Buenos Aires & Patagonia tours

Much like a fillet steak and a fine Malbec, Buenos Aires and Patagonia are a match made in Argentine heaven. Vacations combining the two are the full package: tango and trekking, chic barrios and sweeping glaciers, vibrant cafe culture and jaw-dropping mountain scenery.

These trips are convenient, too, as international flights to Argentina inevitably arrive into or depart from Buenos Aires, so rather than hopping straight on a connection to Patagonia or onto a long flight back home, you can bookend your break with a few days basking in the unique energy of the ‘Paris of South America’.

How to combine
Buenos Aires & Patagonia

Put simply – unfortunately you do need to fly really. If you only have a couple of weeks to explore this part of the world then the two-day bus journey from Buenos Aires down to El Calafate (and the two days back) is going to eat up some serious vacation time.

If you prefer to limit traveling time, then focus on just one part of Patagonia. El Calafate, for example, is a convenient gateway to the Perito Moreno glacier as well as spectacular hikes in Los Glaciares National Park and the fairytale Fitzroy Massif. Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, arguably the jewel in Patagonia’s well-adorned crown, is also thus a three- to four-hour drive from El Calafate.

Travel with a responsible vacation company, whether on a small group tour or a bespoke, tailor made vacation, and they’ll arrange any necessary internal flights for you – booking tickets, airport transfers or car hire where required to seamlessly sew up your Patagonian adventure.

What does a vacation to Buenos Aires & Patagonia entail?

A vacation combining Buenos Aires and Patagonia is all about contrasts. Elegant city suburbs versus the wild, raw might of the Perito Moreno glacier; dancing the tango in milongas packed with Porteños versus the overpowering silence of the Patagonian steppe.

In practical terms, you’ll likely spend two to three days exploring the city; a mixture of guided tours and independent wandering to take in the highlights. Time your stay right and you can experience the wildly passionate party atmosphere of an Argentine football match at the iconic Boca Juniors or River Plate stadiums.

You’ll then catch your flight to Patagonia. San Carlos de Bariloche, ice cream capital of Argentina and the gateway to the beautiful Lake District is a 2.5 hour flight away. El Calafate, for hiking in Los Glaciares and Torres del Paine National Parks is an hour further, as is Ushuaia, sat at the ‘end-of-the-world’ on Tierra del Fuego.
Once in the heart of Patagonia you could be lacing up walking boots for a multi-day trek in Torres del Paine; embarking on a road trip to the creaking foot of a turquoise glacier; cruising across an ice-strewn lake; or horse riding with gauchos. If all that sounds a bit too strenuous, relaxing with a hearty dinner of sumptuous Patagonian lamb served up in a boutique bolthole might be more up your cup of tea – or mate – we are in Argentina, after all.

If you start your vacation in Santiago, Chile, finishing it with a bang in BA is a popular choice – and your toes will be tapping tango rhythms all the flight home. From Buenos Aires, you also have the option to extend your vacation by a couple of extra days and fly north to Iguazu Falls. While Indiana Jones may have brought these falls to the big screen when he implausibly thundered over them in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Iguazu has long been considered one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.

Where will I stay?

In Buenos Aires, your hotel will be in the heart of the city, somewhere like historic San Telmo or chic Palermo, to give you easy access to the city’s highlights. In Patagonia, accommodation can range from basic camping during hikes to luxurious ecolodges. Particularly popular in Torres del Paine National Park are the refugios, basic yet comfortable trekkers’ hostels with dorm accommodation and shared facilities. Small group tours typically use a combination of these and comfortable local guesthouses – and maybe even one or two nights in a tent. On a tailor made tour, where you stay is completely up to you, and your budget.

Our top Patagonia Vacation

Chile and Argentina tour

Chile and Argentina tour

Santiago, Lake District, Patagonia, Glaciers & Buenos Aires

From £2995 11 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Patagonia or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Buenos Aires & Patagonia highlights

San Telmo

The faded, rough-around-the edges, grandeur of Buenos Aires’ oldest barrio may lack the chic Parisian charm of Palermo or elegant Recoleta, but it’s here that you’ll find the beating heart of the city. Dancers tango on street corners to busking violins; cobbled squares host lively antiques markets; and on a Sunday evening Porteños and tourists alike come here to dance the night away at the outdoor Milonga del Indio.

La Boca

Nothing encapsulates Argentine passion more than tango, except maybe football. And in La Boca, football rules. Home of the iconic Boca Juniors – where Maradona honed his craft – this edgy barrio is a buzzing mix of football fans, street art and colourful buildings. Keep to the main pedestrian street – el Caminito – and the Bombonera Stadium, refrain from flashing your cash, and La Boca is a beguiling and rewarding place to explore.

Los Glaciares National Park

Take a boat trip along the towering, constantly-calving, 60m-high wall of turquoise ice where Perito Moreno glacier meets Lago Argentino, enjoy drives across the sweeping Patagonian steppe, or hike in the fairytale mountain surroundings of the Fitzroy Massif. Alternatively, live the gaucho life on one of the region’s sprawling estancias. El Calafate’s airport makes for an easy trip into the heart of the park from Buenos Aires.

Torres del Paine National Park

UNESCO-listed Torres del Paine’s majesty remains undiminished by its popularity. This is serious hiking territory – with the four-to-five day W Trail in the shadow of the jagged Paine peaks one of the finest hikes in South America – although less-serious walkers are also catered for by the park’s network of eco-lodges and refugios. Boat trips across the turquoise Lago Pehoe offer splendid views of the iconic Cuernos del Paine.

Lake District

Argentina’s answer to Switzerland, with alpine lakes, tumbling waterfalls and verdant valleys calling out to be explored on foot, by bike and from the water. Across the Andes in its Chilean counterpart, the Lake District is wilder, overshadowed by volcanoes and home to indigenous Mapuche communities and their folklore. If the scenery’s not enough, chocolate-box-pretty Bariloche offers Argentina’s best ice cream.

Tierra del Fuego

The end of the world (well, South America at least), Tierra del Fuego is surprisingly less harsh and uninviting than its name suggests. Accessed from Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world, you’ll enjoy easy-going trails through dense forest, clinging to the side of the Beagle Channel. Or hop in a kayak to explore lagoons and rivers teeming with seabirds, penguins, seals and orcas.

Best time to visit Buenos Aires & Patagonia

The long southern summer days from November to February are perfect for hiking in Patagonia. Daytime temperatures are warm and sunshine is pretty reliable – although even in midsummer Patagonia can throw four seasons at you in one go. This is peak travel time down south so be prepared to book well in advance to secure accommodation, especially in Torres del Paine’s refugios.

In Buenos Aires, the summer can be sweltering with temperatures reaching a humid 30°C. For a milder city climate coupled with pleasant conditions in Patagonia consider traveling in spring or autumn. The latter (in March) brings beautiful fall foliage, while the former is green and vibrant in the mountains. Spring also tends to bring less wind to Patagonia than the summer, when the williwaws can quite literally knock you sideways.
Written by Sarah Faith
Photo credits: [Page banner: Luis Argerich] [Intro: Sander Crombach] [How to combine Buenos Aires & Patagonia: Hernán Piñera] [What does it entail?: Petr Meissner] [San Telmo: Pedro Angelini] [Torres del Paine National Park: Michel Paz]