I’ve spent 7 weeks travelling around Argentina at the end of 2015 and I can honestly say it’s currently my favorite country. Argentina is quite simply nature on its grandest scale.
The following list below highlights my favorite things to see and do. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some great places and I’m looking forward to discovering them at some point, when the call of travel again pulls me back to that country.
They say Iguazu falls are the mightiest in the world, having the biggest amount of water gushing through them. Perhaps an even cooler thing about them is just how close you can get, as you can see it the picture below.
They in fact lie on the border between Brazil and Argentina, with the latter owning the bigger chunk of the territory. It takes a full two days to visit both sites, at least if you want to do it in a leisurely pace and do some other activities like getting soaked on a speed boat ride.
Yeah, the voice is me getting all excited :). It’s definitely worth doing!
Further reading & practical info: Iguazu, the mightiest waterfall I’ve ever seen
2.) Go hiking at El Chalten to see Patagonia in all its might
I think this was probably my favorite single place in all my 4 months of travelling in South America. The combination of well marked paths, beautiful Patagonian landscapes and a comfortable base back in the small town, make for a really practical and easy venture into the wild.
The great thing about the area is that there’s no need for trawling all your gear with you as the paths lead back to town, so you can have all the earthly pleasures after your long day out.
You get to experience the brutal Patagonian winds, glaciers, rivers, lakes and the sight of some of the most famous mountains in South America – Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre.
3.) Visit the fancy Tigre neighborhood just outside Buenos Aires
For us the best thing about Buenos Aires was to be found on its outskirts, about 45 mins drive with a train. The small town is called Tigre and while it’s a pleasant enough place on its own, the real attraction is in the delta of the Parana river. A lot of higher class residents of Buenos Aires own real estate there and the place looks spectacular.
You can catch a regular bus-boat going around and get off at certain places to stroll around the neighborhoods, have lunch and the like. There are hundreds of dogs around, so be prepared for a lot of company, but they seem a friendly bunch.
In addition to that, you also have accommodation options there and if we were ever to go back to Buenos Aires, we would definitely opt to stay a few days and explore more by kayak.
4.) Get to know one of the friendliest people on Earth
South Americans are in general a very lively and friendly bunch and it’s no different with Argentinians. While other nations from that continent wouldn’t necessarily agree, I’ve had a ton of great experiences with them. They are one of the easiest people to make friends with, have a good sense of humor and are usually both very broad minded as well as worldly and knowledgeable.
All in all, just high marks for the people of Argentina.
5.) Go on a road trip to see the mighty Andes around Mendoza
Rent yourself a car in Mendoza and drive all the way to the border with Chile. The landscape is just WOW! That’s pretty much what we were doing throughout, besides stopping a million times to take pictures.
It takes about 3h of driving one way, but it’s far better if you make this a two or three day trip, stopping in various interesting places for more sightseeing and hiking.
The Andes rise to their highest elevation around here and you can actually catch a glimpse of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America. Drive all the way up to the mountain rangers’ hut and that’s where the trail-head for conquering the mountain starts.
6.) See the whales in Peninsula Valdes
First off, Puerto Madryn and the nearby marine wildlife attraction of Peninsula Valdes are far away from other interesting sights in Argentina, which I listed here. However the chance to get close to the whales, penguins, sea lions and sometimes even orcas, is in my opinion well worth the detour.
If you’re lucky you can sometimes spot whales even from one of the beaches in the vicinity of Puerto Madryn, but honestly if you were to go out of your way to come here, then whales must be near the top of your list and a proper sighting tour is in order.
7.) Wonder at nature’s creativity in El Cafayate
Up in Northern Argentina, nature has sure shown some creativity with landscaping. On the outskirts of the wine growing town of Cafayate, all sorts of bizarre rock formations can be found.
It’s not the only such place in Argentina, but it’s probably the most interesting one. Couple that with delicious white wine available in the wineries around town and you’ve got a great reason to visit the area.
If you’ve ever seen some crazy footage of a glacier crumbling into the waters below, then it’s very likely it was filmed at Perito Moreno, all the way down south of Argentina.
