Buenos Aires to El Calafate: How to Travel

Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, El Calafate, Santa Cruz province, Argentina.

Welcome to the ultimate guide on how to travel from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, the gateway to one of the most mesmerizing destinations in Patagonia. If you’re eager to explore the wonders of Los Glaciares National Park, home to the awe-inspiring Perito Moreno Glacier and a multitude of other glaciers, then El Calafate is where your journey begins.

El Calafate holds great significance as the main access point to Los Glaciares National Park, a true gem among Argentina’s natural wonders. The town’s strategic location ensures convenient and seamless entry into the park, making it an ideal starting point for travelers seeking to discover its majestic glaciers, pristine lakes, and breathtaking mountains.

Situated in close proximity to the renowned Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate offers a gateway to witness the incredible beauty of this massive ice formation. Tourists from around the world are drawn to its captivating allure, and El Calafate provides excellent opportunities for day trips or extended stays, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the glacier’s grandeur.

As a flourishing tourist destination, El Calafate boasts a wide array of services tailored to accommodate its visitors. You’ll find a diverse selection of accommodations, ranging from hotels and hostels to cozy lodges, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay. The town also abounds with restaurants, shops, and tour operators, catering to the needs and desires of explorers venturing into the region.

Beyond its role as a tourist hub, El Calafate holds its own cultural and historical significance. Once a remote outpost, it has undergone a remarkable transformation into a vibrant town, exuding a distinctive atmosphere. The name ‘El Calafate’ is derived from the Calafate berry, an emblem of Patagonia, and it carries with it a rich folklore steeped in local traditions.

Join us as we delve into the intricacies of traveling from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, unraveling the wonders that await you along the way. Let this guide be your compass, leading you through a remarkable journey from the bustling capital to the gateway of natural splendors in Patagonia

Distance From Buenos Aires to El Calafate & Perito Moreno Glacier

how to reach El Calafate from Buenos Aires

Have you ever wondered how far Buenos Aires is from the mesmerizing Perito Moreno Glacier? Well, by land, the distance is quite substantial. To be precise, the journey from Buenos Aires to the Perito Moreno Glacier spans approximately 2,800 kilometers (1,740 miles), making it a lengthy undertaking that can take 2-3 days. Given the considerable time involved, this option is not typically favored by travelers seeking efficiency and convenience.

Fortunately, there is a more common and practical way to reach the Perito Moreno Glacier from Buenos Aires: by taking a flight to El Calafate, the nearest major town to the glacier.

A flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate typically takes around 3 hours, providing a swift and efficient mode of transportation. Once you arrive in El Calafate, you’ll find yourself approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) away from the majestic Perito Moreno Glacier. The journey from El Calafate to the glacier by road usually takes about 1 hour, allowing you to immerse yourself in the captivating scenery along the way. If you are looking for a guided tour of the glacier, check out our excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate, with pick-up and drop-off at your hotel included.

It’s important to keep in mind that travel times can vary based on factors such as transportation options, road conditions, and the specific route taken. It’s always advisable to check the most up-to-date travel information, including flight schedules and road conditions when planning your trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier. By staying informed, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience.

Best Ways to Get to El Calafate & Perito Moreno Glacier From Buenos Aires

When it comes to reaching El Calafate, the gateway to the breathtaking Los Glaciares National Park, the best and most efficient option is to take a domestic flight from Buenos Aires.

Start by searching for domestic flights connecting Buenos Aires to El Calafate. Various airlines, such as Aerolineas Argentinas, LATAM Airlines, and Flybondi, offer regular flights between these two cities. Take the time to compare prices and schedules to find the option that best suits your travel dates and preferences.

Once you’ve made your travel arrangements, make your way to either Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) or Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) in Buenos Aires, depending on the departure airport specified by your chosen airline. Both airports are conveniently linked to the city center and offer a range of transportation options.

Once you’re at the airport, board your domestic flight bound for El Calafate. The flight typically lasts around 3 hours, and your destination airport will be El Calafate International Airport (FTE).

Upon arrival at El Calafate International Airport, you’ll have several options for reaching the town of El Calafate itself. Taxis and shuttle services are readily available at the airport, offering convenient transportation to the town center in approximately 20 minutes.

To ensure a smooth travel experience, it is advisable to book your flights in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, as this guarantees the best fares and availability. Additionally, make sure to check the baggage allowance and any specific travel requirements set by the airline you’ll be flying with.

By opting for a domestic flight, you’ll enjoy the swiftest and most convenient journey from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, setting the stage for an unforgettable exploration of the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier.

