You could spend weeks exploring Patagonia, the rugged wilderness that blankets the southern regions of Argentina and Chile, but with only a few days to spare, there’s still time to take in the highlights. On the Argentine side, the principal towns include Bariloche in the northern lakelands; Puerto Madryn, best known for its arctic wildlife; El Calafate, the ‘national capital of the glaciers’; and Ushuaia, at the southernmost tip of Patagonia, all of which are reachable by regular flights from Buenos Aires. To help you plan your itinerary, here are some ideas for how to spend 3 days in Patagonia, but to really make the most of a short trip, choose one of these towns to focus on and enjoy day trips to the nearby sights.
Day 1: Puerto Madryn
A popular destination for cruise ships, the coastal resort of Puerto Madryn offers a range of outdoor activities. Go hiking or horse riding along the coast; take a trip to the Punta Tombo Penguin Colony; enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving with sea lions; or sail out to explore the wildlife sanctuary of the UNESCO-listed Valdes Peninsula.
Day 2: El Calafate
The undeniable highlight of El Calafate is the neighboring Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site home to the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier, one of Patagonia’s most iconic sights. One day hiking or boating trips to see the glacier are possible, but with more time you could also include a visit to the remote Upsala Glacier or cross the Chilean border for a hike around the rugged mountains and glacial lakes of the Torres del Paine National Park.
Day 3: Ushuaia
As the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia is the last frontier before Antarctica and dubbed the ‘end of the world’ by many arctic cruise liners. Choose from exploring the dramatic landscapes of the Tierra del Fuego National Park; sailing or kayaking among the islands of the famous Beagle Channel; riding the evocatively named End of the World train line; or learning about Patagonia’s diverse wildlife at the Museo del Fin del Mundo.