Coming up with an Argentina itinerary is no easy thing. There is a lot to see and do in this vast country, you will have to hop on more planes you wish to do and ride buses for long hours – but it is worth it.
Having visited many times and still dreaming of the incredible landscapes of Patagonia, I can only say this will be the trip of a lifetime; one you will never forget and – in fact – you will want to repeat it.
A perfect Argentina itinerary will have to include Buenos Aires, the magnificent peaks of the Andes, plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities, but also adventure, wine tasting, and indigenous cultures. You will be admiring glaciers; marveling at the roar of Iguazu Falls; and sipping Malbec while savoring the tastiest beef.
Not sure how to plan your trip to Argentina? Don’t worry! I have come up with two great itineraries based on the amount of time you may be able to spend in the country.
A Perfect Argentina Itinerary
Argentina Itinerary #1 – 10 to 14 Days: Buenos Aires, Patagonia and Mendoza
If you are a first timer in a country, you should start with the most popular attractions. Pick this Argentina itinerary if it is your first time in the country and have just 10 days to spare. If you have more than that, you can opt for a different itinerary, or just add a day in Buenos Aires, one in El Calafate and one in El Chalten and also one in Mendoza.
Alternatively, you can simply add an extra stop in Puerto Madryn.
In short, this is what your Argentina itinerary will look like:
2 nights in Buenos Aires
2 nights in El Calafate
3 nights in El Chalten
3 nights in Mendoza
Buenos Aires is the first stop of any Argentina itinerary. Known as the Paris of South America, the city is packed with interesting sights and things to do, and there is a multitude of good restaurants and bars and an incredible nightlife.
You’ll get to spend two full days in the city. These are enough to get a good feel for it and tickle your interest in the capital, but if you have 2 weeks in Argentina definitely add an extra night.
Whether you visit the classic sights of Buenos Aires or not is up to you. I recommend doing that on the first day – hit all the must-sees. Places like the Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo, La Boca and El Caminito, Recoleta Cemetery and finally the lovely Puerto Madero are among the top attractions in town.
For a guided tour of Buenos Aires, click here.
In order to discover the history, culture and overall vibe of the city and (with that) even of the country you should join a guided street art tour.
I recommend picking one with a local guide that is also incredible a local artist such as those run by Graffiti Mundo. You can book it here.
You will walk around Palermo, one of the most lively barrios of Buenos Aires, and learn how the various murals came to life, what their meaning is, and how they have contributed to change in the city. Although street art may not be for all, this tour puts everything in context and by the end of it you will feel like you have learned a great deal about the city.
If a street art tour is not enough to appreciate the culture of Buenos Aires, a “dinner” at The Argentine Experience will add for sure. Through food and wine, the friendly hosts help guests understand the incredibly diverse heritage of the city. Guests are involved in activities such as making empanadas (one of the local staples) and learning the basics of the local sign language; and all the while get to enjoy a fabulous dinner cooked using strictly local products, accompanied with various local wines.
You can book your Argentine Experience here.
Where to sleep, eat and drink in Buenos Aires
Hotel Clasico – a small boutique hotel in the heart of Palermo Soho, it features comfortable rooms and a stylish environment. The area is packed with good bars and restaurants.
Bellagamba Bodegon – a favorite of locals, this eatery serves some of the best milanesas in town.
La Popular del Soho – a typical parrilla where you can expect to have some of the best steaks in town.
Lo de Jesus – a nice upper-scale restaurant that gets regularly packed with locals and tourists alike. It’s right inside a shop called La Malbequeria – the name is good enough an explanation for the wine selection you can expect!
Patagonia – a craft beer company found all over the country; there is one in Palermo Soho that has a lovely garden.
Growlers – another pub pretty much in front of Patagonia.
Boticario – a super quirky pub located in what used to be a pharmacy. It’s very vintage, and the atmosphere is unique yet friendly.
For more ideas, read my post A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Buenos Aires.
How to move around
Buenos Aires public transportation system is quite efficient. Make sure to get a SUBTE card that allows you to ride the bus and the metro. It’s a top up card that you touch in every time you want to travel.
Alternatively, cabs are fairly cheap – especially if you can share the costs with other people. Uber is illegal in Argentina, but you can download the app Cabify which works pretty much the same way.
Your second stop will be El Calafate. You can fly there from Buenos Aires.
This nice small town located on the shores of Lake Argentino is the best access point to visit Perito Moreno Glacier, and is home to a multitude of excellent restaurants where to taste the best Argentine asado (mixed grill).
El Calafate is a nice place to explore. A walk along the lake is the perfect occasion to admire the incredible local bird life, with pink flamingos living in the lagoon, battling the wind which blows strong in this part of the country. Laguna Nimez is an even better place for birdwatching.
For more information about the city, read my post A Complete Guide To El Calafate Argentina.
