walking with penguins before heading back to Buenos Aires where you'll learn all about gaucho (cowboy) culture on an Argentine estancia

Highlights

  • Discover Buenos Aires on a walking tour
  • Take a cooking class and learn to prepare authentic Argentine cuisine
  • Travel to the colorful river town of Tigre
  • Swim with sea lions and walk with penguins in Patagonia
  • Visit a working Argentine estancia in the countryside

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore Buenos Aires
Day 2 The Argentine Culinary Experience Buenos Aires
Day 3 Half-Day City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 4 Buenos Aires to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 5 Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 6 Explore Península Valdés - Whale-Watching Tour Puerto Madryn
Day 7 Visit the Punta Tombo Penguin Colony Puerto Madryn
Day 8 Snorkel with Sea Lions in Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 9 Fly from Puerto Madryn to Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 10 Gaucho Experience at Estancia Santa Susana Buenos Aires
Day 11 Depart Buenos Aires  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore

The Obelisco in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! The capital city of Buenos Aires is known as the "Paris of South America" and the "Queen of El Plata." Famous for its mix of European ambiance and Latin American culture, it's the birthplace of the tango and abounds with cobbled streets and beautiful Baroque architecture.

Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Once you've had the chance to rest, you can head out and explore. The city center is your best starting point.

Day 2: The Argentine Culinary Experience

Tuck into some succulent Argentine beef
Tuck into some succulent Argentine beef

To truly get to the heart of Argentine culture, you must do so one bite (and sip) at a time. While the nation's cuisine may be defined by its beef, a closer inspection reveals a more eclectic array of dishes. And being the hotbed of activity that it is, the capital of Buenos Aires is the perfect place to learn about this culinary heritage in a fun and entertaining way. This is where the Argentine Experience comes in. It's a convivial gastronomic odyssey that celebrates great Argentine food and wine.

Hosted in the trendy neighborhood of Palermo, guests at this unique "dinner party" share a table and prepare a gourmet meal while enjoying a few glasses of the country's famous wine. Professional hosts guide you through the evening and explain how Argentine culture and how it reveals itself in its food. You'll learn how to prepare handmade empanadas plus make alfajores (delicious Argentine cookies). You'll also prepare your own maté, an herbal tea that is the lifeblood of the country.

The evening begins by preparing three different kinds of wine cocktails as well as some delicious tapas to pair with them. As you progress through the night, you'll also try different boutique wines from the house cellar. By the time the experience ends, you will have enough first-hand knowledge of the traditional food and drink of this country to practically be considered an honorary Argentine!

Day 3: Half-Day City Tour - Dinner & Tango Show

The Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace)
The Casa Rosada (Presidential Palace)

One great way to experience Buenos Aires is to do so on foot. So after a fortifying breakfast prepare for some walking and sightseeing throughout this European-inspired metropolis with the aid of an English-speaking guide. 

In the evening, it's time for "dinner and a show" as you savor the hallmark dishes of Argentina while enjoying a spectacular live tango performance. As the dancers move to the music of love, sorrow, and passion, you'll dine on flaky empanadas, succulent steak, and decadent dulce de leche (vegetarian options available). But the night doesn't end with the meal—after dinner, more dancers will take part in a show-stopping performance of traditional Argentine folkloric music.

Day 4: Buenos Aires to Tigre

The canals of Tigre
The canals of Tigre

Today you'll travel up Río de la Plata where it converges with the Paraña River Delta, located about an hour north of Buenos Aires. During the boat ride, you'll enjoy views of the city skyline as you enter a network of freshwater canals and sail among the islands that make up this unique region. The main port is in Tigre, a Venetian-style village whose small-town and relaxing atmosphere contrast with Buenos Aires' bustling energy.

On the waterfront, you'll find Puerto de Frutos, a maze of craft markets, produce stalls, and artisanal goods. The Museo de Arte features a grand collection of Argentine art spanning two centuries. The Naval Museum and the Museo de Maté are other highlights worth a visit. The latter offers an overview and tasting of maté, an herb cultivated in the Paraná region of the country and used for tea.

Day 5: Fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn

Elephant seals on Península Valdés
Elephant seals on Península Valdés

After breakfast, you'll transfer to Aeroparque Airport, located near the city center, for your flight to Puerto Madryn, the gateway to Argentine Patagonia.  

Puerto Madryn is a town that sits along the Golfo Nuevo (New Gulf) of northern Patagonia's Atlantic shore. This coast is home to an abundance of marine mammals including the southern right whale.  However, Puerto Madryn is most famous as the jumping on/off point for nearby Península Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best place to view a variety of animals in their natural habitat, including sea lions, penguins, guanacos, whales, and orcas.

