The seductive elegance and charm of Argentina’s capital is hard to resist. Styled like a European city, Buenos Aires is an enticing mix of old-world languor and contemporary attitude. Gourmet cuisine, awesome shopping, cutting-edge boutiques and ritzy neighbourhoods flourish alongside the quaint cafes, colonial architecture, lively outdoor markets and diverse communities of classic Buenos Aires. The city’s not short on top-drawer activities either – join in with the passionate football fans at a local match, discover a unique bird’s-eye view of the city with an exhilarating skydive, or sample some of the country’s most renowned wines with a wine-tasting tour. No trip to Buenos Aires would be complete without some sort of experience of the Tango, Argentina’s national dance. Under cover of the night, watch some authentic dance performances or put on your dancing shoes and learn to tango yourself. And when you’re hungry, dine on some of the best steak in the world.
Straddling the border of Brazil and Argentina, the UNESCO listed Iguazu Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world. The falls were created where the Iguazu Rover broadens to around 1.5km and then plunges nearly 100m off a basalt plateau in a series of 274 separate cataracts. Each day tonnes of water crashes over the cliffs, creating a constant mist of spray that rises amongst the jungle. The falls sit in a national park home to more than 200 species of plant, 450 species of bird and rare mammals such as the jaguar. This stunning setting of dense jungle interspersed with vivid swarms of butterflies and the constant roar of the falling water combine to forge an unforgettable impression. It’s possible to see the falls from both Brazil and Argentina and visitors will soon discover that the perspective of Iguazu Falls changes with every step.
Our pick #3
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
Named after Argentine explorer Francisco Moreno, the spectacular Perito Moreno glacier is the centrepiece of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. One of the world’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields, the glacier covers some 250 square kilometres with a height of around 60 metres. Unlike most glaciers that decrease in size each year, the Perito Moreno glacier is actually growing slightly and advances at a speed of around 2 metres per day. Coloured in a variety of hues from blue to grey to white, the glacier changes appearance as the day progresses and is a magnificent sight to behold. It can put on an astonishing show, both visually and auditory, when giant chunks of ice collapse from the glacier’s face and crash into the waters of the Iceberg Channel below. A series of catwalks and vantage points enable visitors to safely hear, see and photograph this impressive display.
Often compared with Alaska’s Panhandle, the stunning Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) National Park covers 63,000 hectares of mountains, rivers, lakes, deep valleys and glaciers. The park is Argentina’s first coastal national park and has a number of scenic hikes along great bays, rivers and small beaches backed by rugged mountains, and trails through dense native evergreen forests. Autumn puts on a truly spectacular show of colour when hillsides of trees burst into flaming reds and orange. The park is also home to a prolific number of bird species and a variety of other wildlife. The town of Ushuaia is the starting point for most forays into the national park and holds the title of the world’s most southern city. From here it’s possible to explore the straits that separate the islands of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago with a cruise on the blue waters of the Beagle Channel.
Considered to be Argentina’s wine capital, the bustling yet laid-back city of Mendoza is the kind of place that instantly appeals and keeps you for longer than expected. Wide avenues lined with bushy sycamore trees lead off from lively plazas where residents gather in cosmopolitan cafés. Some 75% of Argentina’s total wine production comes from the region’s vines and Mendoza serves as the ideal base from which to explore the local vineyards and bodegas, or wine cellars, with plenty of opportunities to taste the local produce. The eastern suburb of Guaymallén is where you’ll find the greatest concentration of bodegas, along with the satellite towns of Maipú and Luján de Cuyo.
Spread along the shoreline of Lago Nahuel Huapi with the soaring, jagged crests of the Cerro Catedral massif encircling the town, Bariloche is practically picture-perfect in every direction. Combine this with a staggering array of summer and wintertime activities available and you have the Lake District’s most popular destination. In the warmer months travellers flock to Bariloche to hike in the surrounding hills, mountain-climb, fish and ride bikes and horses whilst in the winter months when the mountain of Cerro Catedral is blanketed in thick, white snow, it becomes a magnet for skiers and snowboarders. Bariloche is also Argentina’s chocolate capital and streets-worth of window space is devoted to tantalising fresh chocolate sculpted in amusing shapes.
Our pick #7
The port city of Puerto Madryn is the gateway to all the splendours of the UNESCO listed Peninsula Valdes. The Peninsula Valdes has the country’s best wildlife in its natural habitat. From June to mid-December, you’ll be able to enjoy whale-watching as they migrate past the peninsula. It’s the only place in Argentina to enjoy this breath-taking experience with it possible to see whales and their calves close to the shore, which is also home to herds of elephant seals. It’s also the scuba diving capital of Argentina and is where you can dive or snorkel with the resident sea lions. It’s easy to travel to and meet the three different colonies of Magellan penguins along the coast, found in Punta Tombo, Punta Norte and Punta Delgada. With the same summer temperatures of Buenos Aires, it’s a quaint beach destination where you can enjoy kite boarding and windsurfing.
Often referred to as the 'end of the world', the city of Ushuaia sits at the very south of Argentina and the continent of South America. As the port for many Antarctica cruises and the gateway for those visiting Tierra del Fuego National Park, Ushuaia is the starting point for many incredible, once-in-a-lifetime adventures. But you'll also want to spend a day or two exploring Ushuaia itself. Surrounded by stunning scenery, you'll want to get outside and enjoy some hiking, sailing or cycling. You also have to pay a visit to the Museum of the Prison of Ushuaia. Formerly the most high secure jail in Argentina, it is now a fascinating museum.
Our pick #9
Mar del Plata
Mar del Plata is a favourite with both tourists and Argentines alike with city dwellers from Buenos Aires escaping the heat of the capital for this beautiful beach destination. Due to its popularity the beaches can get slightly overcrowded so if possible arrange your visit for the weekday. Or make the trek to Waikiki beach on the outskirts to enjoy smaller crowds than those found at Punta Iglesia and Playa Grande. The city has historic charm, retaining some of the glamour from its days as a seaside resort in the 1920s and ‘30s. If you are here outside of the summer months there is still plenty to do. Visit the Museo del Mar with its huge collection of seashells, the museum of natural science, the aquarium and the zoo for an insight into the marine life and wildlife of Argentina. Head out on a DIY walking tour, wandering down the streets lined with historic homes and beautiful architecture from the Victorian times. And get your culture fix with tickets to a tango show.
Our pick #10
Cordoba brings together the old and the new to create a diverse part of Argentina that is fascinating to explore. Argentina’s second largest city was awarded Cultural Capital of the Americas back in 2006. It’s known for its Spanish colonial architecture. One of the best examples is the Manzana Jesuítica, a 17th century complex with cloisters, churches and the original campus of the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, one of South America’s first universities. Cordoba is also home to Argentina’s oldest church, the Cathedral of Cordoba, which has beautiful baroque and neoclassical architecture. Once the day comes to a close, head out to experience the new part of Cordoba. Dine in the trendy neighbourhood of Guemes before visiting the popular bars along the canal and dancing the tango till the early hours in the nightclubs.
For further information to help plan your trip to Argentina, see the following: