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Glaciers, mountains, and rustic ranchland set the scene for you to get to know some of the most beautiful sights in Patagonia. A favorite base for explorers of Los Glaciares National Park, this community on the shores of Lake Argentino offers a range of opportunities to get the best out of the terrific scenery around you. From hikes and horseback rides to cruises and winetastings, you're in for a treat as you explore the things to do in El Calafate and enjoy the beauty of the Argentine wilderness.
Tourism has been behind most of the city's growth, and it's laid out to give visitors an easy time finding their way around. Hotels, hostels, restaurants, and supermarkets line the broad, open main street of Avenida del Libertador, which runs straight through town from east to west. A long promenade runs between open parkland and the banks of Lake Argentino at the north edge of the city, with residential neighborhoods laid out in the south under the mountain bluffs.
Before you strike out into the countryside, check out a few locations around town that offer a new perspective on the area. Head to the western edge of town for a visit to the Glaciarium, a museum packed with insight into the Patagonian Ice Fields, or spend some time with the colorful birds and scenic viewpoints in the Laguna Nimez Reserve. And when you're ready to get a higher perspective, there's Calafate Mountain Park just south of the city, where a chairlift can take you to the the balcony atop Mount Huyliche for some terrific views.
All the natural wonder surrounding the city can leave you spoiled for choice, which is why there's a thriving community of knowledgeable guides on hand to help make sense of it all. You can take out a mountain bike for a ride to some of the best viewpoints in Calafete Mountain Park, go for a horseback ride on the rustic ranchland of Nibepo Aike, or venture north to La Leona for a scenic journey through a vast petrified forest.
And, of course, there are the glaciers. A sightseeing cruise on lets you see the huge rivers of ice as they empty into Lake Argentino, and you can decide on your favorite slice of scenery for a closer look. Visit the Upsala Glacier with a hike through Fossil Canyon, step onto the Mirador footbridge for a look at the ice sheets of Perito Moreno, or get some firsthand insight into the natural forces in the mountains around El Chalten. And if you're up for a trip to the other side of the Andes, a journey to Chile lets you admire the peaks and waterfalls of Torres del Paine National Park.
Leave your wallet in the hotel. It's possible to entertain yourself in El Calafate without spending a penny.
Argentinean Lake - Get out of the fast lane and enjoy a little time relaxing close to the water.
Gnome Village - Plan a visit and learn about the importance of this place to the locals.
Santa Teresita del Nino Jesus Church - Do some soul searching or just get lost in the peaceful ambiance at this sacred site.
Plaza de los Pioneros - Nurture your green thumb and admire the glorious plants on show.
When the weather is putting on a show, these experiences are difficult to resist:
Your escape to El Calafate needn't blow the budget with free attractions like these to discover: