Argentina highlights

Argentina map & itineraries


Make the most of your time

When considering places to visit in Argentina, remember this is a country 11 times the size of the UK; you can't see it all without a lot of time and traveling – which frequently involves short internal flights to avoid entire days (and nights) spent on the road. That said, ground transport can be part of the fun – bombing across mountain passes in minivans, boat rides up close to the magnificent Perito Moreno glacier or to remote Patagonian estancias, luxurious long-distance coaches (think flat beds!). Consider combining two or three myriad landscapes and experiences: city buzz in Buenos Aires; tranquil Pampas; Patagonian peaks and plains; high deserts and sylvan lakes; glaciers; wetlands and vineyards.
peninsula valdes glacier national park & torres del paine inland patagonia & ruta 40 buenos aires Iguazu mendoza & the andes esteros del ibera the lake district salta & jujuy the pampas cordoba & the central sierras tierra del fuego

The Lake District

Ringed by the soaring Cerros Catedral peaks, lakeside Bariloche is a brilliant base for hikes in Nahuel Huapi National Park, whose mountain huts let you walk as long as you have breath! Drive the winding 'Lakes Route' past a septet of watery alpine beauties, and soak away any aches in the thermal spa town of Copahue. The original German and Swiss inhabitants have left a tasty legacy, strangely appropriate in this Alpine setting: artisan chocolate shops.

Buenos Aires

Argentina's capital dances to a never-ending pulse, with locals (portenos) dining at midnight before hitting bars at 3am amid colonial architecture and hedonistic hubbub. Wander elegant San Telmo and gaudy La Boca, browse galleries and boutiques in upscale Recoleta or relax in park-filled Palermo. And be sure to experience a tango hall (milonga) plus one of Latin America's finest gourmet scenes.

Cordoba & the Central Sierras

Argentina's vibrant second city happily blends superb Jesuit architecture with enjoyable get-up-and-go fed by a young cultured population and passion for music, from traditional cuarteto to 21st century beats. The surrounding hill country provides some of the world's best launch spots for paragliding such as La Cumbre and Merlo – with expert instructors on hand to provide tandem flights for newbies.

Esteros del Ibera

Lush lagoons (esteros) and floating islands fill this 13,000 square kilometre wetland national park in NE Argentina, home to marsh deer, exotic birds, screeching howler monkeys, sharp-toothed black caimans and iconic capybaras. Stylish lodges provide creature comforts after creature days. Explore one of South America's finest wildlife reserves on foot (night walks too), horseback or boat.

Glacier National Park & Torres del Paine

Blue-hued icy movers and shakers star in Los Glaciares National Park - such as Perito Moreno, whose 5km wide, 60m ice walls move up to 2m a day! The area is also hiking heaven amid the startling granite pillars of Torres del Paine and the wild Fitz Roy peaks. El Chalten is a colourful summer hiking HQ – complete with microbrewery and February trekking festival.

Iguazu

On the border with Brazil, Iguazu Falls are perhaps the planet's greatest cascades, a vast sweep of torrents plunging from a jungle backdrop. Gaze from walkways down the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), take a drenching boat trip under a fall, then explore jungle trails snaking into surrounding wildlife-rich national parks. You may need a visa to enter Brazil – check beforehand!

Inland Patagonia & Ruta 40

Ruta 40 is a stunning road trip, gathering vast steppes, glacial peaks and lakes the colour of strange gems. It's tarred but with long distances between petrol/food stops plus changeable weather. Consider a multi-day guided jaunt if DIY doesn't appeal. Hikers can explore the foothills of Los Alerces NP around laidback old town of Esquel – terminus for the historic narrow-gauge La Trochita train

Mendoza & the Andes

The city is a cosmopolitan oasis in a dramatic landscape where desert jostles Andean peaks – including Aconcagua, at 6,920m, the Americas' highest summit and a top climbers' favourite. Add excellent rafting, mountain biking, paragliding and winter skiing. Mendoza is also Argentina's premier wine-growing area – but perhaps save tastings until you've done the adventure stuff! Top wineries cluster around Maipu.

The Pampas

From the 19th century, Argentina grew rich on the beef, wool and wheat reared on these vast grass plains spreading in a giant westward arc from Buenos Aires. They're dotted with traditional ranches (estancias) worked by characterful Latin cowboys (gauchos), offering a chance to experience a unique prairie and immense vistas. 18th century colonial Areco and leafy Tandil are lovely Pampas towns.

Peninsula Valdes

The UNESCO-listed Peninsula Valdes nature reserve is a wildlife mecca, its 400km coast home to elephant seals, Magellanic penguins and the endangered southern right whale. Inland, spot guanacos (wild cousins of llama) alongside atmospheric salt flats. The charming old salt port Puerto Piramides now majors on whale-watching tours in the breeding season (June-Dec), plus diving with sea lions (water visibility peaks in August).

Salta & Jujuy

These NW provinces offer fabulous vistas, culture and vineyards. The crinkled coloured rock of the Quebrada de Humahuaca valley complement two national parks. Hill villages like Valles Calchaquies are indigenous artisan craft meccas. Salta is a colonial jewel famed for folk music and native history museums – and start point for the precipitous 'Train to the Clouds' climbing to 4,200m.

Tierra del Fuego

Set between the Beagle Channel and snow-capped Martial Mountains, lively Ushuaia is the last bit of civilisation before sailing to Antarctica. A summer hiking/biking hub, there's enough buzz to just kickback too. The adjacent Tierra del Fuego National Park offers fragrant southern forests with gentle trails and brilliant birdlife including condors, albatross and flightless steamer ducks. Canoe off the coast to spot seals, penguins and orcas.

Argentina itineraries


Argentina

Argentina highlights, 12 days: Buenos Aires ► (flight) El Calafate ► Perito Moreno ► El Calafate ► (flight) Ushuaia ► Beagle Channel ► (flight) Buenos Aires ► (flight) Iguazu Falls ► (flight) Buenos Aires 

Waterfalls & glaciers, 8 days:

Buenos Aires ► (flight) Iguazu Falls ► (flight) Buenos Aires ► (flight) El Calafate ► Perito Moreno ► El Calafate ► (flight) Buenos Aires

Cities & national parks, 12 days:

Buenos Aires ► (flight) Iguazu Falls ► (flight) Mendoza ► Andes ► (flight) Bariloche ► Isla Victoris & Bosque de Arraynes ► (flight) Buenos Aires

Travel times in Argentina


The following times give you a rough idea of the travel times between the main attractions in Argentina.
 
  • Round trip on Salta's 'Train To The Clouds': 13 1/2 hours by train
  • Buenos Aires – Mendoza: 13 hours by bus
  • Buenos Aires – Ushuaia: 3 ½ hours by air
  • Buenos Aires – Salta: 18 ½ hours by bus
  • Buenos Aires – Iguazu: 1 ¾ hours by air
  • Buenos Aires – Bariloche: 20 hours by bus
  • Buenos Aires – Corrientes: 1 ½ hours by air
Photo credits: [Road sign - topbox: Vera & Jean-Christophe] [PENINSULA VALDES: David] [GLACIER NATIONAL PARK & TORRES DEL PAINE: Douglas Scortegagna] [INLAND PATAGONIA & RUTA 40: advencap] [BUENOS AIRES: Montecruz Foto] [IGUAZU: Deni Williams] [MENDOZA & THE CENTRAL ANDES: xxxx] [ESTEROS DEL IBERA: MGPanoramico] [BARILOCHE & THE LAKE DISTRICT: Adrian Lasso] [SALTA & JUJUY: psrobin] [THE PAMPAS: David Bacon] [CORDOBA & THE CENTRAL SIERRAS: Randal Sheppard] [USHUAIA & TIERRA DEL FUEGO: Gus Valentim]
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