The last stop on our Patagonia adventure brought us to the enchanting town of El Calafate, Argentina. Surrounded by nature and teeming with charm, this lovely little spot dug its way into our hearts so deep that we visited twice! Set along a scenic backdrop with snow-capped mountains peeking in the distance, El Calafate is the perfect getaway year-round. Here, local legend dictates that anyone who eats wild calafate (the sweet berry for which the city is named) is sure to return to Patagonia. Knowing that we would soon be leaving the Patagonia region we made sure to take in every last bit of natural beauty this place had to offer, eating as many calafate berries as we could while vowing to return someday.
What to See in El Calafate
Perito Moreno Glacier
This is an absolute must when visiting the area. A short bus ride (about 1.5 hours) from El Calafate will bring you face to face with this impressive glacier inside Los Glaciares National Park. There are numerous attractions inside the park suitable for all budgets. Take a boat ride onto the lake to experience incredible views of the advancing glacier from all angles, or hike onto it while enjoying some whiskey on the rocks (the “rocks” fresh off the glacier, of course). Those on a tighter budget can skip all the extras and take a leisurely hike along the wooden platform, jaws agape as you slowly inch your way towards this stunner!
Manu and I splurged a bit and did the boat ride along with the hike (included in the park’s entrance fee). It was fun and I would recommend it since the trip was pleasant, we got fairly close to the glacier and had countless opportunities to get great pictures while onboard.
Entrance Fees (2016)
- $330 Argentinian Pesos (ARS)- Foreigners
- $250 ARS- Mercosur passport (we paid $200 in January and prices have gone up since)
- $200 ARS- Argentinian passport
- Pack a lunch and enjoy it in nature, the café and restaurant in the park are pricey.
This bird sanctuary located on Lago Argentino is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. The hike takes you around the lagoon passing a multitude of birds along the panoramic vista. You’ll also find calafate bushes along the hike (eat up)!
Talented artists from all around the region converge in this market to showcase their beautiful work. You can find everything here from knitted sweaters to hand carved trinkets.
Eat and Drink
This laid-back place in front of Laguna Nimez offers some great craft beers, huge sandwiches and mouthwatering empanadas. Sit back and enjoy lunch with a view.
- Simple eatery with a good selection of tasty and healthy vegetarian meals.
- A cozy spot to grab a sandwich or salad. They also have fresh natural juices and some brunch items.
- A bar with beer and books?! Sign me up. They have outdoor seating and an upstairs patio perfect for enjoying a few libations.
- Like the rest of Patagonia, food is expensive in El Calafate (we found this true in all of Argentina in general due to high inflation when we visited- but especially down South).
- In Argentina it is customary for some restaurants to have a sort of cover charge per person known as a “cubierto”. This can seem quite annoying since you’re already paying for the food and drinks. If you’re on a budget look for places advertising “no cobramos cubierto”.
We found this place last minute on Booking.com and got a great deal. When we arrived we found out they had overbooked our budget room so we were upgraded to the townhouse/cabin. Although it is a bit far from the center of town the breakfast was plentiful, the staff was friendly and it was a good value overall.