Dreaming of exploring Patagonia’s mesmerising landscapes but don’t have the time or stamina to tackle the W Trek?
No sweat! You don’t need endless vacation days or loads of trekking experience to see the best of this captivating corner of South America. In fact, there are tons of shorter routes that’ll show you a highlight reel of the region’s beauty in an afternoon.
If your vacation time is scarce or you’re looking to build your hiking skills, these Patagonia day hikes are the perfect option.
Travel to: Patagonia
Day hikes in Torres del Paine National Park
With its bright teal lakes, roaring rivers, and instantly recognisable granite pillars, Torres del Paine is one of the most popular hiking hotspots on the planet for good reason.
No matter what trail you choose, one thing is certain: the park’s staggering natural beauty will leave you slack-jawed and speechless.
1. Mirador Las Torres
- Distance: 18km roundtrip
- Hiking time: 8-9 hours
- Difficulty: difficult
If you only have time for one hike in Torres del Paine, Mirador Las Torres should be at the top of your list. Most visitors complete this hike as part of the five-day W Trek, but you can still stand in awe of the Torres (those three famous peaks that tower over a turquoise-toned lake below) even if you only have a day to spare.
Since it leads to one of the best views in the region, this route is incredibly popular — but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a walk in the park! This hike is one of the hardest in Patagonia.
The majority of this 18km trail is uphill (the total elevation gain is 900m), and the final stretch is especially steep. Your efforts will be rewarded along the way, with spectacular views of forests, mountains, and waterfalls at every turn.
2. Laguna Azul
- Distance: 8km roundtrip
- Hiking time: 2-3 hours
- Difficulty: easy
If you want to catch a glimpse of Patagonia’s iconic three jagged peaks without having to contend with crowds on the region’s most popular treks, this scenic and secluded trail is the perfect compromise.
Located on the east side of Torres del Paine, Laguna Azul offers an alternative (but equally stunning) view of the park’s iconic granite monoliths reflecting in the sapphire-hued waters of Laguna Azul.
Starting and ending at Porteria Laguna Azul, this route covers mostly flat terrain and tranquil trails, making it the perfect option for beginners or anyone wanting a relaxing day hike with stunning Patagonia scenery.
See Also: The Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Day hikes near El Chaltén
The tiny village of El Chaltén acts as the perfect base for day hikes in the surrounding Fitz Roy Range. If you stay here, you’ll have access to a whole host of superb trails right at your doorstep.
And, once you’ve returned from a day of hiking, you can rest and refuel at one of El Chaltén’s many restaurants or breweries.
3. Laguna de Los Tres
- Distance: 24km roundtrip
- Hiking time: 8-10 hours
- Difficulty: moderate to hard
There are so many unbelievably scenic hikes in this part of the world, but Laguna de Los Tres (also known as the Fitz Roy Trek) stands out thanks to its mind-blowing views.
The trail is relatively easy — apart from the final one-kilometre stretch, which ascends up a steep incline along an uneven, rocky path (trekking poles will definitely come in handy here).
Once you tackle that final hurdle, you’ll reach the pièce de résistance: a glorious view of cobalt-blue waters, imposing glaciers, and the looming spires of Mount Fitz Roy.
4. Laguna Torre
- Distance: 19km
- Hiking time: 6-8 hours
- Difficulty: moderate
Following the Rio Fitz Roy, this hike takes you to a glacier-fed lake that sits at the base of Cerro Torre. Although the trek is fairly long, the terrain is mostly flat (aside from a moderate elevation gain at the beginning), making it the ideal trek for hikers of all skill levels.
It’ll likely take you between 6 and 8 hours to finish this hike, but if you’re keen to keep going, you can continue onto Mirador Maestri for an even more spectacular view of the glacier.
Laguna Torre is one of the most popular hikes in Patagonia, and you’ll likely be sharing the trail with a significant amount of tourists.
Day hikes near Ushuaia
Most people visit Ushuaia before they head off on a cruise of Antarctica, but this area is more than just a jumping-off point for Antarctic adventures — it’s also home to some of the best hiking in Patagonia.
Not only do the trails here boast magnificent scenery, but there’s something truly special about hiking at the southernmost tip of South America, AKA the “End of the World.”
5. Cerro Guanaco
- Distance: 8km roundtrip
- Hiking time: 4 hours
- Difficulty: hard
Featuring a steep, rocky incline and stretches of bog, Cerro Guanaco is one of the toughest hikes in Tierra del Fuego National Park.
That said, you’ll forget all about the challenging ascent once you reach the summit, where incredible panoramic views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel await.
6. Laguna Esmeralda
- Distance: 9.6 km roundtrip
- Hiking time: 4 hours
- Difficulty: easy to moderate
This may be one of the easiest hikes in Patagonia, but it still delivers a hefty dose of impressive scenery.
Starting roughly 17km east of Ushuaia in Valle de Los Lobos, you’ll pass through several distinct landscapes — including pockets of pristine forest and peat bogs — on the way to your final destination: Laguna Esmeralda, a striking glacial lake ringed by mighty mountain peaks.
The terrain is mostly flat, but you do have to keep an eye out for mud and slippery patches.
The best time to visit Patagonia
Summer marks the peak tourist season in Patagonia, and it’s also the best time to travel for ideal hiking conditions. Between the months of December and February, average daily temperatures tend to hover around 20°C, and then drop down between 5°C and 10°C at night.
Thanks to the summer season’s extended daylight hours, this is also the perfect time to visit if you’re planning on tackling several longer day hikes. It won’t get dark until 10pm in southerly destinations like Ushuaia, so you can pack your days full of as many adventures as you can handle.
One thing to note: the region’s climate is infamously unpredictable, and the strong Patagonian winds can make temperatures feel significantly cooler during this time — even at the height of summer. Be sure to pack accordingly!
After the cold winter months, Patagonia springs to life with colourful blooms and blossoming wildflowers. Daytime temperatures are relatively warm, but piercing winds and overcast skies can make even the most beautiful days feel extremely chilly.
If you can handle the cooler and potentially rainy weather, you’ll be rewarded with fewer crowds, quieter trails, and lower accommodation prices.
The temperatures may be cooler during autumn, but visiting during this season comes with plenty of perks: the region’s most popular trails are less crowded, accommodations are cheaper, and the fierce Patagonian winds start to die down.
The fiery fall colours are at their best throughout these months as well, making it a fantastic time to visit for all photography enthusiasts.
If you have your heart set on hiking through Patagonia’s most renowned regions (like Torres del Paine, for example), it’s best to plan your trip outside the winter months of June, July, and August.
During this time, temperatures plummet, most lodges and attractions will be closed, and many areas in Patagonia are inaccessible.
A handful of hiking options are available for the most hard-core, expert trekkers in winter, and if you venture away from the trekking trails, you can fill your itinerary with activities like wine tasting and skiing.
If you’d rather leave the logistics and planning to the pros, check out our range of Patagonia trips and let an expert guide show you the region’s most epic hiking trails!