This exciting 15-day itinerary highlights Argentina's top attractions combining urban culture, outdoor activities, and vineyard relaxation. After exploring Buenos Aires with a local guide, you'll fly to Patagonia for glacier trekking and unique excursions in the southernmost city in the world. Finish in high-altitude Mendoza—world-famous for Malbecs—to partake in wine tastings and kayaking in the surrounding Andes.

Highlights

  • Join a hands-on dinner party in the capital to kick off the trip
  • Boat along the peaceful canals to get to Tigre and its Maté Museum
  • Trek along a glacier equipped with crampons and an ice ax
  • Hike, canoe, and hang with penguins in Southern Patagonia
  • Visit several vineyards in Mendoza on a fun and educational tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Full-Day Buenos Aires Walking Tour Buenos Aires
Day 3 Boat Excursion to Tigre Buenos Aires
Day 4 The Argentine Culinary Experience Buenos Aires
Day 5 Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate El Calafate
Day 6 Perito Moreno Glacier Trek El Calafate
Day 7 Estancia Cristina Excursion El Calafate
Day 8 Fly from El Calafate to Ushuaia - Explore the City Ushuaia
Day 9 Penguin Colony Excursion Ushuaia
Day 10 Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego Ushuaia
Day 11 Fly from Ushuaia to Mendoza - Explore the City Mendoza
Day 12 Mendoza's High-Altitude Mountain Tour Mendoza
Day 13 Potrerillos Half-Day Kayak Excursion Mendoza
Day 14 Mendoza Vineyard Tour & Tasting Mendoza
Day 15 Flight to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City

The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco, a central monument in 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 far and away 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.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous icon of the city. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is a little too reminiscent of the Washington Monument) is worth a visit for its location alone. It sits right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, which boasts a whopping 16 lanes, making 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. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always breathtaking to pass by its exterior. The Colon's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.

  • Stroll Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Puerto Madero may be the "new money" finance center of Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most pleasant walks in a city famous for its walking areas. A romantic stroll involves walking over the canal on the Puente de Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 

  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy 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: Full-Day Buenos Aires Walking Tour

Street market in San Telmo
Street market in San Telmo

To properly experience Buenos Aires, you must do so on foot. After a fortifying breakfast, prepare yourself for a day of walking and sightseeing throughout this European-inspired metropolis. You'll hit all the main points of interest, aided every step of the way by an English-speaking guide. 

Some highlights of the walking tour include: 

  • Plaza San Martín, located at the end of downtown's commercial pedestrian thruway, Florida Street. This leafy plaza, anchored by a majestic ombú tree, is named after one of the heroes of Argentina's independence movement, General José de San Martín. 

  • The Obelisco, an icon that sits at the nexus of the city where the 16 lanes of Ave. 9 de Julio cross bustling Corrientes Ave. Here you'll find Buenos Aires' theater and music district. It's a hub of activity any day of the week but it's particularly alive on weekend evenings. 

  • Colón Theatre, a nearly 2,500-seat teatro that is perpetually vying with Rio de Janeiro's Theatro Municipal for the title of the most opulent opera house in South America. The building's elegant neoclassical exterior and pitch-perfect interior acoustics make this building a must-visit.  

  • Plaza de Mayo, which is Buenos Aires' main square and home to the Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace. The plaza is the site of some famous events, including the May Revolution of 1810 that kicked off this former Spanish colony's quest for independence. 

  • Metropolitan Cathedral, is the principal Catholic church in the city and another historic building that also faces the Plaza de Mayo. It was consecrated in 1791 but its earliest origins date back to the late 16th century when a humble chapel first sat on the current site.

  • Puerto Madero, whose shimmering office towers and central canal make this one of the most elegant neighborhoods in the city. Some upscale restaurants can be found here, as can Puente de la Mujer, a bridge whose sleek and sensual lines define its title of "Woman's Bridge."

  • Barrio San Telmo, which is BA’s oldest neighborhood and boasts a vibrant tango and arts scene. Its antique markets, cobbled streets dotted with faroles (French streetlamps), and old brick buildings with wooden balconies all add to the uniquely bohemian atmosphere. Sundays are especially buzz with activity as the main street market comes alive around Plaza Dorrego.

