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Perito Moreno Glacier is one of Argentina’s best highlights. This huge glacier is impressive, and chances are you’ve probably heard about it before and can’t wait to visit it for yourself!
But when is the best time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier?
This is an important question because let’s face it, visiting Perito Moreno Glacier is bound to be one of the best things you do in Patagonia. So, you want to make the experience the best possible.
In this blog, I answer the question about the best time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier including the best time of year and the best time of day!
When to Visit Perito Moreno Glacier FAQs
Best Time of Day to Visit Perito Moreno Glacier
I have personally visited Perito Moreno Glacier first thing in the morning when the gate opens at 8 am, at sunset before the gate closes, and in the middle of the day – here is what I think of each of time of day:
Note: The gate to the national park opens at 8 am and closes at 6 pm (summer) and 9 am to 4 pm (winter.) But, you can stay in the park for two hours after the last entrance time.
Related Read: Check out our blog on visiting Puerto Madryn, Argentina!
Middle of the Day
To be honest, the middle of the day is the worst time to visit Perito Moreno Glacier. This is not only because of the crowds but also because I had a very sunny day and there is little shade on the boardwalk. In fact, I left a little earlier than planned because the sun was really harsh.
With that said, it is important to note that the afternoon is when the glacier is typically the most active due to warmer temperatures.
At sunset or near closing time, there are the least amount of people and the sun is far less harsh.
If you’re a photographer, then you may want to avoid this time as you can’t stay late enough to catch a proper sunset and the sun sets right behind the glacier sending glaring light straight into your camera.
But if you just want to enjoy the glacier with fewer crowds and aren’t too fussed about getting those perfect photos, then later in the afternoon is the best time of day to visit.
On the morning I was due to start my glacier trekking, we were first through the gate to the national park and arrived at the glacier with not a soul in sight!
It was cool and quiet, the sun was behind us, and it was magical. By far my favorite time to visit is first thing in the morning!
There is one catch though…
It doesn’t take long for the boardwalk to get busy, so enjoy this first hour of peace because it’s so amazing!
To be able to enjoy the quiet morning at Perito Moreno Glacier you’ll need a rental car to drive yourself there before all the tour buses arrive. Also, be sure to plan to arrive at the park entrance gates (an hour’s drive from El Calafate at their opening time. The gate to the national park opens at 8 am and closes at 6 pm (summer) and 9 am to 4 pm (winter.)
We rented a car to travel around Patagonia for a couple of weeks and it was super handy when it came to visiting Perito Moreno Glacier. If you don’t have a car, then you’ll have to find another way to get from El Calafate to Perito Moreno Glacier.
Best Time of Year to Visit Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier is open all year round, however, the weather in Patagonia is not favorable all year round. During the winter months, it is cold – really cold, and you likely won’t want to spend any time at all standing outside next to a huge chunk of even colder ice.
The summer months, November to March, are the best time of year to visit Perito Moreno Glacier. Not only is it warmer with less rain (and no snow), but the warm weather also causes the glacier to be more active. If you want to see the huge chunks of ice fall from the glacier and fall into the water then the summer is your best chance of seeing this spectacle.
I have to warn you though, the summer is also the busiest time of year to visit Perito Moreno Glacier. Expect a full parking lot, large crowds, and full tours and restaurants.
With that said, if you visit first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon as I mentioned above, you’ll miss the peak afternoon hours and experience fewer crowds.
Perito Moreno Glacier Tours
There are a few different ways to experience the grandeur of the Perito Moreno Glacier and there are several types of tours from El Calafate that will take you there so here are a few of the best options:
- Mini Glacier Trekking Tour – If looking at this glacier isn’t impressive enough you can actually trek on top of it! On the mini trekking, you will spend about 1.5 hours on top of the glacier!
- Kayaking Tour – On this kayaking tour you will get right up close and navigate around many of the impressive glaciers and have time to walk the boardwalk for more views and enjoy complimentary snacks and a hot drink afterward.