Flying From Buenos Aires to El Calafate: Tips and Information

Flying is undoubtedly the best way to reach El Calafate and the magnificent Los Glaciares National Park area. To ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey, here are some essential tips and important information to keep in mind:

Multiple airlines, such as Aerolineas Argentinas, LATAM Airlines, and Flybondi, operate flights between Buenos Aires and El Calafate. Take the time to compare prices, schedules, and baggage allowances to choose the option that best suits your needs. The flight duration from Buenos Aires to El Calafate typically lasts around 3 hours, but do note that it can vary depending on factors such as the airline, aircraft type, and weather conditions.

Buenos Aires has two airports: Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) and Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE). Ensure that you arrive at the correct airport for your flight, and consider transportation options such as taxis, ride-sharing services, or public transportation like buses or airport shuttles when traveling from the city center to the airports.

When it comes to baggage, be sure to check the specific baggage allowance provided by your chosen airline. Adhering to the weight and size restrictions is crucial to avoid any additional charges or inconveniences during your journey.

Now, let’s talk about what clothing to pack and the local weather conditions. El Calafate experiences a cold and windy climate, particularly during the winter months from June to August. Pack accordingly with warm clothing, including a waterproof jacket, thermal layers, hats, gloves, and sturdy footwear. Even in the summer, temperatures can be cool, so dressing in layers allows you to adapt to changing conditions.

El Calafate is situated at an altitude of approximately 200 meters (660 feet) above sea level. While most visitors do not experience significant altitude-related issues at this altitude, it’s still wise to stay hydrated and take it easy during the first day or two, allowing your body to acclimate.

The local currency in Argentina is the Argentine Peso (ARS). It’s advisable to have some cash on hand, especially for smaller establishments and local transportation. Major credit cards are widely accepted in larger establishments, hotels, and restaurants.

Lastly, El Calafate offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from hotels and lodges to hostels and guesthouses. To secure your desired stay, it’s recommended to book your accommodation in advance, particularly during the peak tourist season.

By keeping these tips and information in mind, you’ll be well-prepared and equipped for an unforgettable journey from Buenos Aires to El Calafate and the awe-inspiring wonders of the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Traveling by Bus From Buenos Aires to El Calafate: Tips and Information

Are you considering traveling by bus from Buenos Aires to El Calafate? While it may not be the fastest option, it can be a viable choice for those who appreciate scenic landscapes and enjoy long-distance bus journeys. Before making your decision, take the following factors into consideration:

The bus journey from Buenos Aires to El Calafate is a lengthy one, spanning approximately 36 to 48 hours, depending on the specific bus service and any stops along the way. This substantial amount of travel time should be taken into account, especially if you have limited time or prefer faster transportation methods.

Bus services in Argentina offer varying levels of comfort, ranging from basic to semi-cama (reclining seats) and cama (fully flat beds). Keep in mind that higher comfort levels usually come with higher prices. To ensure a comfortable journey, carefully choose a bus company and service that align with your preferences for comfort during the extended trip.

Traveling by bus from Buenos Aires to El Calafate provides an opportunity to traverse different regions of Argentina, including the vast plains of Patagonia. This allows you to immerse yourself in the changing landscapes and appreciate the natural beauty along the way. Additionally, traveling by bus is generally more budget-friendly compared to air travel. If you have a limited budget and are willing to trade off some travel time for cost savings, taking a bus can be a more economical option.

It’s important to note that bus schedules, services, and conditions can vary among different bus companies. To ensure a safe and reliable journey, conduct thorough research and choose reputable bus companies that prioritize passenger safety, comfort, and reliability.

Ultimately, the decision to travel by bus from Buenos Aires to El Calafate depends on your personal preferences, budget, and available travel time. If you enjoy scenic road trips and have the flexibility to accommodate the extended travel duration, it can be a rewarding and cost-effective means of reaching your destination.

Consider your priorities and make an informed choice that aligns with your travel preferences. Whether you opt for the convenience of flying or the scenic adventure of a bus journey, your experience of reaching El Calafate and the wonders of the Perito Moreno Glacier will undoubtedly be unforgettable.

Driving From Buenos Aires to El Calafate: Tips and Considerations

Curious about driving from Buenos Aires to El Calafate? Embarking on this adventure is an excellent choice for road trip enthusiasts seeking to immerse themselves in Argentina’s scenic landscapes. However, before setting off on this journey, it’s crucial to consider the following factors:

The distance between Buenos Aires and El Calafate is approximately 2,800 kilometers (1,740 miles). The driving time can vary depending on the route chosen, road conditions, and stops along the way. Typically, the journey takes around 36 to 48 hours, accounting for rest breaks and overnight stays.

Multiple route options are available when driving from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. The most common route takes you through the Argentine countryside, passing cities like Bahía Blanca, Puerto Madryn, and Comodoro Rivadavia. Alternatively, you can opt for a more coastal route that includes Mar del Plata and Puerto Madryn.

Road conditions in Argentina can vary, ranging from well-maintained highways to secondary roads that may be rough or gravelly. It’s essential to research the current conditions of the roads you plan to travel on and be prepared for potential challenges such as potholes, roadworks, or inclement weather.

Prioritize safety during your journey by ensuring your vehicle is in good condition and adequately equipped for the long drive. Make sure you have a valid driver’s license, necessary car documentation, and insurance coverage. Plan for rest breaks, carry emergency supplies and have a detailed map or GPS navigation system for guidance.

Plan your route in advance and identify suitable places to rest and stay overnight. Consider towns or cities along the way that offer accommodations, fuel stations, and necessary amenities. Depending on your chosen route, popular stops may include Bahía Blanca, Puerto Madryn, and Comodoro Rivadavia.

Driving from Buenos Aires to El Calafate is a substantial journey, so it’s important to allocate sufficient time for the trip. If time is limited or you prefer a quicker option, consider combining driving with air travel. Drive part of the way and then take a domestic flight from a closer point to El Calafate, such as Comodoro Rivadavia.

Stay informed about current travel advisories, road conditions, and any entry requirements or restrictions before undertaking a long-distance drive. Take breaks, ensure you’re well-rested, and adhere to all traffic rules and regulations for a safe and enjoyable road trip.

Practical Information for Traveling to El Calafate From Buenos Aires

When planning a visit to El Calafate and exploring the wonders of Patagonia, one crucial aspect to consider is your clothing. What should you pack for your trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier? Here are some essential items to keep in mind:


  • Warm Layers: Be sure to pack thermal or woolen base layers, sweaters, and fleeces that can be layered for warmth, particularly during the colder months from June to August.
  • Waterproof Jacket: It’s essential to have a waterproof and windproof jacket to shield yourself from rain, snow, and strong winds.
  • Hat and Gloves: Bring a warm hat and gloves to protect your extremities from cold temperatures.
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: Don’t forget to pack sturdy and comfortable footwear suitable for walking and hiking.
  • Socks: Opt for warm socks, preferably woolen or thermal, to keep your feet insulated and cozy.

Outdoor Gear:

  • Daypack: A small backpack will come in handy for day trips and carrying your essentials.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the sun’s glare, especially when near glaciers or in snowy areas.
  • Sunscreen: Even during colder months, the sun’s reflection off the snow and ice can be intense, so be sure to pack sunscreen with a high SPF.
  • Binoculars: If you’re interested in wildlife spotting or capturing scenic views, bringing binoculars can enhance your experience.

Travel Essentials:

  • Travel Adapters: Ensure you have the appropriate power adapters for Argentina’s electrical outlets.
  • Portable Charger: Keep a portable charger handy to ensure your electronic devices remain powered up during outdoor activities.
  • Travel Documents: Carry your passport, identification, travel insurance, and any necessary visas or permits.
  • Cash and Cards: Have some local currency (Argentine Peso) on hand for smaller establishments, and carry credit/debit cards for larger establishments.


  • Medications: Bring any necessary prescription medications and consider carrying a basic first aid kit.
  • Travel Guides/Maps: Have guidebooks or maps with you for reference and navigation.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated by carrying a refillable water bottle.
  • Snacks: Pack some snacks for your journey and outdoor activities.

By packing these essential items, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the climate, engage in outdoor adventures, and adapt to the changing weather conditions during your trip to El Calafate.

Weather in El Calafate

Now, let’s talk about the weather in El Calafate. El Calafate experiences a cold and semi-arid climate, characterized by distinct seasons and changing weather conditions throughout the year.

Summer: Summers in El Calafate are generally mild to moderately warm, with average temperatures ranging from 14°C to 22°C (57°F to 72°F). However, during the peak of summer, temperatures can occasionally reach up to 30°C (86°F). Days are long, with extended daylight hours, providing ample time to explore the natural wonders of the region.

Autumn: Autumn in El Calafate brings cooler temperatures and more frequent windy days. Average temperatures range from 7°C to 16°C (45°F to 61°F). This season offers a beautiful display of fall foliage and fewer tourists compared to the summer months, making it an ideal time to immerse yourself in the tranquility of the area.

Winter: Winter in El Calafate is cold, with temperatures ranging from -2°C to 7°C (28°F to 45°F). It is the coldest time of the year, and snowfall is common, especially in higher elevations. Be prepared for chilly conditions, strong winds, and freezing temperatures as you explore the breathtaking landscapes of the region.

