Planning Your Trip to Argentina

The best time to travel to Argentina is October to April. You can also travel May-September, but this is winter. Winter is not recommended in Patagonia area (El Calafate/El Chalten) because of weather and many hotels and trails are closed.

Most people do some combination of these:

  1. Fly into Buenos Aires for 3-4 nights
  2. Fly to El Calafate (Patagonia) for 2-3 nights — You can go to Torres del Paine (Patagonia in Chile) from here.
  3. Go to El Chalten for 3-4 nights — This is for serious hikers only. You access El Chalten through El Calafate (2 hour drive). The closest airport is in El Calafate, or you drive from Torres del Paine.
  4. Iguazu Falls for 2 nights
  5. Mendoza for 2-3 nights
  6. Ushuaia for 2-3 nights
  7. Peninsula Valdes for 2-3 nights

1) Fly into BUENOS AIRES for 3-4 nights

Top things to do:

  • City tour of Buenos Aires
  • Tango Show
  • Tigre Delta Tour
  • See a performance at the Colon Theater
  • Cooking Class or City Foodie Tour
  • Art Tour
  • Visit museums
  • Day trip to Colonia, Uruguay
  • Go to a fancy steak restaurant
  • Eat some of the amazing ice cream

Tango Show:

This can be done with a show + easy tango lessons + dinner. All 3 are offered at Gala Tango, which is a larger production.

You can also just go to a tango show after dinner on your own (no lessons). This can be done at Gala Tango or Rojo Tango, which is a smaller, more intimate cabaret-like experience (not for kids).

Delta Tigre Tour:

This is a 1 hour drive away and then 1 hour on a catamaran on the river for about 4 hours total and then 1 hour walking through cute shops on the wharf.

Colonia, Uruguay:

A great way to get an extra stamp in your passport! Get to the boat dock 2 hours early. It is 1 hour boat ride. Colonia is a cute town that you can just walk yourself, or get a guide. Have lunch, and then boat back.

SEE 4-Day Buenos Aires Discovery >>

SEE 4-Day Buenos Aires Foodie Odyssey >>

2) Fly to El Calafate (Patagonia) for 2-3 nights

The highlight from El Calafate is the Perito Moreno Glacier. It is about a 1.5 hour drive to the glacier. If you just want a quick trip to see the glacier, you can drive to the walkways, spend an hour, then drive back and continue on the El Chalten — but this is a lot of driving.

Serious hikers:

You can continue to Torres del Paine (Patagonia in Chile) or El Chalten from here.

If you want to do the Ice Mini-trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier, you will need to spend 2 nights here before going to El Chalten.

With the Ice Mini-trekking option, you take a boat across the lake, hike 30 minutes to the glacier, hike for 1 hour on the glacier (crampons provided), and then repeat back. Afterwards, you will visit the walkways to see the glacier from the other side. You must be under 65 years old to do this, no exceptions. This takes all day.

There is also a Big Ice option with is the same but with 3 hours of hiking on the glacier. You must be under 50 years old to do this.

Casual hikers/visitors:

You will want to skip El Chalten, so enjoy this area for 3 nights.

  1. For the Perito Moreno Glacier, you can do a Nautical Safari, which is a 1 hour boat ride in front of the glacier and a visit to the walkways with views.
  2. Another option is Kayaking near the glacier — go out in a double kayak with wet suit.
  3. On another day, you can do a full day boat ride with a short 15-minute walk to see the other glaciers (Upsala Glacier is the most famous).
  4. Another great option is a full day at Estancia Cristina. Here you can take a 4WD trip to a viewpoint of the Upsala Glacier, go horseback riding on a real gaucho horse ranch, or get a ride up to the top and do a lovely 4 hour hike back down.

SEE 4-Day Los Glaciares: Perito Moreno and Upsala Glaciers

3) El Chalten for 3-4 nights — Combined with El Calafate / For serious hikers only

This is a hikers heaven. One of the highlights is seeing Mount Fitz Roy. All hikes are 6-7 hours to complete (but can be cut short). We recommend going with a guide for the best and safest experience, but some of them can be done on their own. You can visit the national park entrance to get maps and advice on the different trek options.

The most popular hikes are

  • Laguna Torre Trek — Out and back to see the Cerro Torre mountain. Starts downtown, can be done on your own or with a guide.
  • Laguna de los Tres Trek — Out and back to see Mt. Fitz Roy. This is the hardest of the hikes with a very steep section to the viewpoint. Starts downtown, can be done on your own or with a guide.
  • Pliegue Tumbado Trek — Out and back, starts at the national park entrance, great view of Fitz Roy half-way up, easiest of the three, can be done on your own.
  • There is a hike through a petrified wood forest halfway between El Calafate and El Chalten. You need a private guide, so it is expensive unless you have a group of 4 or more, but very interesting.

SEE 6-Day Los Glaciares and Mount Fitz Roy (El Calafate / El Chalten) >>

4) Iguazu Falls — 2 nights

You need 2 nights here to see both sides of Iguazu Falls — Argentina and Brazil. The Argentine side gives you a close-up view of the falls, and you will get wet. The Brazilian side offers a more panoramic view.

This area is hot and humid. Bring lightweight, easy to dry clothing. You will get wet, and some people wear a poncho, but that is hot, so sometimes it is better to just get wet. There is not much else to see in or around town, so 2 nights is usually plenty. It is a 20-30 minute drive from the airport to most of the hotels.

Argentina Side:

This is a full day tour, and you will walk on 3 of the 6 path options. To get to the Devil’s Throat, you will take a small train part of the way.

You can also take a boat ride right up to and under the falls. You will get wet! Bring extra clothing to change into.

There are lunch options at the restaurant inside the park, which is the most convenient option.

Note that the Devil’s Throat may not be accessible after flooding events.

Brazil Side:

This is a half day tour. You will walk along the boardwalks and see the falls from many different angles. Most people wait and have lunch back the hotel.

There is a Bird Park that is lovely and worth a visit (1 hour).

You can do the boat ride on this side and not get wet.

There is also a helicopter ride option.

You will be crossing the border from Argentina to Brazil. As of January 10, 2024, passport holders from the United States, Canada and Australia will need to present an eVisa to enter Brazil. During the busy season, it can take 45 minutes to go through the line at the border. Our guides try to schedule outside peak hours. You will need your passport.

SEE 4-Day Iguazu Falls >>

5) Mendoza — 2-3 nights

Most people spend 3 nights here with 2 days of wine tasting. Typically, there is 1 day at Maipo Valley (very close to Mendoza) and 1 day in Uca Valley (1.5 hours away). You can also do a bike tour to the wineries — regular bikes (not e-bikes) but it is flat terrain. Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc are the specialties of the area, but they make other wines as well.

You can also do a drive to Aconcagua (2.5 hours away) with a 30 minute hike.

Mendoza is a big city with many good restaurants.

SEE 4-Day Mendoza >>

6) Ushuaia — 2-3 nights

This is where most of the Antarctica cruises depart from. Ushuaia is a large city, but pretty nice with lots of shops and restaurants. There are 2 museums — one in an old jail and one “end of the world”.

The most popular activities/areas are

1) Tierra del Fuego — There are 3 options in this national park:

  • Half-day sightseeing with short walks
  • Full day with longer hikes (mostly flat terrain)
  • Full day with hiking and canoeing

2) Beagle Channel — This is a 2-hour boat ride to the lighthouse and back. You will see birds and sea lions.

3) Penguins — Half-day tour 2-9pm.

4) 4WD Trekking — Take a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to a half-day or full-day trek. There is so much mud that you fall down in the mud and make a mess, which is great fun.

SEE 4-Day Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia >>

7) Peninsula Valdes for 2-3 nights

In summer the penguins visit the east coast of Valdés from September to March and in March there are the orcas. From spring until summer the coast is one big gathering place for large and small mammals and birds. Whales are usually seen from June to early December and use this area as a nursery. Inland, the peninsula is full of rheas, guanacos and armadillos.

One of the best time to go to Peninsula Valdes is in September, October and November. These months it is spring and most species start to breed in the area. This means that the males are about to fight for the females, the penguins come ashore to hatch their eggs and the orcas come along the coast to hunt for seals. A period that you have to avoid is the months of April, May and June. In these months fewer animals can be seen than in the rest of the year.

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