Planning a Patagonia itinerary can be a challenging undertaking. Covering an area of over a million square kilometres of harsh terrain on the southern tip of South America, it is a place of long distances and extreme climates. As Patagonia encompasses areas of both Chile and Argentina, travelling through it can also involve crossing borders several times.
At the same time, it is one of the most visually rewarding places on earth to explore. People always ask us, “where is your favourite place you’ve been to on your travels?” Our answer to this is always Patagonia.
Based on our own experiences. this guide compiles suggested itineraries for 28 days or two weeks, including everything you need to know about places to go, where to stay and things to see.
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In this article:
How long should I visit Patagonia for?
We would recommend spending as long as you can in Patagonia. Our trip was 26 days, and even that didn’t feel like long enough – we could have stayed for weeks longer.
This article focuses primarily on a 28-day itinerary, and we have included suggestions for additional places if you want to extend your trip. However, we have also put together a shorter, two-week Patagonia itinerary if you are tight for time and/or budget.
Getting to Patagonia and getting around
Our suggested itineraries begin in Ushuaia, a city in Argentine Patagonia on the southernmost tip of South America. However, it’s equally possible to do the routes in reverse, beginning in either Bariloche or El Calafate (both in Argentina). Punta Arenas in Chile is another optional starting point.
While it’s possible to reach Patagonia by bus from major cities in Chile and Argentina, the journeys are very long and would take several days. It’s better, if possible, to reach Patagonia by flying.
Internal flights are always cheaper. If you begin in Ushuaia, Bariloche or El Calafate, it’s best to fly from Buenos Aires in Argentina; for Punta Arenas, it’s better to fly from Santiago in Chile. Use Skyscanner to find the best and cheapest flights.
For internal travel in Patagonia, we preferred to travel by bus. There are some airports in the region, but flights tend to be irregular and often expensive. In our experience the long-distance buses were always comfortable and spacious.
It’s a good idea to allow plenty of flexibility around your travel between destinations in Patagonia. Buses don’t always run every day of the week, and if booking at short notice you aren’t guaranteed to secure the journey you want. Either plan well in advance, or be prepared to adjust your itinerary to fit with what’s available.
For everything you need to know, read our guide to getting around Patagonia by bus.
Tips before you plan your Patagonia itinerary
Before you put pen to paper on your Patagonia itinerary, there are several things you need to know about travelling in the region.
We learnt a lot of lessons about Patagonia the hard way – as we went. Here are the top tips we picked up along our journey:
- Wherever possible, book things in advance, especially if your trip is in the high season between November and February. Accommodation spaces, campsite pitches and bus seats get taken up quickly.
- The wifi in Patagonia is often weak, so be prepared to spend a lot of your time with poor connectivity.
- The weather is colder and less predictable than other destinations in South America, so be sure to pack appropriately (see section below).
- Be flexible with your travel dates. As I have mentioned, transport is not always available every day. If you are planning to hike, the weather can also interfere with your plans; you may need to wait for conditions to improve.
- Patagonia isn’t just for hikers. There is plenty to do and see that doesn’t require physical exertion.
- While organised tours are available for popular outdoor activities throughout the region, we often found it was easy and much cheaper to go self-guided. Ask tourist information and staff at your accommodation for advice and support.
- It’s extremely useful to learn some basic Spanish. Not everybody in Patagonia speaks English, and a few simple phrases will go a long way in helping you get by.
- Don’t attempt to go trekking solo, unless you’re highly experienced (and even then it’s not advisable). Hiking with a buddy or a group is extremely important – if you get lost or injured in the wilderness you will need someone around to help.
- When crossing borders between Chile and Argentina, make sure you are not carrying any fresh fruit or vegetables. Chile in particular has very strict laws to protect its crops – any such produce will be confiscated. We found this out in style when a sniffer dog detected an orange in Lisa’s bag and jumped on her!
- It rains a lot in Patagonia. Make sure at the very least you have a waterproof outer cover for your bag. Also think about how you will take care of your camera in rain.
- The currencies in Patagonia are the Argentine Peso and the Chilean Peso. ATMs charge withdrawal fees, and in some of the more remote locations are hard to come by. Bring a float of cash in each currency if possible.
When is the best time to visit Patagonia?
The hiking season in Patagonia runs between September and April. While you can expect the best weather in the summer months between December and February, this is also the busiest time to travel.
The ‘shoulder seasons’ in September–October and March–April are a good time to visit Patagonia for mild weather and less crowded trails and attractions.
We spent our time in Patagonia between September and November. We sometimes found we were able to benefit from special deals and make savings because it wasn’t quite peak season. For example, in El Calafate, we visited Perito Moreno Glacier at the beginning of November, just a couple of days before the bus prices were raised.
If you visit outside the hiking season in winter between May and August, expect outdoor activities to be inaccessible. Tours generally don’t run during this time, and national parks are often closed due to the freezing temperatures and harsh conditions.
What to pack for your Patagonia trip
Patagonia has a reputation for its testing weather conditions. Even during the summer season the conditions are unpredictable, with heavy rainfall and fierce winds commonplace. It can get pretty cold at the end of the world too.
As such, it’s absolutely essential that you have appropriate clothing and gear for your trip. For a peek at everything in our bag, take a look at our complete Patagonia packing list.
These are the headline essentials you’ll need for your Patagonia trip:
- If you are planning any hiking, you’ll need a sturdy pair of boots. We use Berghaus Men’s Explorers and Salomon Women’s Ellipse 2.
- To protect you from the wind and rain, bring a waterproof and windproof jacket. We use North Face Tri-Climate and Jack Wolfskin 3-in-1 jackets.
- For hiking in Patagonia it’s strongly advisable to use walking poles. We recommend TheFitLife collapsible poles.
- Invest in a versatile backpack to carry your stuff and a smaller day bag for hiking. We use the Osprey Aether 70 and Lowe Alpine Atlas for our large backpacks, and the Berghaus TwentyFourSeven for day hikes.
- If you plan to do any camping, you will need a tent that can withstand Patagonia’s weather conditions. We use an Urberg 3-person tunnel tent. For multi-day hikes like the W Trek in Torres Del Paine, it’s better to stick with 2-person tents or smaller due to the restrictive size of pitches.
- For camping you should also take a quality insulating sleeping bag. We use the Vango Ultralite.
Patagonia itinerary: 28 days
This Patagonia itinerary is very similar the actual route we took. Starting in the south, it includes stops in Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales (for Torres Del Paine), El Calafate (for Perito Moreno Glacier), El Chaltén, Bariloche and El Bolsón.
There is a lot of hiking involved, but also plenty of exploration and sightseeing around the towns and cities along the way.
Stop 1: Ushuaia – end of the world
Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city, and the gateway to the dramatic landscapes of Tierra Del Fuego National Park. Our suggested itinerary for five nights in Ushuaia is below. For further insights and ideas, check out our article on things to do in Ushuaia.
Day 1: arrive in Ushuaia from Buenos Aires
Flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia run several times a day, with a journey time of around 3.5 hours. Depending on your arrival time, take a few hours to find your feet in the city and explore the main areas.
Avenida San Martin is the main shopping street, and also features a choice of cafés and restaurants.
The coastal avenue along the seafront is a beautiful to walk along at sunset, and you can take your picture with the famous ‘end of the world’ sign.
Top tip: at the tourist information centre at the main port you can get a funky Ushuaia stamp in your passport!
Day 2: explore the city and its museums
The first full day is an opportune time to take a look around Ushuaia and learn about its intriguing history. A great place to start is the Maritime Museum, which is set inside the grounds of the Ushuaia’s famous old prison. One wing of the building is maintained in its original conditions, so you can see how inmates lived.
You could easily spend a whole day in the Maritime Museum – it’s huge – but if you get time, also take a trip to Museo del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Museum). Here you can discover insights into the region’s indigenous people and the first western expeditions that arrived.
Day 3: take a cruise on the Beagle Channel
Visit the main port on the seafront and choose one of the many Beagle Channel cruises available. In a full-day tour, you can see the famous Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, witness penguins and sea lions frolicking on mini-islands, and visit the historic Estancia Harberton, a farm, ranch and museum that has stood for over a century.
Food is generally expensive on-board the cruises. We got around this by picking up some cheap sandwiches from a shop along Avenida San Martin.
Day 4: go hiking in Tierra Del Fuego National Park
Day hikes around Ushuaia are great preparation for some of the more intense trekking later in the itinerary. Today, head out to Tierra Del Fuego National Park, the entrance to which is just a short minibus ride away from the city.
There are several hiking routes open to the public. Our favourite was the trail through the forest from Correo Del Fin Del Mundo (near the entrance) to the Alakush Visitor Center, followed by a combination of short afternoon trails around Bahia Lapataia.
Day 5: take a day hike to Glaciar Martial
Pull those hiking boots on again and head out to the Glaciar Martial trailhead, around 7km north of the city. The return hike is not too strenuous and doable in 3–4 hours. Don’t forget your camera – I did, and had to fork out for a return taxi to get it (not wanting to miss out on some great snaps!).
Keep an eye on the weather forecast though, and mind your footing in the snow. We narrowly avoided getting stuck near the top as a big stormcloud swooped in. At the end of the hike, treat yourself to tea and cake at La Cabaña Casa de Té.
Back in Ushuaia at the end of the day, stock up on snacks and drinks – you’re in for a long bus ride tomorrow.
Where to stay in Ushuaia
Ushuaia has a range of different accommodation options to suit all budgets. We tried three different modes of accommodation: an apartment, a hostel, and Couchsurfing.
It’s one of the few places in Patagonia where you can find a Couchsurfing host relatively easily. This is a great option if you are travelling on a tight budget and want to meet local people. It might mean staying a little way out of town, though – we schlepped a couple of kilometres up a hill with our backpacks to get to our host’s place.
At Patagonia Austral Apartamentos you’ll get a private apartment for as good a price as pretty much any hostel in the city. It’s basic, but you can’t argue at 25 US dollars per night for two people.
Hostel Torre Al Sur, run by a local family, is excellent value with good facilities. We found the kitchen space very handy for preparing pack-ups for our day hikes and the bus journey to Punta Arenas. They do have a strict (and very fair) rule that you need to take your boots off whenever entering.
Our favourite place to eat in Ushuaia
In Ushuaia we prepared most of our own food, but we did treat ourselves to a pizza one day at BarDpizzas on Avenida San Martin. Nothing fancy, just a good pizza for a reasonable price. The wifi was good too, which is something of a rarity in Patagonia.
Stop 2: Punta Arenas – tax-free shopping
Punta Arenas is the largest city in Chilean Patagonia. It is not quite adorned with the charm and scenic setting of Ushuaia, but it is a launchpad to exploring some of Patagonia’s highlights, like Magdalena Island and the Chilean Fjords.
In this itinerary Punta Arenas is a convenient stop-off location to break the journey between Ushuaia and Puerto Natales, and load up on supplies for the upcoming trekking.
Day 6: bus from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas
The journey from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas is a long one at around 12–13 hours. Luckily, though, there is some very pretty scenery along the way.
It’s also broken up by a ferry transfer over the Magellan Strait, which takes a couple of hours. Treat yourself to a hot chocolate on board – it’ll warm you up a treat.
Day 7: stock up on trekking supplies at Zona Franca
Today is all about getting those last-minutes necessities for the big challenge ahead: the W Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park. Get yourself to Zona Franca, a large tax-free shopping zone on the outskirts of Punta Arenas.
Zona Franca is where you will find the cheapest prices (by far) in Patagonia for all sorts of goodies, from electronics to clothing to food. We saved a lot of money by stocking up here on trekking snacks and a few bits of trekking gear we needed.
Top tip: on Avenida España on the way to Zona Franca in Punta Arenas, you can get delicious pastries and cakes in local bakeries.
Where to stay in Punta Arenas
As the main purpose of the stopover in Punta Arenas is for shopping, Hospedaje Familiar is a good option, as it’s located midway between the city centre and Zona Franca. It’s a homely place run by a friendly family – everything you need for a short stay.
Stop 3: Torres Del Paine – the W Trek
The W Trek in Torres Del Paine was not only the pinnacle of our time in Patagonia, but of our travels all over the world. It is a truly magical hiking trail that ranks among the greatest multi-day circuits in the world.
It’s not an easy feat though. At the very minimum it involves 74km of trekking, including plenty of scrambling up stony hills and wading through rivers. All of this is worth it for some of the most incredible scenery you will see in your life.
This part of the itinerary requires the most flexibility, and so the days leading up to the W Trek allow plenty of room for change if needed. For example, if the weather outlook is looking good, you might want to reach to Torres Del Paine quicker to take advantage. The stay in Punta Arenas could be shortened to one night, and the trek preparation day in Puerto Natales could be cut out.
The following section gives an overview of tackling the W Trek. For more detailed information, including planning, training, logistics and routes, read our complete guide to the Torres Del Paine W Trek for first-timers.
Day 8: take the bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales
Buses travel between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales several times every day, and by Patagonian standards it’s one of the shorter journeys at around three hours.
Take your time and rest up when you get to Puerto Natales – you’ll need to be fresh for the W Trek.
Day 9: preparation day for the W Trek in Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales is the the closest town to Torres Del Paine, and the hub for transport in and out of the park.
Top tip: you can drink clean, fresh water from natural sources in Torres Del Paine National Park.
Today is your last chance to buy anything you need for the W Trek. Be warned, though – Puerto Natales is expensive! Also, take the opportunity to gather any local information you need for the trek. Speak to the staff in your accommodation and stay abreast of the weather forecast.
With four days and nights of trekking and camping ahead, you’ll need plenty of time to prepare your food and load your backpack. Allow yourself ample time to get this done with some space left in the evening to rest up.
Get an early night – you’ll be up at the break of dawn.
Day 10: W Trek day 1 – Las Torres
The first day involves the biggest climb, but waiting at the top is the famous image of the peaks of Las Torres over a pristine lagoon. Stay for the night at Camping Chileno.
Day 11: W Trek day 2 – Lago Nordenskjöld
Set out early from Chileno and hike along the shores of the stunning Lago Nordenskjöld. There’s less elevation gain than the first day, but more distance to cover. You should reach Camping Frances by late afternoon.
Day 12: W Trek day 3 – Mirador Británico
Rise early again and leave your bags at Camping Italiano before tackling the return hike up to Mirador Británico. We found this to be the most difficult day of the trek, but at the top, the view of the surrounding granite towers and lakes far below was breathtaking.
After picking up your bags, hike on for a couple of hours to reach Camping Paine Grande for the night.
Day 13: W Trek day 4 – Grey Glacier
The final day culminates in one of the most rewarding sights in Patagonia: the sheer white face of Grey Glacier, part of the South Patagonian Ice Field. This is the world’s biggest ice field outside of Antarctica. At the mirador I got a close-up view by clambering over some rocks, but be very careful with your footing if you do this.
The return hike takes around 7–8 hours, so you can take your time leaving the campsite in the morning. Stay once again at Camping Paine Grande.
Day 14: return to Puerto Natales and rest
Now you can relax, although it takes a while to get back to Puerto Natales. The catamaran leaves Paine Grande in the morning at 9:30am or 11:30am. In our case we were delayed because the boat turned around to pick up two girls who’d just missed it!
From Pudeto at the other side, you can grab the transfer bus back to the town. It’s unlikely you’ll want to do anything else than rest for the remainder of the day.
Where to stay in Puerto Natales
We had one of our best hostel experiences anywhere in the world at Lili Patagonicos in Puerto Natales. The staff were incredibly helpful in providing information and advice about the W Trek. The hostel was super comfy, had a lovely social space, and – best of all – an awesome breakfast.
Our favourite place to eat in Puerto Natales
After completing the W Trek, we treated ourselves to a special Chilean BBQ lamb meal at El Asador Patagónico. It has an amazing selection of different meat dishes as well as local wines and craft beers. A great way to celebrate conquering the trek!
We may have had a few too many victory tipples, though. I woke up the next day having lost my bank card in a local ATM. Oops.
Stop 4: El Calafate – the Perito Moreno Glacier
El Calafate in Argentine Patagonia is best known for its proximity to Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the most popular tourist attractions in South America. If you search for ‘El Calafate’ in Google images, you have to scroll past a lot of pictures of the glacier before you find any of the town itself.
Despite this, El Calafate is a pretty little place and a very pleasant stop-off for backpackers in Patagonia.
Day 15: bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate
Buses from Puerto Natales to El Calafate leave the main station at around 7:30am. Including the border crossing into Argentina, the journey takes about five hours.
This should give you a little time to take a look around El Calafate in the afternoon. Avenida Libertador, the main street, has plenty of places to eat, shop and explore.
Day 16: visit Perito Moreno Glacier
Take a trip to one of the world’s greatest spectacles, Perito Moreno Glacier. Standing 74 metres high and 5 kilometres wide, its sheer scale is awe-inspiring. It is also one of only three glaciers in the world that is growing rather than retreating.
While several companies offer glacier tours, it’s easy enough to take a return bus and pay the entry fee to visit independently. If you’re up for getting physical and can stretch your budget a little, you can also consider an ice hike on the glacier.
Where to stay in El Calafate
We had a very pleasant stay in El Calafate at Hostel Cambalache. The hostel has an adjoining bar and restaurant with nice food at reasonable prices. They even let us cook our food in the restaurant kitchen! Cambalache was also the cheapest hostel of our entire time in Patagonia.
If hostels aren’t your vibe, there is a wide selection of various accommodation types in El Calafate listed on booking.com.
Our favourite place to eat in El Calafate
Restaurant prices in El Calafate can be pricy with the high volume of tourist trafiic in the town, but we found a great value little gem: La Zorra Taproom on Avenida Libertador. Not only does it have some excellent local beers (as you might gather from the name), the food is also delicious, and very reasonably priced. We had a traditional Patagonian stew, which was superb.
Stop 5: El Chaltén – trekking the lagunas
The picturesque Argentine mountain town of El Chaltén stands on the threshold of Los Glaciares National Park, one of the most beautiful spots in Patagonia for hiking. The imposing peaks of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre are among the region’s most iconic postcard images.
The hiking trails around El Chaltén are very well marked and manageable for hikers of all experience levels. The basics of a suggested three-day trekking route are outlined below, but for more detailed information see our guides to El Chaltén trekking and free campsites in the area.
Day 17: bus from El Calafate to El Chaltén
The bus from El Calafate to El Chaltén is an easy one at three hours, with a number of companies offering the service. If you can, stock up on trekking food in El Calafate’s supermarkets – it’s a lot cheaper than leaving it until El Chaltén, which has just a handful of small stores with higher prices.
After you arrive, take some time to get rested up – you’ll be off trekking again tomorrow.
Day 18: El Chaltén trek day 1 – Campamento Poincenot
The first day of this three-day trail is a gentle 10 kilometres with one short steep section at the beginning. Have a big breakfast and take your time before leaving in the morning; it only takes about 3–4 hours to reach Campamento Poincenot, a free campsite close to Laguna de los Tres.
Have an early night, as you’ll be up before dawn tomorrow to ascend for the sunrise view of Mount Fitz Roy.
Day 19: El Chaltén trek day 2 – Fitz Roy sunrise, Cerro Torre sunset
Make sure you’ve checked the sunrise time to time your morning ascent correctly. Allow around 90 minutes to reach Laguna de los Tres from the campsite.
Top tip: keep your eye out for the rare and endangered huemul South Andean deer, which is native to Los Glaciares National Park.
This section is the toughest of the trail, gaining around 400 metres in elevation. Be careful on the gravelly path as it’s easy to slip on loose stones. When you make it to the top, sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacular view over the water as the peaks turn orange in the morning sunlight.
From here, it’s a long day’s hike south to Laguna Torre. You should make it in time to see the sun setting behind Cerro Torre over the lake. Set up for the night at Camping de Agostini, another free campsite.
If you’re feeling up to it, it’s well worth hiking on an extra 2.5km to Mirador Maestri for a great view of Torre Glacier. Alternatively, you could leave this until the next morning.
Day 20: El Chaltén trek day 3 – return hike to town
From Camping de Agostini it’s a straightforward 9-kilometre hike back to El Chaltén on a well-marked path. There is some elevation gain towards the end. Take your time and don’t forget to look back; there are many viewpoints of Cerro Torre along the way.
Where to stay in El Chaltén
We tried out two different hostels in El Chaltén and had good experiences in both. Lo De Trivi is a great budget option, while Patagonia Hostel has more of a hotel feel.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, there are some good campsites in the town. Camping El Relincho on the north side of town and Camping La Torcida on the south are conveniently located near the trail start and finish points respectively.
For any other accommodation needs, take a look at the options on booking.com.
Our favourite place to eat in El Chaltén
We went back to basics in El Chaltén and treated ourselves to a stodgy meal at B&B Beers and Burgers. The burgers were great, and a highly satisfying reward after completing our trek.
Stop 6: Bariloche and El Bolsón – the Lake District
San Carlos de Bariloche, or Bariloche as it is more commonly known, is a city at the heart of Argentina’s Lake District on Lago Nahuel Huapi.
Many people overlook the area due to its distance from backpacker hotspots in southern Patagonia. However, with a buzzing social vibe and a tumult of breathtaking scenery to explore nearby, it’s well worth taking time to visit.
A two-hour bus ride from Bariloche is El Bolsón, a chilled out mountain town famed for its hippie vibe and artistic community.
Our suggested itinerary to explore the area is below, but for more ideas check out our article on things to do in Bariloche.
Day 21: bus to El Calafate and flight to Bariloche
While it is possible to travel to Bariloche by bus from El Chaltén via El Calafate, the journey is a gruelling one of 30+ hours, and it’s not too much more expensive to fly. The journey time is less than two hours and if you plan well in advance, you can get a flight for around 120 US dollars.
Flights tend to leave around midday, so you will need to take an early morning bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate International Airport. All buses from El Chaltén to El Calafate stop at the airport on the way.
Day 22: take a city walking tour
Spend the day getting to know the city and its surroundings. There are a choice of walking tours operated from the Bariloche Civic Center. Check in advance to see which coincide with your visit.
After your walking tour, take time to explore the city at your own pace. Visit one of Bariloche’s famous chocolate shops, and take a walk down on the waterfront at sunset.
Day 23: hike to Cerro Campanario and Cerro Llao Llao
The number 20 public bus from central Bariloche is your vessel for reaching some of the most spectacular panoramic views of the Lake District. First, stop off at Cerro Campanario, where you can either hike (30 mins approx) or take the chairlift to the summit.
Then, hop back on a bus to Puerto Pañuelo. From here, you can either do a short return hike to Cerro Llao Llao, or combine it with Sendero de los Arrayanes and Villa Tacul to make a 15-kilometre circuit. To find out more, read our guide to the Cerro Llao Llao trail.
Day 24: hike to Lago Gutiérrez and Cascada de Los Duendes
Put those hiking boots on once more and grab the number 55 bus to Catedral Alta Patagonia, a large skiing centre at the foot of Cerro Catedral. From here, hike 8 kilometres down the zig-zagging Balcón Gutierrez to the shores of Lago Gutierrez.
After a picnic lunch by the water, follow the 2.5-kilometres path along the lake’s edge to Cascada de los Duendes, a waterfall secluded in the forest. From here you can return to the lunch spot and take the 50 bus back to Bariloche.
Where to stay in Bariloche
One of our most memorable hostel stays during our travels was at Hospedaje Penthouse 1004 in Bariloche. The 10th-floor penthouse setting offers fabulous views across the city and Lago Nahuel Huapi, especially at sunrise and sunset. The hostel’s facilities were among the best we’ve experienced too.
We also did some Couchsurfing in Bariloche; the city is Patagonia’s biggest hub for the travel networking and accommodation community. We went to a weekly meet-up for local Couchsurfing hosts and guest, which was a great way to meet people.
As always, you can find plenty of accommodation options for Bariloche on booking.com.
Our favourite place to eat in Bariloche
Bariloche has a strong Swiss and German influence, which you can see in its alpine-style wooden chalet buildings. The public house Manush is a homely place to soak up this environment. It’s got a massive range of craft beers (try the porters IPA, we loved it), and plenty of hearty pub-style grub to go with it.
Day 25: bus from Bariloche to El Bolsón
The bus journey from Bariloche to El Bolsón takes a little over two hours, with services running several times a day. After arriving, have a wander around the town and soak up its beautiful mountain setting and cherry blossoms. Try one of the famous homemade ice creams from Helados Jauja.
Day 26: hike to hiking Cerro Piltriquitrón and back
One of the best ways to see the landscapes of valleys and Andes mountains around Bariloche is a return hike up to Cerro Piltriquitrón. If you take a taxi to the trailhead, it’s roughly an 11-kilometre return, but the uphill section is tricky so allow plenty of time.
There are different ways you can tackle the trail – read our guide to hiking Cerro Piltriquitrón for everything you need.
Day 27: hike to Cascada Escondida and return to Bariloche
You have plenty of time today for a little more gentle hiking before taking the bus back up to Bariloche. From the north-west side of the town, follow the trail that leads through countryside and farmland to the cascading waterfalls on Río Quemquemtreu.
Day 28: Fly from Bariloche to Buenos Aires
That’s it – you’re all done? Enjoy a relaxing morning in Bariloche before flying back to Buenos Aires. Flight services operate several times a day, and you can do the journey for as little as 55 US dollars.
Where to stay in El Bolsón
El Mirador Hostel in El Bolsón is the perfect place to stay for taking on the Cerro Piltriquitrón day hike. It’s perfectly located between the town and the trailhead, and has excellent facilities on its large, well-kept grounds in the hillside forests. The family that run the hostel are very welcoming and happy to help out with local information.
Our favourite place to eat in El Bolsón
We didn’t have much time to eat out in El Bolsón around our hiking, but we did have a very nice pizza meal at Los Lúpulos. It was a very pleasant spot for lunch on Plaza Pagano in the middle of town.
28-day Patagonia itinerary at-a-glance
Here is a quick and easy view of our suggested 28-day Patagonia itinerary:
- Day 1: Ushuaia – arrival from Buenos Aires
- Day 2: Ushuaia – city and museums exploration day
- Day 3: Ushuaia – Beagle Channel cruise
- Day 4: Ushuaia – Tierra Del Fuego National Park day hike
- Day 5: Ushuaia – Glaciar Martial day hike
- Day 6: Bus from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas
- Day 7: Punta Arenas – shopping at Zona Franca
- Day 8: Bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales
- Day 9: Puerto Natales – preparation for the W Trek
- Day 10: W Trek day 1 – Las Torres
- Day 11: W Trek day 2 – Lago Nordenskjöld
- Day 12: W Trek day 3 – Mirador Británico
- Day 13: W Trek day 4 – Grey Glacier
- Day 14: Puerto Natales – rest day
- Day 15: Bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate
- Day 16: El Calafate – day trip to Perito Moreno Glacier
- Day 17: Bus from El Calafate to El Chaltén
- Day 18: El Chaltén – trekking day 1
- Day 19: El Chaltén – trekking day 2
- Day 20: El Chaltén – trekking day 3
- Day 21: Bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate and flight to Bariloche
- Day 22: Bariloche – city walking tour and exploration
- Day 23: Bariloche – Cerro Campanario and Cerro Llao Llao hikes
- Day 24: Bariloche – Catedral Alta to Lago Gutiérrez day hike
- Day 25: Bus from Bariloche to El Bolsón
- Day 26: El Bolsón – Cerro Piltriquitrón day hike
- Day 27: El Bolsón – Cascada Escondida day hike and return to Bariloche
- Day 28: Flight from Bariloche to Buenos Aires
Patagonia itinerary: two weeks
For two weeks in Patagonia, we suggest slimming down our 28-day itinerary to focus on the highlights in the southern parts of the region.
While a fortnight is quite limiting, it’s still possible to fit in the Torres Del Paine W Trek, day hikes in Tierra Del Fuego and Los Glaciares national parks, a Beagle Channel cruise, and a visit to Perito Moreno Glacier.
The following at-a-glance view shows our our suggested two-week Patagonia itinerary (refer to the 28-day itinerary above for details on each location):
- Day 1: Ushuaia – arrival from Buenos Aires
- Day 2: Ushuaia – Beagle Channel cruise
- Day 3: Ushuaia – Tierra Del Fuego National Park day hike
- Day 4: Bus from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas
- Day 5: Punta Arenas – shopping at Zona Franca and bus to Puerto Natales
- Day 6: W Trek day 1 – Las Torres
- Day 7: W Trek day 2 – Lago Nordenskjöld
- Day 8: W Trek day 3 – Mirador Británico
- Day 9: W Trek day 4 – Grey Glacier / return to Puerto Natales
- Day 10: Bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate
- Day 11: El Calafate – day trip to Perito Moreno Glacier
- Day 12: Bus from El Calafate to El Chaltén
- Day 13: El Chaltén– Laguna de los Tres day hike
- Day 14: Bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate and flight to Buenos Aires
The significant differences in this shorter itinerary are:
- The visit to Ushuaia is reduced by two days
- Visits to Bariloche and El Bolsón in northern Patagonia are excluded
- It incorporates a day hike rather than a multi-day trek in El Chaltén
- Some rest and trek preparation days are excluded
Our suggested two-week Patagonia itinerary is a flexible framework; make adjustments to it according to your own needs and preferences.
Other ideas for your Patagonia itinerary
While our Patagonia itineraries features many of the outstanding locations, there are yet more stunning scenic places, incredible outdoor activities and historic sights to discover.
Here are five extra highlights to consider adding to your Patagonia itinerary:
Take a road trip down Carretera Austral
Carretera Austral is a famous highway that extends over a thousand kilometres through Chilean Patagonia. Beginning at Puerto Montt in the north and stretching down to Villa O’Higgins in the south, it passes through changing landscapes of valleys, glaciers, fjords, mountains and volcanoes.
If you have several weeks to spend in Patagonia and an ample budget (car hire is not cheap), a Carretera Austral roadtrip would be an awesome way to bridge the gap between El Chaltén and Bariloche.
Cruise through the Chilean fjords
Some of the most impressive scenery in Patagonia can be found in the sprawling fjords of southern Chile. In a five-day cruise between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas, you can absorb some of the untouched beauties of the end of the world, including Ainsworth Bay, Pia Glacier, Glacier Alley, Cape Horn and Wulaia Bay.
Discover the ancient Marble Caves
A hidden gem of Patagonia is the Marble Caves, an ancient geological formation situated on a peninsula of marble in the Andes mountains. The caves have distinctive surface patterns formed by the effects of thousands of years of water currents.
Straddling the border of Chile and Argentina, the caves are not easy to reach, though. The quickest way is by flight from Santiago to Balmaceda, followed by a 120-kilometre drive through winding mountain roads and a short ferry ride.
See the penguins at Punta Tombo
Patagonia is full of unique and spellbinding wildlife. One spot where you can witness a once-in-a-lifetime sight is at Punta Tombo, which is home to the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins. Over half a million of the adorable birds gather here between September and November.
If you take the bus into Patagonia from Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn on the east coast is a convenient stop-off within close reach of Punta Tombo for a day trip.
Hike the Torres Del Paine O Trek
If you’ve done the W Trek and are hungry for more, or you’d simply like to experience more of what Torres Del Paine has to offer, you can take on the full O circuit. This extended trail encapsulates the highlights of the W Trek, and continues into the north of the park to complete a full loop.
The O Trek is a serious undertaking and requires 6–10 days to complete. You would need to prepare well and allow plenty of time flexibility to account for unpredictable weather.
What is the budget for these itineraries?
Patagonia has an expensive reputation, but there are many ways you can keep costs down during your visit. We detail our full breakdown of spending in this article on Patagonia trip costs.
Over 26 days, we spent GBP 2,378 between two of us in Patagonia. This works out around GBP 45 per day each for accommodation, food and drink, transport, activities and additional costs. We achieved this through various money-saving measures including camping and Couchsurfing when we could, staying in hostels the remainder of the time, and preparing most of our own food.
Using this benchmark and adding a buffer, we estimate a guideline budget of around GBP 1,500 per person for 28 days, and GBP 900 per person for two weeks in Patagonia. This does not include flights in and out, so that would need to be costed separately.
The local currencies, in particular the Argentine Peso, are subject to regular fluctuations, so it’s a good idea to monitor the situation and adjust accordingly.
For a quick look at some of the best outdoor trails in the region, check out our compilation of the best Patagonia hiking trips.
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