When planning an Argentina trip, you must consider 1) what parts of the country you want to see 2) the duration of your stay 3) the types of activities you like and 4) the weather.
Areas of interest: Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Mendoza, Bariloche, Patagonia, and Salta & Jujuy
Let’s review each one.
- Buenos Aires: If you enjoy a big city, you definitely want to spend a few days in BA. Fantastic architecture, restaurants, museums, and shows abound. The capital is also an excellent base for day trips to beautiful country estates or idyllic Uruguayan towns. Similar to New York, Paris, Rome…. you will never run out of things to do in this city.
- Iguazu Falls: On the border of Paraguay and Brazil, Iguazu Falls is the world’s widest waterfall. You can spend anywhere from one up to three days exploring the falls on both the Argentina and Brazil sides.
- Mendoza: In the west, close to the Chilean border, Mendoza is Argentina’s world-renowned wine region at the base of the Andes.
- San Carlos de Bariloche: The Alps of Argentina, Bariloche offers excellent skiing in the winter and fly fishing in the summer.
- Patagonia: The striking mountainous landscape of Patagonia is a playground for active adventure seekers. Hike Perito Moreno Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and explore Torres del Paine National Park. Enter to win a 9 day Patagonia tour with Say Hueque on their Facebook page (I did)!
- Salta and Jujuy: In Argentina’s northwest region, Salta is known as “the beautiful.” Colorful valleys and gorges are reminiscent of the American “wild west.” Charming colonial architecture and outdoor cafes add to the allure. Visit the fascinating salt flats in nearby Jujuy, and take a Train to the Clouds.
Argentina is a fairly long country (the second longest in South America after Chile). The areas you visit on your Argentina trip will hinge largely upon the amount of time you have.
- A week or less: Focus on one region of the country. Stick close to Buenos Aires with day trips to an estancia in the countryside or one of the cities in nearby Uruguay. Are you a wine lover? Head to Mendoza and explore wineries near the Andes.
- Two to three weeks: With more time, you can either explore one region in greater depth, or you can visit the highlights of two to three regions. We opted for a combination and took a deeper dive into Buenos Aires (and the surrounding areas) and also visited Iguazu Falls. The “surrounding areas” included an overnight estancia stay and day trips to Montevideo and Colonia in Uruguay.
Unlimited time: If you’re on extended travel and want to see as much of the country as possible, spend a week or two in Buenos Aires, soaking in the culture of the city. Catch a tango show, explore the city’s many fantastic restaurants, and check out the amazing MALBA modern art museum.
- Then head northeast to Iguazu for three full days of exploring the falls in two countries. Make your way out northwest (via BA) to Stalta and Juyjuy for a week or so, then head a bit further south for some R&R in Mendoza. Feeling refreshed and relaxed, get your adrenaline flowing by continuing south to hike or ski in Bariloche (depending on the season). Round out your Argentina tour with two to three weeks hiking and exploring Patagonia.
Consider the seasons. Remember, the southern hemisphere is opposite, so be prepared to swap seasons if you’re coming from the North.
- Winter– If you want to ski in Bariloche, you’ll likely head down sometime around July or August (but keep in mind August is the high season with school holidays). Hiking in Patagonia may be more limited in the winter. It would be way too cold for me! This time of year is very mild and pleasant at Iguazu Falls, though. The temps were in the 80′s for us! Buenos Aires can get near freezing, but the average temperature while we were there was in the low 50′s.
- Summer – Summers can get hot, even scorching, in Iguazu, easily breaking 100 degrees. Buenos Aires can be hot as well. This would be a great time to head down south to hike the glaciers and mountains in Patagonia or around Bariloche. The days are extremely long during this time of year, so you can do more!
- Spring/Autumn– Argentina’s fall season is great for catching the wine harvest in Mendoza (February through April). In spring, wildflowers bloom in the mountain areas, and it would be an excellent time to visit Salta.
Doing it yourself?
- Consider using bus lines like Via Bariloche (which we used for our Iguazu trip). Splurge for the “super cama” – a fully reclining (read: bed) seat. It’s a 17 hour bus ride to Iguazu! You’ll need the space and the sleep! Via Bariloche operates all over the country.
- Aerolinas Argentinas, Argentina’s airline, offers competitive prices.
- For day trips to Uruguay from Buenos Aires, use the hydrofoil.