Explore two of South America's most iconic cities on this 10-day jaunt through Argentina and Brazil. Tour the vibrant neighborhoods and elegant avenues of Buenos Aires, then fly north to hike along the breathtaking waterfalls of Iguazú. Your adventure ends in Rio de Janeiro, where you'll take a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain and soak up the sun on the city's famed beaches.

Highlights

  • Discover the passion & history of tango in Buenos Aires
  • Hike the world's largest waterfall complex at Iguazú Falls
  • Ride the cable car up Rio de Janeiro's iconic Sugarloaf Mountain
  • Relax on the famous beaches of Ipanema & Copacabana

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Buenos Aires! Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires Half-Day City Tour & Tango Show Buenos Aires
Day 3 Free Day in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 4 Fly to Puerto Iguazú Puerto Iguazú
Day 5 Iguazú Falls Full-Day Excursion  Puerto Iguazú
Day 6 Free Day in Iguazú Puerto Iguazú
Day 7 Fly to Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro
Day 8 Rio de Janeiro Corcovado & Sugar Loaf Excursion  Rio de Janeiro
Day 9 Free Day in Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro
Day 10 Depart Rio de Janeiro   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Buenos Aires!

The vibrant, distinctive cityscape of Buenos Aires
The vibrant, distinctive cityscape of Buenos Aires

Bienvenido a Buenos Aires! Upon arrival, a guide will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. Buenos Aires, known as the "Paris of South America"  is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer). And make no mistake: this city will entice you out. So after a quick recharge from your flight, be sure to venture out and discover as much as you can. The best starting point would be the city center (although bear in mind that tomorrow you will be having a more in-depth guided tour of the city).

Ideas for your first day in Buenos Aires include:

  • Stopping by the Teatro Colón, one of South America's premier opera houses. The theater runs a diverse program, but it's always breathtaking just to pass by its exterior, too. The neoclassical facade has always numbered among the finest buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.

  • Dining at an Argentine parrilla (steakhouse). When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy a thick, juicy steak—Argentina has some of the world's best beef—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. 

  • Strolling Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown and a great place to get a perspective on the more frantic city center. It is also one of the most pleasant walking areas in the city.

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

The city has many colorful colonial houses
Colorful houses of the San Telmo district

This morning, you will embark on a half-day guided tour of Buenos Aires' highlights, by foot and by transfer where appropriate. You will get to see the 16-lane Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest city street in the world, with the Obelisco, perhaps the most famous icon of the city, in the middle of it. This obelisk was built in 1936 to commemorate 400 years of Spanish settlement in the Río de la Plata area. You will also see the iconic city thoroughfare Avenida Corrientes, known for its theatre scene.

The first stop will be in the Plaza de Mayo, where you can visit the Cathedral and the Cabildo (Old City Hall). After that, your trip will continue towards San Telmo, a charming district characterized by its old colonial houses, cobblestoned streets, and tango scene. Continue to the traditional working-class La Boca neighborhood, located in the south of the city, where you will get to see the colorful zinc houses that make up this area of Buenos Aires and that used to be the refuge and home for the first immigrants and artists.

Your next port of call will be Puerto Madero, the old city port, now transformed into one of the city's most exclusive residential and dining areas. Next, you visit Palermo, one of Buenos Aires' liveliest barrios (neighborhoods), and hugely popular with tourists thanks to its excellent museums, restaurants, bars, and cafés. Here you may also get to spend some time in Bosques de Palermo (Palermo Woods), where 740 acres of beautiful gardens and ponds are surrounded by elegant buildings.

Finally, the last point in the tour is Recoleta, a classy district of Parisian-style architecture and high-end boutiques where you can visit Recoleta Cemetery.  Eva Perón is just one of the many famous Argentines laid to rest in this striking landmark, often cited as one of the world’s best cemeteries—wander through aisles of elaborate marble mausoleums designed in Art Deco, Baroque, and Art Nouveau architectural styles. Recoleta also has many bars, cafes, and fancy restaurants worth a visit.

In the evening, you will be taken by your English-speaking guide to historic San Telmo, the hub of Buenos Aires' tango scene for a dinner, tango, and folk music show.

Day 3: Free Day in Buenos Aires

The historic Teatro Colón opera house

Today is yours to explore Buenos Aires at your own pace. You could spend the day touring the parts of the city that appeal to you most, such as the vibrant neighborhoods of San Telmo, Recoleta, and Palermo. For culture, Recoleta's Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Fine Arts Museum) is the city's (and arguably the country's) most important museum. This colonnaded building contains works by Argentine artists such as Benito Quinquela Martín, Xul Solar, and Antonio Berni, alongside important works by Degas, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Van Gogh. And of course, there are plenty of culinary highlights. The Las Cañitas section of Palermo is a special area of the city known for its beautiful tree-lined avenues, historic polo fields, and burgeoning culinary and nightlife scene. 

In the evening, you can embark on an optional tango show excursion at the historic Café de los Angelitos. Opened in 1890, it became a meeting point for famous Buenos Aires personalities, compadritos (swaggerers), and malandras (scoundrels), including the verbal duels of gaucho minstrels like Gabino Ezeiza. Now remodeled, it is a luxury address at which to end your time in the Argentine capital, as 21 artists perform an unforgettable live dinner show 

Day 4: Fly to Puerto Iguazú

A rainbow over Iguazú Falls

After breakfast, transfer to the Buenos Aires airport for your flight to Puerto Iguazú. This city is home to the Argentinian side of Iguazú Falls, the world's largest waterfall system. Upon arrival in Puerto Iguazú, you will transfer to your hotel, and rest up for a full day excursion tomorrow.

Day 5:  Iguazú Falls Full-Day Excursion 

Hike the many circuits of Iguazú National Park

After breakfast at your hotel, a driver will pick you up and drop you off at the entrance of Iguazú National Park, on the Argentine side of the falls. This is where you will begin the day's adventure, a full-day tour that involves walking the three circuits that weave around the waterfall. Each of these offers different vantage points from which to view the water. 

  • The Upper Circuit (1 hour) is made up of 2,624 feet (800 m) of walkways elevated above the jungle floor to avoid disrupting the natural paths of indigenous fauna. On this route, you'll see the upper portion of Iguazú, including countless panoramic vistas of the surrounding cascades.

  • The Lower Circuit (2 hours) is 5,250 feet (1,600 m) long and is also made up of elevated walkways, which go directly below and around the falls. This circuit takes you near the base of the falls and right up to the crashing torrents of water. You'll be able to feel the magnitude of the waterfall from up close.

  • The Devil's Throat (2 hours) is the star of the show. A small tourist train leaves from the Cataratas Station and travels 18 minutes to Garganta Station, where you'll find restrooms, a snack bar, and the start of the path. You'll walk 3,937 feet (1200 m) over the river until you reach the viewing platform. From there you'll be able to peer 269 feet (82 m) down into the water, as the highest of Iguazu's Falls thunders all around you.

At the end of the tour, the driver and guide will pick you up and take you back to your hotel.

Day 6: Free Day at Iguazú Falls

The Brazilian side of the falls, known as Foz do Iguaçu

Today you have free time to continue exploring the Iguazú Falls area. A great way to spend the day is to visit the Brazilian side of the waterfalls, which offers some very different perspectives on this magical natural attraction. Be sure to bring your passport for crossing the border from Argentina to Brazil.

This area of Iguazú may lack the number of hiking routes found on the Argentine side, but it makes up for it with a wealth of amenities in the form of conveniences and restaurants with terraces overlooking the falls. Upon arrival at the Visitor's Center, you'll board a double-decker bus that embarks on a 30-minute ride into the park.

After you jump off the bus, your first stop is a balcony that offers panoramic views of the Argentine side of the falls (be sure to keep your camera at the ready). You'll then hike 3,116 feet (950 m) along the Iguazú River until you reach the falls on the Brazilian side. The walkway passes over the river to the Salto Floriano (Floriano Falls). This magnificent wall of plunging water makes quite an impression, as do the vistas of the lower Iguazú River and the Devil’s Throat Canyon.