Also near Puerto Madryn is Gaiman—a small historic town founded by Welsh settlers in 1875. Gaiman has preserved many of its Welsh traditions with tea shops, chapels, and gardens sprinkled throughout town. It's a short trip from Puerto Madryn to Gaiman, where you can enjoy a spot of tea.

Upon arrival at Puerto Madryn, a driver will meet you for the transfer to your hotel. If you have the energy after your flight, feel free to stretch your legs with a stroll around this tranquil city. It's a safe, walkable community and the charming waterfront promenade is lined with cafes and restaurants with patio seating and ocean views.

Day 6: Explore Península Valdés - Whale-Watching Tour

Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn
Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn

After breakfast in Puerto Madryn, a driver will pick you up at your hotel for an exciting full-day tour of both the land and the sea. The tour starts in Península Valdés, and the first stop is the Istmo Ameghino Interpretation Center. Through various educational exhibits, you will gain insight into the different types of fauna that can be found in this peninsula. There is also a lookout tower featuring stunning views of two magnificent bodies of water: the Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San José.

After visiting the interpretation center, you will continue to Puerto Pirámides. This is the starting point for today's oceanic boat tour. Once aboard the ship, you will sail along the coast and enjoy several opportunities for wildlife sightings. Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and (if you're lucky) right whales and killer whales. You will also pass a local lighthouse that epitomizes all the seafaring splendor and rugged coastal beauty that Patagonia is famous for.

Your day isn't over after the boat ride. On the way back to Puerto Madryn you will pass some salt flats as well as Isla de Pájaros, an island abounding with different birds including cormorants, egrets, rheas, and flamingos. In the late afternoon, you will return to your hotel where you can recharge or stroll through the city.

Day 7: Visit the Punta Tombo Penguin Colony

Get up close with the penguins at Punta Tombo
Get up close with the penguins at Punta Tombo

Today involves a boat tour down the Atlantic coast and ending at one of the most incredible destinations in  Patagonia: Punta Tombo. In the morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel for the transfer to Puerto Rawson, a fishing village located about 31 miles (50 km) south of Puerto Madryn. You'll then board a ship and start the tour. As you head down the Patagonian coast, keep an eye out for black-and-white Commerson dolphins, known to be the smallest dolphin species in the world. 

The tour continues down to Punta Tombo and its famous penguin colony. This tiny protected area is less than a square mile, but home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in Latin America (estimated at over one million). You'll be able to explore the site on foot and wander right alongside these cute, waddling critters. While touching the penguins is strictly prohibited, photos are welcome.

Day 8: Snorkel with Sea Lions in Puerto Madryn

Snorkel with sea lions in Puerto Madryn
Snorkel with sea lions in Puerto Madryn

There are only a few places in South America where you can swim with sea lions in their natural habitat, and Puerto Madryn is one of them. In the morning, a guide will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you onsite where you'll change into the necessary swimwear. You will then board a boat at Puerto Pirámides and depart for a nearby bay, which is full of sea lions. 

After arriving, you will put on the provided wetsuit and prepare the equipment. While you may feel apprehensive, there's no need to be. Sea lions are curious by nature and will swim up to you and offer a friendly hello. Also, a guide will be there every step of the way to offer specific instructions about what to do when an animal approaches. You can expect to be mesmerized by the friendly sea lions during this unforgettable experience.

Day 9: Fly from Puerto Madryn to Buenos Aires

Back in Buenos Aires
Back in Buenos Aires

A driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport where you'll catch your flight back to Buenos Aires. You'll then have the rest of the day to relax in your hotel or get out and visit any of the city sites you might have missed thus far. 

If you're feeling peckish then maybe visit one of B.A.'s many panaderias (bakeries), where you can indulge in a medialuna (half-moon-shaped pastry) or famous alfajore (cookie with dulce de leche). Perhaps while away the afternoon hours on a patio table at one of the city's many coffee houses. Buenos Aires is proud of its café culture, and there's no better vantage point in which to do some good old fashioned people watching than at one of the many options in the city. 

For a little piece of B.A. history, be sure to stop in at Café Tortoni. This café has been a city institution since it opened all the way back in 1858. So come for a coffee and a churro dipped in dulce de leche, and relish the opulence and history.

Day 10: 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 11: Depart Buenos Aires

Farewell, Argentina
Farewell, Argentina

Enjoy your last hours in the cosmopolitan capital of Buenos Aires. At the scheduled time, your driver will pick you up and transfer you by private car to Ezeiza International Airport, where you'll catch your return flight home.

Map

Map of Exploring Argentina's Cities & Nature - 11 Days
Map of Exploring Argentina's Cities & Nature - 11 Days