Pack your good walking shoes, bring your stamina, your camera and your appetite when visiting one of the world’s most enticing travel destinations. All the Things to Do in Argentina will test them all, and give your wanderlusting spirit an unforgettable run for its money!
A land of grandiose proportions, incredible variety, magnificent landscapes, exceptional food and some of the best wine in the world. You’d be hard pressed to find any return traveller who doesn’t think Argentina simply ‘has it all’. But ‘having it all’ is much easier for this fantastic country than it is for those who visit, especially if they’re touring for only a couple of weeks. The sheer size of Argentina and regional variety can make planning a trip a little overwhelming at first. Our Things to Do in Argentina – All You Need to Know guide aims to navigate you through the flood of info. We’ll show you the major highlights and guide you through the logistics of planning a trip to one of South America’s most rewarding destinations.
Argentina comprises a total of 23 provinces and 5 distinct ecological regions, including tropical forests, swamp plains, the grassland of the Pampas, the Patagonian Steppe and the awe-inspiring Andes. For travellers, however, it’s much easier to think of Argentina as two destinations: north and south. Enormous distances notwithstanding, each half of the country is easy to tour in just a single tour, as flights are numerous and frequent. In the northern half, you’ll find Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Mendoza, Bariloche and the Talampaya National Park, all easily reached via short flights. Down south, however, is where you can visit the Valdes Peninsula and all the other stunning Patagonia highlights, including Perito Moreno, Bariloche and Tierra del Fuego. Do keep in mind that a flight between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, its most southern connection, takes only 3.5 hours. If you’re an adventurer on a serious mission to take it all in, you could soak it all up in one swift swoop!
Top 10 Highlights in Argentina
Picking the ‘top 10 highlights in Argentina’ is about as challenging as it gets, so we’re going to be sneaky and list the top 10 crowd faves AND use them to mention all the amazing, rewarding and unmissable bits in, around, and all in-between. Because when you travel Argentina there will be NOTHING you’ll want to miss!
1. Buenos Aires
Even travellers who swear to loathe ‘big cities’ can’t help but fall in love with Buenos Aires, one of the most vibrant, romantic, enticing and beautiful cities in the world. From electrifying tango shows to energising football matches, awe-inspiring architecture, enthralling history, fantastic shopping and mouth-watering dining, Buenos Aires offers a multitude of attractions that appeals to one and all. The country’s effervescent capital isn’t just a springboard for further travel: it is one of the very best reasons to travel to Argentina in the first place.
2. Iguazu Falls
The cascading waterfalls that made First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt swoon with delight, Iguazu is one of the world’s most revered natural treasures and arguably the most visually impressive waterfall on the planet. A curtain of cascading water that stretches over 2km, a drop of 82m and a mind-boggling volume of 1,700 cubic metres per second: Iguazu Falls are Mother Nature at her most humbling.
3. Perito Moreno Glacier
Travel to the southern end of the country, in the heart of Patagonia, and stand in awe at one of the most astonishing glaciers you will ever see. Perito Moreno, the pin-up star for Argentinian Patagonia, is one of only a few glaciers in the world that are constantly advancing, calving off colossal chunks almost daily to thunderous applause from enchanted visitors. At 5km wide, 75 metres high and almost 30km long – and combined with its underwater depth – Perito Moreno is the world’s second-largest reserve of pure freshwater. Aside from the fact that simply admiring Perito Moreno is bucket-list worthy enough, this glacier is more than a little interactive. Once in the Los Glaciares National Park, you can sail alongside it and even hike right on top of it! This UNESCO World Heritage site competes with Iguazu to attract the largest tourist crowds in all of Argentina, and for unforgettable reasons.
4. The Wine Region of Mendoza
The home and heart of Malbec wine lures wine and food lovers like no other place in the country. But a perfect drop of red isn’t the only reason people visit. Argentina’s most celebrated wine region, and producer of two thirds of the country’s best drops, is simply drop dead gorgeous (pardon the pun!). Framed by a seemingly endless spine of snow-capped Andean peaks and boasting luscious valleys and picturesque vineyards, Mendoza really is like something out of a fairy-tale book. The town’s near-cult adoration has spawned a multitude of world-class offerings: from Michelin-starred restaurants to superb B&Bs and award-winning estate resorts. At an average of 1,000m in altitude, Mendoza and her surrounding valleys are ideal to visit during the summer months, when you can not only indulge in brilliant wine tours and gastronomic splurges but can also partake in all the adventure sports for which the area is also revered.
5. The Valdés Peninsula
Wildlife enthusiasts wanting to admire some of the world’s largest marine species in their native habitat, need look no further than the Valdés Peninsula. Springtime attracts colonies of whales, penguins and seals, combining to create a display of colossal proportions. UNESCO recognised and protected, Valdés is a pivotal breeding site for the endangered Southern right whale as well as sea lions and seals, both of which in turn attract pods of orcas who famously come here to feed using a very unique tactic. This is the best spot in the world to watch killer whales at play and war. One of Argentina’s premier wildlife watching destinations, the Valdés Peninsula is really all that.