Most people use El Calafate as a base to visit Perito Moreno Glacier. Plan a full day for your visit, on a tour that is classic and adventurous at the same time. Walk along the balconies and explore the various viewpoints to the glacier to admire is as the ice cracks and falls in the freezing waters of Lake Argentino, with a thunder-like sound.
The best guided tours will take you to the southern part of Lake Argentino, where you’ll board a catamaran that will take you as close to the southern wall of Perito Moreno Glacier as possible, for even more stunning views and incredible photo opportunities, and then drop you off at the southern base of the glacier.
There, you’ll meet a local guide that will help you wear crampons and will take you on a short but rewarding hike on the ice, showing you the best cracks and creases, allowing you to taste glacier water and finally offering you a shot of whiskey on Perito Moreno rocks.
For a Perito Moreno Glacier tour with optional boat ride, click here.
For a Perito Moreno Glacier tour that includes a boat ride and Perito Moreno Glacier trek, click here.
For a Perito Moreno Glacier tour with an optional nautical safari, click here.
Where to sleep, eat and drink in El Calafate
Hotel Esplendor – a fantastic boutique hotel located on a hill and with beautiful views of the lake. Rooms are incredibly large and comfortable, and the overall place is very stylish. There is an on site spa and a restaurant that serves delicious food.
La Tablita – known as the best restaurant in El Calafate, this literally is an institution. It serves the best asado, fantastic steaks and has a huge selection of wines.
Borges y Alvares – a lovely small café and bar with plenty of books on display and a great selection of drinks (mostly beer and wine).
Cerveceria Chopen – a nice craft beer pub. Ask for the beer sample before placing your order.
How to move around
El Calafate is walker friendly, and small enough for visitors to walk from one place to the other. The occasional taxi drives by and you can haul it from the street.
El Chalten is likely the place you’ll enjoy the most. You can get there by bus from El Calafate – it’s a 3 hours journey.
To be honest, the town is nothing special – houses and hotels built in complete disregard of any architectural style, set around two main roads; a few restaurants (excellent for the most part) and (for some unknown reason) more than enough breweries (all of them offering happy hour, which is good news for the hikers); a handful of shops and just two ATMs (hardly sufficient during peak season).
Make sure to read my post An Excellent Guide To El Chalten.
It’s what’s around El Chalten that makes it the highlight of any trip to Argentina. Indeed, El Chalten is right at the base of Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. These can be seen from a long distance, as the bus from El Calafate approaches El Chalten first on Ruta 40 and then on Ruta 23.
Needless to say, if you visit El Chalten you are in for a real hiking extravaganza. You will hike the trails to Laguna Torre, at the base of Cerro Torre, and to Laguna de los Tres, at the base of Cerro Fitz Roy. These are quite long hikes on very well marked trails, but don’t go alone as you will need encouragement along the way (check out why I never recommend hiking alone).
The trail to Laguna de Los Tres is very well marked and easy to follow, but if you prefer to join a group, click here.
Where to sleep, eat and drink in El Chalten
Estancia La Quinta – a lovely hotel a bit outside of El Chalten. It’s a good walk to town (around 55 minutes) or a few minutes drive by taxi. Rooms are plain but incredibly comfortable and the settings absolutely gorgeous.
Maffia – a nice eatery that serves home made pasta – approved by Italians.
Ahonikenk – prepares some Argentinian staples including a good milanesa.
Mathilda – a lovely café with good salads and sandwiches, and drinks that go from your choice of coffee to craft beer.
La Vineria – a bit after the entrance of town, it has good draft beers and an excellent selection of wines.
Cerveceria Artesanal – the best pub in El Chalten.
El Chalten is tiny, so unless you are staying out of town ie at Estancia La Quinta, there won’t be any need to hire a taxi. If needed, several companies can be called and booked.
Mendoza is the perfect place to wrap up an incredible trip to Argentina, celebrating with wine and delicious food in the lovely surroundings of vineyards and Andean peaks. You can get there by plane from El Calafate, via Buenos Aires.
If the rest of this Argentina itinerary is all about adventure and adrenaline, in Mendoza it is all about taking it slowly. Once in Mendoza you should visit the nicest bodegas (vineyard) in the region – all of them have fabulous restaurants attached.
You can go biking and even horseback riding through the vineyards and have a chance to try several wines and to learn about the process of wine making and bottling, and gorge on a 7 courses lunch – accompanied by yet more wine. Make sure to buy lots of wine to bring home, as it costs a real steal!
For a wine tasting tour by bike, click here.
Check out my posts A Guide To The Most Fun Things To Do In Mendoza, Argentina and 13 Fantastic Wineries In Mendoza for more ideas.
Where to sleep, eat and drink in Mendoza
Posada el Encuentro – tucked away in a small alley in Chacras de Coria, one of the nicest areas a bit outside Mendoza, this nice boutique hotel exudes countryside charm.
The best places to eat in Mendoza are actually the fantastic bodegas you will visit during your wine tours. There, you will have your good share of local specialties such as empanadas and the best cuts of meat. Vegan or vegetarian? Head to Cuenco, right outside the center of Mendoza. They have delicious fresh vegan food at more than reasonable prices.
Should the wine you have at the bodegas not be enough, you can pop in one of the many lovely bars and pubs on Chacras de Coria main street. Patagonia is guaranteed to have good beer.
As in any big city in Argentina, the public transportation system in Mendoza works quite well. You can also count on a good and fairly cheap taxi service.
Do you have more time?
If you have 14 full days in Argentina, you may want to add an extra stop in Puerto Madryn in between Buenos Aires and El Calafate. This is an excellent place for wildlife spotting – you can go to the penguin reserve in Punta Tombo, explore Peninsula Valdes and even go on a boat trip to admire dolphins and other marine life. You can read more about it in the next section below.
Argentina itinerary #2 – 3 to 4 weeks: Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn, Patagonia, Salta and Iguazu
This Argentina itinerary won’t take you to Mendoza, but you will get to spend more time in Patagonia and also make it to the north of the country, in the region of the Quebradas and in the magnificent Iguazu.
Here is what your 3 weeks in Argentina will look like:
3 nights in Buenos Aires
3 nights in Puerto Madryn
4 or 5 nights in Ushuaia
3 nights in El Calafate
3 nights in El Chalten
3 nights in Iguazu
1 night in Buenos Aires
For this itinerary you will have 3 nights in Buenos. Check out my tips above for what to see and do in the city, and ideas on where to stay.
The second leg of this Argentina itinerary will take you to Puerto Madryn. You can get there from Trelew, which is connected by plane from Buenos Aires. It is also connected via direct flights to El Calafate and Ushuaia.
This small coastal town in the Chubut region is one of the best places in the country for wildlife watching, and you should plan to stay enough time to visit the Peninsula Valdes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you will spot a colony of elephant seals, and Punta Tombo, famous for being one of the largest penguin colonies in the world. Depending on the season, Puerto Madryn is also the perfect starting point for whale watching.
For more information on whale watching expeditions, click here.
To book your snorkeling experience with sea lions, click here.
For more activities, make sure to check out my post A Complete Guide To Puerto Madryn, Argentina.
Where to sleep, eat and drink in Puerto Madryn
You will find a good selection of places to stay in Puerto Madryn. I recommend staying at either Hi Patagonia Hostel, if you have a backpacker’s budget and are looking for an easygoing place, or at Hotel Piren for rooms with a view.
The best places to eat in Puerto Madryn are En Mis Fuegos, which is a bit of a romantic spot, and Cantina El Nautico, the best place in town for seafood. Giuseppe makes great pizza and pasta.
Puerto Madryn is fairly small. You may want to rent a car to get out of town on day trips, or join guided tours.
Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego
If someone dares to tell you that 5 days in Tierra del Fuego are too many, tell them that Claudia told you otherwise. Honestly this place is THE THING, so unique, so southernmost, so different from anything else and you will fall in love with it.
Ushuaia is the perfect access point to explore the region, enjoy the local wildlife, learn about the difficult living conditions of the area, and to remain in awe of the magnificent nature.
Make sure to factor in a full day to explore Tierra del Fuego National Park, as it is quite vast and there are lots of hiking trails, viewpoints, and interesting landmarks.
For a guided tour to Tierra del Fuego National Park, click here.
You can then dedicate half day for a cruise on the Beagle Channel to admire local wildlife – various species of penguins, sea lions and if you are lucky you will also get to spot whales.
For a boat tour around Beagle Channel, click here.
Then you can go on a hike to Laguna Esmeralda.
For a guided hike to Laguna Esmeralda, click here.
Another day will be needed to visit Cabo San Pablo, a truly remote place where you will likely be the only one around.
Other things you can do in Tierra del Fuego include fishing and eating king crabs; visiting the beautiful Lago Escondido; walking to Martial Glacier and visiting a local estancia (farm). There are many in the region, but most of them are rather touristy. If you are in search for a local one, head to Estancia Rolito, which is still family run.
For more about Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego, read my posts Everything You Need To Know About Ushuaia Patagonia and A Complete Guide To Hiking Laguna Esmeralda.
Where to sleep, eat and drink in Ushuaia
You will find a good selection of places to stay in Ushuaia. Oshovia is a good boutique hotel with nice rooms. Hostel Yakush is perfect for backpackers.
Rincon Gourmet – a bit outside of the city center, in Andorra, you will find the private house of a local chef who loves cooking with local ingredients and changes his menu daily based on what he finds on the market. It’s expensive but delicious.
