7 places to visit in Argentina that will make you never want to leave
If I could congratulate myself on one leap of travel faith, it would be going on our Chile to Argentina: Santiago, Patagonia & Buenos Aires tour in November 2022. I found out just how windy Patagonia can be, how good homemade alfajores are, and what it sounds like when a glacier cracks—and came home with Argentina on my list of favorite destinations. Read on to hear about seven of the best places to visit in Argentina that will pull at your travel-loving heartstrings.
1. The Patagonia region
Getting the opportunity to see Patagonia was front and center in my mind when I joined our Chile to Argentina: Santiago, Patagonia & Buenos Aires tour—and it was even better than I imagined it would be. This region marks the southern tip of South America, and is shared by both Argentina and Chile. My group and I traveled from Punta Arenas and Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile to Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, and every Patagonian mile astounded me.
If I could go back to only one spot from my trip, this would be it. It’s the best place to visit in Argentina. There were snow-capped mountains, jagged glaciers, vast plains (called the Pampas) dotted with wild horses—I don’t think I could pick the winning view even if someone paid me. Of all the things to do in Argentina, soaking in this scenic southern region tops the list. I could have stayed forever. (Need a little more convincing? Check out some traveler reviews and photos from Patagonia.)
Travel tip for Patagonia: Look at the clouds
We saw our fair share of UFO-shaped lenticular clouds, and I was amazed by them. The formation of these clouds has to do with altitude and air moisture, and I was thrilled every time I looked up and saw them in the sky. Some looked like flying saucers, some looked like waves, and I practically filled my camera with pictures. There are many cool things to do in Argentina, and spotting these clouds is one of them.
2. The town of El Calafate
Nestled in southern Patagonia is the town of El Calafate, and I loved every second we spent here. What the rest of the region offers in natural landscapes, El Calafate has in outdoor eateries, good-vibe breweries, and artisanal shops. My group and I strolled down the main street shopping for souvenirs and alfajores, which are cookies with fillings like dulce de leche sandwiched in the middle. (My favorite was filled with rose jam!) My Tour Director and I even popped into Cerveza Patagonia for a beer. Using free time to explore this town is one of the best things to do in Argentina.
Some of us also used a free afternoon to walk down to Laguna Nimez—where we saw flamingoes!—and passed traditional houses as we went. Since the seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere, it was springtime on my November trip, and flowers were blooming. I can’t tell you how charmed I was to smell spring lilacs in the air.
Travel tip for El Calafate: Sip a Calafate sour
This drink is the Patagonian take on the more well-known pisco sour from Peru and Chile, and it was one of my favorite culinary discoveries on my tour. It’s made with Calafate berries only grown in this part of the world, which give it its lovely purple color. El Calafate is even named after this indigenous berry. I always enjoy trying local specialties, and this was a real Argentine treat. If diving into a destination’s culinary scene is your thing, too, then sipping a Calafate sour is one of the most fun things to do in Argentina.
3. Los Glaciares National Park
This UNESCO-listed park is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in Argentina. I was in awe the entire time we were there. The town of El Calafate is the jumping-off point for this park, and even the drive there was beautiful—there were snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, and grasslands to admire from the bus during the ride.
Once we arrived in the park, we boarded a boat out onto Lago Argentino to sail by the Perito Moreno Glacier. I don’t have enough words to describe the experience, and can still feel the refreshing chill that was in the air as we floated near the ice. The views were surreal, but I found myself equally captivated by the water—it was an ethereal greenish color due to the glacier particles, and my Tour Director explained it’s often called “milky water.”
If it sounds like the boat ride was the highlight of the day, I’m here to tell you it was only part of the magic. After disembarking, we got to use a few free hours to meander along the park’s boardwalks, which brought us through the tree-filled forest and to front-row glacier lookouts. It’s one of the top places to visit in Argentina, so don’t miss your opportunity to see it if you ever find yourself at the tip of South America.
Travel tip for Los Glaciares National Park: Keep your ears peeled
Be sure to listen for the crack and roar of the Perito Moreno Glacier as you walk through the park. Hearing it is hands-down one of the most fun things to do in Argentina. The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the only glaciers in the world that is still growing, but large chunks often calve off and break into the water. The loud crack was like rolling thunder. It was truly amazing and exciting to hear.
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4. Iguazú Falls
Have you ever had that “good-for-me” feeling after taking a dream trip? That’s how I would sum up my feelings after adding the Iguazú Falls extension to the end of my Chile to Argentina: Santiago, Patagonia & Buenos Aires tour. I still thank my lucky stars for following my wanderlust and going for it, because I discovered that the falls are one of the best places in Argentina to visit. Seeing them made my adventure that much more thrilling.