- Glacier Cruise – This is the most relaxing way to see the Perito Moreno Glaciers and on this tour, you will be taken to 3 different glaciers! A gourmet boxed lunch is included.
For more information, you can read my blog on the best Perito Moreno Glacier tours. It really will help you compare your options to decide which tour is best for you!
Other Activities to do While in El Calafate
Since you’ll most likely be staying in El Calafate while visiting Perito Moreno Glacier, there’s plenty more to see and do while you’re here. When I first visited, I didn’t realize how many amazing experiences there were! It took me another visit and really exploring the town to find out all the incredible activities to do in El Calafate. Here are just some of the things I love about this corner of the world.
- Eat! – The food in El Calafate is mouthwatering good. One dish you can’t leave without trying is the Lamb al Asador. La Zorra also makes great lamb stew in town. For a sweet treat, stop into one of the chocolatiers specializing in artisanal chocolate that’s locally made and really cheap. Chocolates Patagonia had some of my faves!
- Drink at an ice bar – For a cold one (literally!), head to a bar where everything, including your drinking glass, is made of ice. There are a couple ice bars in town and we really liked Yeti Ice Bar. For $28 USD, we had 30 minutes to drink as much as we wanted. It was definitely chilly, so that was the perfect amount of time before I was ready to warm up!
- Visit El Chalten – The drive from El Calafate to El Chalten is incredibly scenic, but the big draw is arguably the most beautiful hike in Patagonia with the trek to Mount Fitz Roy. You can drive yourself or plan for this tour if you want a day trip, although, this two-day tour is my personal recommendation so you aren’t rushed.
- Go to the Glaciarium – Even if you’re not a museum person, the Glaciarium Ice Museum is worth a stop. The outside even looks like a glacier! There are lots of interactive exhibits inside including a 3D movie and an ice bar made with glacier ice.
- See a fossil forest – Visiting La Leona Petrified Forest is a pretty amazing stop. In this fossilized forest, the trees have literally turned to stone! There are even dinosaur fossils among the petrified wood. So cool! The forest is on private land, so you’ll need to book this tour to see it.
Where to Stay in El Calafate
Budget Hostels in El Calafate
Hostel Lago Argentino – This hostel is a good cheap option that I have stayed at before. The hostel includes a nice breakfast, a large kitchen, and helpful staff. The location is also central! It’s also easy to book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.
Red House Hostel – This highly rated hostel comes at a really cheap price. The hostel is very well designed, clean, comfortable, and has a great social atmosphere. You’ll want to book in advance on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.
Folk Hostel – This is one of the best budget hostels in El Calafate. It’s a great option (if it’s available). The staff is amazing, the facilities are modern and clean, and the location is perfect! Folk Hostel can also be booked on Hostelworld here or Booking.com.
Mid Budget Hotels
Posada Karut Josh – This small little hotel is located as close as you can get to the middle of town and Argentino Lake. It’s simple but clean and a great place to stay for those looking to be close to town.
Posada Larsen – A nice cozy hotel surrounded by mountains and a garden. There is a 24-hour help desk and they offer a traditional Patagonian breakfast. There are amazing reviews about the staff who go out of their way for guests.
Del Glaciar Libertador Hotel – Simple hotel located only 10 minutes from town. Includes a good breakfast and they also have an amazing social bar and restaurant.
Aparts Calafate Suites – This place rents self-contained apartments for optimal privacy. The apartments are modern, well furnished, and perfect for those wanting more comfort and quality in El Calafate.
Boutique Hotel La Cantera – If you really want a slice of luxury then this hotel is one of the best options. The building itself is stunning and the location and views are amazing. They serve a buffet breakfast and have their own restaurant and bar.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
I hope this blog has helped you decide when to visit Perito Moreno Glacier! If you want some more advice, check out the rest of our blogs about Perito Moreno, or Patagonia in general! Some other blogs you might enjoy include: