The city of El Calafate is located in the province of Rio Gallegos, in the Argentine Patagonia. This city is located by the Lago Argentino and Lago Viedma (famous lakes of Argentina), and it is also the entrance door to the National Park called "Los Glaciares". This makes El Calafate an ideal place to tour around, get in touch with nature, get to know some great wonders, and rest like in no other place in the world.
At El Calafate, you will be able to do a lot of activities: go trekking, see hundreds of glaciers (you may even walk on the great “Glaciar Perito Moreno”), sale on the Lago Argentino and the Upsala channel, among others, visit touristy inns outside the city center while enjoying the great view, taste some nice dishes, among many other alternatives.
El Calafate is open 365 days a year and, even though the weather may be colder than in other regions, a good coat will allow you to walk around and enjoy the great views. The weather in El Calafate is dry and the average temperature rounds the 7°C. Still, during summer, the average temperature reaches the 17-18°C, and, in winter, the average temperature is of 1°C (although temperature on El Calafate in winter may go below zero). Despite the cold weather, in El Calafate you will be able to enjoy its wonders all year round; so, put on your walking shoes, relax and enjoy the ride.
El Calafate is the entrance door to the famous National Park “Los Glaciares”. In this park, you will find the great and only Perito Moreno Glacier, the Upsala Glacier, among many other beauties such as the "Macizo Fitz Roy" (a great mountain). For those who want to hire an excursion, you will be able to hire one that takes you to the Perito Moreno Glacier itself and you will be able to walk over it (definitely an indescribable experience not to miss when in El Calafate!)
Fifteen kilometers away from El Calafate, you may hop on a chair-lift and enjoy the view from the top of a mountain. From the top, you will be enchanted by the magnificence of the Lago Argentino. Another place you may visit in El Calafate is the Glacier Interpretation Centre called "Glaciarium”. In this centre, you will be able to learn about the ice behavior on a glacier, its movements, history, etc. through presentations, videos and other special effects that will charm you. While in the Glaciarium, you may also visit its ice bar and have a cold drink.
Moreover, in El Calafate, there are many other places to visit like the touristic inns, where you can spend the day; or you may also visit the petrified woods a few kilometers away from El Calafate. Another nice place to visit near El Calafate is El Chalten, lovers the perfect place for trekking.
As you can imagine, there are plenty of places to visit and things to do in El Calafate, and each of them are different so you can choose what you’d like and when you´d like to do it. Still, the National Park “Los Glaciares” is a must-see when in El Calafate.
Where to sleep in El Calafate
During your visit in El Calafate you will find many places to stay and rest. Within the places to sleep in El Calafate you will find hotels of all types and categories, apart-hotels, apartments, inns, cabins, and even camping sites within the city and it the outer areas. The options are plenty, and they adapt to all budgets. For those who enjoy being surrounded by nature, you may look for places a bit further from the city center of El Calafate. Still, El Calafate (even in its downtown area) is surrounded by green areas and gorgeous landscapes, so you won’t have any trouble finding a place to rest and relax.
Some of the most recommended hotels and places to stay in El Calafate according to tourists are: EOLO - Patagonia´s Spirit (5-stars hotel); Santa Mónica Aparts (cabins in El Calafate); Los ponchos Apart-boutique (small hotel in El Calafate); Hotel ACA (3-stars hotel which, according to some reviews, offers a great price-quality relationship); Posada Los Alamos (4-stars Inn); hostería El Galpón del Glaciar (a small hotel a few kilometers from El Calafate); just to mention a few...
Some specialists recommend you make your reservation in El Calafate in advance, since the city is filled with tourists all year round and some hotels tend to get fully booked quickly, especially during high seasons.
Before telling you where to eat in El Calafate, we will mention what to eat in El Calafate, so that you start preparing your stomach. As in almost all the Patagonian region in Argentina, El Calafate offers a nice Patagonian lamb, which is generally served roasted, though there are some other equally-tempting alternatives. Each place offers a different side dish with the lamb. Likewise, the wild boar is an option for those who enjoy tasting meaty dishes. Moreover, fish is a good choice as well when you visit El Calafate, since it is served fresh and in a variety of styles and with different sauces. Some of the most common fish species you will find in El Calafate are the river trout, and the spider crab. Some dishes in El Calafate are accompanied with mushrooms, herbs from the region or even with the fruits of the regions to give it a bittersweet taste, like raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, among others. You will also find these last sweeter options on jams, or even inside homemade (yummy) chocolates, or some really nice desserts.
Some of the places where you can eat in El Calafate are: Mi Rancho (a little place with a gourmet selection of dishes; it is highly recommended by the people who have eaten there); La Zaina Restaurante y winery (a variety of dishes, typical from El Calafate and the Patagonia, and it also offers a great selection of wines to accompany each dish); Mora (The restaurant is located within the Hotel Xelena. Here, you may try delicious dishes and enjoy the personalized service that many have highlighted); Don Pichon (according to some comments, this is the best place to try the Patagonian Lamb and other typical dishes from the Patagonia). And the list of places to eat in El Calafate goes on and on… you may also find pizza places, coffee shops and tea houses where you can try a great selection of sweet things on a rainy (or not so rainy) afternoon.
Since El Calafate is a popular international destination, there are many ways to get there. You may get to El Calafate by bus, by plane of by car from Buenos Aires.
One of the most popular ways of getting to El Calafate from Buenos Aires is by plane. El Calafate has the “El Calafate” Airport, where planes from Buenos Aires and other parts of the country (and the world) are constantly arriving. Some of the air companies that may take you from Buenos Aires to El Calafate are: Aerolíneas Argentinas, LAN, and LADE.
Moreover, those who prefer travelling by bus may take one from Buenos Aires. You should bear in mind that buses leave from Buenos Aires and go to Rio Gallegos or other cities near El Calafate. Then, you will need to take another bus from that city or town to El Calafate.
Last, those who enjoy travelling by car may drive from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. There are many routes that may take you to El Calafate, and every one of them will offer different landscapes, with its particular flora and fauna, so you may enjoy the ride until you reach the gorgeous city of El Calafate.