Three Week Argentina Itinerary

Three-Week Argentina Itinerary: Budget vs Flashpacker

Argentina is a country that effortlessly blends the cosmopolitan allure of vibrant cities with the natural beauty of diverse landscapes. Is three weeks enough? This budget three-week Argentina itinerary and route will help you see everything this beautiful country has to offer.

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Can You See Argentina In A Three Weeks?

Three weeks is the perfect amount of time to see most of what Argentina has to offer.

 

With three weeks you can see Iguazu, Buenos Aires, and Patagonia all without having to rush. You may also be able to get in a quick visit to Mendoza or Salta to see the wine country as well.

 

However, how you spend the three weeks depends on your budget. Argentina is a big country and requires lots of flights to get around meaning it isn’t always the best country for budget travellers. 

 

Here are the two three-week itineraries for Argentina:

 

  • Flashpacker Three-Week Argentina Itinerary – The highlights including Buenos Aires, Iguazu, Mendoza and Patagonia
  • Budget Three Week Itinerary – The wine route which includes Buenos Aires, Salta, and Mendoza

If you’re struggling to work out how many days you need in Argentina, or don’t think you can do three weeks, head to the post below to see some alternative itineraries that may suit you:

 

 

Three Week Argentina Itinerary

Flashpacker Three-Week Argentina Itinerary

This three week itinerary for Argentina is ideal for travellers who want to see the highlights and aren’t too strict with their budget.

 

This route will start in Buenos Aires, before flying up to the beautiful Iguazu Falls. You’ll then head south to Patagonia and spend two weeks here, seeing everything it has to offer before returning to Buenos Aires to end the trip.

 

Here’s a complete breakdown of this three-week itinerary:

 

  • Day 1-3 – Buenos Aires
  • Day 4-6 – Iguazu
  • Day 7-9 – Mendoza
  • Day 10-14 – Bariloche
  • Day 15-16 – El Calafate
  • Day 17-20– El Chalten
  • Day 21 – Buenos Aires

Day 1-3 – Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America,” as it feels like visiting a European capital.

 

Your first day will likely involve getting settled and trying to deal with jet lag but after that you have three full days to see this incredible city. 

 

Here some great things to do whilst in Buenos Aires:

 

 

  • Tango – go to a show and experience the city’s famous tango dancing.
  • Visit La Boca: This colourful neighbourhood is known for its vibrant street art, tango shows, and its famous soccer team, Boca Juniors. You can explore the colourful streets, take pictures and enjoy traditional foods.
  • Take a Boat Tour on the Rio de la Plata: Buenos Aires is a city located on the river. Taking a boat tour of the river is a great way to see the city from a different perspective and get a great view of the skyline.

3 days in Buenos Aires is more than enough to see the best parts. For the fully planned itinerary with a day-by-day breakdown, click the link below:

 

 

Plaza De Mayo from above (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Day 4-6 – Iguazu

Iguazu Falls is a mesmerizing natural wonder comprised of a vast network of over 275 individual waterfalls, spanning nearly 2 miles.

 

The sheer size, power, and tropical beauty make Iguazu Falls an iconic destination that can’t be missed

How To Get To Iguazu From Buenos Aires

  • Book a Flight: Start by booking a flight from Buenos Aires to Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (IGR), the nearest airport to Iguazu Falls. There are several airlines that operate this route, such as Aerolíneas Argentinas, LATAM Airlines, and Flybondi.

 

  • Flight Duration: The flight duration from Buenos Aires to Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport is around 1 hour and 50 minutes on average. Keep in mind that actual flight times can vary based on factors such as weather conditions and specific flight routes. Flight prices will vary depending on the time of year, but a return will cost between $100-200

 

  • Transport to the Falls: Once you arrive at Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport, you can take a taxi, shuttle, or use ride-sharing services to reach the town of Puerto Iguazú, which is the gateway to the falls. The airport is located approximately 20-30 minutes away from the town.

I’ve been using WayAway Plus to book all my flights whilst travelling in Argentina. 

 

With the WayAway Plus membership plan, you can get access to premium travel support, travel content prepared by locals, and cashback on flights, hotels, car rentals and other travel services.

 

All features are available with a free 7-day trial so why not try it out and book a flight through them! 

 

You will also get 10% off if you sign up with the link below.

Iguazu Falls (Argentina) / waterfalls in Argentina with lookout points

Day 7 - Buenos Aires / Travel To Mendoza

Day 7 is a transitionary day where you’ll be travelling. Firstly, you will need to return to Buenos Aires from Iguazu. Try to take the earliest possible flight the aim of returning to Buenos Aires in the early afternoon. 

 

You then have two choices. You could try to catch a flight down to El Calafate on the same day. The benefit of this would be that you’ll save a day which can be spent doing activities.

 

Or, you can stay the night in Buenos Aires and fly to Mendoza in the morning. The benefit of this is you get one more night in Buenos Aires to do anything you may have missed the first time around, and you won’t be rushing or on and off transport all day. 

Exploring the Argentinian side of Patagonia is a must. But the Chilean side is so close, so whilst your here, why not hop across the border? It’s easy to do! Linked below are two itinerary posts that can help you plan:

 

 

Day 8-9 - Mendoza

Mendoza is Argentina’s number one wine producing region with over 1,200 wineries and vineyards in the surrounding area.

 

Visitors can tour the wineries, taste wines, and learn about the wine-making process from some of the best winemakers in the world.

 

The region is particularly known for its Malbec wine, which is considered to be some of the best in the world. This isn’t just a place to visit for high end travel though and backpackers and Argentinians on summer holidays flock to the region too.

Wineries In Mendoza

One of the best activities in Mendoza is the ‘wine bike route’. On the outskirts of Mendoza city centre, you will find several of the best wineries all along the same road. Here you can find bike rental shops offering to rent cheap bikes and provide a map to the best wineries.

 

Maipu Bikes is one of the best. 

 

This is such an enjoyable day, riding in between the different vineyards surrounded by lush green fields and mountain views in the distance. All the wineries allow you to visit and enjoy a tasting from somewhere between 200-500 pesos. Sitting in the gardens or atop the balconies of each bodega and enjoy a selection of wine tastings in the sun is the perfect way to spend a day in Mendoza.

 

One of the best bodegas is Trapiche, where you can sit out on the balcony and look out over the vineyard whilst getting sloshed.

 

Once you done three or four tastings you can head back to Maipu bikes to drop off your bike. They have a small outside bar and everyone ends back here at the end of the day to drop off their bikes and enjoy some final drinks.

For more information on Mendoza including 8 great reasons why you should visit, head to the post below:

 

 

Preparing for your first trip to South America? 

 Here are 22 FAQ’s to help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime: 

Day 10 - Fly To Bariloche

On day 10, take a flight down to Bariloche. The flight from Mendoza to Bariloche takes 1 hour 45 minutes and will cost between $100-200 for a single. 

 

Make sure you book in advance though as this non-stop flight only goes once a day. Otherwise you may have to return to BA and fly from there adding unnecessary admin to your trip. 

Bariloche and Mendoza are two popular places in Argentina, and travellers can often deliberate between visiting one or the other.

 

If you you would prefer to spend longer in one or the other, check out the detailed comparison along with my personal opinion in the post below:

 

 

Day 11-14 - Bariloche

Nestled amidst the picturesque Andes Mountains, Bariloche offers a stunning display of natural beauty. From snow-capped peaks to crystal-clear lakes and lush forests, the landscape is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

 

Here are some great things to do with your 3 full days here:

 

 

  • Begin your journey by getting to grips with the centre of this beautiful town. A walking tour will take you on a wander through its charming streets where you can sample local cuisine, admire Swiss-style architecture, and learn more about the history of the town. Historias Bariloche runs five unique walking tours all for a small fee.

 

  • Cerro Otto is prominent hill overlooking the town that doubles up as a ski slope in the winter months. This easily accessible summit can be reached by a short chairlift ride or a pleasant hike, providing stunning views of the surrounding Nahuel Huapi Lake and the majestic Andes mountains.

