Argentina is one of the most diverse countries in South America. It is home to rugged mountain ranges in the north, lush wine regions in the centre and glaciers in the south. Add to this stunning scenery, cool cities, amazing food and incredibly friendly locals and you’ll see why you should be planning a visit.
To help plan your trip here are 12 of the best places to visit in Argentina.
Salta is an old colonial city with fantastic restaurants and a great climate, all of which make it worth a visit on any Argentina itinerary.
Around the central plaza you’ll find lots of bars and lively cafes with alfresco seating, all of which are perfect for whiling away an afternoon. The plaza is also home to the pink Catedral Basilica de Salta, but walk around the surrounding streets and you’ll discover some other beautiful churches. There’s Iglesia San Francisco with its dark pink facade and the blue-domed Iglesia la Vina which are both worth seeing.
If you want to get a view of the city from above, walk or take the cable car to Cerro San Bernardo. There are food stands and even a wine truck at the top so you can eat and drink whilst enjoying the views.
Jujuy is the most northern province in Argentina and is where you’ll find stunning colourful mountain ranges. These will make you forget all about the touristy Rainbow Mountain in Peru.
The best way to explore this region is to rent a car in Salta. You can then stay in one of the small northern towns, such as Humahuaca, Tilcara or Purmamarca, all of which sit nestled among the mountains and contain plenty of opportunity for buying handicrafts at their local markets.
Although you’ll see dramatic rock formations wherever you look here, make sure to visit the two main attractions, namely the Hornocal o Cerro de 14 Colores (14 coloured mountain) and the Cerro de los Siete Colores (7 colour mountain), which really do live up to their names. For those that love photography these are must-visit places in Argentina.
If you’re skipping Bolivia and the famous salt flats, you can also visit the large salt plain of Salinas Grande from here.
Argentina is known for its wine and just four hours south of Salta sits the lesser-known but perhaps most beautiful wine region of Cafayate.
Cafayate is a small town which sits right in the middle of the vineyards. So close in fact that there are bodegas in the town itself, and take a short walk from the main plaza and you’ll find yourself surrounded by vineyards. Of course Malbec is, like everywhere in Argentina, the go to red here, but Cafayate is actually famous for its white Torrontés, which is perfect for the hot temperatures.
In town visit Bodega Domingo Hermanos for cheap wine and goats cheese tasting (the goats are actually fed the leftover grape stalks). For the best wineries head about 5km out of town to Bodega Piattelli or Finca Las Nubes. With the former being in a Tuscan like mansion and the latter more unassuming, but both with gorgeous views of the vineyards and mountains, buy a bottle of wine and enjoy the most relaxed afternoon in a beautiful setting.
Mendoza is without a doubt the wine capital of Argentina and is known worldwide for producing some of the best Malbec on offer. There are three different wine regions surrounding the city: Maipu, Lujan de Cuyo and Uco, all of which are worth a visit. In Lujan be sure to visit Bodega Carmelo Patti, where Carmelo himself shows you around his bodega in his garage and gives you a free tasting of his wines.
Wine aside, Mendoza has plenty of other activities to offer visitors. It is the perfect place to become a gaucho for an evening by taking a horse riding trip to watch the sunset over the Andes. And, if you want to see a different side of Mendoza, try looking at it from 2000m above ground by taking a paragliding trip.
Take a step into Argentinian Patagonia by travelling to the beautiful lakeside town of Bariloche. Running along the lake with views of the national park and the snow-capped mountains, plus tons of things to do in the area, Bariloche is the kind of place where you could end up staying for a while.
Bariloche is a bit like a European ski town and if you visit in the winter you can ski on most of the nearby mountains. In the summer, take advantage of the blue skies and take on one of the many hikes in the area.
A great day hike to do from Bariloche is the hike to Refugio Frey. Although the hike is relatively easy, the rewards are high as you’re first greeted with views of Lago Gutierrez before continuing through the forest past small streams and waterfalls, before finally coming out above the treetops and reaching Refugio Frey and the laguna surrounded by the mountains.
The short hikes to Cerro Llao Llao and Cerro Campanario are must-dos if you’re after stunning aerial views of the national park, the lake and the mountains. The colours are just incredible.
Marking the border between Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world.
