Tango, fútbol, wine, Patagonia, beef, gauchos – the classics alone make you want to pack your bags. From the red sierras in the north to the jagged peaks of the south, Argentina is as diverse as it gets, with each region offering something unique.
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As the world capital of tango and realm of the best steak on the planet, you’ll be easily won over by this fútbol-crazed city. While wandering the streets, you can find murals painted by artists involved in the city’s vibrant street art scene, and you won’t be left feeling hungry, with parrillas (steakhouses) on every corner offering up their best cut of the day. Make sure you catch the ferry over to Colonia, Uruguay (one of the most colonial cities in Latin America).
With a blend of Latin passion and European grandeur, there’s no better place to start your South American adventure.
With its wide boulevards, atmospheric plazas and lively night scene, the city of Mendoza is the heart of Argentina’s wine country. Located close to the Chilean border and under the shadow of the Andes, travelers flock here for its laid-back lifestyle and world-class Malbec. It’s tempting to see Mendoza through the bottom of a wine glass, but there’s also outdoor adventure to be had in the form of whitewater rafting, horseback riding, fly fishing, and cycling from vineyard to vineyard.
From jagged peaks and unspoiled rivers to deep forests and desert, Patagonia impresses with its scale and wilderness. Situated at the southern end of South America, the region is shared by Argentina and Chile, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Andes. Argentina’s El Chaltén is a mecca for hikers from all over the world – a tiny town dominated by the silhouettes of the iconic Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy. In Northern Patagonia, Bariloche is an adventure-lover’s paradise with multi-day hikes, horse riding, rafting, and kayaking on offer.
As one of the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Iguazú Falls amazes with its size and power. Visiting is a jaw-dropping experience, and the sound of the falls – a series of hundreds of cascades almost 2 miles in extension – will live forever in your memory. Lying split between Brazil and Argentina, its rainforest teems with unique fauna and flora. The multiple walkways allow you to get up close to the falls, but jet boat tours will take adrenaline-junkies right underneath.
Argentina is such a diverse land that every region seems to be a different country. The colorful northwest, with its landscapes, traditions, music and local food, is well worth a visit. Small, picturesque towns dot the area, framed by the Quebrada de Humahuaca – a 96-mile mountain range, old Inca trading route, and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss the Serranía de Hornocal (Fourteen Colored Mountain) located near the town of Humahuaca.
Towering above the turquoise glacial water of Patagonia’s Los Glaciares National Park, Perito Moreno, unlike most of Earth’s glaciers, is still growing. You can get a view from wooden platforms or boat tours. With its constant advance (up to two meters per day), large calvings occur frequently. For the more adventurous, there’s also mini treks across the glacier alongside expert guides, concluded with scotch on the rocks made with thousands-of-years-old ice.
‘Mardel’ is the classic Argentine beach destination. With its long string of beaches and cosmopolitan urban center, it’s no wonder holidaymakers flock here during the summer. For the outdoorsy types, you can run, walk or rollerblade along the oceanfront promenade and surf or sail the waters of the Atlantic. In Mar del Plata, it’s all about the seafood, and fishermen provide local restaurants with their catches, fresh from the boats.
Land of myths and ancient home of the Yamana and the Onas, this windswept archipelago combines forest, sea, and mountains at the ends of the earth.
For lovers of the outdoors, you can hike in Tierra del Fuego National Park, sail the Beagle Channel, fly over the mighty Andes mountains, and discover off-the-beaten-path trails. One of my favorite hikes is up to Laguna Esmeralda (a short drive from Ushuaia.) If you’re here during the austral summer, this is also the primary gateway to Antarctica with ships departing south regularly.
Located in the heart of the Pampas, Argentina’s second largest city boasts a historic center filled with colonial-era monasteries, theaters and churches. You can go fly-fishing in the clear rivers, mountain bike through the woodlands or paraglide over the mountains. Cordoba is also home to Argentina’s grandest estancias, and its sierras make for some of the best horse riding on the continent.
The whole of Península Valdés is a natural reserve, and you can spot many wildlife species, such as guanacos, birds, elephant seals and sea lions. Penguin fans will find one of the largest Magellanic penguin colonies in the world, with more than one million penguins. But the main attraction is the southern right whales – easily seen from viewpoints around the Peninsula if you come in austral spring.