 

  • In Bariloche, you have several hikes to pick from including Refugio Frey and Cerro Tronador.  You are also spoilt for choice for adventure activities and you can go kayaking on the lakes, mountain biking and even skiing if you are visiting Argentina in the winter. 

For more on why this is such a fantastic place to visit and spend time in, head to the post below:

 

 

panoramic image of the lakes in Bariloche

Day 15-16 - El Calafate

People come to El Calafate to experience the sheer grandeur of the Perito Moreno Glacier. The glacier’s thunderous roars and awe-inspiring vistas will leave you speechless.

 

You have 4 options to see the Glacier:

 

  • Bus/Boardwalk
  • Kayak Tour
  • Boat Tour 
  • Glacier Hike

For this itinerary, I will outline taking the bus which is the cheapest and easiest and thus more accessible to most backpackers. 

 

After breakfast in Calafate, take the bus into the national park. Buses leave at 8.30 or 9.00. Make sure you buy a return ticket which costs 800 ARS (US$20).

 

The bus takes over an hour to reach the start of the boardwalk. You will stop once along the way to buy your entrance ticket to the national park. This costs 700 ARS (US$17.50) and you must pay in cash.

 

Once you’ve arrived, spend as long as you want walking along the boardwalk.  Spend time taking photos and waiting for huge chucks of ice fall off the glacier and crash into the water. 

 

If you prefer to do a boat tour to get a bit closer to the glacier, you also book that here. You can walk up to the small cubicles on the boardwalk and book there.

 

Return buses will leave from 4.00PM onwards so be sure to check with your company what time you need to be back on the bus.

Patagonia is often the reason why people come to Argentina. If you feel like you need more days here, have a look at some of the example itineraries in the post below:

 

 

Perito Moreno Glacier

Day 17-20 - El Chalten

On the morning of day 17, take a 3 hours bus to El Chalten. It’s worth noting that these buses are in high demand in summer. 

 

During the peak season (December-February), they often sell out. To secure your spot, it’s advisable to book your tickets well in advance.

 

Once you’re settled in your hostel, you should still have the rest of the day to fill. I would recommend embarking on a small trek to one of the viewpoints around town.

You have two options:

 

  • Mirador Los Condores – 4-5km round trip 
  • Chorrillo del Salto – 6-7km round trip 

I would recommend the Mirador Los Cóndores hike, as it’s shorter and offers panoramic views of the town. If you can, plan your hiking so you reach the top for sunset for jaw-dropping vistas.

Hiking In El Chalten

One of the best is the Laguna De Los Tres Trek –  a challenging yet rewarding hike that leads you to the base of Mount Fitz Roy. 

 

The 10km ascent rewards you with sights of Laguna de Los Tres’ stunning turquoise waters and unmatched views of the iconic Fitzroy peak.

 

You also have the option to camp here overnight which has some benefits. It splits the challenging trek in two so you have less walking to do. And you can wake up and watch the sunrise over the lake in the morning.

The Laguna De Los Tres hike is one of the best trails in all South America. To see some of my favourite hikes on this incredible continent, head to the post below:

 

 

El Chalten - lake and glacier

Day 21 - Return To Buenos Aires

Your three weeks in Argentina is now over and you’ve seen everything it has to offer! All you need to do now is return to Buenos Aires and take your flight back home.

 

To get from El Chalten to Buenos Aires, you have to first get the return bus back to El Calafate. This should take 3 hours. 

 

Then from El Calafate, fly back to Buenos Aires. The flight takes 3 hours.

Or if you want to carry on travelling, why not visit Chile?

 

It’s easy to do from El Calafate and just requires a bus journey and a simple border crossing. The three itineraries in the post below can help you cross the borders a 3 different points in Argentina to see Chile:

 

 

Mendoza mountains and vineyard

Three-Week Budget Argentina Itinerary

This three-week itinerary for Argentina is ideal for travellers who are on a budget. 

 

You won’t be seeing Patagonia but you’ll see a lot of beautiful places in the country that are off the beaten track.

 

This itinerary is also perfect for those who love wine and want to follow the wine route from the north-west down to the middle of the country.

 

The north-east of the country can be travelled by bus and prices are much lower.

 

Here’s a complete breakdown of this one-month itinerary:

 

  • Day 1-4 – Buenos Aires
  • Day 5-6 – Salta
  • Day 7-8 – Humahuaca
  • Day 9 – Tilcara
  • Day 10-11 – Purmamarca
  • Day 12 – Salta
  • Day 13-14 – El Cafayate
  • Day 15-19 – Mendoza
  • Day 20-21 – Buenos Aires

Day 5-6 - Salta

More and more wine lovers are travelling to ‘Salta – La Linda’ (meaning Salta – The Beautiful) to visit the world-famous vineyards and enjoy the magnificent mountain landscapes.

 

The beautiful countryside paired with high-quality wines and delicious regional foods makes for a great experience.  

 

The city centre has some interesting sights such as the Museum of High-Altitude Archaeology (MAAM) which contains a perfectly preserved mummified corpse of an Andean child, thought to be sacrificed by her tribe hundreds of ago.

 

Then the Teleferico Cable Car will take you the top of San Bernardo hill for great views of the city or you can head to Calle Balcare to party with the locals.

 

Salta is also great to use as a base for exploring the countryside. You can take a day trip out to Cabra Corral Dam for some adrenaline-fuelled activities such as bungee jumping or visit the smaller towns like Chicoana or Cachi as day trips.

For everything you need to know about Salta:

 

 

SALTA

Day 7-8 - Humahuaca

Humahuaca is the first of three small towns along Route 9 which runs through the beautiful northern countryside north of the city of Salta.

 

Here you can find Argentina’s very own Rainbow Mountain (and depending on who you ask, better than the more famous one in Peru).

 

El Hornocal or the 14 Coloured Mountain, is just outside the town of Humahuaca, a 30-minute drive away. It’s a great little day trip. You can find a cheap tour in town or drive there yourself if you have a car. If you can, try and get there on a weekday to avoid the crowds and turn up just in the late afternoon to experience the colourful mountain illuminated at sunset.

 

For this one month itinerary, I would recommend renting a car. Most of the towns you visit are along the famous Route 40 highway which spans from the entire country from north to south. Having a car means you can drive between towns at your own pace and visit places like Rainbow Mountain with ease. 

Everything else you need to know about Humahuaca from our favourite hostels to the best restaurants is here in our guide to the town:

 

 

El Hornocal hills - Joe and Alex from Shall We Go Home Travel

Day 9 - Tilcara

Tilcara has the same laidback vibe of Humahuaca and is filled with artisan cafes, shops, and restaurants.

 

In the summer, it gets livelier with Argentinian tourists escaping the big cities and filling up the peñas (communal gatherings with traditional music from the region) and bars.

 

You also have some great options for outdoor adventure here. You can trek to El Garganta Del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat Waterfall) or the historical site of Pucara Del Tilcara, a pre-Inca fortification built in the 12th century.  

For more information on Tilcara:

 

 

Day 10-11 - Purmamarca

Another short journey south is the third town on Route 9 which includes Argentina’s second Rainbow Mountain – the Hill of 7 Colours.

 

Whilst it doesn’t sound as impressive as the 14 Coloured Mountain, the hill is just as colourful, and you don’t need to take a tour to see this one. You can see it from anywhere in town but the best way is to walk along the Paseo de los Colorados, a 1.5 mile (3 km) easy trail for great views of this multi-coloured hill.

 

Purmamarca is also a good base for a trip to Salinas Grandes – Argentina’s spectacular salt flat.

 

You can visit by yourself or book a tour and you will have lots of opportunities to get the famous perspective shots and marvel and the unique white landscape that stretches on for miles.

Check our comparison guide of the two mountains:

 

 

Day 12 - Salta

You may wish to stop off for one night again in Salta to break up the journey. If you are taking buses along the wine route then this is a must.

 

If you are renting a car and driving then it’s a 7-8 hour drive from Purmamarca to El Cafayate without stopping.

 

Bus Bud was my company of choice for booking buses when travelling the northwest. They have schedules for almost every bus company and you can book directly through them. 