Ramos Generales – located on Maipú, the main street, it is a cozy place that attracts both locals and tourists. There is an adjoint bakery.
Viejo Marino – also on Maipú, it’s the best place to try local seafood. There often is a line so try to make reservations.
The Birra – a small local brewery that serves great beer on tap. They also have burgers.
There is a public transportation system in Ushuaia which you can use to reach some landmarks such as the starting point of the hike to Laguna Esmeralda. Other than that, you are better off using cabs or guided tours.
El Calafate and El Chalten
You can travel to El Chalten by plane from Ushuaia. There occasionally are direct flights.
Make sure to read my tips above for the best things to see and do in El Calafate and El Chalten.
From El Calafate, you can fly to Iguazu via Buenos Aires. This will be a full day of traveling.
The magnificent Iguazu Falls are located on the border between Argentina and Brazil, and as per this Argentina itinerary, you will have enough time to visit both sides. The Brazilian side tends to be very panoramic, while the Argentine one is packed with action as you will be seeing the waterfalls from a variety of perspectives, including going right under them on a boat trip.
You can easily visit Iguazu Falls independently – both the Argentine and Brazilian sides are easy to reach on public transport from the main bus station in Puerto Iguazu. Alternatively, you can also join a guided tour.
Make sure to read my post Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina.
Where to sleep and eat in Iguazu
There are some excellent accommodation options in Iguazu. My favorite is Jasy Hotel, a nice hotel with very large rooms, a great restaurant and a bar serving excellent cocktails, and a small but nice pool.
The public transportation system in Iguazu works quite well and you can definitely count on it to reach the national park and access the waterfalls, on both sides of the border.
Do you have more time?
If you have 4 or 5 extra days to spare Argentina, I recommend heading to Salta. You can fly there directly from Iguazu. I think it is much better if you rent a car for this last leg of your Argentina itinerary, as it really is the best way to explore the area of the Quebradas.
Salta is a lovely colonial town that has much of an indigenous feel, and a great access point to Rio Juramento, a perfect location for rafting and ziplining, and to access the beautiful Quebradas.
Make sure to read my post A Complete Guide To Salta Argentina.
Further Information To Plan Your Trip To Argentina
The best time to visit Argentina
Argentina is a huge country with several climates, so you can expect to find a but of everything no matter when you go. For the purpose of this itineraries, you are probably better off traveling between October and April, so between spring and the beginning of fall, when days are long and you have chances of better weather in Patagonia. Keep in mind that Buenos Aires and Mendoza are terribly hot and sticky during the summer, whereas Iguazu has tropical weather.
How to get to Argentina
The starting point of this Argentina itinerary is Buenos Aires. You will be flying into Ezeiza International Airport, which is about 20 km (12.4 miles) out of town. Buenos Aires is a terribly busy city, so depending on where you are staying in town it may take you up to two hours to get there!
Make sure to read my post How To Get From Ezeiza Airport To Buenos Aires.
How to move around Argentina
A country as big as Argentina will require a combination of various transportation modes. Domestic flights in Argentina aren’t terribly expensive if you book them in advance. The only issue is that most of the time you will have to fly through Buenos Aires (Pistarini Domestic Airport) to catch a connecting flight to your final destination. The best deals are usually on Norwegian (which actually has really good service) and Aerolinas Argentinas. Latam has some good deals too.
If you are in no rush, you may want to opt for the occasional bus ride. Distances are such that at times you may be spending 20+ hours on a bus, but buses are usually very comfortable, with fully reclining seats and an entertainment system, and they will also share some (basic) meals. You should book your bus seats in advance.
Driving in Argentina can be challenging. The distances are terribly long, and in Patagonia the wind is so powerful that you’ll feel your car may take off any time. Having said so, a road trip through Argentina can also be a fun experience, especially if you can break down your trip and visit more places along the way. I have driven myself in the northern provinces (Salta and the Quebradas) and had a blast. Beware that lot of rental companies will apply limitations on the number of km you can cover!
What to pack
Make sure to pack smartly, as Buenos Aires and Mendoza tend to get very hot in the summer, but Patagonia is mostly windy and chilly. Carry some good layers for Patagonia, as the weather tends to be unpredictable, it may rain and it is (unsurprisingly) freezing cold on Perito Moreno Glacier. Hiking boots are a must, as well as sun block!
To help you plan your trip to Argentina make to read my other posts:
- A Guide To The Greatest Things To Do In Argentina
- Top 13 Things To Do In Rosario Argentina
- 30 Things You Should Consider Before Traveling To Patagonia
- Hiking In Patagonia: 15 Incredible Trails
- Hiking Gear And More: The Perfect Patagonia Packing List
- The Best Argentine Movies
- A Guide To Renting A Car In Argentina
Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of Flash Pack during my last trip to Argentina and I wish to thank them for the incredible experience. Needless to say, the opinions expressed in this post remain my own.