Although it’s possible to visit the falls from both countries, which you should definitely do if you have time, the Argentinian side gives you not only a view of the falls but allows you to actually walk among the cascades. There are well-constructed walkways and multiple trails to different viewpoints, some which lead you to the edge of the precipice itself. Make sure to walk to the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). Although you should be prepared to get wet, there is no better way to appreciate the full force of mother nature then feeling the water thundering down around you.
One main reason to visit El Calafate is the Perito Moreno Glacier. Take one of the many buses from town here and see the Glacier in all its glory. The park is lined with walkways so you can see the Glacier from multiple viewpoints. Even when standing in front of the 70m high face of ice, it really is hard to comprehend the sheer size of it.
Although the Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the few glaciers which is actually growing in size, stand and watch it for a while and you’ll see huge chunks of ice breaking off and crashing into the water below.
Fin del Mundo, or the end of the world, is the nickname given to Ushuaia. It is indeed the most southernmost city in the world and given this, lots of people end up in Ushuaia on their way to Antarctica. However, even if an Antarctica cruise is out of your budget, there are still plenty of reasons to visit.
Take a boat tour on the Beagle Canal to see the famous Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse and spot sea lions and penguins. There is also the chance to see dolphins and whales if you visit in the right season.
Ushuaia is also home to Tierra del Fuego National Park and the many hiking trails there. If you want a challenge, try the hike up to Cerro Guanaco. It’s probably one of the toughest day hikes in Patagonia, but the views from the top of the Beagle Canal and the snow-topped Chilean Andes are unparalleled and definitely worth the climb.
If you want to spot wildlife then Puerto Madryn is the place to visit. From here visit Punta Tombo which is home to one of the largest colonies of Magellanic Penguins in the world. Here you can literally walk amongst the penguins, which lie in the shade under the boardwalk or occasionally waddle right across the path.
A visit to the nearby Peninsula Valdes provides the opportunity to see elephant seals, sea lions and, if you’re lucky, orcas, which can be spotted year-round. During June to December you can also spot Southern Right Whales directly from the shore.
If that’s not enough, Puerto Madryn is one of the only places in the world (together with the Galapagos Islands) where you can swim with sea lions. The sea lions are super playful and inquisitive, and you’ll be able to see them in their full glory as they quickly duck and dive around you and even nose at your camera.
The capital of Argentina is a modern city with a European feel. The city is divided into Barrios, each with their own unique vibe and each worth visiting. San Telmo is the more hipster upcoming area with plenty of craft beer bars and a huge Sunday market. Palermo is known for its nightlife, and Recoleta is more upmarket.
An easy way to get your bearings in the city is to take a free walking tour or bicycle tour. There are plenty on offer, ranging from learning about the politics and history of Argentina as you walk around the government buildings in the micro centre, to discovering the street art around Palermo.
The best way to truly experience Buenos Aires, and indeed Argentinian culture, is to eat and drink your way around the city. Argentinians sure know how to eat well and with tons of cafes, restaurants and bars on every corner, Buenos Aires is the best place to sample as much steak, empanadas, dulce de leche and as many other delights as you can manage. Once you’ve had your fill, head to one of the many craft breweries, fancy cocktail bars, or cool clubs where you can finish the night dancing tango with the locals.
If you’re into hiking then El Chalten is the place for you. The impressive Mount Fitz Roy looms over this small town and just a 10-minute walk from the centre you’ll find the entrance to the national park. Here a variety of trails await, including the most popular hike to Laguna de Los Tres which takes you to the base of Mount Fitz Roy itself.
Best of all, entrance to the national park and all the trails are free, leaving you with more to spend in the many restaurants, cafes and craft breweries lining the main street.
El Bolson is known as the hippy town of Argentina, with its artisanal market nestled by the main square where street performers entertain the crowds.
The main reason to visit here though is for the hikes on offer in the surrounding mountains. There are plenty of opportunities for multi-day treks, but if you want a stunning day hike take the trip to El Cajon Azul, where you’ll be greeted with views of snow-topped mountains, clear blue waters, and of course, the impressive canyon.
From hiking in the mountains to drinking wine in a cool city bar and everything in between, Argentina really does have it all. Add to that the amazing food and culture all at a relatively low cost, and you’ll see why Argentina should be added to your South America itinerary.
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