Purmamarca sign

Day 13-14 - Cafayate

Cafayate is a wine-producing region in the northwest of Argentina, located within the Calchaqui Valley – one of the world’s highest suitable locations for growing grapes.

 

The combination of high-elevation, great year-round weather and fertile soil produce incredible malbecs and torrontés.

 

There are three bodegas in town that are easy to visit – Nani, Domingo Hermanos and El Transito. At each one you can pay a small price to try a selection of wines. For example, at Bodega Nani we paid 250 pesos for 5 wines (3 reserves and 2 young).

 

After that, you should visit Piatellia Vineyard for a full tour and to learn more about how grapes are turned into wine before another tasting!

Check out our full guide to the town including the best bodegas and vineyards to visit here:

 

 

vineyard pass in Cafayate

Day 15-19 - Mendoza

Day 15 will be a full day of travel. This is the trickiest part of the itinerary that will cost you in time and money. But if you want to carry on seeing Argentina’s best wine region then Mendoza is a must!

 

From El Cafayate, you can either return to Salta and fly to Mendoza, or take the overnight bus. Either way, this will be a long day of travelling. Or you could break up the journey to Mendoza by visiting somewhere like Cordoba first.

 

For your 4 full days in Mendoza:

 

  • Rent bikes and cycle the wine route, visiting and tasting wines at every bodega
  • Take a trip out to Aconcagua mountain, the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere
  • Visit Lake Potrerillos and enjoy watersports or white-water rafting

Santiago is a 6 hour bus from Mendoza, so whilst your here, why not hop across the border? It’s easy to do!

 

Linked below are two itinerary posts that can help you plan a combined trip to Chile and Argentina:

 

 

Day 20-21 - Buenos Aires

Fly back to Buenos Aires from Mendoza. It’s a short 1 hour and 30 minute flight and shouldn’t cost more than $150. 

 

End your last two days on this three week itinerary in style. Why not check out one of the many amazing bars in Buenos Aires.

 

Here are some of my favourites:

 

  • Bar 878: Bar 878 is an intimate and stylish speakeasy-style bar that specializes in craft cocktails. It’s known for its extensive cocktail menu, knowledgeable bartenders, and a cozy ambiance.
  • Frank’s Bar: Frank’s Bar is a hidden gem, often requiring a secret password to enter, giving it an authentic speakeasy feel. Once inside, you’ll discover a cozy and sophisticated atmosphere with jazz music and a diverse cocktail menu.
  • Alvear Rooftop Bar – one of the best rooftop bars in the city. Make sure to book ahead as it’s always busy!

If you can’t manage three weeks in Argentina, check out these one-week itineraries in the post below:

 

 

Joe and Alex hiking in Cafayate, Argentina

How Much Money Do You Need For Three Weeks In Argentina?

Three weeks in Argentina that takes you from Iguazu Falls To Patagonia will cost approximately $2000.

 

As of January 2024, the peso is at an all time low and the blue dollar rate (read my post here to understand how this works) means tourists get double the number of pesos for their money.

 

It’s the best time to visit for budget travellers!

 

This means you could easily survive on $150 a week for food. Giving you $1550 to spend on flights, accommodation and activities. 

 

Whilst living in Buenos Aires, I was spending $15-20 a day on food. I made my own breakfast and then ate out for lunch and dinner. Yes, it’s that cheap here that I ate out twice a day.

 

The biggest cost of this itinerary is all the internal flights. As you’ll need to take single flights, they become a bit more expensive. Here’s a rough estimate:

 

  • Buenos Aires To Iguazu (return) – $200
  • Buenos Aires To Mendoza (single) – $100
  • Mendoza To Bariloche (single) – $150
  • Bariloche To El Calafate (single) – $150
  • El Calafate to Buenos Aires (single) – $200

 

Total estimated cost of flights = $800

 

So, overall with a budget of $2000, this gives you:

 

  • Food – $450
  • Flights – $800
  • Accommodation – $400 (rough estimate of $20 a night for a hostel)
  • Activities – $350 (mostly trekking in Argentina so you won’t need as much for activities)
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