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Settled by Spain in the 1500s and liberated via revolución in 1816, Argentina boasts a unique blend of European and Latin American influences, as well as a wide range of fantastic landscapes and beautiful, culturally-rich cities. Whether you’re traveling through the warm and fertile pampas (lowlands) of the north, gazing at the snowcapped peaks of the Andes in the west, or navigating the glacial icefields of the south, there’s something in Argentina that you’re almost certain to fall in love with.
At the heart of the Argentinean experience is the passion of its people. From rugged gauchos (cowboys) living off the land in the foothills of the Andes, to urbane porteños (a nickname for the residents of Buenos Aires) practicing the tango—which was invented here—and sipping mate in the laid-back parks and cafes of the nation’s stylish capital, Argentineans take their pleasure very seriously.
Argentina is a culinary heaven, too. Nobody knows their way around a piece of beef like the Argentineans. With their expert cooking techniques (and the help of generous portions of chimichurri), even the cheapest flank steak can satisfy like a prime cut. Vegetarians need not despair—pizza, pasta, ice cream, and wine are points of pride as well.
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Argentina’s capital city retains a distinctly European flavor; some call it the “Paris of the South.” Italian- and French-style palatial architecture adorns the well-planned streets, radiating outward from the Plaza de Mayo, which commemorates the fight for Argentinean independence, and houses the seat of the current government. Travelers from around the world flock to Buenos Aires to visit iconic locations like the colorful and bohemian La Boca district, and Recoleta Cemetery, a baroque city of the dead where the famous first lady Eva Peron and other revered Argentinians have been laid to rest.
Buenos Aires’ people—nicknamed porteños, or “people of the port”—exhibit European sensibilities, too. While the city is no stranger to hustle and bustle, its citizens know how to slow down and take pleasure in the simple things. By day, you’ll find the city’s parks and cafes overflowing with locals and visitors bonding over mate, the famous and invigorating herbal brew which keeps Argentina moving. In Argentina, mate is more than just a drink; it’s a key part of social life, and if you haven’t had it here, served in a traditional gourd and sipped through a silver straw, you haven’t really had it at all.
At night, porteños take their time to get ready—similar to Spain, restaurants don’t start to fill until 9pm, and the parties don’t get into full swing until well after midnight—but once they get going, they don’t stop. On any given night in Buenos Aires you’ll find dozens of milongas, or dance parties, where tango reigns supreme well into the dawn.
The easy pace of life in Buenos Aires belies a deeply rooted pride in their nation. This passion affects not just art, music, dance, and cuisine, but civic duty, as well. By law, every Argentinean over the age of 18 is required to vote in elections.
Feel the pulse of the city as you experience the culture and cuisine of Buenos Aires.
Produced by Regina Fraser, Pat Johnson and Kathy Monk
Patagonia is the ruggedly beautiful region encompassing the southernmost portion of South America, from the Pacific coast of Chile to the Atlantic shores of Argentina. It’s a colorful mélange of wind-blasted steppes, blooming expanses of lush yellow flowers, icy blue glaciers, and craggy white Andean peaks.
At the very edge of the continent you’ll find Tierra del Fuego, the “Land of Fire” at the end of the world. The archipelago was given its name by Ferdinand Magellan, who passed through on his famous mission to circumnavigate the globe. Although, as the shipwrecks dotting the landscape will attest, Tierra del Fuego’s treacherously narrow straits have been the final stop for many less successful expeditions, too.
In the southwest, on the shores of Lago Argentino, lies El Calafate, a chaotic landscape carved into a series of interconnected fjords and channels by volcanic eruptions and glacial activity.
And just 50 miles away you’ll find one of Patagonia’s must-see attractions: Perito Moreno Glacier, an ever-changing pale blue wall of ice at the heart of Los Glaciares National Park. Nearly 200 feet tall and 20 miles long, Perito Moreno is an unforgettable force of nature, known mostly for its ice calving; periodically, massive chunks of ice will break off and fall from the glacial façade, crashing deafeningly into the waters of Lago Argentino below. It’s an experience unlike any other, and elevated walkways throughout the park offer visitors the perfect vantage point to watch the show.
Allow the cadence of Patagonia's wildlife and natural landscape to captivate your sense of adventure.
Bariloche is a sweet taste of the Alps tucked away into the foothills of the Andes. Nicknamed “Little Switzerland,” the relatively young city—founded just over 100 years ago in 1902 by primarily German-speaking immigrants—exhibits a clear European influence in its wood-and-stone architecture and cobblestone streets.
