Black and white illustration of Lily Bunker's headshot
Written by
Lily Bunker

Published on: October 15th, 2018

Last modified: March 21st, 2024

We often get asked: “Should I go to Argentina or Chile?” Argentina boasts the world’s best beef, tango, waterfalls and striking glaciers. In Chile, volcanoes, deserts and tasty seafood accompany a unique take on pisco sours.

These two South American countries that share so much in common have left many travellers struggling to choose which one to visit. For outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers there are plenty of things to do in Chile, while Argentina also offers a wide variety of activities and experiences. Whether there’s a clear winner is largely dependent on what you’re looking for from your trip. Here’s our advice to help you decide whether you should go to Argentina or Chile.

Which is better: Chile or Argentina Patagonia?


Patagonia in both Chile and Argentina is naturally stunning. Argentina Patagonia is best (and biggest) for a wider range of landscapes. With the glistening alpine Lake District, to the fjords and islands around Ushuaia. Chilean Patagonia is smaller, and crammed with activities. Torres del Paine alone offers hikes, horseback riding, boat trips, kayaks and more. 

Argentina Patagonia

El Calafate is Argentinian Patagonia’s standout region. It offers excellent opportunities for hiking and magnificent landscapes dotted with glaciers. When it comes to hiking itself, though, El Chalten has Argentina’s best climbing and trekking. When debating whether to go to Argentina or Chile, ice climbing enthusiasts should keep this in mind.  Nestled just beneath the FitzRoy and Cerro Terro mountains, this unassuming village has one of the world’s most dramatic horizons, with jagged vertical peaks piercing the skyline. 


Once you’re done hiking, venture on to Ushuaia – the southernmost city on Earth. A frontier city at the end of the world, Ushuaia has grand appeal of being on the last outpost of civilisation before the icy sweeps of the Antarctic. Spend your days in Ushuaia hiking or canoeing in Tierra del Fuego National Park, cruising through the Beagle Channel or board the “Trencito de los Presos” – a narrow-gauge track train that was once used to transport prisoners.

Ushuaia aerial view, Argentina

 If glacial hiking and wildlife sound like they’d be right up your street, then visiting Argentina’s Patagonia is your best bet if you’re wondering whether to go to Argentina or Chile. When it comes to scenic tours Calafate is best, and perfectly positioned for visiting Perito Moreno Glacier. Spend some time at Estancia Cristina which offers some wonderful scenic excursions, cultural explorations and traditional meals. Or take in the incredible views at Eolo which is set on a 10,000-acre estancia.


Chile Patagonia

The gem of Chile’s Patagonia, and arguably Patagonia in general, is Torres del Paine. Breathtaking mountain peaks combine with turquoise glacial lagoons, endless fjords and sweeping forests to make this a very special part of the world. If you’re an adventurer, then Chilean Patagonia is the way to go. When it comes to the best time to go we suggest you avoid the winter months between June and August, when services shut down and passes are too snowy to explore. As well as incredible photo opportunities, Torres del Paine is a region that lends itself to adventurous activities and it’s undeniably best for hikers. You can head out on trails across the many snow-capped mountains, ride horses through the forest or try your hand at a spot of mountain biking.   


The Aysen region in Chile’s Patagonia is also stunning. This area is great for travellers looking to get off the beaten track, as simpler accommodation and longer drives mean it’s less explored than Torres del Paine. Its fjords and lakes are teeming with wildlife so the majority of waterside hotels offer boat, canoeing and kayaking trips out onto the deep blue glacial waters of the lakes. Marine life enthusiasts can venture further out to sea to catch glimpses of dolphins, marine otters and South American Sea Lions to name a few.

We recommend Explora Patagonia if you’re a keen hiker, Awasi Patagonia for its private guiding and treks away from the crowds, and Tierra Patagonia for its beautiful architecture.


Argentina’s food and drink or Chile’s food and drink?

Argentina’s steak scene is second to none. With a plethora of steakhouses across the country, food in Argentina is a major part of daily life. If you’re a real foodie, you can learn about the ‘Nueva Cocina Argentina’ movement on a culinary tour of Buenos Aires. Then, head to the vibrant Boca district for lunch in a traditional parilla (steakhouse) before attending a cooking demonstration by the head chef at the renowned Tarquino restaurant. Those with a deep interest in Buenos Aires’ food history can also spend some time with our local wine and food expert in a private home.

Argentina is home to some of the best steak in the world, whilst Chile is more of a seafood nation. From erizos (large sea urchins) to machas (razor clams), Chilean food, its seafood in particular, is eclectic. Although Argentina might be a popular foodie destination, Chile does cocktails better than its neighbour. This slim South American country does a great take on a pisco sour. In the Atacama Desert, local plants and herbs such as rica rica give this cocktail a distinct Chilean flavour. Food-wise, in both Argentina and Chile, portions are generous – so make sure you leave enough room to fill your stomach.


