Updated post: 17/11/18 | November 2018
I have travelled independently to many countries, but putting together an Argentina itinerary was the one that caused me the most headaches. Why was this? Well, make no mistake … Argentina is a BIG country, the 9th largest in the world and around twenty times the size of the UK. Therefore, as I was not able to spend weeks 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!
On a personal note, it was this trip that finally persuaded me to start this travel blog. I had spent so many hours putting together this itinerary, and had benefited from the wisdom of other bloggers in doing this, that I thought I should share the fruits of my research. Are you are thinking of taking your first trip to Argentina? If so, here some travel tips, including planning and costs.
Where should you go in Argentina?
First and foremost, this will depend on your preferences. 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 (ahem) interesting blog posts. See what takes your fancy.
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 did I go?
I went for just over two weeks in March. 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 mooch around 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 I planned my trip
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 for the UK, but leave one behind 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.
My day-by-day Argentina itinerary
And how did it all work out? Pretty well in fact. Here’s how it panned out …
Highlights of the trip
Exploring the culture and history of Buenos Aires
- Taking a walking tour of La Boca
- Paying my respects to Eva Peron at La Recoleta Cemetery
- Exploring the underground tunnels of El Zanjon in San Telmo
Gasping in awe at the Perito Moreno Glacier
Walking the trails of Argentina’s lake district in Bariloche
Getting soaked at the Iguazu Falls
Visiting Uruguay for a dose of colonial splendour
How much did it 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 (£2560). This works out to be $225 (£160) 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 I am a flashpacker and 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.
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. I am already planning my second visit!
Have you been to Argentina? Can you share an itinerary that worked for you?