The city’s settlers brought their chocolatiering secrets with them, too. Bariloche is the largest chocolate producer in Argentina, and candied delicacies can be found in shops throughout the city, concentrated especially on Mitre Avenue, known to Argentineans as “The Avenue of Chocolate Dreams.”
Beneath Bariloche’s gentle façade, however, hides a darker past; at the end of World War II, some Nazis treated the city as a hiding place in their flight from justice. In the decades following Germany’s surrender, stories and controversies of exposed war criminals have arisen over time.
Outside of the city limits, outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in this region, including skiing, hiking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting. Travelers can also ride a chairlift to the summit of nearby Campanario Hill for a breathtaking view of the panorama below. Bariloche is surrounded by some of Argentina’s most beautiful scenery, including Nahuel Huapi Lake, Gutierrez Lake, and Moreno Lake, as well as the Andean peaks of Tronador, Cerro Catedral, and Cerro Lopez.
Allow these confectionary creation to tempt you at this Swiss-inspired chocolate shop in Bariloche, Argentina.
Ushuaia, which translates to “bay that stretches into the sunset” is a bustling port city at the end of the world. Although most people who come here are on their way to somewhere else—the city is the gateway to Antarctica, and Tierra del Fuego National Park is only 7 miles away—Ushuaia’s not without its own independent charms.
Sitting on the edge of the Beagle Channel, the city boasts beautiful bays and beaches, as well as dramatic mountain views. Visitors can take advantage of opportunities to seek out the local unique wildlife, including colonies of Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, and about 20 species of mammal, including red foxes, otters, and even Canadian beavers, imported in an (unsuccessful) effort to kick start a local fur trade.
Films featuring Argentina from international, independent filmmakers
Uncover some of Buenos Aires' favorite cafes, taverns, and restaurants from expatriates who now call the city home.
Experience the charms of Buenos Aires as you’re taken on a tour of the opera house, the cobblestone barrio, and more.
Absorb Chile's wilderness surrounded by the snow-capped mountains and mirrored lakes of Tierra del Fuego.
Immerse yourself in Argentina with this selection of articles, recipes, and more
Eva Peron contributed to Argentina’s suffrage movement and provided legal and medical assistance—read more of her story.
In Patagonia, you’ll find glaciers, grasslands, llamas, and penguins—discover what else makes up this diverse destination.
As if straight out of a playbill, meet the characters who make up Bariloche’s storied past.
Julia Hudson, for O.A.T.
Memories of the rabble-rousing cries and steely ambition of Argentina’s most storied public figure remain as vibrant today as ever—Eva Peron, affectionately known as “Evita,” led an unapologetic life devoted to Argentina’s women and working poor. Her work led to suffrage, labor unions, and medical improvements, and a public voice that many had never before known.
Maria Eva Duarte was born in 1919 to a poor family in Los Toldos, a small city in the Argentine plains. The death of her father exacerbated their poverty; her siblings all had to work supporting the family, while her mother cooked, sewed, and took on tenants. Eva, however, dreamed of a sparkling life in the theater, and so took off for Buenos Aires when she was only 15 years old.
Big city life agreed with her, and after a few years of acting, modeling, and earning enough money to get by, she met Colonel Juan Peron at a fundraiser in 1944. It was a meeting that today seems almost destined—the firecracker from las pampas (the plains) who had worked up the ladder to make a name for herself, and the military man who supported women’s advancement. In fact, just a few months after meeting Eva, Juan used his role as Secretary of Labour to found the Women’s Division of Work and Assistance, which granted equal rights in the workplace to women as to men.
Rise to power
Eva and Juan were married in 1945; in 1946, Juan was elected to the presidency, with his wife by his side. This was a first for Argentinean politics, because women did not usually campaign with their husbands or partake much in political life; however, the gregarious and well-spoken Eva did much for her causes. The Fundacion Eva Peron founded one of the major nursing schools of the time, the Escuela de Enfermeria, making nursing a viable, educated profession for women.
It seems, in many ways, the ambitions of the Perons were reflective of those of Argentina as a whole. The exploited labor class, or “shirtless ones” (los descamisados) were beginning to agitate for better treatment under the law; the iconic images of beloved Eva crying out for equality from the presidential balcony came from the many formal addresses she gave on the subject. Furthermore, Eva followed through, using her influence to deliver not only women’s suffrage in 1947, but also increased minimum wage and government housing for low-income workers.