We hiked over boardwalks and felt the mist of the different falls in the chain, including the second-to-none Devil’s Throat. (I now understand why standing near this famed cataract is one of the top things to do in Argentina!) We saw birds in the lush greenery, and watched coatis and tegus walking along the forest floor. I even saw a cayman sunning itself near the water. My favorite part was seeing rainbows everywhere, glistening in the distance thanks to the mist and the sunlight.
Highlight of the extension: Taking a powerboat ride at the falls
This experience wins the top spot on my list of the most fun things to do in Argentina! We rode a powerboat through the Macuco Falls Canyon, and I can’t remember an experience that brought me more joy. I was sitting next to our Tour Director, Mariana, and we both laughed so hard the entire time. We got absolutely drenched—like, wring-your-clothes-out drenched. Thankfully, the powerboat company provided waterproof bags for our shoes and electronics. I would go on this trip again just to relive this very adventure.
5. The parks of the Palermo neighborhood
Buenos Aires was the most cosmopolitan place we visited on our Chile to Argentina: Santiago, Patagonia & Buenos Aires tour. There’s a reason why Buenos Aires is called the Paris of South America, after all. The cafes, busy boulevards, and French-style buildings made the city spectacular, and there were so many green spaces and flowering parks to balance all the excitement out. Some of my favorite parks were in the Palermo neighborhood of the city. From the sprawling Japanese Garden to the painting-worthy Rosedal—complete with thousands of roses, lakes, and bridges—there are so many spots to soak in.
Travel tip for Buenos Aires: Go when the jacaranda trees are in bloom
I traveled to Buenos Aires in early November, and many of the famed jacaranda trees were still holding onto their flowers. They don’t bloom for long, and it was such a treat to see the beautiful purple of these trees throughout the city.
6. The neighborhood of La Boca
One of my favorite days on tour in Buenos Aires was the day we walked through the La Boca neighborhood, which is as colorful and lively a place as I’ve ever seen. This is surely one of the best places to visit in Argentina. La Boca is an old Italian port, an artist haven, and a hub for both tango and soccer. One of my favorite things was looking up at the colorful houses and seeing life-size puppets standing on the balconies—everyone from soccer legend Maradonna to the famed Evita, former First Lady of Argentina, were represented.
While I felt very safe strolling through this neighborhood alongside my group, keep in mind: This is a working-class area located near a shanty town, so be aware of your surroundings, and don’t plan to visit this spot at night.
Travel tip for La Boca: Get a sandwich at El Gran Paraiso
Looking for an authentic street food experience while visiting Buenos Aires? This hole-in-the-wall eatery in La Boca is certainly one of the cool places to visit in Argentina. The sign outside read “Este es el lugar,” which translates to, “This is the place.” And it really was the place. There was an outdoor cooking area where locals manned huge grills. Then, there was a window where you could order something to take away—it was surrounded by locals, so I knew right away it’d be good. I got the sandwich de pollo, grilled chicken on a baguette with a selection of sauces. It was simple, freshly cooked, and delicious.
7. Argentine estancias
Estancias are traditional ranches, and are some of the most authentic places to visit in Argentina—especially if you love meeting locals as you travel. I visited a Patagonian estancia in Chile on our Chile to Argentina: Santiago, Patagonia & Buenos Aires tour, and it was unforgettable from start to finish. Seeing the landscape, meeting the farmers, watching a sheep-shearing demonstration, and tasting local specialties like empanadas was such an immersive experience. One of my favorite moments was seeing a sheepdog climb into a farmer’s lap, tail wagging.
Even though I didn’t personally visit an Argentine estancia on my particular tour, I would bet that the experience would be just as immersive. After all, Argentina has a vast countryside called the Pampas, where traditional ranchers work and live. These estancias are deeply ingrained in Patagonian culture, and seeing how they operate is one of the best things to do in Argentina.
Travel tip: Add our Estancia Visit: Argentine Barbecue & Gaucho Show excursion
Dreaming of visiting an Argentine estancia on tour? You can pay a visit to these fascinating cultural spots by adding our Estancia Visit: Argentine Barbecue & Gaucho Show excursion on both our Grand Tour of South America: Brazil, Argentina & Peru and our Rio, Iguazú Falls & Buenos Aires tour. If my estancia experience in Patagonian Chile was any indication, then this is an excursion you don’t want to miss.