When considering a Patagonia itinerary, it's hard to know where to begin. Spanning the southern section of South America across Chile and Argentina, Patagonia runs from Bariloche in the north all the way down to Tierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan in the south. Airports are few and far between and road quality varies considerably. For those that do decide to tackle a trip to Patagonia, there are endless rewards: from stunning snow-capped peaks to luminous glaciers to the bluest lakes you'll ever see. We embarked on a two week Patagonia itinerary cutting across both Chile and Argentina. Read on for our recommendations on where to go and how to get there. We flew, drove, and took the bus to get around as we explored the great expanses of Patagonia.
The Ultimate Two Week Patagonia Itinerary in Brief
- 4 Days in Bariloche Argentina
- 2 Days in El Calafate Argentina
- 1 Day crossing the border and in transit from El Calafate Argentina to Puerto Natales Chile
- 3 Days in Puerto Natales
- 1 Day exploring Torres del Paine National Park
- 1 Day drive from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas Chile
- 2 Days in Punta Arenas Chile
Patagonia in Two Weeks: 4 Days in Bariloche
Bariloche in Argentina is a solid entry point into Patagonia. Flights run regularly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche. We recommend spending about 4 days in Bariloche and renting a car in order to see some of the scenic drives in the region.
Day 1 - Drive Circuito Chico and Cable Car to Cerro Otto
Day 2 - The 7 Lakes Drive (aka Ruta de Siete Lagos)
On your second day in Bariloche, drive further afield and do the Seven Lakes Drive (Ruta de Siete Lagos). We drove straight through from Bariloche to Villa La Angostura in about 90 minutes. We spent about an hour in Villa La Angostura and left wishing we'd had more time in this quiet Argentinian town. La Angostura is an ideal spot to stock up on chocolate from Argentina's Lake District. Check out awesome chocolate shops like Mamuschka and La Campiña Del Sur. It quickly became clear why Bariloche is known as the Switzerland of South America.
There is one super-important thing to note. We did not see any toilets anywhere along the Seven Lakes Drive outside of Villa La Angostura so make sure to use the bathroom when you pass through the town. Pop into Cafe Antibes for something to eat and to use the loo. We stopped here as we passed through Villa La Angostura in both directions.
The best bits of the Seven Lakes Drive are past Villa La Angostura. We pushed on all the way to Vullignanco waterfall and then turned back toward Bariloche to make sure that we completed the trip before the sun set. We saw some amazing views along the way. Pull off the road at any of the small parking lots dotting the route or just pull off onto the shoulder if you see something you like.
Day 3 - Explore Bariloche
On the third day of your Patagonian itinerary in Bariloche, take a break from driving and set out to explore the town. Start the day with an amazing sunrise. The photo below was taken from the comfort of our room at Alma del Lagos Suites and Spa ($182 USD per night), a hotel situated on the shore of Nahuel Huapi Lake.
Check out the shops in Bariloche town and then tuck into some top notch steak washed down with a bottle of Argentinian Malbec at La Parrilla de Tony.
Day 4 - Cau Cau Cruise on Nahuel Huapi Lake
On your final day in Bariloche, get out onto the lake itself with a Cau Cau cruise. The cruise stops at Isla Victoria and Parque Nacional Arrayanes. A half-day lake cruise cost $1060 ARS per person ($50 USD at the time of writing). Visitors are also required to to pay a $250 ARS (foreigner price; about $12 USD) entry fee to get into the national park.
Patagonia in Two Weeks: 2 Days in El Calafate
2-weeks in Patagonia may seem like a long trip, but given the distances involved you'll need to be efficient. We took advantage of regular non-stop flights from Bariloche to El Calafate to make our way south as efficiently as possible. Spend two days in El Calafate to give yourself time to see Perito Moreno Glacier and explore the town.
Day 5 - Laguna Nimez Reserve, Craft Beer, and Dinner at MakoCalafate Parque Hotel ($186 USD per night). Bundle up and head to Laguna Nimez Reserve to look for the birds of Patagonia. Definitely wear layers. The sun was shining but the wind was howling when we visited in November. It was absolutely amazing to see birds of prey nearly suspended in mid-air due to the strong winds as we walked a slow circuit around the reserve.
Finish the day with a walk through El Calafate town. Try a sampler of craft beers at Chopen Cerveceria including an ale flavored with El Calafate's namesake berry.
Day 6 - Perito Moreno Glacier and the Glaciarium
On the return drive to El Calafate, stop off at the Glaciarium to learn about the science behind glaciers and the geology of this area of Patagonia. You can catch the free shuttle bus from the Glaciarium back to El Calafate town.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: What foods should you try on a trip to Argentina? If you have a sweet tooth, keep an eye out for alfajores, Argentinian cookies filled with dulce de leche. Alfajores come in a wide variety of flavors and are often enrobed in chocolate.
Patagonia in Two Weeks: Day 7: 1-Day in Transit to Cross from Argentina into Chile by Bus at Rio Don GuillermoEl Calafate offers regular bus services to Puerto Natales, Chile. We reserved seats on Bus-Sur and embarked on a 5 hour ride from El Calafate to Puerto Natales. We were a little surprised when the bus turned from a paved road onto gravel. Road quality definitely varies in Patagonia. We were on Ruta 40, a national road. We bounced along until we came upon the border crossing at Rio Don Guillermo. We were really in the middle of nowhere. Be careful what you bring with you on the bus since the border-crossing involves a bio-security check. Fruit-sniffing dogs checked out the luggage hold of the bus and selected bags were chosen for extra screening. In all, it took about 30-45 minutes to get an exit stamp in our passport for Argentina and clear customs and immigration for Chile.
Patagonia in Two Weeks: 3 Days in Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales is a great home-base for exploring the natural attractions of Chilean Patagonia. Puerto Natales is a small town but given the big attractions nearby, it's worth devoting three days to the visit. We stayed at Hotel Costaustralis ($206 USD per night), a historic property right on the water. We rented a car upon our arrival in Puerto Natales because the rest of our Patagonia itinerary would be a self-drive road trip.
Day 8 - Condors at Lago Sofia
Day 9 - The Mylodon Cave
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Are you looking for other places to visit in the Americas that are filled with beautiful landscapes plus cool birds and wildlife? I invite you to check out our practical 10 day Costa Rica itinerary for first-time visitors. This is one of the bucket list!
If you are short on time and have less than two weeks for your Patagonia itinerary, it is possible to combine Lago Sofia and the Mylodon Cave into a single self-drive day trip from Puerto Natales.
Day 10 - Take a Walk and Enjoy the Food of Puerto Natalesa fantastic food scene in Puerto Natales.
Patagonia in Two Weeks: Day 11: Torres del Paine National Park in One Day
You could probably spend a week or two in Torres del Paine National Park, especially if you wanted to do the W Trek. However, on a two week Patagonia Itinerary, you really only have time for a quick day trip to Chile's premier natural attraction. You can cover a lot of ground in Torres del Paine National Park in a single day. We drove a circuit around the main gravel road through the park stopping for a few short and scenic day hikes along the way including the Salto Chico Trail and the trek to Mirador Cuernos.
Patagonia in Two Weeks: Day 12: 1-Day in Transit: Drive to Punta Arenas
Continue south from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas by car; a 3 hour drive on paved roads. I'll admit, this drive is pretty boring aside from the occasional alpaca farm that you'll encounter on the way. Driving is the most efficient way to get to Punta Arenas though since flying is not an option.
Patagonia in Two Weeks: 2 Days in Punta Arenas
Spend the final two days of your Patagonia itinerary exploring Punta Arenas, the Chilean city on the shore of the Strait of Magellan. Stay at Hotel Dreams del Estrecho Casino ($184 USD per night) for spectacular views over the Strait of Magellan.
Day 13 - Fort Bulnes and Replica Ships
Day 14 - Walk around Punta Arenas and Along the Strait of Magellan
On the final day of your 2 week Patagonia itinerary, explore the city of Punta Arenas and walk along the Strait of Magellan. Think about the history of this place at the southern tip of South America. In the early 1500s, Magellan's crew first circumnavigated the globe and sailed through these waters. At the end of two weeks in Patagonia, you deserve to think of yourself as a modern day explorer walking in Magellan's footsteps. Finish the day with a Hernando de Magellanes craft beer at the Shackleton Bar in Hotel José Nogueira and toast the end of an amazing 14 days in Patagonia!
Patagonia Maps of Points of Interest for Your Two Week Itinerary
Click on the Patagonia map images below to access interactive versions in Google Maps to better understand the points of interest highlighted in this post and the distances involved on this two week Patagonia itinerary across Chile and Argentina.
|Bariloche Argentina Drives|
|Map of Things to Do Around Puerto Natales Chile|
|Day Trip from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile|
|Things to do near Punta Arenas Chile|