When one thinks of Argentina, three things come to mind: tango, wine and Patagonia. The majority of Patagonia, the region at the southern end of South America, is in Argentina, with a small portion in Chile. There are five provinces within the region — Chubut, Neuquén, Río Negro, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego which includes the Antarctic Territory and South Atlantic Islands (popularly called Tierra del Fuego). We will take you through each province where you can find a plethora of activities. Enjoy swimming? Hiking? Want to check out the Magellanic penguins? Ever wanted to hear glaciers as they shift and change, or trek across ice fields? Interested in exploring the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia? We have a comprehensive list of things to do in Patagonia for adventurers of all ages. Come with us as we explore this fascinating part of the world.
Río Negro, the northernmost province in Patagonia, offers outdoor recreational activities no matter the time of year you visit. The two areas enjoyed by both tourists and residents of the region are the Atlantic coast and the Andes Mountains, especially the region’s picturesque lakes..
Nahuel Huapi Lake is in Nahuel Huapi National Park in the foothills of the Andes. It’s the oldest national park in Patagonia, with an elevation between 2,362 and 11,726 feet above sea level.
The highest mountain: Mount Tronador, which rises 11,411 feet above sea level, contains a unique and unusual natural phenomena, the Black Glacier. Lovers of the outdoors will also find forests, lakes, waterfalls, rapids sure to satiate their adventure needs. The city of San Carlos de Bariloche, popularly known as Bariloche, on the southern shore of the lake, is the hub for exploring the area. You can spend some time wilderness trekking in the Arrayanes Forest and Victoria Island, skiing at Cerro Catedral, mountaineering, and exploring the neighboring El Bolson and Pueblo Lake.
Another popular activity is watching the southern right whales swimming the arm waters of the San Matias Gulf - near Las Grutas, a beach city with a casino.
The province of Neuquén is bordered by the Colorado River, Limay River, and Andes Mountains, which separates Argentina from Chile. Because the Andes block moisture from the Pacific Ocean, and the province is far from the Atlantic, the climate is continental, meaning hot summers and cold winters.
A popular attraction in the capital city, also called Neuquén, is a branch of the National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes). The permanent collection features paintings by contemporary Argentine artists and those representing other South American countries. Exhibits from Buenos Aires museums are brought in on a rotating basis.
Enjoy a nature walk on Paseo de la Costa de Neuquén, a series of trails in Neuquén bordering the Limay River. There is a sunbathing area, large paved area for bicyclists and skaters, and canoe rentals.
The main attractions in the province of Chubut, with the Andes Mountains on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, are the marine wildlife reserves and national parks. If you're eager to get on the water you can explore the Chubut River where there are dolphin watching tours.
Punta Tomba, an Atlantic Ocean peninsula, is the largest breeding ground for Magellanic penguins in South America. Every September, thousands migrate from southern Brazil to nest, staying until April, after their chicks hatch and are strong enough to travel. Not to give all the attention to the Megellanic penguins, Punta Tomba is also home to a colony of sea lions. If you wish to see them, we recommend a 4x4 adventure on the dunes. This is a great way to see the coast and explore the greater area.
September through December is the best time to visit Chubut, the Valdes Peninsula specifically, for whale watching. It is here that we can see not only Magellanic penguins and sea lions, but the majestic Orca whales. There is nothing quite as humbling and invigorating of an experience as this, it is highly recommended.
If you're looking for things to do inland, Los Alerces National Park, on the border with Chile, is home of the alerce tree, similar to North America’s sequoia. Some of these trees in the cypress family are 4500 years old. View two Patagonian deer — the Huemul and the Pudú — in the park, and see how many of the 126 species of birds you can identify, including the predatory black-chested buzzard-eagle, condor, and black vulture.
Santa Cruz is the second largest province in Argentina, and the least densely populated. That said, what it lacks in population, it more than makes up for in sights and activities. The glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park is what brings most tourists to the province, with Perito Moreno Glacier near the town of El Calafate being most visited.
Perito Moreno Glacier is one of most unique glaciers in the world due to its regenerative cycle. This glacier will grow, create a dam, which creates pressure, eventually causing a rupture, then causing a collapse. The collapse itself can take up to two days. Once this process has finished, it will start all over again. There are several ways to take in the beauty of Perito Moreno. You can take a tour to see the glacier, or, f you're feeling adventurous you can choose to take an Ice Trekking tour.
To learn more about this unique area take time to visit the Glaciarium, an interpretative center in El Calafate, to learn about the glaciers in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.
The village of El Chaltén, north of El Calafate, is the hub for treks to Torres del Paine, home of the famous and arguably the most iconic peak in Patagonia.
Not to be outdone, the Santa Cruz province is also home to the Viedma Glacier, the largest glacier in the national park. With views of Mount Fitz Roy guiding you along the way, you can choose to sail or walk across Viedma Glacier.
Tierra del Fuego, Antarctic Territory, and South Atlantic Islands (popularly called Tierra del Fuego)
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of South America that is shared by both Chile and Argentina. The eastern part of the main island, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego — known as Isla Grande — is Argentine territory. This includes a few islands in the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia, the capital of the province, its largest city, and the world’s southernmost city.
Nature lovers enjoy many activities in Ushuaia, among them climbing, diving, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking in the Beagle Channel, and skiing on Mount Castor. You can also take a catamaran to Seal Island, or Penguin Island.
If you're looking to switch things up a bit with a sport of a different kind, golfers can play at the southernmost course in the world. Ushuaia is also the departure port for trips to Antarctica. For those interested in spending time indoors, there are casinos, museums, and several good restaurants.
Of course, if you've managed to find your way to the "end of the world" you must explore the Tierra Del Fuego National Park. We recommend taking the "End of the World Train". Hop aboard the classic train allowing you to sit back, relax, and wrap your head around the fact the next strip of land south of you is Antarctica.
If you find yourself looking for things to do in Argentina, we recommend exploring Patagonia. This is a great way to start or end an Argentine adventure. The best time to visit Patagonia is September through April. The high season tends to be in January and February. We recommend giving yourself a week, minimum, and see what life is like the closer you get to the "end of the world.