Argentina has some of the most magical landscapes in the world filled with sparkling blue lakes, snow-capped peaks, popsicle-blue walls of ice, and crisp mountain air. In its capital, people literally dance in the streets, and at its southernmost tip, they walk with penguins.
It is the eighth-largest country in the world. Don’t expect to see it all in seven days, but instead visit major places in the country. Since most of the activities on this itinerary are outdoors, visiting in the fall would be ideal, especially in March when the weather is warmer and there are fewer crowds.
This itinerary is ambitious. Feel free to cut out one destination to allow more time to experience the others. Although the formula is this: at least one stop in Buenos Aires, Iguazu, and Patagonia. Pack plenty of snacks, a solid raincoat, and as light as possible, because you’ll be moving fast. Get ready for tons of sack lunches with clear skies, jaw-dropping beauty, and a view.
Day 1: Buenos Aires
Arrive at Ezeiza International Airport early in the morning and withdraw some cash from the airport ATM. Jump in an Uber or a black and yellow taxi outside the arrivals hall and depart for your hotel.
Freshen up, then head to La Boca for a walk on El Caminito, a colorful street filled with tango performances. Make a dramatic pose with the dancers and take a picture with them. Afterward, walk to La Bombonera (Boca Juniors Stadium) to see where Maradona played.
Walk to Parque Lazama, the start of the San Telmo neighborhood and where Spanish conquistadors first set foot in Argentina. Walk the streets of San Telmo observing daily life and beautiful architecture until you arrive at San Telmo Mercado. The market has plenty of places to try empanadas, (we suggest El Hornero), and if you need a caffeine boost, get an espresso at Coffee Town, one of the city’s best roasters.
Pick up some vintage goods and mom-and-pop stalls, then continue down Defense Street until you reach Plaza de Mayo, a central, important area where most of the city’s protests take place. Afterward, take a cab to visit Cador, the world-famous, family-run ice shop. Along the way, you’ll pass an Obelisco, another symbol of the city. Afterward, walk or take a bus to Recoleta to see one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.
As evening falls, walk from the theater to the bookstore, the Ateneo. Take some photos of its famous stage and terrace, then take the metro to Palermo for a steak dinner at Don Julio. Order a bottle of wine from their curated list and Biff de Chorizo to check out two of Argentina’s gastronomic must-sees. Finally, check out the “Hidden” bar, Floreria Atlântico. Enter through the flower shop and walk down the stairs to order a perfectly mixed cocktail.
Day 2: Iguazu Falls
Catch an early morning flight to Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport. Your mission today is to visit Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get a cab at the airport and head to your hotel in Puerto Iguazu. Consider booking a day tour to optimize your time, but keep in mind that most do not include park admission fees.
At your hotel, change into lightweight, waterproof clothing. Pack a swimsuit or extra change of clothing in your dry bag, because you’ll definitely get wet. Stop in at Acqua to eat a lunch of river fish, tropical salad, or bondiola (shredded pork), and yerba mate crme brlée for dessert.
After lunch, visit Iguazu National Park. Walk the trails of the Upper Circuit to see the falls crashing from the high or cross the Lower Circuit to experience the falls, forests, and lots of rainbows. Hike to see Devil’s Throat, the tallest of Iguazu’s 275 waterfalls, crash from a height of 262 feet into a giant waterfall in the Iguzai River. If you want to get even closer to the falls, book a boat tour to take you past the San Martín Falls, the park’s second-largest waterfall.
End the day by discovering more Argentine cuisine at The Argentine Experience, complete with an Asado, empanada-making contest, free-flowing wine, and, of course, mate.
Day 3: Bariloche
It’s time for blue lakes, rock climbing, and the Argentine version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in a magical land called Bariloche. Fly there early in the morning, then take your own cab or offer to split one with the people on your flight. (It’s quite common here, as is a hitchhiker.) If you prefer, rent a car instead.
Leave your bags at your hotel, then order a bus, taxi or Remis (check with your hotel for recommendations) to get to Cerro Campanario. After an easy 30-minute hike (or a seven-minute chairlift ride), you’ll arrive at one of Patagonia’s most famous views and a perfect introduction to Bariloche. From the 360-degree viewing platform, you can see many lakes like Nahuel Huapi and Moreno and many mountains like Campanario and Otto. You can also visit the luxurious Llao Llao Hotel and the houses of Colonia Suja.
For lunch, head to the lakeside Patagonia Brewery for craft beer and comfort food (offering meat and vegetarian options). On your way back to your town, get off the side of the road and jump into any lake you visit for some “wild swimming.”
Back in town, stroll the plaza and admire the Swiss and German-style buildings, then step into the chocolate wonderland that is Rapanui’s flagship store. Buy as many chocolates as you want from the display case or scoop up a cone of their decadent dulce de leche ice cream. If you want a hot dessert, order their waffles with hot chocolate. Afterward, go for a skate at their in-house ice rink.
Day 4: Rock Climbing in Cerro Otto
Bariloche is as famous for its hiking trails as it is for its rock climbing. Book a tour with a local AAGM certified guide to lead you on the beginner routes in Cerro Otto. Take the free shuttle bus to the Cerro Otto Teleferico (cable car) station in town. Before you leave, cross the street for a group of restaurants to get coffee and breakfast at Café Delirante, a local specialty coffee chain that serves hot paninis, baked goods, and flat whites.
Meet with your guide and take a cable car ride up the mountain at 6,890 feet. You will see the Leon Mountains and part of the Patagonian Steppe. After a 45-minute hike, you’ll come across the area’s most famous granite crags: Piedras Blancas. Your guide will instruct you on basic rock-climbing techniques before trying your first route. Once you reach the top, enjoy the unparalleled view that only climbers can get, then peek down.
After a few hours of climbing, return to the station to see the art gallery housing replicas of Michelangelo’s three sculptures. On your way back into town, stop for dinner at La Salamandra Pulperia for more Argentine steak, mushroom dishes, and a vintage wine selection.
Day 5: El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier
Fly to El Calafate. Make reservations at Elo Hotels in advance, and arrange for their complimentary airport pickup service to meet you. Check-in, admire the panoramic views from your room and have lunch at the in-house restaurant, which features chefs with regional flavors and previous experience in Michelin-starred restaurants. End your meal with a glass of wine, and visit Los Glaciares, National Park.
The park’s most famous glacier is the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the few growing glaciers in the world. Check it out from the visitor center via the Boardwalk Trail. You can even watch part of the glacier fall, sending an unforgettable echo through the region as it plunges into the water.
If you want to take a boat or glacial walk, book a tour in advance. The boat tour will take you to the front of the glacier, where you can float on Lake Argentina while basking in the glory of the wall of ice 240 feet above. For the glacial walk, you’ll clip on crests and explore the glacier’s crevices and tunnels, sometimes watching the otherworldly blues of moving ice. Whatever you choose, wear enough cold-weather clothing. Bring a hearty sack lunch, and an empty water bottle to fill with fresh, icy glacial water.
The drive back to the hotel will take about an hour. Eat dinner at the hotel, and then relax in the sauna before arriving early.
Day 6: Fitz Roy Trek
Arrange breakfast and transportation early in the morning. Take a nap during the drive to El Chalten, as the drive is two and a half hours. Once there, you’ll embark on one of the most famous hikes in all of Patagonia, Laguna de los Tres, also known as “The Fitz Roy Trek.” If you include a stop at Piedras Blancas Glacier, the total hike is about 8 hours and covers a distance of 16.16 miles. The final hour can be difficult due to a mostly moderate route, a steep slope, and a 400-meter (1,607-ft) increase in elevation.
However, any struggle is worth the scenes at El Chalten. You’ll also see several lagoons and an iconic view of Mount Fitz Roy, other mountains, and more glaciers. Although it’s a much more challenging hike than what you’ll do in Bariloche, a guide isn’t really needed. All trails in El Chalten are well marked. However, if you prefer a somewhat shorter or more moderate hike of only a few hours, consider Los Condores, a two-hour hike, perfect for sunrise and with spectacular views of Mount Fitz Roy, or Laguna Capri, four The hour’s more challenging hike also with views of Mount Fitz Roy.
Be sure to wear sweat-wicking layers, as it can get hot, a light raincoat, and waterproof hiking books. Pack a sack lunch and lots of nutritious snacks. Make arrangements with the hotel for back transportation, and enjoy the deep sleep that comes after the long hike.
Day 7: Ushuaia
Leave your bags at your hotel and head to Pira Tours for a day of boating and wildlife. Book their Penguin Rookery and Beagle Channel Tour for a full day of boating and wildlife viewing. As you go down the Beagle Channel, you’ll see boisterous sea lions on Sea Lions Island, then your zodiac boat will land on chilly, windy Martillo Island. Magellanic and Gentoo penguins roam here in large numbers. Your bilingual guide will instruct you on how to walk safely without damaging the penguin’s habitat. There are strict conservation measures in place, so only 80 people can walk with the penguins each day. Be sure to book in advance.
For your ultimate dinner in Argentina, eat the regional specialty: centola (king crab). For a big, tasty portion, head to Coupe Restaurant. Pair it with a glass of Torrontes wine (a specialty Argentine white wine).
Retire to your hotel to prepare for the journey the next day. Either fly back home to Buenos Aires, or book a cruise to Antarctica to continue the adventure.