Two Unforgettable Weeks in Argentina
In a country as large and diverse as Argentina, it would be possible to construct any number of delightful itineraries. The two-week itinerary below, which follows the route I took on my latest visit, omits some of my favorite regions, including the wine country of Mendoza, Tierra del Fuego and Iguazu. Even so, I enjoyed this journey immensely because the four places it does include are so entirely different from one another: a world capital, an alpine lake district, rugged wine country and an idyllic ranch.
Day 1 : Arrive in Argentina
Arrive in Buenos Aires in the morning, and check into one of my recommended hotels in the upscale Recoleta district. Settle in, and take a short walking tour of the neighborhood, which still has many of its Beaux Arts-style palaces. In the afternoon, a body scrub in the spa might be just the thing to restore yourself after the night flight.
Where to Stay
Atmospheric Old World hotel situated in the heart of the fashionable Recoleta district near many of the city’s best restaurants and shops.
Exceptionally stylish hotel combining an ornate neoclassical limestone mansion with a sleek 17-story tower, located in the most fashionable part of the city.
Day 2 - 3 : Tour Buenos Aires
Use these days to tour Buenos Aires with a guide. Start with a visit to Recoleta Cemetery, a city of the dead filled with ornate mausoleums, many of which are now crumbling. Your guide can show you the most impressive tombs, including that of Eva Perón. Visit the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s presidential palace; shop in the stylish boutiques of Palermo; and wander among the colorful houses of La Boca. At the appropriate season, watch a polo match in Palermo, and enjoy a performance at the magnificent opera house Teatro Colón. Have the Andrew Harper Travel Office arrange tickets to tango shows of varying styles or set up a private tango lesson followed by a night out in a milonga, where locals go to dance. It is also possible to schedule a cooking lesson or visits to private art galleries.
Day 4 : San Carlos de Bariloche
Fly from the domestic airport to San Carlos de Bariloche, the largest city in Patagonia’s spectacular lake district. Transfer by car about 45 minutes to Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, perched on a hill between Lake Nahuel Huapi and Lake Moreno. Check into the newer Moreno Wing, where the Deluxe Moreno Lake Suites have woodburning fireplaces, panoramic terraces and Jacuzzis with views of the lake and Mount Tronador. Take the rest of the day to enjoy the facilities of the hotel, including an indoor-outdoor pool, a well-priced spa and an 18-hole golf course.
Day 5 - 6 : Lake Nahuel Huapi
Spend two full days exploring the area around Lake Nahuel Huapi. Hike in Parque Municipal Llao Llao adjacent to your hotel, and ascend Cerro Catedral via gondola and chairlift for stupendous views of the surrounding lakes and snowcapped mountains. I also recommend taking a cruise on Nahuel Huapi, either to Victoria Island, covered with lush primary forest, or to Puerto Blest and the Los Cántaros waterfalls.
Day 7 : Salta
Day 8 : Cafayate
After touring the small but fascinating Museum of High Altitude Archaeology, transfer a little over three hours south to Cafayate. The route there takes you through the Quebrada de Cafayate, a sensationally scenic red-rock canyon. Stop along the way at impressive formations such as Devil’s Throat, the Amphitheater and the Three Crosses viewpoint. Check into the Grace Cafayate resort, set amid vineyards just outside the small city of Cafayate. Again, I recommend a spa treatment to refresh yourself after the long drive. The current weakness of the peso makes spa treatments, shopping and restaurants all surprisingly inexpensive.
Day 9 - 10 : Explore Cafayate
Take these days to enjoy the area around Cafayate, a wine region of cactus-studded vineyards backdropped by rugged mountains. Because of the elevation, lack of rainfall and large day-night temperature differential, red wines tend to be richly concentrated, and whites are lively and aromatic. Piattelli’s winery has an excellent restaurant for lunch, as well as some of the area’s best wines. El Porvenir also has high-quality bottlings, as does El Esteco. I recommend taking time to visit the dramatically situated ruins of Quilmes, the largest pre-Columbian city in Argentina.
Day 11 : La Bamba de Areco
After breakfast, drive back through the Quebrada de Cafayate and fly from Salta to Buenos Aires. Transfer 90 minutes to La Bamba de Areco, a historic estancia surrounded by rich farmland, pastures, polo fields and allées of plane trees. The rooms are on the small side, but the public lounges are comfortable and beautifully decorated. Communal lunches and dinners give a stay here the feel of a gracious house party.
Day 12 : Activities at the Estancia
Take a full day to enjoy activities at the estancia. Go horseback riding, enjoy a spin in a horse-drawn carriage or head into San Antonio de Areco, a center of gaucho culture with good craft shopping along the streets between the main square and the river. Relax over a leisurely asado (barbecue) lunch and an elegant candlelit dinner.
Day 13 : Return home
There’s time for one more horseback ride and asado lunch before you have to head to the airport to depart on your flight home this evening. Arrive at the airport three hours in advance to allow time to check in, clear security and pass through immigration.
Two Unforgettable Weeks in Argentina
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