The political pull of the Perons coalesced into a party, Peronism. Comprised of three “flags,” or pillars—social justice, economic independence, and political sovereignty—and neither capitalist nor communist, it wanted the government to liaise between management and workers. Some took issue with its populism (and indeed the lavish lifestyle of the first couple), as well as the harsh methods employed by the party. Advocating immediate action and to “answer violence with violence,” Eva and the Peronists posed a threat to social stability.
Cementing a legacy
Eva wanted women to come together under one banner to advocate, so after the passing of women’s suffrage she organized a new branch, the Peronista Women’s Party (Partido Peronista Feminino, or PPF). Elected as its leader, she immediately began to build neighborhood centers, or units (unidades basicas) to provide local social services, legal and medical assistance, and public health work.
The presence of the PPF was quickly felt. The party helped twice as many women gain admittance to university as before, and in the elections of 1951, the first election where women could run, 24 members of the party were elected to the lower house of Argentina’s congress.
When Eva passed away of uterine cancer in 1952, many Argentines openly wept and mourned the loss of their vibrant and trailblazing leader. However, some contend that Argentina was not improved during her life; rather, the government’s muffling of student activism and tight control of opposition parties hindered the movement toward democracy. As for Juan Peron, he was reelected twice more before a military coup banned the party and sent him into exile.
All political legacies are complicated; all leave frustrated opponents behind. What Eva Peron asserted was not that she or any of the people she represented were perfect, but that they should be visible. And with her echoing voice, pumping fists, and tireless enthusiasm for the prospects of Argentina’s poor and downtrodden, “Evita” provides that visibility to this day.
On the pampas (grassy plains) beneath the mountains, a distinctive array of wildlife roams Patagonia’s vast wilderness.
A good place to begin exploring Patagonia is El Calafate, Argentina, which is named for the calafate bush that produces a tasty local berry. This frontier town is the gateway to Los Glacieres National Park—the home of Argentina’s largest glacier, Perito Moreno. The town embraces a group of shallow lagoons on the south side of Lago Argentino, where hundreds of pink flamingoes congregate with black-necked swans, various duck species, and the occasional cara-cara, and where horses lazily graze.
But the town’s principal attraction is its proximity to the truly monumental splendor of the Perito Moreno Glacier. Not far from town, a catwalk in the national park leads you to a narrow inlet directly across from the glacier’s base, and then some 600 steps—mercifully punctuated by flat stretches and several lookout points—bring you up along its face.
Here you might wait to catch a glimpse of calving, the process whereby glaciers shed large chunks of ice. The glacier often makes scraping and popping sounds just before calving, and when a large block splits off, the noise is as loud as a thunderclap, and the impact sends a wave a quarter mile across the lake at its base. The 200-foot face of the glacier is pockmarked by blue crevices, ranging in color from a faint aqua to a rich, deep cobalt.
Across the border in Chilean Patagonia lie more remarkable landscapes. The rugged peaks of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park are visible as you approach them from 50 miles away: Las Torres (the Towers), Los Cuernos (the Horns), and La Fortaleza (The Fortress). They loom in an ominous cluster, with their summits often shrouded in dark angry tumults of cloud. On the pampas (grassy plains) beneath the mountains, a distinctive array of wildlife roams Patagonia’s vast wilderness.
Most evident are guanacos, the southernmost member of the Andean camelid family that includes llamas and alpacas. It is particularly common to see guanacos in Chile, where they are not hunted. Among other animals, red and grey foxes can be seen now and again, stalking or pouncing. Condors soar above, and austral parakeets flit about in patches of forest. Groups of rhea (a flightless bird similar to the ostrich, locally called ñandú) sometimes streak across the plains.
If you look at a detailed map of Chile, you’ll see that its lower third consists of an archipelago encompassing the Strait of Magellan, part of the large island of Tierra del Fuego, and the group of islands where Cape Horn is located. Tucked into this geographic jigsaw puzzle are numerous islands and many remote, mountain-walled inlets, many with glaciers descending to the sea from the mountainous interior.
Magellanic penguins frequent this vast archipelago, notably on Tucker Islet, where they nest in a colony of thousands of birds between October and March. Imperial and rock cormorants are among many other seabirds that live here.
Marine mammals also inhabit these rugged seascapes, from sea lions hauling out on pristine shores to dusky dolphins that sometimes follow passenger ships. And you might see grey fur seals leaping out of the water near Cape Horn, or spot whales passing by during their seasonal migrations.
by David Valdes Greenwood, for O.A.T.
Argentina’s beloved outdoor playground, San Carlos de Bariloche, is known for the beauty of its mountains and lakes. But for a richer understanding of the city, it’s worth taking a cue from the word “Bariloche,” a version of the indigenous term Vuriloche, which literally means “the people behind.” To fully appreciate the city, it helps to meet some of the most fascinating “people behind” its colorful 117-year history.
The story begins simply enough: with one determined character. Carlos Wiederhold, a German immigrant living in Chile, wanted to live in the Andes, and settled on the current site of Bariloche in 1895. He opened a general store named not for its contents but himself: La Alemena (the German). This small wooden outpost, which sold everything from sundries to penny candy, soon attracted his fellow Germans and Austrians, as well as a few Italians and Slovenians. With this mix as its founding population, perhaps it’s no surprise that the city modeled much of its architecture after Europe, designing itself to look like a fairy-tale village.
But Weiderhold was not the only European named Carlos to define the city. In 1928, Swiss candymaker Carlos Tribelhorn (often misspelled as Triberholn) opened a chocolate shop in the city center. The handmade confections combined traditional Swiss chocolate-making skills with the use of regional fruit. The unassuming white-stone shop, a wooden balcony its only flourish, drew crowds of eager locals, and soon other master chocolatiers opened storefronts. To this day, Bariloche is synonymous with chocolate for many Argentines.
The dark side
Not everyone came to Bariloche with aims of contributing to local life. One notorious duo famously used Bariloche as a way station on their criminal exploits. In the 1880s. Robert Parker and Harry Longabaugh, better known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, fled to Argentina in hopes of ditching the well-known Pinkerton Detective Agency, which had been pursuing the bank robbers since their Wild Bunch days. After several quiet years ranching in their adopted country, the pair returned to their bank-robbing ways, which revealed their location to Pinkerton detectives, who had never stopped trailing them.
With their cover blown, the duo set off for Bariloche, traversing Lake Nahuel Huapi safely into Chile. But Argentina still beckoned them, and when the heat died down, they returned. This time, their idyll was shorter: Within the year, the pair robbed yet another bank, and once again, Bariloche was their escape hatch. They hiked from the outskirts of the city into the mountains, leaving the frustrated Pinkerton detectives in their wake. The robbers never made it back to Bariloche, though historians still debate whether they died in a Bolivian shootout or retired to life as ranchers elsewhere.
The same remoteness that made the city so attractive to the famous outlaws made it an ideal haven for criminals who occupied a much darker place in history a half-century later. After World War II, Argentina became a destination for Nazis trying to escape prosecution. While easy-to-recognize figures like Adolph Eichmann passed through Bariloche briefly, others were able to fly under the radar and settle in. One SS captain, for instance, lived here 50 years—eventually sitting on the board of a local school—before his discovery and arrest. Bariloche’s most notorious author, Abel Basti, even claims that Hitler and mistress Eva Braun did not die in Germany, but in fact lived out the rest of their lives here. Though such a claim is easily disputed, it seems fitting that Bariloche's dramatic landscapes might give rise to such wild speculations.
Visions of grandeur
Wild ideas played a central role in a scheme intended to put Argentina on the scientific map. In 1948. President Juan Peron chose Bariloche’s Huemul Island to be the location of the world’s first fusion reactor. The top-secret project cost $300 million—and failed. The official reason for the flop was that the advanced technology needed was simply not available in such a remote locale at that time. The reason given by most locals was that Ronald Richter, the plant overseer, was mentally unhinged. With his wild mop of hair and a penchant for wearing spy-style raincoats at all times, the man who claimed he could deliver nuclear energy in milk bottles was taken seriously by few aside from Peron. The president eventually admitted his error, shutting down the project in embarrassment, while leaving behind an empty complex, the remnants of which can still be visited today.
A man who had no such problem finishing what he started was Alejandro Bustillo, whose architecture anchors the city. One of the nation’s most acclaimed painters and architects, Bustillo designed the luxury Llao Llao Hotel, a grand all-wood structure—which burnt to the ground nearly as soon as it was finished. Undeterred, he redesigned the hotel to mimic its original glory but in concrete and stone, and the sweeping, red-roofed result became a town icon. (It remains a member of The Leading Hotels of the World consortium.) Among his other edifices here, the Cathedral of San Carlos de Bariloche is most striking, a castle-like Neo-Gothic church that furthers the impression of a European idyll.
There are pros and cons to visiting a destination during any time of the year. Find out what you can expect during your ideal travel time, from weather and climate, to holidays, festivals, and more.