At the end of the path, a panoramic elevator offering more spectacular waterfall views transports you back to where your bus will be waiting to return you to the visitor center. You will then be transferred back to your hotel.

Day 7: Fly to Rio de Janeiro

Welcome to Rio!

A transfer takes you to the Puerto Iguazú airport today, where you'll catch a flight to Rio de Janeiro. A city famous for its long beaches, sultry samba, relaxing days, and hot nights, Rio's carioca culture is defined by a zest for life, a passion for music, and a love for friends and family. It's the perfect spot for a bit of fun and a lot of relaxation. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel, where you can get settled in and then head out to explore the city.

Day 8: Rio de Janeireo Corcovado & Sugar Loaf Excursion 

Ride a cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain

Two of the most famous sights in Rio de Janeiro are at your fingertips on today's full-day tour. First thing in the morning, you’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken through downtown Rio for a panoramic tour. See the Sambodromo, stop at the Metropolitan Cathedral, and discover the Cinelandia Square and its wealth of historical buildings. You'll pass the Municipal Theater, National Library, and National Museum of Fine Arts along the way, as you head toward the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Catch a ride up the mountain on its famous cable cars, stopping at Urca Hill to admire views across Guanabara Bay and the Rio‐Niteroi Bridge. As you finish your ascent to the top of Sugar Loaf, you'll be rewarded with gorgeous views of Copacabana Beach and Santa Cruz Fortress.

Enjoy lunch at a local barbecue house before continuing to the base of Corcovado Mountain via the Cosme Velho Train. This ride takes you through the lush and dense Tijuca rainforest to the towering Christ Redeemer statue. Standing guard over the city of Rio, the statue has a fascinating history—your tour guide will share all the secrets with you before you head back to the hotel.

Day 9: Free Day in Rio de Janeiro

Sunset over Rio de Janeiro

Today you're free to explore the city at your leisure. Some suggested activities include:

  • Laze on Río's beaches. Río de Janeiro's beaches are deservedly famous and for nearly a century have been a global destination for jet-setters looking for fun, sun, and sand. The two most iconic beaches are Copacabana and Ipanema. Both are popular with locals but Ipanema is often more crowded because the surf is a bit better for swimming. Don't miss other, more off-the-beaten-path beaches, like Grumari and Prainha, both located on the far southwest coast. Not only are they less crowded than the aforementioned options but the scenery is just as stunning. 

  • Visit Lapa. The Lapa neighborhood, located near the city center, is a bohemian enclave full of life, art, music, and passion. On the weekends it's ground zero for Rio's party scene, and you simply can't miss spending a Friday or Saturday evening strolling the streets, enjoying the food and cocktails served by street vendors, bar-hopping, dancing, and generally comingling with the exuberant locals filling the area. It's also home to the famous Escadaria Selarón, also known as the "steps of Lapa." The decor of this brightly painted staircase is the handiwork of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón and is one of the most famous selfie spots in the city.

  • Sample Brazilian cuisine. It wouldn't be a trip to Río (or anywhere in Brazil, for that matter) if you didn't try the local rodizio bbq (churrasco). "Rodizio" is a Portuguese word that means "rotating," which is how the meat here is cooked: on rotating spits, typically over fiery coals. In these all-you-can-eat restaurants, servers take the skewers right from the fire to your table and carve copious amounts of various cuts of grilled meat onto your plate. Another must-try staple of carioca cuisine is feijoada, a rich dish of black beans, pork, and beef that is slow-cooked for hours. It's typically served on a Saturday because it takes so long to prepare, and it will take you nearly as long to emerge from the food coma after consuming it.

Day 10: Depart Rio de Janeiro 

Bid Rio de Janeiro farewell today

It's time to transfer to the Rio de Janeiro airport and begin your journey home! Not to worry—South America will be waiting for you with open arms when you come back for another adventure of a lifetime.

More Argentina & Brazil Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Argentina and Brazil? Check out these other Argentina and Brazil itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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