9 Best Things To Do In El Calafate, Argentina

By Before You Go / October 31, 2022

Ever wondered what a trip to the beautiful city at the edge of the Patagonian Ice Field would feel like? Well, here are the top 9 things to do in El Calafate, Argentina, to spice up your trip. 

You sure should stick around until the end to discover the unbeatable activity at number one.

Number 9: Visit The Lago Argentino

One of the first places you would want to visit once you touch down at El Calafate is the Lago Argentino, which is the longest freshwater body in the country and only the third largest lake in all of South America.

The lake is the source of the Santa Cruz river, and it runs through several cities in Argentina. Of course, it offers a fantastic attraction in each of these cities, but the view is especially incredible from the shores of El Calafate.

The Lago Argentino also features fantastic activities like kayaking and fishing.

So, if you are a fan of fishing, you can come along with your fishing gear for a fun time catching the lake trout, rainbow trout, and even perch. However, you must ensure to get a permit from the lake authorities first to avoid breaching the rules.

It doesn’t matter whether you opt for fishing, kayaking, or other activities in this beautiful location, one thing is always sure, and it is the fact that visiting the Lago Argentino is a great way to start your fun-filled tour around El Calafate.

Number 8: Spend The Night at an Estancia

Of course, you have a series of luxury hotels to lodge in during your stay in El Calafate. But you certainly do not want to miss out on spending a night or two in an estancia.

Estancias are large farms, often set aside for rearing cattle, but then, most of them now feature accommodations for visiting tourists. This is so they can also experience the exciting farm life.

Of course, you can indulge in several activities in an estancia, including horse riding, which offers you a firsthand cowboy experience.

Another reason to visit an estancia during your stay in El Calafate is the awe-inspiring views you are set to enjoy. These horse ranches are always surrounded by the most exciting and enjoyable sceneries that are sure to blow your mind away!

Moreover, you are in for the treat of a lifetime with the delicious meals and top-notch hospitality you will enjoy from the ranch keepers. Trust me, spending a night at an estancia promises an experience you won't forget in a hurry.

Number 7: Drink The Craft Beer

No doubt, your days in El Calafate can get very busy with the dozens of fun-filled activities you have to catch up with. 

But then, there's only so much activity your body can take in each day before it needs refreshing, and how better to get refreshed than tasting the excellently brewed local craft beers in the city?

The craft beers in El Calafate are like no other, and you always want to end your evenings on a high by enjoying the best-brewed beers in town under the clear night skies.

You can also enjoy the best of local music while carrying on with your wine tasting in El Calafate breweries.

Number 6: Learn About The City's Rich History In The Calafate History Museum

Whether you are a history lover or not, the Calafate history museum is one amazing place you do not want to miss out on visiting while in this city.

Located in El Calafate 9405, Argentina, this museum is arguably the most interesting interpretation center in the whole of Santa Cruz. No wonder it is often prioritized by traveling tourists visiting the state from around the globe.

Once you get to El Calafate, one of your first destinations should be the Calafate Interpretation center, where you can learn everything about the city's rich history. There are traces of over 100 million years of history, including dinosaurs, big mammals, humans, and environmental records sure to leave you amazed.

Besides, you would feel a lot better on your tour knowing the incredible story behind every tourist attraction in the city.

Number 5: Hike The Calafate Petrified Forest

Do you enjoy long, purposeful walks in natural environments? Well, if you do, the petrified forest on the south side of El Calafate is a destination you do not want to miss during your stay in the city. It surely is time to pick up your boots and head out on a hiking adventure over the river and through the woods.

Of course, there are plenty of hiking destinations in El Calafate, but the petrified forest, also called La Leona by the locals, boasts one of the best views in Santa Cruz.

Just less than 110km from the city, La Leona woods promises a great hiking experience for you and your traveling companions.

The forest stretches about 7 miles, giving you enough opportunity to experience the petrified trees and shrubs that make the forest unique. You also want to keep your eyes open so you wouldn't miss the antiquated dinosaur bones along the forest paths.

What's more? Even if you are visiting alone, you will always find companions with whom to go up the forest. So, just know that you are sure to have a fulfilling hiking experience leaving happy trails across La Leona.

Number 4: Eat The Grilled Patagonian Lamb

You certainly would not want to pass on the opportunity to delight your taste buds with delicious local dishes during your visit. 

Grilled Patagonian lamb, or lamb al asador as the locals call it, is one of the many mouth-watering meals on the menus in local restaurants you should try. This delicacy has been labeled a "travelers' favorite" due to its high demand among tourists.

Of course, you can take a moment to savor the sweet-smelling aroma as the lamb is prepared on a stake over the local grills, an aroma that compliments the sublime taste of bliss the grilled lamb offers when it is finally served.

No doubt, the delicious and expertly-prepared lamb al asador will leave your taste buds wanting more.

Number 3: Go Horse Riding at Nibepo Aike

If you prefer to lodge in one of the exotic hotels rather than in an estancia but still crave the wild experience of horse riding, then you must turn your attention to Nibepo Aike.

Located in El Calafate and set on a sheep farm, the Estancia Nibepo Aike has a multifunctional rural accommodation but still opens up its doors to tourists who are after daytime horseback riding. You can still enjoy the fantastic experience regardless of where you choose to stay.

At Nibepo Aike, you not only enjoy horseback riding, but you also get a firsthand view of the countryside and its beautiful culture. If you do not already have horse riding on your El Calafate to-do list, then, perhaps, this is enough reason to reconsider.

Don't know how to ride a horse? Well, you can still get in on the act as there are riding instructors on hand to get you started on this fantastic experience. 

Number 2: Go Tango Dancing at the El Cucharon

The nightlife at El Calafate is another aspect of your visit you will find very interesting, especially if you are the lively, fun-loving type. So, if you are looking for an activity to spice up your evenings, you may want to head downtown to El Cucharon!

El Cucharon is one of the most popular restaurants in the whole of Santa Cruz. The food canteen serves all kinds of local delicacies. However, it is not only famous for its food. Tourists and locals often gather here after sunset to also enjoy the best of tango.

Of course, you are familiar with tango since it’s one of the most influential dances in the world today. But do you know it is Argentina's native dance and music genre?

Luckily, you can enjoy the best of tango music and exhilarating dance moves while munching your meal at the El Cucharon.

Who knows? You may even get a chance to learn a few dance steps from some of the best tango dancers in the world.

Number 1: Take a Trip To The Perito Moreno Glacier

Indeed, Santa Cruz has never lacked its fair share of tourist attractions. But then, only a few of these attractions are as breathtaking and awe-inspiring as the Perito Moreno Glacier. In fact, this glacier is one of Argentina's most visited natural wonders, and it is located in Los Glaciares National Park, El Calafate.

Regardless of your reason for visiting El Calafate, you certainly do not want to go back without visiting and enjoying this exciting view. Watching the blue ice break away from the glacier and drop into the ice field below is sure to be the highlight of your trip.

This 250 square meters glacier is located on the outskirts of town, but there are several ways to access it from the city. You can choose to drive there or take one of the two bus rides to the park, as long as you don't miss your chance to enjoy the heartwarming view of the incredible Perito Moreno Glacier.

You can even hike on the glacier and drink some pure ice-cold glacier water!