  • Barrio La Boca is a well-preserved historic neighborhood that's nearly as old as San Telmo. The area is known for La Bombonera the stadium of one of two principal soccer teams in the city: Boca Juniors. It's also home to colorful Caminito Street, a pedestrian zone teeming with old restaurants and tanguerías

  • Cementerio de Recoleta, this sprawling cemetery is located in the "old money" enclave of Barrio Recoleta. It's filled with the ornate mausoleums of famous, notable, and wealthy Argentines from throughout history. It also happens to be where Evita Perón is interned. 

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, take time to enjoy views of the city skyline from the deck. You will then 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 and expansive metropolis. This is where you'll spend the better part of the day. Enjoy free time to stroll the waterfront, stop in at the cafes and bistros, visit the museums, and experience this riverside gem any way you see fit. 

Suggested activities include:

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

After a day discovering this evocative town, hop on 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: 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 while enjoying/preparing gourmet food and the country's famous wine, such as the Malbec varietal. Professional hosts guide you through the evening and explain the uniqueness of Argentine culture and how it reveals itself in the nation's food. You'll learn how to seal empanada dough using the traditional repulgue folding technique, and learn how to make alfajores (delicious Argentine cookies). You'll also learn how to 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 5: Fly from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

Lago Argentino
Lago Argentino

This morning, a driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight to El Calafate, a city that sits on the shores of Lago Argentino and is known as the gateway to Argentina's glaciers. If you can, get a window seat so you can take in 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 venture out and enjoy the quaint cafes and shops around town. Maybe prime yourself with information on the nearby glaciers by visiting the Glaciarium. This multi-media center has an ice museum, various interactive displays, and educational information regarding glaciers. For fun, it even has a bar made totally of ice.

Day 6: Perito Moreno Glacier Trek

Trekking Perito Moreno
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 out over the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino, ending abruptly in a great wall that curves around the lake. Wait a bit and 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 reverberates in the ears. 

Believe it or not, you will be trekking on top of this glacier. It's a full-day excursion that involves walking over the ice while fully equipped with crampons and an ice axe. And while traversing Perito Moreno is certainly an active adventure, it's perfectly safe as you'll be accompanied by certified bilingual guides. So enjoy crossing 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, making for great photo opportunities.

Day 7: Estancia Cristina Excursion

The view from Estancia Cristina
The view from Estancia Cristina

There's more activity in store for you today. Starting early, a driver will pick you and other passengers up from your respective hotels and transfer you 28 miles (45 km) to the port at Punta Bandera, located on Lago Argentino. The drive along this route is scenic and pleasant, affording sweeping views of the Patagonian countryside and the charming wooden houses that intermittently dot the landscape. 

Having reached the port, you'll board a modern ferry and embark on a journey on the Upsala Channel, passing towering icebergs along the way. As you reach the northern section you'll see the western front of the Spegazzini Glacier. At over 10 miles long and a mile wide, the length, breadth, and towering ice walls that define this ancient glacier are awe-inspiring. 

After taking the time to admire Spegazzini, you will continue sailing north and into the Cristina Channel. At the far end of this channel is the disembarking point for Estancia Cristina. Expect to arrive late morning. 

Estancia Cristina is one of the most impressive ranch-style lodges in the region. It was founded in 1914 by pioneers and built on a valley once covered by the Upsala Glacier. A visit to the Folkloric Museum here (located in an old sheep-shearing shed), offers insight into the history of the estancia. The surrounding scenery is nothing to scoff at either—all around are impressive panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, rivers, lakes, and glaciers. 

All told you will stay here about six hours. After the museum, you'll embark on a 6-mile (9.5 km) journey by 4x4 over an unpaved road that ascends into the mountains. After reaching the Continental Ice Field Refuge, you will exit the vehicle and begin a 20-minute walk featuring views of glacial landscapes and Andes mountains until you reach the Upsala viewpoint. Here you will have an unobstructed view of the eastern face of the Upsala Glacier as well as Lake Guillermo and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. 

In the late afternoon, you will board the boat again and begin the return to Punta Bandera. After landing, you will transfer back to your hotel.

