A Solo Travel Guide to Argentina and Chile

Below are some of our top suggestion of things to do and places to visit while on a solo trip to Argentina and Chile.

Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, Chile
Hiking the French Valley is part of the W-trek through Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. It’s about 16 mi round-trip from Refugio Paine Grande to the French Valley Mirador, to see the French Glacier and the Paine Massif as close as you can get. The trail is diverse and only reaches a steep height at the last 5.5 km on the way there. You begin at Lago Pehoe and take grassy paths through the forested valley, on an terrain that the locals call “Patagonia flat,” i.e. an undulating up and down of several feet. On the way you’ll see tiny magenta--and edible--berries that taste just like apples; you’ll cross small glacial streams where you can fill up your water bottle with fresh, wild water. You’ll trek right by the Cuernos, or the “Horns,” another well-known set of peaks in Torres del Paine. Over the French River you go as you get deeper into the valley, over wobbly rope bridges. The final 5.5 km to the French Valley Mirador has you balancing on thousands of loose boulders on your way up. The very top of the trek feels like being in the middle of a Patagonian fishbowl: Paine Massif to your left, French Glacier in front, the Aleta de Tiburon (the Shark’s Fin) and the Cuernos to the right, and turquoise Lago Pehoe behind you.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Graffitimundo is dedicated to increasing awareness of the bustling street art scene in vibrant Buenos Aires. Beginning in 2009, the non-profit organization began connecting people with the artists of this unique movement and increasing knowledge surrounding the origin of urban art in Argentina. Tour options include North City Tours, South City Tours, Bike Tours and Private Tours. These are all perfect ways to see Buenos Aires in an experiential and interesting way.
Lago del Desierto
Inside Los Glaciares National Park is the small town of El Chaltén, created by the Argentine government for campers and trekkers looking to explore the many trails in the park. The town is only composed of a few streets, but is full of wonderful restaurants and hotels. After a long day of hiking, make a stop at El Chaltén’s exclusive microbrewery, La Cervecería. Here you can find homemade pilsners and bocks, while enjoying a modern take on authentic Argentine cuisine. Photo by: Andre Felipe Ribeiro
Carlos Calvo 599, C1102AAK CABA, Argentina
For a little old-school San Telmo atmosphere, you can’t do much better than this classic corner bar. Dating from 1864, the antique building started out as a pulpería (general store), the seedy center of a gambling ring and even a brothel before it was converted into the popular restaurant and bar it is today. On your way in, check out the antique cash register and the gorgeous vitraux (stained glass) over the long bar: it’s no wonder this place has been used as a film set several times over. Then pull up a chair at one of the rustic wooden tables, preferably by the windows for maximum people-watching potential. If it’s morning or time for merienda, ask for a cortado with medialunas; otherwise, order an ice-cold chopp (draft beer) and a monster-sized lomito (steak) sandwich.
Av. Rivadavia 1827, C1033AAI CABA, Argentina
Standing in Plaza Congreso, you might find yourself staring up at the Moulin Rouge-like windmill adorning an Art Nouveau building on the corner. Approaching the door, you’ll see it’s covered in cobwebs - this architectural landmark, once a glamorous cafe where politicians had coffee and tea between meetings, has been abandoned for years. Confiteria El Molino (‘el molino’ means ‘windmill’) has been closed since 1996, though local activists keep pushing to fund its restoration. So far, it hasn’t happened, and the fairy tale-like building on the corner adds an eerie ghostly feel to the busy urban intersection.
To get from point A to B on the river delta, you’ll need to board a water taxi. These polished wood boats cruise the canals day and night, dropping passengers off and picking them up at rental houses, cabin complexes and restaurants along the way. The ride, of course, is part of the fun. Board one at the harbor - and make sure you know where it’s going before you sit down, or it might be awhile before you find yourself back in civilization.
Humberto 1º 1462, C1103 ADD, Buenos Aires, Argentina
To get a real feel for the Tango culture in Buenos Aires then you must go to a Milonga (Tango club). As I walked into Sueno Porteno Milonga I felt as if I had walked back into a cheesy disco in the 70’s. But instead of the BeeGees, the speakers blared tango music. You can grab a table near the dance floor and simply watch the locals practice their best moves or if you are versed in the tango then you may want to participate. It won’t take long until you get asked to dance if you make eye contact with someone. There was diversity of fashion from casual to formal tango dresses, and a diversity in age ranging from 30 to 80 years old! This is the real deal—tango not for tourists. Don’t show up before 11 p.m. or you will be disappointed: Everyone normally comes around midnight. There is a small cover charge to pay at the door. Photos are generally allowed as long as you aren’t a nuisance.
Defensa 755, C1065AAM CABA, Argentina
Touring this one-of-a-kind urban villa and archaeological site allows a unique insight into the city’s history. The beautifully restored urban mansion was once the residence of a wealthy Spanish family; they fled for higher ground when yellow fever struck San Telmo, and the abandoned building later served as tenement housing for countless immigrant families. When a new buyer purchased the property in 1985, he discovered layers of historical objects in the subterranean tunnels. Today, knowledgeable local guides take small groups through the grand villa and its underground maze, pointing out the old water cistern and display cases filled with antique children’s toys, old hairbrushes and beautifully painted dishes, reminders of an era gone by.
San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
We’ve all been there. You get back from a trip and you’re desperate to describe to your friends that life-changing sunrise, to explain how impossibly charming that little cafe was - to casually upload a striking photo album to Flickr or Facebook that will leave your co-workers in awe. But you realize with disappointment, as your photos upload to your computer screen, that your captured images just don’t do justice to the place. Foto Ruta aims to banish the boring vacation album - in fact, this street photography organization isn’t about producing an album at all, but promotes the concept of taking pictures as a way of ‘creative seeing.’ If you’re a pro with a digital SLR and a backpack full of lenses, let the guides lead you to some of the city’s lesser-known intersections with the half-day street photography excursion. If you’re just an inexperienced iPhone-toting traveler, no problem - Foto Ruta offers the innovative ‘iPhoneography’ excursion that helps you harness your phone’s built-in technology and improve your technique while discovering some of Buenos Aires’ edgy street scene. Adventurous types like the Saturday tour, a scavenger-hunt style photo workshop and self-guided tour that ends with a the group coming back together, looking at each others’ photos over a glass of wine. Like the best travel experiences, it’s a moment you can’t quite describe later - regardless of how beautiful your photos turn out.
Ruta Provincial 94, km 11, M5565, Mendoza, Argentina
American entrepreneur Michael Evans and Argentine winemaker Pablo Gimenez Riili joined forces to create an unparalleled viticultural paradise for wine lovers from around the world. Set on 1,500 pristine acres in the heart of the Uco Valley, the Vines Resort & Spa is a haven of laid-back luxury with a robust offering of culinary and wellness activities, winemaking endeavors, and outdoor adventures. Every aspect of the hotel is designed to share Mendoza’s natural beauty, superior wines, and Argentina’s warm culture through a tailored guest experience provided by the resort’s “Gauchos”—personal concierges and tour guides who curate one-of-a-kind itineraries for visitors.

The resort’s 22 spacious villas have ample indoor/outdoor living space, with wood-burning fireplaces, open-air fire pits, plunge pools, hot tubs, and private rooftop terraces with 360-degree views. Siete Fuegos, the resort’s signature restaurant, showcases open-flame grilling techniques mastered by Argentina’s acclaimed chef Francis Mallmann. The fitness center and yoga studio look out to the Andes, while three miles of running trails weave through the property’s vineyards. There’s never a dull moment at the Vines, with horseback riding, hiking, biking, cooking lessons, and winetasting at your fingertips—unless lounging is your preferred activity, in which case a cabana next to the 1,000-square-foot infinity pool will be calling your name.
Mendoza, Capital Department, Mendoza Province, Argentina
Chef Vanina Chimeno recently debuted María Antonieta in downtown Mendoza. You’ll find grilled meat aplenty but also house-made pastas such as broccoli orecchiette Belgrano 1069, Ciudad, 54/(0) 261-420-4322. This appeared in the May 2013 issue.
Monte Alegre 149, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
Built in the 1920s by a Croatian businessman, Palacio Astoreca underwent two years of refurbishment and restoration before opening its doors as a boutique hotel in 2012. The work was carried out to a meticulous degree, maintaining the original parquet floors, and adding splashes of color with art deco furniture and modern art, including one piece by Switzerland’s Frédéric Clot. The stucco-and-brick mansion rises up from the streets of Chile’s port city, Valparaíso, like a piece of red-and-white confectionary.

A statement staircase winds up to the 23 rooms, some of which have stand-alone bathtubs. And the basement level is home to a small spa with an open-air, wood-fueled hot tub set alongside a living wall. The reception level and entrance hall open out onto a terrace where lunch, tea, and cocktails are served, allowing guests prime views over the hilly city and Pacific Ocean. There are quiet corners for those seeking a solitary moment, including a library and a piano bar, which comes to life in the evenings with live music.
Km 5, 5 Norte S/N, Natales, Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena, Chile
If there were ever a hotel with history, it’s the Singular Patagonia. Opened as a hotel in November 2011, the original building once served as a post-Victorian cold-storage factory built by the British in 1915 for the purpose of processing sheep’s wool and meat to be shipped back to England. Overlooking the waters of Last Hope Sound, the long, red-brick building is located just outside the town of Puerto Natales. After operating for almost 70 years as a factory, it was declared a national historic landmark before being transformed into a luxury hotel.

History is by no means forgotten. The hallways are still stocked with brightly colored machinery—from steam condensers to boilers and forges—all stamped with the name of the British city in which they were built: Derby, Birmingham, London, or Glasgow. Designed by Chilean interior designer Enrique Concha and local architect Pedro Kovacic, the 57 bedrooms stretch along a new wing that was added to the original buildings, and these rooms are furnished with Victorian-inspired furniture.
Kamal Nawaz, a native of Zambia, married the Chilean Nathalie Raffer, whose parents lived in Africa working in copper. They met, fell in love, eloped, and had a daughter. They relocated only three years ago to Puerto Natales where Kawal sought to fuse the flavors of his homeland, Africa, with Patagonia. Afrigonia was born. The place is cozy and adorned with warm, natural tones, wood-carved masks, and animal skins. The menu focuses on local seafood, lamb, and organic produce from nearby green houses. The salmon ceviche is heaven-- laced with lime juice and coconut milk. Or try the fresh king crab salad with a kiwi and “calafate”, native berry, sauce. Diver-sized scallops from the Fjord are succulent in a sweet yet piquant curry. The seared lamb chops with mint sauce is a nod to the British tradition with a flowery note from the “coiron” grasses these creatures graze. Reservations recommended. Eberhard 343, Puerto Natales, +56 61412232
Parque Forestal, Maipú, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Parque Forestal is Santiago’s lung and central park. Created for the first centennial celebration in 1910, the park has become an iconic area of the city with elegant residential apartment buildings along the perimeter. One of the most enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon is walking under the century-old trees and then strolling the cobblestoned streets of the adjoining Lastarria area. Parisian-style facades, cafés full of intellectual life, boutiques, museums like Bellas Artes (a copy of the Petit Palais in Paris), restaurants, and bars all bring this neighborhood to life.
5106 Av Apoquindo
Santiago is within striking distance of half a dozen wine valleys in Chile and as the capital, has access to all the wines being made in-country. While you can sip away in wine bars like Bocanariz, or stock up at stores like Santiago Wine Club and Mundo del Vino, good wine is generally a constant in the city on restaurant and bar menus, and even in well-stocked supermarkets like Jumbo. No matter what your budget, too, the price/quality ratio is always outstanding.
Orrego Luco 023, Providencia, Región Metropolitana, Chile
Le Rêve rises up like a dollhouse from a street lined with bars and restaurants in the leafy neighborhood of Providencia. Completely renovated in 2011, this pretty boutique hotel works on a B&B basis, the idea being that guests make the most of the surrounding eateries. However, tea, coffee, and snacks are always available, and there is an open kitchen so guests can poke their head in the fridge when peckish. This gives the hotel a unique, homey feel.

Behind the white shuttered windows, communal areas include a lounge area with an honesty bar and a library stocked with international books. The dollhouse feel continues inside with details such as an elegant green velvet sofa, blue and white ceramics, and waitresses dressed in French maid outfits. Rooms are equipped with wireless Internet access.
Isidora Goyenechea 3000, Las Condes, Región Metropolitana, Chile
The W Santiago is where the cool kids stay. Which other hotel would dare to have a sign reading “WHATEVER” at the entrance? Since opening in 2009, the hotel has earned a strong following, both from locals and visitors. Dimly lit with a color scheme of purples, greens, and black, the rooms are modern, with full-length windows overlooking the city. Located in Santiago’s financial district, officially known as El Golf, the W is part of a large skyscraper (hotel reception is on the fourth floor) filled with restaurants and shops. The 196 rooms reach to the 21st floor, and the W has arguably the best roof terrace in town (Hotel Noi Vitacura being a close contender). The roof terrace has an infinity pool, knockout city views, and a heli-pad for those who want to whiz off to wine country or hit the ski slopes in speedy style.
Bahía Dorita s/n, Cisnes, Región de Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, Chile
Reachable only by boat, Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa has incredible views of virgin forest, mountains, and water. The Aysén region is one of the least accessible, less touristy areas of Chile, and it’s really worth going the extra mile. The hotel was created by businessman Eberhard Kossmann, who in 1986 sailed with his family through the fjords south of Puerto Montt. He fell in love with this spot and by a stroke of luck was offered to buy the plot of land a few years later—and so began his first venture into tourism.

Built from local wood, Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa sits alongside the Termas de Puyuhuapi (Puyuhuapi Hot Springs), and all the hotel’s hot water and heating is sourced from the thermal waters. Guests spend days exploring this beautiful part of Chile on excursions that range from hiking and kayaking to bird-watching and trips to glaciers. Evenings are spent soaking in the hot springs and relaxing in this picture-perfect wooden lodge on the waterfront.
Frutillar, Los Lagos Region, Chile
This little village fuels many a Chilean’s vision of the south—Germanic towns nestled among sapphire-hued lakes—and is often synonymous with summer vacation. Frutillar, just north of Puerto Varas, seems to be straight from Bavaria with its majestic “casonas,” built in the German tradition—a nod to the strong ancestry and settlement in the region. Frutillar’s lakefront has black-sand beaches, the shimmering lake dotted with white swans, magnificent views of the Osorno volcano, manicured lawns, and darling boutiques and cafes along the town’s streets. During the last week of January and first week of February, music lovers flock to Frutillar for the classical music festival where maestros from all over the world play in the Teatro del Lago, with some of the best acoustics in Chile. Besides strolling the relaxed lakefront, Frutillar is perfect to stop for a coffee and “kuchen,” a delectable German cake found throughout the lake district made with seasonal fruit.
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