6. Lake District & San Carlos de Bariloche
Bariloche is to lakes and chocolate what Mendoza is to wine and verdant valleys: its most delectable heart and soul. With its charming setting along the shores of glacier-fed Nahuel Huapi Lake, and framed on all sides by adventure-filled national parks, Bariloche is a sparkling little pearl. Locals head here in their droves to ski the nearby slopes in winter but this is one destination that is fantastic to visit at any time of year. The town itself is a delight, with its compact maze of boutiques, art stores, cafés, trendy restaurants and head-spinning array of premier chocolatiers. This IS Argentina’s chocolate capital and really…that should be ‘nuff said. But wait, there’s more. Bariloche is the base of the country’s famed Lake District and the fact it is surrounded on all sides by an array of peaks over 2,000m in altitude, means the range of summertime and wintertime activities is nearly endless.
7. Tierra del Fuego National Park
So many travellers dream of reaching the reputed ‘End of the World’ in South America, if only to discover what the fuss is all about. Well, that fuss is primarily made over the Tierra del Fuego National Park, a blessed speck of land where the tail end of the Andes Mountains crashes down on a field of Patagonian primary forest, creating glacial-fed lakes, as well as valleys and gorges, all boasting vibrant colours and home to some of the most unique wildlife in the continent. The ‘celebrated’ end of the world city of Ushuaia is a perfect base to explore the park and offers more to boot: from cruises on the Beagle Channel to glacier hikes mere minutes out of town, and epic expedition voyages to Antarctica.
8. Talampaya National Park
In this northern region of Argentina once roamed dinosaurs, as evident by the impressive collection of 200 million-year-old archaeological fossils discovered in Talampaya recent years. And if that doesn’t impress you then the UNESCO-protected sight of crimson red gorges and dramatic landscapes surely will. Talampaya National Park is one of the many highlights along the famed Routa 40, considered one of the world’s most epic road journeys.
If ‘exceptional foodie heaven’ were a destination then Argentina would surely be its capital. Internationally, the country is revered for its world-class beef but once you set foot here you’ll realise that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The most European-influenced cuisine in Latin America showcases unique blends and you may be surprised to find here. Italian immigrants have played a great culinary role in Argentinian cuisine and hand-made pasta and thin and crispy pizza are now as local as they come. The Argentinian BBQ, the asado, is an ubiquitous offering you’ll no doubt savour, as is the wide selection of ‘street’ food including empanadas, pastels and the many sweets and cakes filled to the brim with sweet dulce de leche. An excellent meal is guaranteed almost anywhere in Argentina, so check out our cuisine guide for delights you shouldn’t miss sampling.
10. Hacienda Stay
Few experiences are as authentically Argentinian as an overnight stay in a hacienda. These historic rural estates, or farmhouses if you will, once belonged to the wealthiest members of society during colonial times and many have now opened their doors to delighted guests. Offering a glimpse of Argentinian farm life, estancias as they are more commonly known here offer more than a mere sumptuous place to lay one’s head. Amazing and regional home-cooked meals, horserides with resident gauchos rounding up the herds and fantastic bush walks are only a few of the special experiences you can have.
Best Time to Visit Argentina
Argentina’s geographical enormity is a win-win for all who visit, for no matter what time of year you travel here it will always be ideal for at quite a number of the abovementioned highlights.
Southern Argentina – The Lakes District and Patagonia are best visited during the summer months (between October and March) for outdoor pursuits like hiking and cruising and in winter (June-August) for skiing and startling white landscape-photography.
Iguazu Falls – Heavy rains at the end of the year see the falls at their most forceful and flooded, although the downpours will highly dampen all hiking and sightseeing possibilities. Considering the fact that these are very impressive falls anyhow, try to time your visit in winter (between June and October) when clear blue skies and a drier climate make for excellent photography, sightseeing and hiking all the trails on both sides of the falls.
Wine Region – You’ll want to visit Mendoza at the heart of harvesting season, during the months of March and April, when fiesta is in the air, vino is flowing and landscape colours resplendent.
Buenos Aires – ANY time is a perfect time to visit Buenos Aires, we say! Although we admit that the climate can get a little stifling in the heat and humidity of the rainy summer, at the end of the year. In winter (June/July) average daytime temps of 15C make for very pleasant sightseeing and shopping, whilst enchanting foliage colours coupled with temps in the mid-20 C, make autumn (April-May) and spring (August-October) the best times of year by far.
Valdes Peninsula –Head here from June to December to catch Southern right whales breeding in the protected gulfs near Puerto Madryn and orcas feeding on seal pups in March, April and again in October, when baby seals start practising their swimming skills and become easy prey. Elephant seals are best seen from August to October Seals and sea lions – the most prolific of the lot – are present all year long.
For more detailed info, refer to our Best Time to Visit Argentina guide.
Best Way to Reach Argentina
Argentina is the easiest country in South America to reach for Australians, with three major airlines offering flights to Buenos Aires, with stops in either Auckland, Santiago (Chile) and, in LATAM’s case, both. Travellers departing from Europe can catch nonstop flights from Madrid and Paris, and one-stop flights from London. If coming from the US and Canada, you’ll also find non-stop flights departing New York and Miami. Check out our Buenos Aires International Airport Guide for further info.
Argentina has been – and continues to be – one of the most visited countries in all of South America. The government’s recent decision to drop visa fees for Australians simply adding to the enticement, as stopovers in Buenos Aires become increasingly popular. For all your Argentina tour travel planning help and advice, feel free to call or write to us. We are your Latin America travel specialists and bringing you the very best of Argentina will be utmost pleasure.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”