The Southern Hemisphere’s summer is the high season in Argentina, when warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours beckon visitors to the country’s sweeping steppes and rugged coasts. The weather is comfortable at night, with temperatures lingering in the 60s, but it’s not unusual for daytime temperatures to reach the sweltering triple digits. This is also when locals have school breaks and take their annual vacations, so you can expect to find plentiful crowds throughout the country—it’s wise to book hotels several months in advance to ensure availability.
But with the high season’s crowds come high spirits, too: The holiday season lends a jubilant air to this predominantly Catholic country, and a variety of free events and festivals add to the celebrations. January and February are some of the best (and warmest) times of year to visit notoriously chilly Patagonia, when nature is in bloom and emerald lakes dazzle beneath cerulean skies.
Wine lovers will rejoice in a visit to Mendoza—the heart of Argentina’s wine country—during February and March, when the country’s famed Malbecs and other red wines are harvested. Argentina’s summer months are also a wonderful time to visit national parks such as Torres del Paine and Alerces, when temperatures are at their highest of the year and the parks’ lakes and hiking trails are most accessible.
April, May, and June mark Argentina’s autumn, and usher in splendid fall foliage that drapes the country in seasonal hues. Like the crowds, the humidity of summer disappears during these months, replaced with pleasant daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s and cool, crisp evenings.
This is a wonderful time of year to explore Argentina’s stunning nature: Take in the rusty reds and fiery oranges of fall on gloriously empty Andean hiking trails, and enjoy a variety of local festivals. Plus, the shoulder season brings below-average room rates, meaning your dollar will stretch further.
The Andes—always a must-see—simply come alive during these months with the vibrant fall foliage.
Winter in Argentina is mild throughout the country: You’ll find daytime highs hovering in the 50s and 60s, and nighttime temperatures above 45 degrees. This is a particularly good time to visit Buenos Aires, as the crisp air—a welcome reprieve from the humidity found throughout much of the year here—makes ideal weather for strolling the capital’s elegant boulevards and dining in curbside cafes.
Although the weather is colder during these months, most attractions remain open through the off-season, and you’ll have delightfully few tourists to compete with. Skiers from the Northern Hemisphere, rejoice: Ski season in “The Switzerland of South America” begins in July.
If you plan to visit during this off-season, you won't want to miss the lively Buenos Aires Tango Festival, which begins in August.
September, October, and November are Argentina’s spring months, and a sweet spot for visitors. The rush of tourists won’t arrive until December, meaning affordable hotel rooms abound and crowds are thin, and yet the weather is pleasantly warm: Temperatures fluctuate between the 60s and 80s during these months.
Spring also brings its signature colorful bloom to both the city and the country. In Buenos Aires, you’ll find the city’s beautiful violet jacaranda trees bursting into life; outside the capital, Cordoba and Torres del Paine are carpeted with greenery and gush with swollen rivers.
If visiting during Argentina’s spring, be sure to venture north to the Brazil border to Iguassu Falls: The Fall’s many cascades (and the lush surrounding jungle) flourish in the warmer weather. Horticulturalists will want to stop by the Paseo de Rosedal in Buenos Aires to literally smell the roses, as they are in full bloom this time of year.
Click 'Select to Compare' to see a side-by-side comparison of up to adventures below—includingactivity level, pricing, traveler excellence rating, trip highlights, and more
Small Group Adventure
Days in Argentina
Argentina: Buenos Aires, Perito Moreno Glacier, Ushuaia • Chile: Torres del Paine, Beagle Channel, Glacier Alley, Cape Horn, 4-night Chilean Fjord Cruise
3 nights from only $1145
5 nights from only $2695
Small Group Adventure
3 nights from only $1395
5 nights from only $2595
Small Ship Adventure
Days in Argentina
Argentina: Buenos Aires, Ushuaia • Antarctic Expedition Cruise: Drake Passage, Antarctic Peninsula Region, South Shetland Islands
5 nights from only $1695
3 nights from only $995
Please call for pricing
Small Group Adventure
Chile: Santiago, San Pedro de Atacama, Punta Arenas, Torres del Paine National Park, 3-night Chilean Fjord Cruise
4 nights from only $1495
Small Group Adventure
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Iguassu Falls • Argentina: Buenos Aires, El Calafate • Chile: Torres del Paine National Park, 3-night Chilean Fjord Cruise, Santiago
5 nights from only $2395
5 nights from only $2295
7 nights from only $1995
Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.
Activity Level 1:
Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
Activity Level 2:
Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
Activity Level 3:
Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.
Activity Level 4:
Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.
Activity Level 5:
Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.
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