What to Do in El Calafate in Winter: A Guide to Enjoying the Snowy Season

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El Calafate is a charming town in Argentine Patagonia that serves as the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park. While it’s a popular destination in the warmer months, there’s still plenty to see and do during the winter season. In this article, we’ll guide you through the best winter activities in El Calafate, from exploring stunning glaciers to savoring local cuisine. Get ready to embark on a memorable adventure in this picturesque winter wonderland!

1. Getting to El Calafate

El Calafate is accessible by air, bus, and car. The town has an international airport (FTE) with flights connecting it to major cities in Argentina and neighboring countries. For more detailed information on how to get to El Calafate, visit this page.

2. Exploring the Perito Moreno Glacier

One of the main attractions in El Calafate is the Perito Moreno Glacier. This massive ice formation is one of the few glaciers in the world that is still growing, making it a must-see destination. During winter, you can still access the glacier’s viewpoints and marvel at its imposing beauty.

Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier

Visitors can enjoy panoramic views from the well-maintained walkways and platforms along the glacier’s edge. Be sure to bring your camera, as the winter season often provides crisp, clear days that are perfect for capturing stunning photos of the glacier.

3. Navigating to Upsala and Spegazzini Glaciers

In addition to Perito Moreno, El Calafate is also an excellent base for exploring other glaciers in the region. A popular option is to take a boat navigation tour to the Upsala and Spegazzini Glaciers. These tours typically depart from Punta Bandera, located about an hour’s drive from El Calafate.

The Upsala Glacier
The Upsala Glacier

During the boat tour, you’ll navigate through the stunning Lago Argentino, passing by towering icebergs and breathtaking landscapes. The Upsala Glacier is the largest in the area, while the Spegazzini Glacier boasts the highest ice walls. To book a boat tour, check out the best tours and activities in El Calafate.

4. Limited Winter Excursions

Please note that some excursions, such as trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier, may be temporarily unavailable during the

winter season due to weather conditions and safety concerns. It’s essential to check the availability of these activities before planning your trip, as they can be weather-dependent. For an updated list of available excursions, visit the best tours and activities in El Calafate.

5. Visiting El Chalten

El Chalten, Argentina’s trekking capital, is another popular destination near El Calafate. Although winter is not the ideal season for trekking, you can still visit El Chalten on a one-day tour from El Calafate. The drive itself is a scenic journey through the Patagonian landscape, offering spectacular views of the Andes Mountains and the iconic Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre peaks.

El Chalten
El Chalten

Upon arrival in El Chalten, you’ll have the opportunity to explore this small, picturesque town and enjoy its cozy atmosphere. However, please be aware that trekking trails will likely be inaccessible due to snow and weather conditions during the winter months.

6. Indulging in El Calafate’s Gastronomy

Winter is the perfect time to indulge in El Calafate’s gastronomic delights. The town boasts a variety of restaurants and cafes, offering traditional Argentine cuisine as well as international fare. Local specialties include lamb, trout, and homemade pasta. For those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss the chance to try Calafate berry desserts and artisanal ice cream.

To explore the best dining options in El Calafate, visit where to eat in El Calafate. This guide will provide you with a curated selection of restaurants and cafes to suit every taste and budget.

7. Where to Stay in El Calafate

Accommodation options in El Calafate range from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels, ensuring that every traveler can find a suitable place to stay. Some hotels even offer special winter packages, making it the perfect time to enjoy a cozy and comfortable stay in this charming Patagonian town.

For a comprehensive list of accommodation options in El Calafate, visit where to stay in Calafate. This guide will help you find the perfect place to rest after a day of exploring the stunning glaciers and landscapes of the region.

In conclusion, visiting El Calafate in winter offers a unique and memorable experience. From exploring the majestic glaciers to indulging in the town’s delicious cuisine, there’s plenty to see and do even during the colder months. So bundle up, pack your camera, and get ready to discover the wonders of El Calafate this winter!

8. Discovering Local Culture and Attractions

El Calafate is more than just glaciers; it also offers a rich cultural experience that you can explore during your winter visit. The town is home to several museums, art galleries, and cultural centers that showcase the history, traditions, and local craftsmanship of the region.

A visit to the Glaciarium Ice Museum is a must, as it provides a comprehensive overview of Patagonian glaciers, their formation, and their impact on the environment. You can also visit the Centro de Interpretación Histórica Calafate, which delves into the history and culture of the region, dating back to prehistoric times.

For a list of cultural and historical attractions in El Calafate, visit what to see in El Calafate.

9. Winter Wildlife Watching

Wildlife enthusiasts will not be disappointed, as the winter season offers unique opportunities to observe various species in their natural habitat. Birdwatching is particularly popular during this time, with chances to spot the Andean condor, Magellanic woodpecker, and various species of waterbirds.

For those interested in larger fauna, you can visit the Laguna Nimez Reserve, located near the town, where you may spot guanacos, foxes, and even flamingos. Alternatively, you can take a boat trip to Estancia Cristina, which offers fantastic wildlife watching opportunities and an insight into the traditional Patagonian way of life.

10. Winter Sports and Activities

While El Calafate may not be a traditional winter sports destination, there are still opportunities to enjoy the snow-covered landscapes. Some tour operators offer snowshoeing excursions, which can be an excellent way to explore the surroundings and take in the breathtaking scenery.

Additionally, if you’re willing to venture a bit further afield, you can find skiing and snowboarding options in nearby regions such as Ushuaia, Bariloche, or Cerro Catedral. These destinations offer well-maintained ski resorts and a range of winter sports activities for all skill levels.


Is El Calafate too cold to visit in winter?

While the temperatures can be cold, with averages ranging from 20°F to 50°F, El Calafate is still an excellent destination to visit in winter, especially for those who enjoy winter sports and outdoor activities.

What should I wear for winter activities in El Calafate?

It’s important to dress in layers, including warm, waterproof clothing, gloves, a hat, and sturdy boots. Many tour companies will provide you with additional gear such as crampons, snowshoes, and sleds.


El Calafate is a magical destination that offers plenty of excitement and adventure, even in the winter months. From exploring awe-inspiring glaciers to discovering the town’s rich culture and gastronomy, there’s no shortage of things to do and see. So don’t hesitate to plan your winter trip to this enchanting Patagonian gem – you won’t regret it!

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About the author

I am Matias, born in Patagonia, and a lover of my land.

For more than 20 years I help foreign travellers to organise their trip to Patagonia.

I also manage this exotic accommodation on the Atlantic coast.