A week around Buenos Aires
- 1 Week
Seen Buenos Aires from top to bottom and wondering where else to visit? There's plenty of choice just outside Argentina's capital, from small and alluring cobblestoned towns to bigger, more exciting cities and bustling soft-sand beach resorts.
Tigre, with its hidden waterways and busy delta, is a popular porteño (resident of Buenos Aires) getaway for a day or two. Take a day trip to peaceful San Antonio de Areco, which has a history of gaucho culture, or tidy La Plata, with its huge cathedral.
Perhaps you’d prefer a weekend at the beach? Pinamar and Villa Gesell make great summer escapes, as does Mar del Plata, the biggest Argentine beach destination of them all. Or head inland to Tandil for a couple of days; it's a pretty town near scenic hills and a large recreational reservoir.
And then there’s Uruguay, just a (relatively) short boat ride away. Colonia del Sacramento is truly charming; filled with cobbled streets and atmospheric colonial buildings it makes a great day trip. Or stay overnight in Montevideo; like BA’s little sister, it's smaller and less frantic, with a historic downtown with a thriving cafe and nightlife scene and a long Río de la Plata beachfront on the Rambla.
- 5 Weeks
Argentina is a huge country – the world’s eighth largest – and experiencing all its highlights thoroughly will require at least a month, plus several airplane flights. While Patagonia is best in January and February, the northern deserts are at their hottest, so doing both regions might be best in spring or fall.
Take a few days to explore the wonders of Buenos Aires, taking in the restaurants, parks and cultural attractions. Explore the subcultures of its different neighborhoods and admire the big-city sights. If it’s the right season, fly south for wildlife viewing at Reserva Faunística Península Valdés: the whales, elephant seals and penguins here are especially popular. From here hop another flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world with skiing, dogsledding and penguin viewing. It's also a prime jumping-off point to Antarctica (for this side trip, add another two weeks and minimum US$5000).
Now you’ll head north to El Calafate, where the stunning Glaciar Perito Moreno of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is one of the world’s most spectacular sights. If you adore the outdoors, cross the border to Chile’s Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, to hike its awe-inspiring landscapes. Back in El Calafate, your next stop should be El Chaltén, another world-class trekking destination with hiking in walking distance of your lodgings and the option of glacier travel and ice hikes.
Further up the Andes is Argentina’s Lake District, where a chocolate stop in Bariloche is a must. Gorgeous scenery, outdoor activities and lovely nearby towns can easily add days to your itinerary. Your next destination is Mendoza, Argentina’s wine mecca, which also offers great outdoor adventures and mind-blowing Andean scenery. Tour the wineries by bicycle or on a driving tour. A 10-hour bus ride lands you in Córdoba, the country’s second-largest city, with amazing colonial architecture and cutting-edge culture. From here go north to pretty Salta, a colonial masterpiece where you can explore colorful desert canyons, charming villages and rust-colored panoramas.
Pack your bags again and head east to Parque Nacional Iguazú, where the world’s most massive falls will astound you. Fly back to Buenos Aires and party till your plane leaves.
Ruta Nacional 40
- 30 Days
Argentina’s quintessential road trip, RN 40 travels the length of the country. To do this adventure independently you'll need to rent a vehicle. Nowadays, most sections are paved but if you plan to get off the beaten path, a 4WD comes in handy.
Start near the amazingly colorful mountainsides of Quebrada de Humahuaca before hitting Salta to take in the colonial charms and the wildly scenic villages of Valles Calchaquíes. Pause at lovely Cafayate and spectacularly located Chilecito before the long trip down to Mendoza to suss out the wine scene.
Continue south, stopping to check out the lagoons and hot springs around Chos Malal. Explore the lovely national parks of Lanín and Nahuel Huapi before hitting San Martín de los Andes and Bariloche, both of which offer fantastic outdoor opportunities. Further on, sidetrack to Cueva de las Manos for indigenous rock art.
Enjoy world-class hiking at El Chaltén, then experience Glaciar Perito Moreno. Cross the border to Chile to explore the stunning Parque Nacional Torres del Paine before your last stop, Ushuaia – the windswept finale of the world's most southern highway.
- 18 Days
Jaw-dropping Andean peaks, adorable mountain villages and exotic coastal wildlife – you'll hit them all on this spectacular Patagonian adventure.
Start in Puerto Madryn in springtime to see the whales, elephant seals and penguins at Reserva Faunística Península Valdés. From nearby Trelew, check out the world's largest dinosaur at the Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio and catch a flight south.
Now hop to El Calafate and lay your eyes on the spectacular and unforgettable Glaciar Perito Moreno. Outdoors lovers will want to cross the border and trek in Chile's famous Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Hit El Chaltén for world-class hiking and camping.
Return to El Calafate to fly to Bariloche, where outdoor recreation abounds in the gorgeous national parks of Nahuel Huapi and Lanín. If you have a couple of days extra, overnight in the hippie enclave of El Bolsón or the cute village of Villa Traful.
Mendoza Wine & Adventures
- 2 Weeks
Few getaways hold more appeal than a journey to South America's most scenic wine country. Whether you're cycling through the vineyards, sipping malbecs or sampling the region's new gourmet fare, it's a fabulous way to unwind.
Uncork your trip in beautiful Mendoza, on the flanks of the Andes with world-class vineyards surrounding the city. Outdoor enthusiasts will be in heaven. White-water rafting and skiing are superb, and Cerro Aconcagua (the western hemisphere’s highest peak) isn’t too far away.
Now take a crack-of-dawn bus to San Rafael, where you can rent a bike and ride out to the city’s wineries, some of which specialize in sparkling wine. The area is also home to scenic Cañon del Atuel, a colorful mini Grand Canyon. Then backtrack up north to San Juan to try the excellent syrah and regional whites. Rent a car and head west to ethereal Barreal for rafting, mountaineering and land sailing, then go further north to explore the remote and traditional villages of Rodeo, Huaco and San José de Jáchal.
Northern adventure loop
- 3 Weeks
Argentina's north feels otherwordly, with pretty towns and cities, colorful mountains and desert scenery. To the east are tropical climates, incredible waterfalls and wildlife-filled wetlands.
Start in Córdoba, Argentina’s second-largest city, to explore one of the country's finest colonial centers.
Now head north to historic Tucumán to see where Argentina declared its independence from Spain. Over to the west is pretty Tafí del Valle; getting there via a gorgeous mountain road is half the fun. A bit further north is beautiful Cafayate, the place to knock back some aromatic torrontés wine. Sober up and day-trip to the epic Quebrada de Cafayate, then head to otherworldly Valles Calchaquíes and the adobe villages of Molinos and Cachi.
The central plaza of Salta is one of Argentina’s best preserved; this city is also a great base for stellar excursions into the Andes. Now journey north through the magnificently eroded valley of Quebrada de Humahuaca, where you can overnight in lively little Tilcara.
Return to Salta and fly to the incredible Parque Nacional Iguazú, home to unbelievable waterfalls. With time, head to Parque Esteros del Iberá, an amazing wetlands preserve full of capybaras, caimans and birds, or pay a visit to the evocative ruins of the Jesuit missions.