Chile or Argentina Wine Region?

Argentina’s Mendoza is one of the most beautiful wine regions on the planet. It’s a prime area for vine growing due to the almost constant sunshine and water supplied by the run-off from the Andes. The focus here is on reds, as the climate lends itself to growing varieties such as Malbec. The home of Malbec is the Central Valley or Primera Zone, made up of the counties Luján de Cuyo, Maipú, Guaymallén and Godoy Cruz. Some of the most prestigious wineries in Argentina are also located in this area. If you want to catch the harvest festival, then aim to visit in February or March. 


A good way to introduce yourself to Mendoza’s wine is on a privately guided tour. From small boutique wineries to larger operations, you’ll get to truly experience the best of the region on a tour through the Central Valley. The whole experience ends with a gourmet tasting lunch at a local Bodega – a great way to get an insight into Argentina’s food and wine culture. Mendoza’s Valle de Uco is also worth a visit, as a scenic drive down Los Cerrillo Route makes the wine tasting here feel magical. One of our favourite places to stay in Mendoza is Cavas Wine Lodge



If you want to discover the wine in South America but you’d prefer not to dedicate three or four nights to it, then Chile’s wine region wins the debate of whether you should go to Argentina or Chile. It’s extremely accessible in that it’s very close to the international airport.  Chile has been shaped by both Spanish conquistadors and French immigrants, leading to the wine regions here being among the largest and most important in the world. To the north of  Santiago and east of Valparaiso is the Aconcagua Valley and stretching south of the capital is the Valle Central – divided into the Maipo, Rapel, Curicó and Maule Valleys. Go in autumn between March and May for beautiful colours and wine festivals.


To make the most of Chile’s wine region, take a half day tour around the Indomita and Casas del Bosque wineries. Both are located in the Casablanca valley, a relatively young wine area where winemakers only started planting vines in the mid-1980s. This region is perfect for lovers of both red and white, as cool coastal temperatures produce excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir. If one wine tasting is enough for you, then you can move on to explore the beautiful countryside either on foot or on horseback. One of our favourite spots to stay in this region is Vik Chile, which is modern in both aesthetic as well as the wine-making technology used.


Argentina’s Coastline or Chile’s Coastline?

Argentina’s Peninsula Valdes is on the rugged Patagonian coast and is one of the best places to see wildlife in the country. For those with an interest in marine life, it’s a don’t miss destination. As well as being home to Southern right whales, sea lions and Magellanic penguins, the three giant salt lakes in the middle of the peninsula are awe-inspiring due to their natural beauty. This coast is ideal for diving, as the UNESCO World Heritage Site remains pristine with crystal clear water. There are plenty of ways to explore this Patagonian coastline, from riding along the beautiful Argentina beaches on horseback to salmon fishing.


Chile’s coastline is still great for scenic walks to superb historical sites and quaint fishing villages. Take the time to visit Chiloé, a wild and beautiful island with inviting villages and colourful houses. And then there’s one of the most enigmatic, intriguing and isolated locations on earth, Easter Island, or Rapa Nui. Chile beaches may not be the primary draw, but the scenery is spectacular and time spent along the coast is well worth it.

View of a small village, Chiloe Island, Patagonia, Chile

Chile or Argentina Lake District?

Argentina’s Lake District has an alpine feel to it – majestic snow-capped peaks sit alongside dense forest and crystalline lakes. This is the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors with all manner of outdoor activities possible, from mountaineering to skiing to kayaking. Chocolate lovers will also be glad to know that Argentina’s lakeside paradise is just a stone’s throw from Bariloche, home to the best chocolate in the country. Set on an outcrop of the Llao Llao peninsula, Llao Llao is among our top hotels in the region. 


Chile’s Lake District is very similar to Iceland and is a lot more volcanic than Argentina’s. Here, it’s easy to combine outdoor pursuits such as fishing with more relaxing options, including visiting hot springs and lake side beaches. Charming lakeside towns, epic 4×4 drives, scenic picnics, kayaking, hiking and white water rafting are just some of the other ways to pass the time. Or take a spectacular helicopter flight directly over the Villarrica Volcano summit. If you’re looking for a more relaxing break, then spend time dining on delicious seafood and gourmet cuisine at luxury lodges or indulge in various spa treatments. Speaking of great food, Vira Vira is one of our top accommodation picks in the region for that very reason. 



Argentina's desert region or Chile’s Atacama desert?

Starkly beautiful, Argentina’s Puna region is the perfect destination for off-the-beaten-track and adventurous escapes. Think exciting road trips and 4×4 voyages through stunning landscapes that include salt lakes, clay deserts, dunes and extraordinary colours. A gateway city in the north west of the country, Salta sits in a lush green valley, but just a short drive away you’ll find dramatic landscapes ready to be explored. The many small villages and towns in the area are also great for sinking your teeth into Argentinian life, so if the perfect combination of scenery and culture are what you’re looking for when choosing between Argentina and Chile, then Argentina may come out tops for you.

The Puna, Argentina

While Argentina’s desert areas are great for adventure seekers, Chile is ideal for making the most of the other-wordly landscapes and remote beauty. One of the driest regions on earth, the Atacama Desert offers incredible luxury lodges and is known for some of the best star gazing in this part of the world. In fact, many lodges have their own telescopes so you can make the most of the vast night skies. While shared group tours are common in this region, Awasi Atacama offers private excursions. And after exploring the remarkable surrounds, take some time out at the spa and in the hot springs at Nayara Alto Atacama.


Argentina’s culture or Chile’s culture?

Argentina and Chile both have deep and rich cultures, but depending on your interests you may gravitate more towards one than the other. One of the highlights of a stay in Argentina is learning about and experiencing the Gaucho culture in the Pampas. By spending time on an estancia, you’ll learn about cattle rearing and agriculture as well as their skilled horsemanship. Over in Buenos Aires you can feel the beat of the tango that keeps the city pulsing. Take in a vibrant show over dinner, or even join a class yourself. For an interesting mix of history and culture, head to Ushuaia where a historic, narrow gauge steam train can take you along a scenic route into the Lapataia National Park.

The street art culture in Valparaiso is vibrant and ever changing and a great way to immerse yourself in the spirit of the city. It’s also packed with history as a visit to the working fort will reveal and the fish market is not to be missed if you want to get a feel for what makes this part of Chile so unique. Poetry enthusiasts will relish the opportunity to visit poet Pablo Naruda’s hilltop house, that is almost boat-like in its appearance. And of course, Easter Island is ideal for those wanting a glimpse of the ancient cultures that called Chile home.

Which is the Best City: Buenos Aires or Santiago?


Choosing between Buenos Aires and Santiago isn’t easy – both are vibrant cities worth visiting. For travellers interested in city life, cultural heritage and varied architecture, then Buenos Aires is the city for you. If you prefer incredible mountain views, fascinating museums, trendy neighbourhoods and markets then Santiago is ideal for you.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a city of fascinating architecture. A Four Balconies tour will take you to some of the most distinctive districts, taking in history, culture, architecture and contrasts. Speaking of culture, you’ll definitely want to make time for a Porteño show with its detailed scenery and costumes. And, of course – no visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without a good dose of tango – take in a show, join a class, or why not do both?

There’s so much to discover in Buenos Aires, especially if you slow your pace and take time to get to know your surroundings. Take a bike tour through Argentina’s largest Barrio, Palermo, or head out on foot to discover some Recoleta’s beautiful boulevards and impressive cemeteries.

Soccer enthusiasts won’t want to miss a Boca Juniors Stadium Tour and a visit to the fascinating museum located inside it. It might just be the deciding factor in whether to choose Chile or Argentina.

Recoleta Road


For incredible mountain ranges, dramatic scenery and breathtaking views Santiago comes out ahead of Buenos Aires. Head up San Cristobal Hill to marvel at the vistas below. The city, located in a bowl-shaped valley, is ideally placed for astounding views of the surrounding Andes Mountain Range as well as the Chilean Coastal Range. This unusual position gives you the perfect balance of city living and remarkably easy access to beautiful nature spots close by.

View from San Cristobal

If history is your thing, Santiago has a lot to offer. A visit to Plaza de Armas, the city’s main square is a treat for history enthusiasts. There are a variety of significant buildings to see as well as an historic church, monument and commemorative structures. The cafes and restaurants that surround the square are perfect for people watching. A stroll through the city also unearths a variety of excellent museums. Pop into Museo de la Memoria for a thought-provoking look at recent history through different mediums.

Metropolitan Cathedral Santiago Chile

Santiago’s Mercado Central dishes up one of the most impressive arrays of local diversity in the country, making it a great choice if you have to choose between Santiago and Buenos Aires.

Finally, the lively and colourful neighbourhoods of Lastarria and Bellavista offer a laid back free-spirited welcome, with plenty of book stores, street art and cafes to assure you you’ve made a good choice.

Trip Inspiration

Our favourite example trips across Chile and Argentina

Luxury Accommodation

Our Favourite places to stay across Chile and Argentina

Whatever you want from your adventure to Latin America, whether it be in Chile, Argentina or both, our travel designers are ready to help: