Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world. A trip from the North all the way down to the South is almost 2,300 miles long. For years, I called Buenos Aires my home, and I made my way through this immense country several times. Its diversity left a big impression, and I absolutely fell in love. This fantastic country has so much to offer. In this article I’m sharing the best things to do and places to visit during a trip to Argentina!
- Explore Buenos Aires
- Visit Peninsula Valdes
- Go whale watching
- Walk among the penguins in Punta Tombo | top things to do in Argentina
- Visit Estancia El Pedral and Punta Ninfas
- Snorkel or dive with sea lions
- Discover the end of the world – Ushuaia
- Admire the Perito Moreno glacier – top things to do in Argentina
- Hike on a glacier
- Go hiking in El Chaltén
- Admire the Iguazú waterfalls
- Visit an Argentine estancia
- Explore Bariloche and the Lake District
- Drink wine in Mendoza
- Visit Los Alerces national park
What to do in Argentina?
Explore Buenos Aires
I have an ongoing love affair with Buenos Aires. The charming and passionate people, the atmosphere, and the stories are making this city so unique. It’s easy to stay in one neighborhood for days and not get bored. Each neighborhood has its own specific vibe and character. Walking through the chic Recoleta neighborhood feels like walking through Paris. I love the old San Telmo neighborhood and its many tango bars, the port of Puerto Madero and trendy Palermo, the SOHO of the city. But also the Argentinean Broadway, its lively city center, its numerous parks, museums, and markets. Buenos Aires is the New York of South America, a Cosmopolitan metropolis with a European atmosphere. And that is why this city definitely belongs in the list of 9 incredible things to visit and do in Argentina.
Visit Peninsula Valdes
Peninsula Valdes is a protected nature reserve on the east coast of Argentina, near the town of Puerto Madryn. Numerous animals gather annually, to mate and raise their young, due to the favorable climatic conditions. This national park in Argentina is therefore one of the best places in the world to see whales, seals and penguins in their natural habitat. Besides that, animals such as nandus, a kind of ostrich, armadillos, vicuñas and condors live here.
You can make a big tour on Peninsula Valdes. You will stop at different viewpoints to observe animals and go for short walks. Keep in mind that distances on the peninsula are immense (60 x 100 km) and the roads are unpaved. So you will be driving for at least 2 hours to get from one point to another. On the way you enjoy the endless Patagonian steppes and grass plains passing by.
Puerto Madryn in Argentina is the gateway to some of the most impressive sea life experiences, such as whale watching, snorkling with sealions and penguin encounters. Check out my Puerto Madryn travel guide with everything you want to know.
Go whale watching
One of the best places in the world to see whales is at Peninsula Valdes in Argentina. Every year between May and December, hundreds of humpback whales come from Antarctica to the coast of Argentina to mate and raise their young. Since the whales stay close to the shore and the mothers often swim on the surface with their young, you will have a great chance of seeing them. You visit the animals in their natural habitat and it is an indescribable feeling to see them around you. Their tail sticking out of the ocean and the sound they make when they spray up the water, are moments that you will never forget your life.
Several agencies offer whale watching tours of approximately 1.5 hours, leaving from Puerto Pirámides. Want to book your whalewatching tour in advance and secure your spot? Check out prices and availability and book your whale watching tour here.
Walk among the penguins in Punta Tombo | top things to do in Argentina
Punta Tombo is a peninsula, located in the Atlantic Ocean, covered with sand, clay and gravel. Every year, in Argentine spring, more than one and a half million penguins arrive at this place to breed. It is the largest Magellanic penguin colony in the continent. Between September and March you can visit this place to literally walk by their side. There are special walking paths and bridges, where you can walk as a visitor and it is common to have a penguin walking in front of your feet. A unique experience. It takes about three hours to get from Puerto Madryn to Punta Tombo.
Want to book a tour to the Punta Tombo penguins reserve? Check out prices and availability and book your tour to Punta Tombo here.
Visit Estancia El Pedral and Punta Ninfas
Are you looking for something different than the usual tours in Puerto Madryn? Then book a day tour to Estancia El Pedral and Punta Ninfas. Punta Ninfas is a peninsula, near Puerto Madryn and is known for its beautiful small Magellanic penguin colony. And where you share Punta Tombo with hundreds of tourists, you are on Punta Ninfas with a group of maybe 10 people.
Together with a local guide you walk through the penguin sanctuary, along the penguin nests, towards the sea. You will also pass the lighthouse, located at the point of Punta Ninfas where you have a great view of the rugged cliffs of Patagonia.
Afterwards you experience an asado at the Estancia El Pedral, a typical Patagonian bbq lunch with lamb and wine (or vegetarian). This tour is one of the best things to do in Puerto Madryn if you are looking for more privacy and an off the beaten track experience.
Snorkel or dive with sea lions
How would it feel to swim with sea lions in their natural habitat? In Argentina you are able to experience this during a unique snorkeling tour. A short boat trip from Puerto Madryn takes you to the seal colony of Punta Loma. Here you jump into the water to go snorkeling for 45 minutes. Yes, among the seals. Since you are in their natual habitat, there is a big chance to find the animals really swimming next to you. An incredible feeling, where you forget everything around you. If you have a diving certificate, it is also possible to dive.
Check out prices and availability and book you snorkling tour with sea lions here. Please note that these tours depend on the water level and therefore not always take place.
Hotels Puerto Madryn
Some of my favorite hotels in Puerto Madryn and surroundings are:
- Shai Shai Hue
- Hotel Territorio.
- Estancia El Pedral
- Puerto Palos – Puerto Pirámides
- More hotels in Puerto Madryn
- Hotels in Puerto Pirámides
Discover the end of the world – Ushuaia
Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, also called the end of the world. The city is located between the Beagle Channel, glaciers and eternally snow-capped peaks. Ushuaia is a city that you absolutely want to visit during a trip in Argentina. The Ushuaia area lends itself to beautiful hikes in Tierra del Fuego and to glaciers, tours of remote farms and boat tours.
During a boat trip on the Beagle channel you are able to observe penguins, seabirds, seals and with a little luck even whales. You can go for hikes in Tierra del Fuego national park and to Laguna Esmeralda to enjoy views and unique vegetation. And in the evening you want to sit down in one of the many restaurants to taste the Patagonian king crab.
This is an overview of the best tours in Ushuaia.
Discover more in my Ushuaia Argentina travel guide, including tips for hikes, tours, my favorite restaurants, best travel time and where to stay.
- Cumbres Del Martial
- Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa
- Los Cauquenes Resort + Spa + Experiences.
- More hotels in Ushuaia
Admire the Perito Moreno glacier – top things to do in Argentina
Visiting the Perito Moreno glacier is one of the top things to do in Argentina. This ice mass of up to five kilometers wide and seventy meters high, with its blue glow and shimmers, is a view that you will never forget. The Perito Moreno glacier is part of the Los Glaciares national park and Argentina’s most famous glacier. What is special is that you can get all the way to the glacier front without too much effort. Footbridges and easy trails have been constructed and ensure that you can observe the glacier from different sides.
The ice mass consists of 250 km2 and moves forward every day. Pieces of ice regularly break off at the front, which causes a deafening sound combining waves. You only have to pay close attention, because when you hear the sound, the ice block is already in the water and you are too late. Don’t forget to make a boat trip along the glacier and drink a glass of whisky with ice from the glacier.
The Perito Moreno glacier is about a 1.5-hour drive from El Calafate. There are several ways to visit the glacier. You can book a tour to the Perito Moreno glacier, go by taxi or rent a car and drive yourself. In any case, it is one of the best things to do in El Calafate Argentina that you should not miss for the world.
Hotels El Calafate
Hike on a glacier
Always wanted to hike on a glacier? Then you should definitely not miss the trekking at the Perito Moreno glacier. It is one of the most adventurous things to do in El Calafate Argentina. You can choose from a minitrekking, where you are on the glacier for about 1 hour, or a Big Ice Trek, where you walk on the Perito Moreno glacier for 3 hours. With crampons, a helmet and armor you move over the glacier and marvel at the colors blue, turquoise ponds, deep cracks and caves. At times you are completely surrounded by ice. An unforgettable experience!
Tours are very populair and often sold out weeks in advance. Want to book your tour in advance and secure your spot? Check out prices and availability here.
El Calafate: Minitrekking Perito Moreno Glacier
Big Ice Trek Perito Moreno Glacier El Calafate
In my El Calafate travel guide you will find everything you want to know about visiting El Perito Moreno glacier and El Calafate, including tips for restaurants, hotels, tours, activities, best time to visit and how to get there.
Go hiking in El Chaltén
El Chaltén is located at the foot of the Fitz Roy, an impressive mountain range in the Los Glaciares national park. On clear days you can already see the impressive granite rocks halfway the road from El Calafate. El Chaltén is the hiking and trekking destination of Argentina. You can go for amazing hikes, walking straight from your hotel into the mountains. There are different trails, ranging from 2 to 10 hours that you can easily do in one day.
One of the best things to do when you are in El Chaltén in Argentina is to hike to Laguna de Los Tres and Laguna Torre. Not easy but so worth it. And since you walk the same way back and forward on all trails, you can easily return halfway. Don’t feel like walking? There are also horseback riding tours that allow you to explore the area in a different way.
Do you want to know more about hiking in El Chaltén? Check out my El Chaltén travel guide with everything you want to know, including the most beautiful hikes, activities, best time to visit and how to get there.
Hotels El Chaltén
- Los Cerros del Chalten Boutique Hotel.
- Hostería El Pilar
- Patagonia Eco Domes
- More hotels in El Chaltén
Admire the Iguazú waterfalls
In the northeast, on the border with Brazil, you will find the impressive Iguazú falls. Around 275 waterfalls, surrounded by a tropical vegetation, are plunging into the Iguazú River. There are two ways of visiting the falls, from the Argentinian side and from the Brazilian side. And both sides make you experience the falls in a completely different way.
On the Argentine side of the border, you can cross several bridges along the waterfalls. Along the way, you will encounter bromeliads, orchids, iguanas, butterflies and coatis. One of the highlights is the boat trip along the waterfalls and the hike to La Garganta del Diablo, or the Devil’s Throat. At the top of the waterfall, surrounded by gigantic water clouds, is where you’ll get the most spectacular view of the crashing water. It is one of those places that can give you a sense of how truly astounding nature can be and this makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in Argentina.
The Brazilian side offers a nice overview, where you’ll see the waterfalls from a distance. Moreover you can make a helicopter tour and view the falls from above. Do you want to read more about visiting Iguazú? Have a look in my Iguazú travel guide.
Hotels in Iguazú
Visit an Argentine estancia
To get a better idea of the Argentine gaucho life, a visit to an estancia, a typical Argentine farm, should not be missed during your trip through Argentina. The best thing to do is to stay one or two nights and learn all about the rural life in Argentina. You can go horseback riding on the vast pampas, help out on the farm and enjoy the most delicious empanadas and asados – a traditional Argentine bbq. Of course you will get to enjoy some good glasses of wine, while making new friends for life.
Explore Bariloche and the Lake District
Do you like nature and outdoor activities? Then Bariloche should not be missed during a trip through Argentina. Bariloche, located on Lake Nahuel Huapi is also known as Little Switzerland because of the lakes, forests, mountains and specialities such as chocolate and cheese fondue. In winter, Bariloche is the skiing paradise for the Argentinians and in summer for outdoor activities. You can spend days in Bariloche, exploring a new place every day.
Hop on a boat and sail the beautiful Nahuel Huapi Lake to Puerto Blest, or go on a hike through the mountains and deep green forests along Brazo Tristeza and Cerro Llao Llao. Other popular activities include rafting, canoeing, and chocolate tasting tours. You can also take a chairlift and catch breathtaking views at Cerro Catedral, Cerro Campanario or Cerro Otto. But Bariloche itself is also a lovely city to be, because of its beautiful location, pleasant atmosphere and many good restaurants.
Looking for things to do in Bariloche? This is an overview of tours in Bariloche.
Discover the best things to do in this Bariloche Argentina travel guide, including tips for hikes, tours, restaurants, best travel time and where to stay.
Drink wine in Mendoza
Are you a wine lover? Then you definitely want to visit Mendoza. Mendoza is one of the most famous wine regions of the country. You can spend days here and travel from vineyard to wine tasting, while enjoying the surroundings. Make sure to explore the area of Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco and visit Riccitelli Wines and Casa Vigil El Enemigo for wine tasting.
Visit Los Alerces national park
One of my favorite national parks in Argentina is Los Alerces. You will find yourself between deep green forests and immense lakes, with the Andes mountains in the background. The park is known for its cypresses, hence the name Los Alerces. Also species such as cedars and conifers can be found. Los Alerces is mainly a tourist destination for the Argentinians, but if you come here outside the Argentinian holiday period, you almost have the park to yourself. It is possible to drive through the park by car and stop at various places to go for walks and enjoy nice views. It is recommended to spend the night in the town of Esquel, which is about 280 kilometers from Bariloche and visit Los Alerces from here.
Do you want to read more about nature in Argentina? In the next article I’m taking you to the best and most beautiful national parks in Argentina, including an overview with things to do and the best time to visit.
Best time to visit Argentina
The best time to visit Patagonia is between September and February, when days are longer and warmer. Buenos Aires is perfect in fall (March – May) and Spring (Sept – Nov). In Summer (Dec – March), it can be extremely hot in the city and people travel to the coast. The beaches are therefore packed during Summer holidays (Dec – Feb). If you want to skiing in Bariloche, the best time to visit is in Winter (June – Aug). But Argentinean people travel all over the country during Winter (June – Aug) andSummer holidays (Dec – Feb). Keep this in mind when planning your trip. Hotels, tours and restaurants can be very busy. If you want to see whales in Puerto Madryn you have to be there between May and December. Penguins in Punta Tombo can be seen between October and March.
Argentia travel itineraries
Argentina is such a beautiful and diverse country that you can explore it for months. But what if you a limited amount of time and still want to get the most out of your travels? What should you see and do? Have a look in my Argentina itineraries, I will give you tips for destinations, hikes, national parks, tours, things to do and restaurants to include in your trip. Enjoy and get inspired to visit Argentina!
More about Argentina
Do you want to learn more about this beautiful country? With Passport the World I am taking you on a journey to discover Argentina. Discover more in my next articles.
- Things to do in Argentina
- El Calafate – a comprehensive guide with everything you want to know
- Discover whales, penguins and sea lions in my Puerto Madryn travel guide
- El Chaltén Argentina – a comprehensive guide with hikes and tips for your stay
- Things to do in Ushuaia | tips for your stay
- Things to do in Bariloche Argentina – tips, hikes and tours
- National Parks of Argentina
- Iguazu falls – everything you want to know