Argentina, the second largest country in South America has an array of marvels – from natural wonders in Patagonia and the Malbec wineries in Mendoza to the ski resorts in Bariloche, Andean villages of Salta to the tango houses in Buenos Aires. Each of these regions is vast and to spend just two weeks to visit all of Argentina is almost impossible.
Trippy user Greg Wallace knew he had a pressing problem with two weeks in Argentina. He asked:
Planning a trip to Argentina but only have two weeks. Was planning on doing Buenos Aires and Patagonia. What would be a good two-week itinerary? Love the beach and the mountains and want to try to do as much as I can! Don’t mind moving around a lot.
Heidi Roberts from New York spent 12 days in Argentina. She suggested:
Greg, my husband and I did a rushed 12 day trip to Argentina in April 2011.
You’ll surely start in Buenos Aires and can then move on to El Calafate and the Perito Moreno glacier and countless hiking opportunities (and very decent microbrews) at El Chalten. Onward to Ushuaia, where you will earn serious demerits if you don’t cruise the Beagle Channel, visit the penguin colonies, and Estancia Harberton. Mendoza is gorgeous, yes, and the Uco Valley not to be missed. Truly bizarre and wonderful are Purmamarca, Salta, and the otherworldly salt flats, but our favorite spot “up north” was the lovely town of El Cafayate. The Andes near El Cafayate and Mendoza would give you ample and different mountain opportunities from their southern pals. We ended with several days in BA and, of course, we loved the city as well. We only had the 12 days, or we would have gladly stayed longer in every location. But you can do it!
Argentinian native Pablo Zulueta’s answer is spot on for a similar question he answered. He wrote:
Definitely, your choice should be Argentina, beginning with Buenos Aires, the city where I live and where you will find an amazing variety and plenty to do. Then from here, as you say, you could visit the vineyards in Mendoza or go to Iguazú Falls or know the Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate or explore the stunning scenery of the north or visit northern Patagonia (Argentina). From Bariloche to 7 lakes route or travel to the end of the world, Ushuaia or do whale watching in Puerto Madryn …
My six-week road trip in Argentina led me to many parts of the country including El Calafate, Bariloche, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Posadas, Rosario, Mendoza, Salta and La Quiaca (the border town at the Argentina/Bolivia border). I wouldn’t recommend cramming too many places in two weeks. So, here’s a two-week itinerary worth considering:
Begin your vacation in Buenos Aires or “Paris of South America.” This cosmopolitan city of almost three million people boasts of Latin vibe and European-styled architecture, tree-lined boulevards, sidewalks, and cafés.
Spend at least three full days (possibly two full days in the beginning and one whole day before you fly home) in Buenos Aires. Experience tango shows, eat the best steak in the world, visit museums and the palaces and probably take a day trip to Mar del Plata beach if you enjoy the beach like Greg Wallace.
Trippy user Jean Jacques from Miami wrote:
Buenos Aires is fun; there is a lot of places to go out. You should move in the touristic areas, and be careful with your personal belongings when you are on the street. And do not use back pockets to put money, wallet, etc. You need to be aware.
In Buenos Aires, you should go to Puerto Madero, great restaurants, and nice place. Also, Palermo (Palermo Soho), there are restaurants, bars, nightclubs, great place to have fun and meet people.
If you like to see something more cultural, like a Tango Show, check Café Tortoni. It is more local, not so touristic, and it is beautiful. It is a cafe where famous writers and poets used to meet. There is a room in the back, where they have a small Tango show, and it very nice, and also you can have dinner. It is cheaper than going to the famous shows, but for me has more history.
Buenos Aires Tourism Board suggested these must-see places:
1. Teatro Colon
2. Casa Rosada – the pink palace
3. The Cabildo
4. The Metropolitan Cathedral
5. Recoleta Cemetery –world-famous cemetery, burial site of Eva Peron
6. Caminito – street museum with colorful houses
7. Puente de la Mujer
8. Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve
9. Café Tortoni – oldest café
10. The Palermo rose garden
11. Plaza Dorrego
12. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
13. La Bombonera stadium
14. Palacio Barolo
15. El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore
I suggest visiting Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo. The best time to visit is on Sundays for the San Telmo Sunday Fair. Other places worth visiting are Teatro Colon, Casa Rosada, Recoleta Cemetery, Café Tortoni and Caminito.
I hesitated to add Salta because it is further away to the other stops- Bariloche and El Calafate. But I prefer Salta over Mendoza for these three reasons:
1. Salta’s Andean culture is vastly different from other parts of Argentina
2. There are world class wineries for the best Malbec, Cabernets and Torrontes wine in Cafayate. Cafayete is 125 miles from Salta. Read 5 Top Wineries to Visit in Salta.
3. The scenic drives and the outdoor activities like white water rafting, hiking and the experience of riding Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds), one of the highest railways in the world.
Salta is 930 miles and a two-hour flight from Buenos Aires. There are daily flights from Buenos Aires to Salta. You will need at least four full days to explore Salta’s historic city, visit the wineries and spending a day for outdoor activities or going on a scenic drive to the Andean villages of Tilcara, Purmamarca, and Humahuaca.
Guadalupe Piaggio from Buenos Aires highly recommended Salta. She wrote:
You have to go to Salta Province and to “el Cerro de Los Siete Colores” at Purmamarca, which means the mountain with seven colors that is something unusual. Then go to Salinas Grandes which is like a dessert of salt, all white in the middle of nowhere. The distances are long but beautiful to make a road trip. I hope you have a nice time an enjoy yourself!!
Fly from Salta via Buenos Aires to San Carlos de Bariloche, the lakeside town at the foothills of Patagonia Andes in North Patagonia Argentina. Some say Bariloche resembles the Swiss Alps because of its lakes, mountains and locally produced chocolates.
Ruta de Los Siete Lagos …the seven lakes around San Carlos de Bariloche are pretty spectacular. I hired a car and drove it. Pretty spectacular and enough small towns to offer coffee and good food in between more rustic natural experiences.
Besides, spectacular views and a relaxing atmosphere, Bariloche offers hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, horseback riding, canyoning, mountain biking, sailing and in winter, it’s the most popular ski resort in South America.
From Bariloche, head south to El Calafate in southern Patagonia and gateway to Los Glaciares National Park. The most famous site in the national park is Perito Moreno Glacier.
Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the few glaciers that are still advancing, and you get to view it at a close range from a boat or the viewing platforms. The fun part is to wait, see and hear the roaring sounds of vast chunks of ice cracking and falling into the water. It’s one of the most beautiful natural wonders of South America.
I suggest three full days in southern Patagonia region with El Calafate as the base and visiting Perito Moreno Glacier, El Chalten and possibly a day trip to Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia Chile.
Jeannette Norris from Brooklyn said:
If you’re into mountains, I HIGHLY recommend El Chalten in Patagonia. It’s a unique place and very hiker friendly. There’s a tiny town with some hostels, restaurants, and cafes that are surrounded by mountains on every side. The trail entrances are IN the town, so day hiking is easy and convenient. A lot of people just set up camp in town (there are a number of campgrounds), and then hike during the day.
Not too far from here in El Calafate, which is the gateway town to Perito Moreno, famous for its glaciers. It’s a very touristy attraction, but the magnificence of the glaciers make it worthwhile. If you have time and want to eat one of the best meals of your life, go to Isabel Cocina al Disco. Try the Pollo al disco, which is a traditional dish cooked in a cast iron skillet. The sauce is INCREDIBLE.
After El Calafate, fly back to Buenos Aires for another day before your trip home.
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Photos and article by Claudia Looi