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Best Patagonia itinerary 2023 (Argentina and Chile)

Patagonia an incredible region in South America is a great place to come for an ultimate adventure. There are many amazing places to visit and things to do in the region. Your Patagonia itinerary will depend on how much time you have in the region. I would recommend having a minimum of 7 days and deciding what you want to see and do. In my opinion, southern Patagonia is the best place to come if you don’t have much time and want to see some of the highlights of the region. The suggested itineraries are focused on the south of Patagonia and include Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine National Park, El Chalten, and Ushuaia.

A road in Argentinian Patagonia that leads to El Chalten
A road in Patagonia leading to El Chalten with Fitz Roy mountain

Where is Patagonia?

Patagonia is a vast region divided between Argentina and Chile. The Andes Mountains serve as a natural border between the two countries. The region occupies over 1 million square kilometers (620,000 square miles) in the south of the South American continent. There are hundreds of unique places to visit including several Patagonia National Parks that offer great opportunities for outdoor activities. Patagonia is a real paradise for nature lovers; glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains, and indigenous forests create a perfect natural habitat for diverse wildlife in the region. 

How to get to Patagonia?

You can fly to different towns in Patagonia. Depending on your Patagonia itinerary you can fly to Bariloche, El Calafate, and Ushuaia in Argentina or Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales in Chile. These towns are close to some popular tourist attractions such as Perito Moreno Glacier or Torres del Paine National Park.

It’s cheaper to fly within a country. So if you’re in Santiago de Chile it’s cheaper to fly to one of the towns in Chilean Patagonia and the same for Argentina. 

For finding the cheapest flights and the airlines that operate them I would suggest using Skyscanner but booking flights is better directly through the airline website. Keep in mind that in South America there are no budget flights like in Europe where you can fly for US$10. The average price for a local flight is around US$50-60.

Airlines that operate flights between Buenos Aires (and some other Argentinian towns) and Patagonia.

Aerolineas Argentinas, Flybondi, and JetSmart are the airlines that operate flights from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, Bariloche, and Ushuaia. Prices vary depending on destination and departure date.

Airlines that operate flights between Santiago de Chile and Patagonia.

There are three main airlines in Chile: SKYLATAM, and JetSmart. All three have flights from Santiago de Chile to Puerto Natales, the nearest to Torres del Paine town. LATAM is usually quite a bit more expensive. Prices vary depending on the time and day. During the peak season between December and February, prices are higher. If there are no flights to Puerto Natales you can fly to Punta Arenas which is 250 km south and from there get a bus to Torres del Paine.

A shallow river winding through a valley in Argentinian Patagonia
The scenery on one of the day hiking trails in Patagonia

How much time do you need for Patagonia?

Honestly as much time as possible. We spent two months in Patagonia and still didn’t have enough time to do all we wanted. I’d say at least one week to see the highlights of the region such as El Chalten, Perito Moreno Glacier, and Torres del Paine National Park. If you want to see only Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the top attractions in Argentina 2 or 3 days will be enough. In two weeks you can go hiking in El Chalten or Torres del Paine and visit the glacier. If you have one month to spend in Patagonia you can include in your itinerary Bariloche and Ushuaia in Argentina or the Carretera Austral in Chile. 

What are the best months to travel?

The summer months between November and April are the best months to visit the Patagonia region. December, January, and February are the warmest months with the least rainfall. These months are the best time for hiking in Torres del Paine as well.

The period from the second half of December to February is the high season in the region, it’s the time of summer holidays in Argentina and Chile. If you decide to visit Patagonia during that time I would strongly recommend booking plane tickets, transport, and campsites in Torres del Paine (for multi-day routes) in advance.

If you want to have good weather and escape crowds border months of November and the first half of December and March might be the best time to visit Patagonia.

Read our post to find out what to pack for traveling in Patagonia.

