What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia?

What are the best hikes in Patagonia?!  What IS Patagonia, anyway??  Is it a region, or a country?  How big is it?!  If you’ve never visited Patagonia, these questions can cause some anxiety as you begin to plan your trip: because the truth is, Patagonia is a MASSIVE region (not a country).  It encompasses the entire southern tip of South America, & is in not one, but two countries: both Chile & Argentina.  I’ll be answering these questions in this post as I show you where all the best hikes are, within this sparsely-populated but hugely scenic part of the world. 

Patagonia = 402,700 square MILES!!! This is larger than many countries.

What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia? Hiking the Iconic Fitz Roy Trail in El Chalten, Girl Who Travels the World

The Fitz Roy Trail in El Chalten is one of Patagonia’s legendary hikes.

Map of Patagonia

While Patagonia technically extends from Ushuaia all the way up to Bariloche, the heart of Patagonia lies in three places: 1) El Chalten, 2) El Calafate, & 3) Torres del Paine National Park.  Because it’s impossible to cover every hike in Patagonia, I’m focusing on the stand-outs ~ which can all be found on the map below.

El Chalten

Mount Fitz Roy

MIrador Las Torres

Perito Moreno Glacier

Puerto Natales

What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia?

I’ve narrowed it down to eight phenomenal hikes in Patagonia, & instead of making them all super difficult: several are suitable for ALL fitness levels!  If I’ve written more about a particular hike, you’ll be able to click on it & get more info.

  • What’s the Best Way to Reach Patagonia?  Fly into El Calafate or Punta Arenas, Argentina.  To reach El Chalten & Puerto Natales, you must take a bus or rent a car.
  • Best Hikes in El Chalten: 1) Mount Fitz Roy, 2) Cerro Torre, 3) Mirador de los Condores, & 4) Chorrillo Salto.  
  • Best Hikes/Walks in El Calafate: 5) Perito Moreno Glacier, & 6) Hiking ON Perito Moreno Glacier.
  • Best Hikes in Puerto Natales & Torres del Paine National Park: 7) Mirador Las Torres, & 8) The “W” Trek. 

Collapsible Trekking Sticks

Trail Runners

Light Wind Breaker

Lightweight Backpack

Best Hikes in El Chalten

If hiking is your primary objective, & you want hikes for all ability levels (including beginners): El Chalten is my top choice.  Even “easy” hikes here offer tremendous views.  And one of Patagonia’s most legendary hikes, Fitz Roy, is located in El Chalten ~ along with stunning Cerro Torre.  El Chalten is a growing frontier town, filled with hostels, cute restaurants, & some luxury hotels & spas.  There’s no airport here: but there is a large bus terminal that links you to other popular Patagonia destinations. 

How to Reach El Chalten: By bus or renting a car.

***1. Mount Fitz Roy (26 km), Intermediate, but Difficult at the End

This is one of my favorite hikes EVER, & I’ve written about it extensively here.  Yes, it’s long: but much of it is moderate, & a large section meanders through a gorgeous, flat meadow.  But the last 45-minutes of the hike are seriously hard: you’re climbing up steep, uneven rocks, along switchbacks, with a TON of other people. The views down into the valley are incredible from this vantage point, though.  Fitz Roy is El Chalten’s most popular hike, & the final view you get of Laguna de los Tres (pictured below), as well as Laguna Sucia (off to the left), are some of the most spectacular you’ll see in this lifetime. 

Hike Time = 6 – 9 hours

Hiking the Iconic Fitz Roy Trail in El Chalten, Girl Who Travels the World

Standing in front of Laguna de los Tres, on the Mount Fitz Roy Trail.

2. Cerro Torre (24 km), Intermediate

Cerro Torre is less difficult than Fitz Roy, but the pay-off is almost as spectacular: after a few hours of climbing, you’ll reach icy Laguna Torre, with a view of Cerro Torre in the background.  Cerro Torre is taller & skinnier, whereas Fitz Roy is a wider massif, & slightly more imposing.  But both make for amazing photos… 

Hike Time = 5 – 7 hours

What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia? Girl Who Travels the World

Cerro Torre, with Laguna Torre in the foreground.

3. Mirador de los Condores (0.9 miles), Easy

Everyone can do this hike ~ even people who don’t like to hike!  There’s a very short climb to reach the lookout, & it’s SO SO worth it!  You can hike all around at the top & get different viewpoints of looming Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre in the distance.  

Hike Time = 1 Hour

What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia? Girl Who Travels the World

This INSANE lookout is also one of the EASIEST hikes in El Chalten: Condor Lookout, or Mirador de los Condores. You can see the town of El Chalten to my right.

What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia? Girl Who Travels the World

Just past the first lookout at Mirador de los Condores are more stunning vistas, like this one.

4. Chorrillo del Salto (0.7 miles), Easy

A short walk from El Chalten is Chorrillo del Salto, a very easy, very short “hike” to the beautiful waterfall shown below.  Tourist buses sometimes stop here & dump out LOTS of people: but I highly suggest making the short walk from town yourself, because of the stunning landscapes you’ll see along the way. 

Hike Time = Less than an hour

What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia? Girl Who Travels the World

Chorrillo del Salto. “Chorrillo” means “trickle,” in Spanish ~ but to me, this looks more like a waterfall!

Best Hikes in El Calafate

El Calafate is where most Patagonia visitors fly into: it’s pretty much smack-dab in central Patagonia, & just a two-hour ride from top attraction: Perito Moreno Glacier.  Again, everyone can visit Perito Moreno!  There are metal walkways built right in front of the glacier, that extend for several (mainly flat) kilometers.  To take a tour actually on the glacier, you’ll need to go with a guide.  For more info about Perito Moreno & how to get there, read this article.

5. Perito Moreno Glacier, Easy

How to Get to Perito Moreno Glacier, Girl Who Travels the World

Epic Perito Moreno Glacier = a Patagonia MUST.

How to Get to Perito Moreno Glacier, Girl Who Travels the World

The “hike” at Perito Moreno is flat & easy, with some stairs ~ on metal ground (like what is shown above).

6. Hike ON the Glacier at Perito Moreno, Intermediate

What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia? Girl Who Travels the World

Hike ON Perito Moreno Glacier with a guided tour.

Best Hikes in Torres del Paine National Park

I’ve saved Torres del Paine National Park for last because frankly, these are some of the most difficult hikes in Patagonia: & they’re not right for everybody.  I’m pretty fit ~ but there’s no WAY I wanted to hike 50 miles (80 kilometers), in the rain, on the famous “W” Trek!  But I did want to hike part of it, which is why I hiked its most iconic section: Mirador Las Torres.

***7. Mirador Las Torres (24 km), Difficult

I’ve written extensively about this hike here, but I can tell you: it’s challenging.  Fitz Roy’s final section is harder than this one, but I found this hike more difficult overall: there’s more climbing, & you need to climb at the end, when you’re super tired.  Some people break this hike up & do it in two days, which isn’t a bad idea; Refugio Chileno marks the half-way spot, & you can eat & spend the night there (reservations need to be made WAY in advance).  But in looking at the photos below, you can see: it’s WORTH the pain!!!

Hike Time = 7 – 10 hours

Hiking Iconic Mirador Las Torres on a Budget, Girl Who Travels the World

The world-famous end to the Mirador Las Torres hike, in Torres del Paine, Chile.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Hiking the Iconic Mirador Las Torres on a Budget, Girl Who Travels the World

Views like this await you, in Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile.

8. The “W” Trek in Torres del Paine, 50-miles, Very Difficult

The “W” Trek is one of the most famous treks in the world, & it takes 4-5 days to complete, hiking approximately 12-15 miles per day.  Most people hike it with a group, some go solo (like my friend Siobhan); some bring their own camping gear & stay in campsites along the route, while others stay in a mixture of hotels, refugios, & campsites.  The trek’s three main highlights are: the French Valley, Mirador Las Torres (the hike from above), & Glacier Grey. 

Clearly, this trek isn’t for novices: only experienced hikers & backpackers.

What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia? Girl WHo Travels the World

An excellent map of the “W” Trek, which is outlined in orange. Map courtesy of Swoosh Patagonia.

What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia?

Thanks for reading, “What are the Best Hikes in Patagonia?”  I hope this has helped you gain insight into your Patagonia trip, & figure out exactly which hikes are musts for you.  If you have any questions about a future trip, ask me in the comments below!

xoxo Noelia

Read Next: How to Get to Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina!

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