The place is of course a huge tourist magnet and rightly so, as the sounds and the sights of the ever moving glacier (it progress about 2m a day) are indeed mesmerizing. There’s something about that blue glow that attracts you to it like an insect to a light. You can easily just sit and stare at it for hours.
For an immersing experience of how it’s like to be there and practical information on visiting, you can read my post: Exploring Perito Moreno glacier in 360°.
9.) Grill your own steak to perfection
Argentina is famous for its beef steak and while I have to say that I’m not a big fan of how they prepare it, there is no denying that the beef is good quality and extremely cheap even for the finest cuts.
If like me, you prefer your stakes rare or medium rare you’ll end up being dissapointed with eating in the restaurants. The solution? Buy your own beef and grill it yourself. Argentinians are crazy about grilling and you’ll find one absolutely everywhere. I would say that 90% of the places we stayed at, had a grill. That goes for hostels in cities as well.
10.) Explore the Lake District around Bariloche
Switzerland, please take a back seat and enjoy the ride :). Argentina’s so called Lake District or Siete Lagos in Spanish, is a spectacular alpine region full of lakes, as the name suggests. It’s epicenter of tourism activity is Bariloche, however to really get the feel for the beauty of the place, head out to its natural parks.
It’s also well worth it to stay in the smaller towns dotted around the lakes, such as Villa Angostura, San Martin de Los Andes and the like. Whether it’s hiking, cycling, paddling or fishing, you’ll find your dose in this playground.
11.) Own the world at the Sierra de Las Quijadas and be the only tourist while you’re there
I love those moments when I stumble upon an incredible sight and realize there’s practically no one else around. Sierra de Las Quijadas, between Mendoza and Cordoba was most certainly one of those times. We saw exactly 3 people in the whole time we spent there.
There’s a reason behind not many people coming here. Snakes, shit loads of snakes!! Venomous one too, I tell you. Did I mention the scorpions? Yeah don’t get me started on those. Nah, I’m joking, that’s just me wanting to keep the place empty of crowds in the future as well :).
In reality it’s hard to reach and we had to rent a car for the day, which cost about USD 70, so if you’re looking for a cheap way to get there, you’re probably better off just skipping this one.
If you’re lucky, you might also be able to organize a hiking tour into the canyons below. The problem is that the guides are not always present at the visitors’ centro and getting in touch with the place is also a pain.
Even if you fail to get any tour organized there, it’s still well worth seeing.
12.) Drink it up
Goes without saying that any trip to Argentina should include generous amounts of its signature wine – Malbec. The quality is good all around and you can get a decent cup of wine for ridiculous prices at restaurants.
Believe it or not, but this bottle cost us USD 6 in a restaurant! And it was a nice wine, not some low quality trash.
13.) Get an adrenaline rush while rafting on the Rio Mendoza
The Mendoza river offers some pretty wild rafting, with the popular stretch marked as level III with a few level IV rapids. If you’ve gone on some other rafting trips and went meh, not that fun, then Rio Mendoza should be a great run for you. If you’ve never done it before, then it most certainly will be an outright adrenaline rush.
It’s easily accessible from the city of Mendoza, where you can get this trip organized from.
14.) Wait! What about Buenos Aires, Tierra del Fuego, and the food?
Yeah, you might have noticed, I actually haven’t included anything from the city of Buenos Aires itself. It doesn’t mean that it’s not a cool place to visit, it’s just that I only included the places that truly blew us away on our 7 weeks trip to Argentina. The cool things for us about Buenos Aires were: Boca neighborhood, Ricoletta cemetery, tango show, Palermo neighboorhood and the Japanese gardens.
We sadly haven’t visited Tierra del Fuego, as we ran out of time, but I’m sure it will find it’s way on this list one day when we go back and continue our exploration of the country.
Food… what can I say… It’s South America… besides Peruvian cuisine and some exceptions here and there, it’s nothing to write home about. That goes for Argentina’s beef steaks as well! How dare I?! Well, me likes blood and they only do well-done. If you’re like me, do yourself a favor and buy your favorite cut from a butcher and then make use of a grill. You’ll be a happier creature than going eating out.