One of the turquoise lakes in Southern Patagonia
Wherever you go in Patagonia the scenery is always impressive

Is Patagonia worth visiting?

Patagonia is definitely worth visiting if you like wilderness, camping, and hiking. The region is known for its untouched nature, unique landscape, spectacular scenery, and diverse wildlife. Even if you don’t like hiking it’s worth visiting Patagonia. It’s an amazing place for a road trip. If you rent a car you can include several top attractions in your Patagonia itinerary.  

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Renting a car in Patagonia

Renting a car is a great way to have flexibility in your Patagonia itinerary. It is the fastest way of getting around in Patagonia, especially in the Chilean part of it on the Carretera Austral. Renting a car might work out cheaper as well if you’re a family or a group of friends traveling together.

If you fly to El Calafate airport you can rent a car there on arrival.

It’s possible to rent a car at Punta Arenas airport or in Puerto Natales (in the town itself) but your options will be more limited.

How to get around?

To get around the Argentinian Patagonia without a car you can use buses. There is a wide network of buses that connect the towns and the region with the rest of the country. You can get by bus to any touristy place though sometimes you’ll have to switch buses. Overall traveling by bus in Argentina is nice and easy. Long-distance buses are very comfortable some even have fully inclined seats. 

Chilean Patagonia, especially the part of the Carretera Austral (it’s not included in the suggested Patagonia itinerary), is a bit more tricky to get around by bus. Due to many ferry crossings and remoteness in the region. If you want to cover long distances it might be better to take a ferry to fly. Buses are operated by small local companies which often don’t have websites so it’s difficult to find the actual timetable, routes, and prices. 

Spectacular scenery on the W trek in Torres del Paine, one of the highlights of the Patagonia itinerary
Scenery on the W trek in Torres del Paine National Park

7-day Patagonia itinerary (Perito Moreno and Torres del Paine)

If you have 7 days in Patagonia, I would suggest visiting the two highlights of the region: the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina and Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Both places are among some of the top natural landmarks to visit in South America.

Where to start the itinerary depends on where you’re coming from. If you fly to Patagonia from somewhere in Argentina then it’s better to start in El Calafate. If you fly from Chile then Puerto Natales is a better option. Flying within a country be it Argentina or Chile is significantly cheaper than flying internationally. 

The highlights of the suggested 7-day itinerary are Perito Moreno Glacier and Torres del Paine National Park. 

As an alternative instead of using buses and moving between towns you can stay in El Calafate and visit Torres del Paine with a day tour. In this case, you’ll have time to visit El Chalten and do some hiking there.

You’ll save a lot of time if instead of using public buses you rent a car or use a private shuttle service. There are direct buses between El Calafate and Puerto Natales but they are not very frequent and take longer than driving. 

A spectacular blue lake in Argentinian Patagonia
Perito Moreno National Park is a must-include in your Patagonia itinerary

Day 1. Flight Buenos Aires – El Calafate 

I would suggest booking an early flight to El Calafate so you have time to explore the town, rest, and prepare for the next day. El Calafate is a small town known as a gateway to Perito Moreno Glacier. The town caters to tourists there are plenty of accommodation options, restaurants, and shops. 

If you start your Patagonia trip in Chile then it’s better to fly to Puerto Natales.

Fligths from Buenos Aires to El Calafate

There are three airlines (Aerolineas Argentinas, Flybondi, and JetSmart) that operate fights from the Argentinian capital to El Calafate. Flybondi seems to have the cheapest flights, from US$70 one way. The other two airlines offer flights from US$100 one way. The duration of the fight is 3h30min.

El Calafate is a small and quite expensive town it’s not the best place to buy hiking or camping gear. If you need to buy some stuff it’s better to do it in Puerto Natales.

Places to stay in El Calafate

Day 2. Perito Moreno Glacier

Spend a day exploring Perito Moreno Glacier. The glacier is one of the top places to visit in South America. It is located in Los Glaciares National Park. You can visit the park, walk on boardwalks, and enjoy spectacular views of the glacier from several lookout points. It’s the cheapest option to visit Perito Moreno.

If you want to get close to the glacier, you can do a boat tour that will take you very close to it.

For an ultimate adventure go on a glacier hike.

  • Opening hours of Perito Moreno National Park – daily from 8 am to 7 pm
  • Admission fee – ARS 10 000/US$36 per person
  • Getting there – by bus, driving, hitchhiking
A close-up look to Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the highlights of Patagonia
Impressive Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the highlights of the Patagonia itinerary

Day 3. El Calafate, Argentina – Puerto Natales, Chile

Get from El Calafate to Puerto Natales. You can take a direct bus, a shuttle, or rent a car. The last two will be much faster. If you plan a multi-day hike in Torres del Paine it’s better if you can get to the park on the same day. It’s easier to do if you have a car with buses you might not make it.  

On Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays there is a morning bus that leaves El Calafate at 8 am and arrives in Puerto Natales at 2.05 pm. During the months of November, December, January, and February there is a bus to Torres del Paine that leaves at 2.30 pm. You can get to the park from El Calafate in one day.

On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays there is an afternoon bus that leaves at 4.30 pm and arrives in Puerto Natales at 9.30 pm. It means you’ll have to stay overnight in Puerto Natales and go to the park the next morning. The price is CLP 28 000/US$30. You can buy tickets and confirm the timetable on the Bus Sur website.

If you stay overnight you can take the 6.45 am or 7 am bus that arrives at Torres del Paine (Laguna Amarga) at 8.45 am or 9 am. You can buy tickets on the Bus Sur website.

If you rent a car or use a private shuttle you can get from El Calafate to Torres del Paine in one day. Keep in mind that the W trek starts and ends at different places you’ll have to get back to your car after completing the hike. It’s possible to do this using the bus that connects Torres del Paine with Puerto Natales. It makes several stops in the park.

Places to stay in Puerto Natales

One of the suspension bridges in Torres del Paine
Campbell on a suspension bridge near Grey campsite in Torres del Paine

Day 4-6. Torres del Paine National Park

If you have 3 full days in Torres del Paine National Park you can do a shorter version of the W trek. It’s a multi-day route in the south part of the park that takes hikers to the main highlights. Keep in mind that it’ll be quite intense and you’ll have to plan your logistics well.

The W trek – a 3-day itinerary

Please, keep in mind that departure times and prices might change. Always check the information on the websites of transport companies (you can find links in the post).

Day 4. Hike Hotel Las Torres – Mirador Las Torres and back, 20 km

Get on one of the first buses from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine. They leave at 6.45 am and 7 am from the bus terminal. It’s better to book your ticket in advance in the peak season. The bus arrives at Laguna Amarga (the first stop in Torres del Paine) at 8.45 am/9 am. Get off the bus at Laguna Amarga and get on another bus to Hotel Las Torres/Central campsite. It’s a 15-minute drive. Read our detailed instructions on how to get to Torres del Paine.

At around 10 am arrive at Hotel Las Torres, leave your backpack, and start hiking to Mirador Las Torres, one of the most iconic views in Torres del Paine. It’s a strenuous ascent for about 10 km to the viewpoint. Make sure to take water and snacks with you. There will be one place to stop about halfway (Chileno campsite) where you can buy food and rest.

From the Mirador hike back to Hotel Las Torres. The walk to and back takes 5-6 hours including time spent at the viewpoint.

The scenery at the Mirador Las Torres, Torres del Paine, Chile
A hike to the Mirador Las Torres is definitely worth including in your Patagonia itinerary

Day 5. Hike Hotel Las Torres – Paine Grande campsite, 23 km

Next morning I would suggest starting early in order to have enough time to enjoy the spectacular scenery. There are some side hikes to the viewpoints (Britanico and Frances) but 23 km is already a long day I wouldn’t suggest doing any extra routes. 

Day 6. Hike Paine Grande campsite – Grey campsite, 11 km

It’ll be a long day though the hike itself is quite short but getting to Puerto Natalles will take a big part of the day. The walk from Paine Grande to Grey campsite is around 11 km. You can do it in 3 hours. If you have time you can hike to one of the suspension bridges to have a view of the glacier from the top.

You have two options to get back to Puerto Natales

  1. to take a boat from Grey campsite to Hotel Lago Grey and from there get on a bus to Puerto Natales
  2. to walk back to Paine Grande, take a ferry to Pudeto, and then get on a bus to Puerto Natales.

The first option

It is a lot more expensive because you do a cruise on Grey Lake. A one-way ticket costs CLP 90 000/US$100 per person. There are 3 daily departures at 11 am, 2 pm, and 5.45 pm. Buy your tickets and confirm departure times online. The first two boats include a visit to the glacier (takes 1h45min.) and the third boat (takes 1 hour) goes directly to the hotel.

From Hotel Lago Grey take a bus to Puerto Natales. There are 2 daily departures at 1.30 pm and 5 pm. The journey takes 4 hours and costs CLP 20 000/US$23. Buy your bus tickets and confirm the timetable on the website.

The total cost is US$123 per person.

The best would be to take the 2 pm boat that arrives at Hotel Lago Grey at 3.45 pm. You’ll have enough time to get to the bus stop to catch the 5 pm bus. The bus arrives in Puerto Natales at 9.30 pm.

Grey Lake and glacier are some of the highlights of the suggested Patagonia itinerary
A view of the Grey Lake and Grey Glacier on the W trek

The second option

The second option is cheaper but it adds 11 km extra to your hike which takes 2-3 hours. In total your hike will be 5-6 hours. If you go for this option, you can leave your backpack at Paine Grande and walk with a day pack to Grey campsite and back. From Paine Grande take a ferry to Pudeto. There are 2-4 daily ferries depending on the month. It takes 30 minutes, the price is US$30 per person. Find more details and departure times on the website.

At Pudeto get on a bus to Puerto Natales. There are several daily departures find out more on the BusSur website. The trip to Puerto Natales is 2 hours. The price is CLP 12 000/US$13.

The total cost of this option is US$43 per person. US$80 cheaper than the first one.

Day hikes in Torres del Paine

If the 3-day hiking itinerary seems too intense you can stay in the park and do day hikes in Torres del Paine. If you have a car, it’ll be easy to move between different parts of the park for the best hiking trails. Without a car, you can use a bus that connects the park with Puerto Natales. It makes several stops in Torres del Paine. The Mirador Las Torres trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park. It’s possible to do horseback riding and glacier hiking in Torres del Paine. 

Without a car staying at Hotel Las Torres/Central campsite will be one of the best options. From there you can do the Mirador Las Torres hike, a not-to-miss trail in Torres del Paine, and hike to Valle Frances and Nordenskjord Lake.

If you have a car you can stay outside the park e.g. Goiien Lodge, Konkashken Lodge, and do day trips to different parts of Torres del Paine. You can stay inside the park at one of the hotels but they’re quite pricey e.g. It’s possible to camp in Torres del Paine. There are different options and prices. Campsites have to be booked well in advance. You can find more information on camping in Torres del Paine in this post.

You can stay in Puerto Natales and visit Torres del Paine on a guided tour. 

Day 7. Puerto Natales – El Calafate

If you’re going to fly from El Calafate try to book a late flight so you have enough time to get from Puerto Natales to the airport in El Calafate. There are morning buses from the Puerto Natales bus terminal to El Calafate that leave at 7.30 am and 8 am. They arrive around 2 pm at the bus station in El Calafate.

Flying from Puerto Natales instead of going back to El Calafate will save you time but will be more expensive if you want to fly somewhere in Argentina.

A view of El Chalten from a nearby hill
El Chalten is a very small town surrounded by wilderness

A 10-day Patagonia itinerary (El Chalten, Perito Moreno, and Torres del Paine)

If you have 10 days to spend in Patagonia it will be enough to visit El Chaltén, Perito Moreno Glacier, and Torres del Paine. These are the highlights of Southern Patagonia and some of the most beautiful places in the region.

El Chalten and Perito Moreno Glacier are some of the not-to-miss attractions in Argentinian Patagonia so is Torres del Paine in Chile. The suggested 10-day Patagonia itinerary gives you enough time to explore the area. 

You can join an organized 9-day tour that starts and finishes in El Calafate. During the tour, you get to visit Perito Moreno Glacier and hike in El Chalten and Torres del Paine. It includes transportation, accommodation, and some activities. It’s an easier option if you don’t have much time to plan your Patagonia itinerary.

Day 1. Flight Buenos Aires to El Calafate.

You can get a direct flight to El Calafate from the Argentinian capital. If you plan to come during the summer season, booking your flight in advance is better. There are three airlines (Aerolineas Argentinas, Flybondi, and JetSmart) that operate flights to El Calafate. Flybondi has the cheapest flights.

Depending on your arrival time you can go to El Chalten. If you rent a car at the airport it will be easy, it’s a 2-hour drive. There are direct buses from El Calafate airport to El Chalten bus station. A bus ride takes around 3 hours. You can buy your ticket and check the timetable on the TAQSA and CalTur websites.

If you’re in Chile it’ll be better to fly to Puerto Natales and start your itinerary there.

Day 2-3. Hiking in El Chalten

El Chalten is often called the hiking capital of Argentina. Mount Fitz Roy is the most famous attraction in the area. The town is quite small but it has good infrastructure. You can camp in El Chalten and do day hikes from the town. The Laguna de Los Tres hike offers some of the best views. It’s probably one of the most famous hikes in the Argentinian Patagonia. Laguna Torre is another popular trail with beautiful views. Find more information on hikes in El Chalten here.

Places to stay in El Chalten

You can hike independently in El Chalten or join a tour.

Alya on a rock at Laguna de los Tres in El Chalten, Argentina
Alya at Laguna de los Tres in El Chalten, one of our favorite hikes in Patagonia

Day 4. El Chalten to El Calafate

Take a bus back to El Calafate. Even if you take a morning bus it’s quite a 3-hour ride it’s unlikely you’ll have time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier the same day. If you do have some extra time you can visit Punta Walichu. It’s an interesting site to include in your Patagonia itinerary. Punta Walichu is a network of caves with incident rock paintings. You can get there by car, cycling, or with a tour from El Calafate.

Day 5. El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno is one of the highlights of the suggested Patagonia itinerary. Spend the entire day exploring the impressive glacier. You can visit the glacier independently or with a tour. There is a shuttle bus from El Calafate to Perito Moreno. The park is 80 km from the town. It takes 1h30min. to get there by bus. Depending on the season there are 1 to 4 daily buses to Perito Moreno Glacier. You can check the timetable and buy tickets on the TAQSA website.

You can visit the glacier with a tour or get a private return shuttle.

Places to stay in El Calafate

A view of Perito Moreno Glacier from the boardwalk
A cruise boat at Perito Moreno Glacier in El Calafate

Day 6. El Calafate (Argentina) to Puerto Natales (Chile)

You have a full day to get to Puerto Natales. The bus ride from El Calafate takes 6 hours. You can catch the early morning bus at 8 am (only on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays). It arrives in Puerto Natales at 2.05 pm. Then you can get on the bus to Torres del Paine at 2.30 pm. It runs only during the summer months (November to February). You can get to Torres del Paine from El Calafate in one day.

Find more details on getting to Torres del Paine from El Calafate here.

Day 7-9. Torres del Paine National Park

If you have 3 full days in Torres del Paine you can do the W trek. I would recommend taking an early morning bus to Torres del Paine to make sure you have enough time for hiking. You can find a detailed 3-day itinerary for the W trek in the 7-day Patagonia itinerary section.

As an alternative to multi-day hikes, you can stay in the park and do day hikes or stay in Puerto Natales and visit Torres del Paine on a day trip independently or with a tour. If you rent a car staying in the park is a better option as you can easily visit different parts of Torres del Paine. You can do so without a car relying on a bus service but it’ll take longer and will require thorough planning.

Places to stay in Puerto Natales

A bizarre-shaped mountains and its refection in the lake in Torres del Paine National Park
Spectacular scenery in Torres del Paine on the way from Paine Grande to Central campsite

Day 10. Puerto Natales to El Calafate

When booking a return flight make sure to choose one that departs in the evening so you have enough time to get to the airport from Puerto Natales. Keep in mind that the bus ride might take longer due to border crossing which can get quite busy in the peak season.

As an option, you can book a flight from Puerto Natales airport which is just a few kilometers away from the town. It’ll save you a day of travel.

14 days Patagonia itinerary

If you have 14 days to spend in the region, I would recommend adding Ushuaia to the suggested 10-day Patagonia itinerary. 

You can join an organized 14-day tour with a similar itinerary that includes transport, accommodation, and some tours. It’s a great option if you don’t feel like planning your itinerary and booking everything separately.

Day 1-10 (El Chalten, Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine)

The first 10 days of the 2-week Patagonia itinerary are the same as the 10-day itinerary. After returning to El Calafate you can catch a direct flight to Ushuaia. The flight is just over 1 hour. 

Laguna de los Tres in El Chalten
One of the beautiful turquoise color lakes in the Argentinian Patagonia

Day 11-13. Ushuaia

Ushuaia is often called the end of the world. It’s the southernmost town (there is a small settlement more south in Chile but it’s hardly a town as its population counts a couple of thousands) in the world. Ushuaia is known as a gateway to Antarctica. Cruises leave from the port of Ushuaia. A standard tour duration is one week. If you have extra time and money you could add this lifetime trip to your Patagonia itinerary.

Even if you don’t have time to visit Antarctica it’s worth visiting Ushuaia. You can do a day boat trip to the Beagle Channel, visit Tierra del Fuego National Park, and do a penguin-watching tour

More tours and activities in Ushuaia

Places to stay in Ushuaia

Day 14. Fly from Ushuaia. 

​You can get a direct flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. The three airlines Aerolineas Argentinas, Flybondi, and JetSmart offer direct flights. The flight is 3h30min. The price starts at US$60 per person depending on the month.

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Monday 27th of November 2023

Hello, my name is Joyce Ahn, am living in Seattle, Washington, USA. I am a fan of your blog and it helped me to plan my first Camino de Santiago. Your description of the Spiritual Way was very helpful. My husband and I planned to visit Patagonia and bought a ticket to Buenos Aires. We will leave Seattle on 12/30/2023 and will be back on 1/17/2024. I checked your ten-day itinerary and wondered how I could add Ushuaia to our trip. I want to step my foot on the End of the world if possible.

Congratulations! Having a daughter is precious and will give you guys great joy.

Stingy Nomads

Tuesday 5th of December 2023

Hello Joyce. Thank you for the comment. We're glad our blog has been helpful. Sorry it took long to reply we were traveling in Central America for a month. If you want to include Ushuaia in your 10 day Patagonia itinerary you can skip Torres del Paine and instead go to Ushuaia after Perito Moreno. You can check the suggested 14-day itinerary and exclude from it Torres del Paine. I don't think it's possible to visit both in 10 days. You can fly to El Calafate, go to El Chalten, then visit Perito Moreno Glacier and fly to Ushuaia from El Calafate. Good luck and enjoy Patagonia

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