Day 8: Fly from El Calafate to Ushuaia - Explore the City

Typical Argentinian treats at a shop in Ushuaia
Typical Argentinian treats at a shop in Ushuaia

After breakfast in El Calafate, you'll pack up and transfer to the airport for your flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel where you'll have the rest of the day to explore as you see fit. This day will be relatively relaxed since the next day will feature more physical, outdoors activities.

Located on a bay in the Patagonian region of Tierra del Fuego, the city sits between the jagged peaks of the Martial Mountains and the silver waters of the Beagle Channel. This is also the same waterway where Charles Darwin found himself when he was riding the HMS Beagle almost 200 years ago. Make sure to get out and walk along the waterfront for a better glimpse of the majestic mountains and impressive channel.

Suggested activities in and around town: 

  • Stroll the streets of downtown. As you walk around the colorful shops and buildings, notice an endearing jumble of architectural styles with everything from mock chalets to tumbledown wooden cottages.

  • Stop in at the Prison Museum. The building that houses Ushuaia's Maritime Museum was actually once an old prison. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century, some 600 convicts occupied 380 cells until the prison's closing in 1947. Even today, much of the prison looks unchanged since its doors closed.

  • Visit the Museo del Fin del Mundo, or "End of the World" Museum. Located on the waterfront, this small museum features fascinating exhibits on the region's natural and indigenous history. You'll also find extensive bird and sailing exhibits. 

  • Head to Laguna Esmeralda. A few miles outside of Ushuaia, this is an easy afternoon hike for all levels. Also, the shores of this turquoise lake are great for photos and stopping to enjoy nature.

  • Sample the local cuisine. The region is famous for its seafood, particularly centolla (king crab). Try it au gratin—it'll likely be the most decadent meal of your trip.

Day 9: Penguin Colony Excursion

Isla de los Lobos, Ushuaia
Isla de los Lobos, Ushuaia

Today you'll embark by boat from the tourist port of Ushuaia out into the Beagle Channel. As you venture out towards the center of the channel you'll be treated to panoramic views of the coast and the skyline of the city, all of which sits under the watchful gaze of Mount Olivia and the Cinco Hermanos Mountains

You'll sail southwest and pass the Isla de los Lobos, which is little more than a rock but happens to be the permanent habitat of a large group of sea lions. You'll have ample opportunity to view these creatures and take plenty of photos. Then, it's off to Isla de los Pájaros (Bird Island). This is a natural habitat of various species of seabirds including Magellanic cormorants and imperial shags. It's a birder's dream, so keep your binoculars and macro camera lens close.

The furthest you'll venture today is Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, located on the northernmost of a chain of islands of the same name. Here it is possible to see part of the Monte Cervantes, an ocean liner that sank in 1930. Your guide will also point out many sites both onshore and across the channel, such as Estancia Remolino (a remote ranch), Gable Island, and the naval base at Puerto Williams (located on Navarino Island, Chile). 

Eventually, you will reach Martillo Island, where the boat will stop and you can observe the sizeable colonies of Gentoo and Magellanic penguins that call the island home. After this six-hour day-trip, you'll return to the local port and you can spend the remainder of the day enjoying your hotel's amenities and exploring the town.

Day 10: Trekking & Canoeing in Tierra del Fuego

Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego
Coastal trail in Tierra del Fuego

Today, you'll spend a day in Tierra del Fuego National Park, one of the most frequently visited places around Ushuaia. It's close to the city and isn't expensive to enter, which means it's wide open for locals and visitors alike. There are many wonders within its 155,000 acres, so you'll want an experienced guide to show you the best hikes, lakes, and lookout points. 

On this day trip, you'll have a specialized guide to help you discover the natural beauty within the park. You'll get to know the ins and outs of this protected paradise, from seaside mountains to freshwater rivers to subantarctic forests and tranquil bays.

You'll depart from your hotel by minibus for the short ride to the entrance of the park. Then it's a 4.3 mile (7 km) hike on a coastal path that follows the Beagle Channel. You'll have prime views of the channel along the way, but you'll also get to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna of the area. You'll also pass remnants of ancient settlements once occupied by the Yámana indigenous people.

