Updated post: 26/10/2019 | October 2019
It’s easy to understand why Argentina is one of the most popular countries in South America. From the romance of the tango cafes of Buenos Aires to the vineyards of the Mendoza Valley to the glacial majesty of Patagonia, it has culture and natural beauty in spades.
However, despite travelling independently to many countries, putting together an Argentina itinerary was the one that caused me the most headaches. Why was this?
There were two main reasons. Argentina is a BIG country, the 9th largest in the world and around twenty times the size of the UK. Added to this, the seasonal weather patterns vary depending on where in the country you are.
Therefore, as I was not able to spend months out there, I had to accept that I was not going to be able to cover it all in one trip. Some tough choices were needed!
To help you plan your perfect trip to Argentina, here are the main things that you should consider. These include are how to put together your Argentina itinerary, the nest time of year to visit, how to get around the country and typical costs for a solo traveller on a mid-range budget.
What should include in your Argentina itinerary?
First and foremost, this will depend on your preferences. Do you want an active holiday, hiking in Patagonia or in the Lake District perhaps? Of is wine tasting in Mendoza or learning to do the tango more your thing?
The Argentinian landscape is extremely varied, from snow-capped Patagonian peaks to tropical jungles and waterfalls.
Take a look at a few guidebooks, surf the web for interesting blog posts. See what takes your fancy.
Is Argentina safe for solo travellers?
As a solo female traveller, I also found Argentina a safe country to travel around.
Like any major city, petty theft can be an issue in Buenos Aires, but take the same precautions as you would in your home city. Watch your bag and your belongings and be street smart.
Trust your instincts. Take a taxi when this is a safer option. Seek local knowledge on the safety of areas.
Which time of year should you travel to Argentina?
This is an important consideration. Buenos Aires is ideal in autumn (March-May) and spring (Sept-Nov) when temperatures are not so oppressive.
Patagonia and the southern Andes are best visited in summer (Dec-March) when days are longer and warmer. Iguazú Falls is a year-round destination but can be steaming in high summer (Dec – Feb). Winter (June-Aug) is the best time to visit the Northwest.
When & where to go in Argentina?
I went for just over two weeks in March 2018. This gave me enough time to marvel at the Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, go hiking in the Lake District, get soaked at the Iguazu Falls and absorb the culture of Buenos Aires for a decent chunk of time, with a side trip to Colonia in Uruguay.
I could have done this over a shorter time period. However, I was keen to build in some wiggle room in case of unforeseen incidents. It was also important for me to have time without a particular agenda.
Too often when travelling, I have fallen into the trap of pinging from one ‘must-see’ site to another. Whilst there will always be places to see and things to do, there’s also a lot to be said for just ‘being’.
How can you get around Argentina?
For long-distance travel, you are looking at buses or planes.
Buses in Argentina have a reputation for being good and cheap. Platform 10 is a good resource to research routes and timetables. However, because of the distances involved, it can take a very long time to get from A to B.
To maximise my time, I took domestic flights between the main hubs, using the service of LATAM and Aerolineas Argentinas. Also, I think that my days of overnight bus journeys may be behind me. For me, this was a good way to splash the cash!
Trains are also an option. Due to lack of investment, for many years the Argentinian rail network was in the doldrums. However, it has been undergoing a recent revival. Check out the excellent Man in Seat 61 website for current information.
How to plan your trip to Argentina
From the outset, I knew that the Perito Moreno Glacier and Iguazu Falls would be essential stops. Other places, such as Bariloche and Colonia, were desirable. I also wanted a decent amount of time in Buenos Aires and that this would bookend the trip. This made sense to me for two reasons:
- Buenos Aires is the hub for domestic flights
- I prefer to travel with hand-luggage only. Using the same hotel at both ends of the trip allowed me to bring two small pieces of luggage with me, leaving one at the hotel when I was travelling around Argentina.
This gave me a very loose structure for the trip. From there, all was all systems go! Here’s how I did it.
A day-by-day Argentina itinerary
And how did it all work out? Very well in fact. Here’s my day-by-by Argentina itinerary:
|DAY 1||LONDON TO BUENOS AIRES||Arrival late am. Botanic Gardens, Japanese Gardens, Rose Gardens|
|DAY 2||BUENOS AIRES||Historic centre – Plaza de Mayo, Cathedral, Casa Rosado. Downtown area.|
|DAY 3||BUENOS AIRES TO EL CALAFATE||Arrival mid pm. Arrange day trip to Perito Moreno Glacier.|
|DAY 4||EL CALAFATE||Day trip to Perito Moreno Glacier|
|DAY 5||EL CALAFATE TO BARILOCHE||Arrival late pm|
|DAY 6||BARILOCHE||Walk – Circuito Chico|
|DAY 7||BARILOCHE||Walk – Lago Gutierrez|
|DAY 8||BARILOCHE TO IGUAZU||Arrival late pm. Arrange transfer to Iguazu Falls.|
|DAY 9||IGUAZU||Iguazu Falls – Argentinian side|
|DAY 10||IGUAZU||Iguazu Falls – Brazilian side|
|DAY 11||IGUAZU TO BUENOS AIRES||Arrival late pm. Arrange day trip to Colonia.|
|DAY 12||BUENOS AIRES||Day trip to Colonia, Uruguay|
|DAY 13||BUENOS AIRES||Walking tour of La Boca. Ecological park at Puerto Madero.|
|DAY 14||BUENOS AIRES||San Telmo & El Zanjon|
|DAY 15||BUENOS AIRES||La Recoleta Cemetery. Palermo street art.|
Highlights of my Argentina itinerary
Exploring the culture and history of Buenos Aires
- Taking a walking tour of La Boca
- Paying my respects to Eva Peron by visiting La Recoleta Cemetery
- Exploring the underground tunnels of El Zanjon in San Telmo
Getting soaked at a visit to the Iguazu Falls
Visiting Uruguay for a dose of colonial splendour
How much does two weeks in Argentina cost?
I’ll start by saying that whilst Argentina is not bargain-basement South America, neither it is ludicrously expensive. Excluding international flights, the trip cost $3590. This works out to be $225 per day.
In descending order, this was made up of the following:
- Hotels $1690
- Flights $930
- Food & drink $455
- Other ground transport $245
- Entrance fees $150
- Day trips $120
As I was travelling alone, accommodation costs were accordingly high. I could have done it a lot cheaper by staying in less expensive, shared accommodation in a not so nice area. But it was important to me to have a comfortable room in a relatively safe location to retreat to at the end of the day.
I also used taxis where it was more convenient and safe to do so, instead of opting for public transport.
Argentina was a country that exceeded my expectations. Wherever you end up, and however long for, I am sure that you will have a fabulous time in Argentina. With its enormous diversity of landscapes, fantastic food and wine and warm & generous people it will be difficult not to.