Spring: As spring unfolds in El Calafate, milder temperatures gradually return, ranging from 6°C to 15°C (43°F to 59°F). This season can be changeable, with occasional rain showers and windy days. Spring marks the transition from winter to summer, and the landscapes come alive with blooming wildflowers, offering a picturesque backdrop for your adventures.

It’s important to note that weather conditions in El Calafate can be unpredictable, so it’s advisable to check the local forecast before your trip. Regardless of the season, it’s recommended to pack warm clothing, including layers, a waterproof jacket, a hat, and gloves. The temperature can drop rapidly, and strong winds are common, so being prepared for varying weather conditions will ensure your comfort and enjoyment during your visit to El Calafate.

By being aware of the seasonal weather patterns and packing accordingly, you’ll be well-equipped to fully embrace the natural wonders and breathtaking landscapes of El Calafate.

Best Hotels & Accommodations in El Calafate

El Calafate offers a diverse range of accommodation options to cater to different preferences and budgets. Whether you’re seeking luxury hotels, cozy lodges, budget-friendly hostels, or self-catering apartments, you’ll find a variety of choices in El Calafate.

Hotels: El Calafate boasts several hotels, ranging from boutique establishments to larger chain hotels. These accommodations often feature comfortable rooms, amenities such as restaurants, bars, and spa facilities, and may offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

Lodges and Estancias: For a more immersive experience, consider staying in a lodge or an estancia (ranch) near El Calafate. These accommodations typically offer a rustic and traditional atmosphere, allowing you to connect with the local culture and enjoy activities such as horseback riding or farm tours. We highly recommend Estancia Nibepo Aike.

Hostels: Hostels are a popular choice for budget-conscious travelers or those seeking a social atmosphere. El Calafate has a few hostels that provide dormitory-style rooms and private rooms, along with common areas where guests can socialize and exchange travel tips.

Self-Catering Apartments and Vacation Rentals: If you prefer more independence and the ability to cook your meals, self-catering apartments or vacation rentals are available in El Calafate. These options provide fully equipped kitchens and private living spaces, making them suitable for families or travelers seeking a home-away-from-home experience.

When choosing your accommodation, it’s important to consider factors such as location, amenities, and pricing. The majority of accommodations in El Calafate are situated in or near the town center, offering easy access to restaurants, shops, and tour operators.

During the peak tourist season (December to February), it’s recommended to book your accommodation in advance, as El Calafate tends to be busy with visitors. Take the time to research and compare options to find the accommodation that best suits your needs and preferences.

No matter which accommodation type you choose, El Calafate’s diverse offerings ensure that you’ll have a comfortable and enjoyable stay as you explore the stunning landscapes and natural wonders of the region.


So, is it worth visiting the El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier area? The answer is a resounding yes! There are numerous reasons why this destination is a must-visit.

Of course, El Calafate serves as the gateway to the world-famous Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the most awe-inspiring natural attractions in Argentina. This massive glacier, situated within the magnificent Los Glaciares National Park, captivates visitors with its immense size, dynamic ice formations, and dramatic ice-calving events. Witnessing the Perito Moreno Glacier up close is an experience that will leave you in awe. You can even trek over the Perito Moreno Glacier!

However, El Calafate is more than just the Perito Moreno Glacier. It is surrounded by the stunning landscapes of the Los Glaciares National Park, which offers much more to explore. The park is home to a multitude of glaciers, majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and diverse ecosystems. It provides abundant opportunities for hiking, boat tours, wildlife spotting, and immersing yourself in the natural wonders of Patagonia.

El Calafate is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With activities such as hiking, trekking, glacier walks, ice climbing, horseback riding, and boat tours, the region’s rugged beauty and natural landscapes cater to adventure seekers and nature lovers alike.

The landscapes surrounding El Calafate are simply breathtaking. From the shimmering turquoise glacial lakes to the snow-capped mountains and vast plains, the region offers awe-inspiring vistas at every turn. The ever-changing light and colors of the sky create magical moments that are perfect for capturing unforgettable photographs.

Moreover, El Calafate provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Patagonia. Indulge in regional cuisine, explore local craft markets, and delve into the area’s traditions and history. The town itself exudes a pleasant atmosphere, offering a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops to discover.

So, are you ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier area? Prepare to be amazed by the natural wonders, engage in thrilling outdoor activities, and immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of Patagonia. This destination promises an experience that will leave lasting memories.

Safe travels and enjoy your time in El Calafate!

Picture of Ramiro Rodriguez

Ramiro Rodriguez

25 years working in travel market, as Sales & Marketing Manager in RipioTurismo, Marketing Manager in Nuevas Ideas Travel Consulting Group. Writer and travel lover.

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