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Exploring South America: 5 Weekend Trips from Buenos Aires

by Megan Rodgers
Patagonia, Argentina

As amazing and exciting as the city of Buenos Aires is, one of my favorite parts about studying abroad here has been the opportunity to travel around the Southern Cone and get to know the rest of Argentina outside of the city. I just now got back from my last of five weekend trips from Buenos Aires during my time here and I would love to share with you a bit about each of them!

Here are five weekend trips from Buenos Aires, Argentina that you can’t miss.

1. La Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Colonia, Uruguay

This trip was actually only for one day and it was organized by AIFS which made it super convenient and fun because I didn’t have to plan anything. La Colonia is just across the river in Uruguay, so we woke up early to take the ferry and spend the whole day there.

We spent our morning on a bus tour and then a walking tour, and then had the rest of the day to explore the town on our own. I really enjoyed my time in La Colonia because it allowed me a glimpse into the Uruguayan culture. The town has lots of really interesting history and architecture due to the fact that it changed hands between the Portuguese and Spanish seven times during colonization. Colonia is also a common weekend vacation spot for people from Buenos Aires, as it has a small beach on the river and is really quiet and calm.

2. Mendoza, Argentina

Of all my weekend trips from Buenos Aires, Mendoza was my first independently planned one. I was a little nervous but it ended up being lots of fun. My friends and I took an overnight bus from Buenos Aires to Mendoza that was surprising comfortable and rented an Airbnb for our time there. 

We were only there for a long weekend, so we spent one day exploring the city itself, one day on a tour of the Andes that stopped at Mount Aconcagua (the tallest mountain in the Americas), Puente de las Incas (a small Incan settlement) and the border between Argentina and Chile, and for our last day we took and all day wine tour.

Mendoza is known for being the wine country of Argentina, so we enjoyed lots of the traditional Argentinian Malbec, but there is so much more to do in Mendoza than just wine tastings. My favorite day was our day in the mountains! There are horseback tours, a natural hot spring, bicycle routes and hiking. If you are in the mood for a relaxing weekend outside of the city, I definitely would recommend Mendoza!

3. Santiago and Valparaíso, Chile

The third trip weekend trip that I took was to Santiago and Valparaíso, Chile. This was my first time staying in a hostel and it was so fun getting to know our companions, most of whom were from Brazil. We spent two days exploring Santiago and then took a bus to the costal town of Valparaíso for the day.

Santiago is known for its “cerros,” which are big hills throughout the city. My friends and I spent a lot of time hiking to the top of these cerros to enjoy the amazing views of the city and the Andes mountains in the background. Additionally, one of my favorite parts of Santiago was the human rights museum that was built to commemorate victims of the Pinochet dictatorship from the 70s.

Exhibit at the Human Rights Museum in Santiago, Chile

Our day in Valparaíso was my highlight of the trip. The coastal town is picturesque, with brightly colored buildings built into the side of a steep hill, artisan markets, a beautiful harbor and delicious seafood. I would definitely recommend this trip — it allowed me to see a bit of the Chilean culture and enjoy some great views!

4. Iguazú Falls, Argentina

My fourth trip this semester was to Iguazú Falls in the northeast corner of Argentina. This was one of the optional trips from Buenos Aires through AIFS and it was really nice to have someone else in charge of the logistics for the weekend, and to have our amazing Resident Director, Eva, with us!

It was a quick trip, so we spent one day exploring the town of Iguazú and visiting the “punto de las tres fronteras” where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. We then spent the entire next day in the Iguazú Falls National Park. This may have been my favorite trip because the views were absolutely spectacular and, after being in the city all semester, it was really nice to enjoy nature for a bit.

Iguazú Falls, Argentina

There truly is no way to explain how amazing these falls are without being there in person to hear the rumble and feel the spray, so I’ll just say that if you study abroad in Buenos Aires this is an absolute can’t-miss opportunity.

5. Chaltén and Calafate, Argentina

No semester in Buenos Aires is complete without a trip to Patagonia. Patagonia is a huge expanse of land that covers southern Chile and Argentina, so there are lots of places to choose from within the region, but I chose to visit Chaltén and Calafate because they are home to the famous Mount Fitz Roy mountain range and the Perito Moreno Glacier.

We spent our first four days hiking in Chaltén, which is known as the trekking capital of the world. My highlight from this time would definitely be hiking the Mount Fitz Roy trail. It was definitely not an easy hike, but the views were incredible.

After Chaltén, we spent two days in Calafate which is the closest town to the Perito Moreno Glacier. We took a full day tour of the glacier, seeing it from different angles from the boardwalk and on a boat, and finishing the day with a mini trek on the glacier itself. Trekking on the glacier was a surreal experience and may be the highlight of my entire semester! It may just be because it was my most recent trip, but visiting Patagonia was hand down my favorite.

There are so many other places throughout Argentina and the rest of the Southern Cone that I would love to explore, but unfortunately I am almost done with my semester — so naturally I am already planning my return trip. Argentina is such a beautiful country and I would 10/10 recommend spending your semester here so you can enjoy all that it has to offer!

This post was contributed by Megan Rodgers, who is spending her fall semester studying abroad with AIFS in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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