After this brisk three-hour trek, you'll reach Lago Roca where you can relax and enjoy a hot lunch. Then it's time to start the canoe ride down the Lapataia River. This waterway leads to your ultimate destination, Lapataia Bay. Located in the Beagle Channel, it sits at the end of the Pan American Highway and Nacional Route No. 3.

Day 11: Fly from Ushuaia to Mendoza - Explore the City

Mendoza's vineyards and snowcapped mountains
Mendoza's vineyards and snowcapped mountains

Today, you'll leave Ushuaia early in the morning where you'll be transferred to the local airport to take your flight to Mendoza

Upon your arrival, you will be picked up from the airport and taken to the selected hotel where you'll have free time to explore. 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.

Day 12: Mendoza's High-Altitude Mountain Tour

Drive into the Andes
Drive into the Andes

Today you'll explore the untamed landscapes and historic sites found just outside the city of Mendoza. The tour starts early, as there's a lot of ground to cover. After a pickup outside your hotel, you'll drive along the Mendoza River and enjoy views of the Cordón del Plata mountain range, a subset of the Andes that is a popular trekking destination. You'll also pass by the Potrerillos Dam, which is notable for distributing all the water for the vineyards of the region. It's also home to hydroelectric power plants that produce 20% of the energy Mendoza consumes.

Continue to Uspallata, a pre-Hispanic indigenous settlement, which at one point was the southernmost territory of the Inca Empire. There are archeological remains here, including the Bóvedas de Uspallata, a series of conical-shaped smelting furnaces built by the Jesuits in the 17th century. Then you'll head to the villages of Picheuta, Polvaredas, Punta de Vacas, and the Los Penitentes ski resort, where you can hop on a chairlift up to a summit featuring panoramic views of the area.

Later, drive to the Puente del Inca, a natural arch that forms a bridge over the Las Cuevas River. You'll now be on the ascent as you climb 9,022 feet (2,750 m) above sea level to a viewpoint at Cerro Aconcagua. At 22,841 feet (6,962 m), this is the highest mountain in the Americas. Other highlights include a visit to the glacial lake of Laguna Horcones.

Your final destination on the day's adventure is the European-style village of Las Cuevas, located just before the Chilean border at 10,498 feet (3,200 m) above sea level. Between Las Cuevas and the international tunnel to Chile, there is a path that leads to Christ the Redeemer of the Andes. This monument sits at 12,572 feet (3,832 m) above sea level and symbolizes the union between Argentina and Chile.

Day 13: Potrerillos Half-Day Kayak Excursion

Lake Potrerillos
Lake Potrerillos

After breakfast, it's time for an hour-long transfer from your hotel to Potrerillos. This town is located in the foothills of the Andes and is known for beautiful views, along with great kayaking, hiking, and rafting opportunities. The damning of the Mendoza River here has created an artificial lake that is perfect for a kayaking excursion. Upon arrival, you will get your gear and receive an introductory safety talk from the professional guide. You'll spend a few hours kayaking on the lake and taking in the beautiful views.

In the afternoon, it's time to return to shore and transfer back to your hotel in Mendoza where you'll have free time to relax and explore at your leisure.

Day 14: Mendoza Vineyard Tour & Tasting

Malbec grapes in Mendoza
Malbec grapes in Mendoza

Today you will embark on a guided tour of two distinct wine-producing areas around Mendoza: the Maipú Valley and the town of Lujan de Cuyo. Maipú is located a mere 12 miles (20 km) away, while Lujan de Cuyo is located directly adjacent to Mendoza in the south.

The first winery tour includes a presentation on the viniculture process with a subsequent tasting. The second tour includes another tasting as well as more education about wine development. Lunch will be served in the winery's warehouse, where you will enjoy a gourmet menu paired with some of the best wines from the cellar.

Afterward, it's time to visit two more wineries before ending the day's excursion. With a full stomach and a head swirling with all the delicious varietals of Mendoza, you can spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening relaxing while enjoying your hotel's amenities.

Day 15: Flight to Buenos Aires - Departure

Goodbye, Argentina!
Goodbye, Argentina!

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the international airport for your flight back home. ¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Classic Argentina: Buenos Aires, Patagonia, & Mendoza - 15 Days
Map of Classic Argentina: Buenos Aires, Patagonia, & Mendoza - 15 Days