Argentina, much like its fine wines, goes down smooth. It's the kind of destination where you don't have to wander too far to be impressed by its delicious food, lavish architecture, beautiful natural settings, or forever-eventful cities. Its people are fashionable, dressed to the nines in the latest fashion, but also down-to-earth, friendly, and welcoming. Argentinians are incredibly proud of their country; spending just a few days enjoying its culture and history will help you understand why. Here, we detail our top 10 destinations, in no particular order:
Iguazu Falls is a work of art with more than 270 mighty falls shooting over cliffs, landing in a tropical environment that is not industrial and flashy but somewhat secluded and verdant, two-thirds of which are on the Argentine side. Stroll through miles of foliage, looking out for local wildlife and rare bird species as you follow the trails. Listen for thundering water coming from just around the bend, and stepping into a clearing, where you'll marvel at the panoramic view of gushing falls. If you choose to take a boat ride, you'll weave your way around them all, finally coming to rest at the feet of Garganta del Diablo, the largest one of all. The experience is surreal, not a walk in the park but rather a walk in the jungle, so be prepared for some real adventure.
Glacier Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most awe-inspiring natural sites to witness in Argentina and is considered the eighth wonder of the world. The glacier is a massive one. And old: scientists believe it's been around for at least 18,000 years. It stretches for 19 miles, but when you're trekking on it, this mass of glistening turquoise ice seems to spread its wings into eternity, eventually becoming one with the sky. The only glacier in the world that is growing, Perito Moreno, has many little surprises for visitors who dare come up close to the massive block of ice. Probably the most overwhelming spectacle of Mother Nature is the enormous chunks of ice that rupture from the side of the glacier with a deafening sound, dropping into the water below, which happens regularly. Another surprise is when Spring rears its head and trees flower and bloom to a backdrop of the enormous glacier. The result is stunning. Finally, the walk to the glacier is in itself spectacular, offering vistas of massive peaks that stretch towards the clouds. It's a unique experience and one not to be missed. Make sure you try some spirits on ice while you're there, it'll warm you to the bone.
What's unique about Bariloche is that it's nestled within a national park; actually, Argentina's first National Park called Nahuel Huapi. So even though it's a bustling town, with crisp and clean air, throughout, hiking trails abound and are mere steps away. While Bariloche is mostly known for being the "Switzerland of Argentina," with many ski slopes and an abundance of chocolate shops as well, Bariloche is a foodie's paradise, with at least 450 incredible restaurants. From Patagonia succulent lamb, slowly roasted over a firewood pit, to wild boar in delicate sauces, or freshwater trout and salmon, most of which are locally sourced, you'll find a variety of delectable food to please your palate. Aside from the wide range of culinary delights, there are also tons of activities, both low-key and adrenaline-inducing, that allow you to explore the gorgeous area. Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in the winter and horseback riding, cable-car sightseeing, cycling, hiking, sailing and more in the summers. There are also easily accessible lookout points, offering stunning views of the glacial lake and the glorious peaks of the Andes.
Cordoba is gorgeous. And it's a university city, so the vibe is as lively as the city is pretty. The architectural and cultural legacy of this city will leave you marveling for days. With its colonial past, Cordoba has many hidden gems, from the neo-Gothic Capuchin Church that has a missing steeple (to demonstrate the imperfections of this world), to the huge cathedral dating back to the late 1500s. The city's Central Park offers mini voyages on its lake via paddleboats and an expansive rose garden. The picturesque Plaza San Martin is where you're sure to stumble on live shows and street performers, and in the old Jesuit block, you'll be able to walk through lavish buildings, and the ruins of what used to be a Jesuit quarter in the 18th century. The people of Cordoba are a cheerful bunch, and their local music, cuarteto, is a testament to their light spirit – finding a nightclub where cuarteto music is mixed (sometimes with tango or rap) is a must. An overall feel-good city with lots of sightseeing opportunities, one shouldn't leave Argentina without experiencing it.
Mendoza is a city after our collective hearts. Warm, mountainous, sunny, green, teeming with cafes and bars, and incredible hiking just minutes away. And then the wine...the ever-flowing fantastic Malbec, Sumputous local blends to tempt the most discernable palate. Full of wine cellars, sprawling plazas, upscale restaurants, and tree-lined avenues that are great to discover on foot or bicycle. The night scene is happening, with things heating up on Wednesday nights and going strong to Sunday, with Fridays being the most active. Check out the vibing Aristides Villanueva Street or if you're willing to drive out of the city, the Chacras de Coria suburb, with classy clubs playing anything from rock to tango. The city's plazas are bustling and posh, while the pedestrian walkways are wide and lead to boutiques and shops that sell beautiful, high-end clothes and accessories. When you want to escape from the city noise, there are plenty of things to do in Mendoza's countryside. One can bathe in hot springs, go white-water rafting in the Mendoza River, hang out on the beaches of Lake Potrerillos, get lost in lush wineries, hike part of the tallest peak in the Western hemisphere (the Aconcagua) and the list goes on. Take us at our word and go. But don't blame us if you want to stay forever.
Salta "La Linda" or Salta the Beautiful, as it is known in Argentina, is one of the most dynamic destinations you might ever visit. To say that it's a cultural destination is an understatement. First of all, the salteños, the locals, are absolutely in love with their culture and traditions, making it easy for any traveler to discover why. Salta played an essential role in Argentina's independence from Spain, so salteños are especially patriotic. Saturday after Saturday, they head out to peñas, or music clubs, in swarms, singing along to the traditional samba music and supporting local talents who dare to get on stage. These music clubs are a ton of fun and are open to all. An experience to be enjoyed by the entire, with any age group welcome. Salteños are proud of their local culinary delights as well, claiming that they invented the spectacularly-delicious empanadas. One can find these savory delights almost anywhere on the street, and in high-end restaurants as well. Their most popular dish, the locro, is probably one of the best things you'll ever eat. A spicy pumpkin stew full of chunks of meat, it's so aromatic and flavorful, you'll never want anything else again. Salteños have preserved their colonial historical center better than almost any other colonial city in the world. You'll be positively awe-struck at the perfection of the cotton-candy cathedral and other colonial buildings surrounding the Plaza 9 de Julio, and its beautiful, orange-tree lined main square. Here, you can sip a glass of Malbec wine and watch the whole city come to life as the sun goes down. It has a great vibe, one that you just want to enjoy forever. Exploring the vicinity in search of natural treasure is necessary. From the striking seven-colored mountains to red desert cliffs, lush valleys, to dense jungle territory, Salta offers wanderers an incredible combination of astounding nature and culture.
Meaning "Smoking Mountain," El Chaltén is a mystical place, possibly the most beautiful in the world. In the heart of Patagonia, this small village is surrounded by angular rock formations that scrape the skies and snow-capped mountain peaks through which rivers have cut ravines, winding down into the deep valleys below (think Lord of the Rings). Trekking through the valleys, on the way to the astounding Mount Fitzroy, this ethereal experience resembles heaven on earth, the pearly gates replaced by massive rocks jutting out of towering mountains. There are plenty of ways to explore this breathtaking place, whether on foot or horseback, kayaking through rivers or hiking in the dense forest.
Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego
Where the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean crash into each other, generating the famous Patagonian winds that are responsible for shaping the dramatic landscape, there is an archipelago. It is called Tierra del Fuego, the Land of Fire. Perhaps the land of ice would be a more suitable name, yet when the colors of Autumn blaze through this mountainous land, everything is fire, the reds and oranges made only more intense against the backdrop of glacier white. It's beyond spectacular. There is much to do in Tierra del Fuego and its main city, Ushuaia. The most notable are sailing to the Beagle Channel, where the lighthouse marks the end of the world, and where the Strait of Magellan periodically becomes the home of sea lions, Gentoo and Magellanic penguins. Then there's the Tierra del Fuego National Park, where extensive hiking trails and winding ski slopes show off vistas of the stunning mountains and valleys at every corner. Look for condors, guanacos, and foxes as you take in this virgin land, where animals roam without any fear. In Ushuaia proper, the Laguna Esmeralda, or the emerald-colored lagoon, is a sight for sore eyes, and a hike up Martial Glacier will give you an unbeatable view of the city. Best done at dawn, it is sure to render you speechless. Whether you're hopping on the “End of the World” train or exploring the Glacier Alley, where massive glaciers and granite mountains reach for the heavens, your spirit will be lifted.
If you're fascinated with wildlife, Puerto Madryn is the place to be. From colonies of Magellanic penguins to whale-watching or dolphin-spotting, swimming with sea lions, and discovering how adorable sea pups are. Whether you're hanging out on El Doradillo Beach, or kayaking in Golfo de San José in Puerto Madryn, you’ll have a chance to see whales in their natural habitat without disturbing them. Numerous excursions offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Discovery Channel comes to life in Puerto Madryn, and after a long day of fun in the water, a hearty Welsh stew or a slow-roasted leg of lamb paired with a delicious red wine will be a perfect end to a spectacular day.
The vibrant capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, offers a sophisticated atmosphere, a culinary haven, and pulsating nightlife. Its broad avenues, artsy neighborhoods, like San Telmo, with historic buildings and cobblestone streets, hint of glory days. There's a certain intensity that comes from the beautiful architecture, endless cafes and restaurants, and groups of fun-loving people looking for a good time - an almost tangible intensity. Strolling down the tree-lined, upmarket Avenida Alvear, with its boutiques and lavish buildings, one might feel like you're in the world's capital. Or exploring Calle Florida, which leads up to the famous Plaza de Mayo, an incredible monument in Buenos Aires as well as the scene of world-famous political events, is an enriching experience. Buenos Aires is a city with a rich, deep history, captivating music and intoxicating dancing, fantastic nightlife, and authentic and imaginative cuisine. And oh the meals you'll eat here without breaking the bank. From pastries to steaks and authentic goodies, your belly will surely be satisfied. The city will leave a lasting impression on your heart.