Places to Visit in Argentina: Buenos Aires boasts stone boulevards, sensual tango halls, centuries-old cafes, and designer boutiques. If you venture east, the Atlantic Ocean offers opportunities for surfing and whale and penguin watching. Farther north, explore mountains, cactus forests, and lunar landscapes that give way to subtropical forests, wetlands, and waterfalls. And to the south, Patagonia is full of adventures with snow-capped peaks and turquoise glacial lakes. Encompassing both the city and the countryside, these are the top 15 places to experience the richness of Argentina.
Top 15 Places to Visit in Argentina
- Buenos Aires
A cosmopolitan center that is both gritty and glamorous, Buenos Aires is a sprawling city the size of four Chicagoans and made up of several manageable barrios (neighborhoods). San Telmo is a bohemian historic district filled with a tango scene with cobbled streets, picturesque old bars like El Federal, and clubs like El Viejo Almasén. Palermo is filled with cute cafes, some lovely vegetarian restaurants (not easily found anywhere else in this red-meat-lovers country), shopping, and charming boutique hotels like the Fiero and Home Hotel. Recoleta is a sophisticated old-money neighborhood, with upscale shops and ultra-luxury hotels like the Alvier Palace, Palacio Duhau, and the Four Seasons.
Museums in Buenos Aires are cheap or free – art lovers shouldn’t miss the contemporary art museum MALBA. Buenos Aires comes alive at night, with dinner starting around 9 p.m. And drinks until the early hours of the morning. For a quintessential Latin American dining experience hit up the Latina restaurant in Chacarita and follow it up with speakeasies like The Harrisons or Floreria Altántico.
At the southern tip of Argentina, Ushuaia is a starting point for most Antarctica trips. A rugged land filled with glaciers and high mountains, this destination is best located outside the city center. Tierra Turismo National Park is the most reputable guide company for visiting nearby Harbourton for kayak or off-road trips and penguin viewing.
Eaters should make reservations at Kalma, where chef George Monopoli celebrates the region’s native wild foods, or stop at the casual and quirky Wolver’s for local king crab or other fresh seafood. For even more perspective, travelers can scuba dive the Chilly Beagle Channel with Ushuaia Divers or get an aerial view with Heli Ushuaia.
- Peninsula Valdes
Feel like another world from nearby bustling cruise-hub Puerto Madryn, wildlife lovers will appreciate this serene haven set on a jutting peninsula where southern right whales, orcas, and penguins can be seen in abundance. Oceano is the go-to hotel in the Puerto Pyramids, located right on the beach, so at certain times of the year, guests can lay in bed with a coffee and watch the whales break out in the morning. There’s a small sandboarding hill, an incredible mountain biking through the dunes and along the beach, and scuba diving with sea lions (this is the scuba diving capital of Argentina, after all).
Giving the Napa Valley and the wine regions of Italy and France a run for their money, Mendoza is known for its sunny skies, highly Instagrammable vineyards at the foot of the Andes, and Malbec, Argentina’s national variety. Horseback riding along with Nino Masi from El Viejo Manzano, fly fish with trout and wine, or raft the nearby Mendoza River. There are even hot springs en route to Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America.
Vineyard tasting rooms range from small and lovely (Carine), eclectic and poetic (El Anemigo), homely (Matervini) to large and modern (anything in the Clos de Los Ciete complex). If budget allows, a stay at Francis Mallmann’s onsite open-fire restaurant Siete Fuegos with dinner at a villa in the Wayans of Mendoza is the ultimate Mendoza experience.
More like the Swiss Alps than Latin America, Bariloche is a city in northern Patagonia located on the banks of Lago Nahuel Huapi and bordered by the Andes which are dotted with wildflowers. It’s known for its chocolates (here looking at you, Mamushka and Rapa Nui!) and its microbreweries (Blest is a local favorite). It’s an outdoor paradise with some great day hiking and multi-day treks, kitesurfing, and Cerro Cathedral for skiing in the winter months of July to September. Bariloche gets crowded with tourism between summer and winter, so a visit is recommended in spring when the wildflowers are in bloom or in autumn when leaf colors begin to change.
- Piedra Parada
Still relatively unknown outside the serious rock-climbing circle, Piedra Parada is about an hour and a half from Esquel and a few hours south of El Bolson. It is Argentina’s sport climbing paradise in the desert of rural Chabut Province and has some of the continent’s best single pitch sport routes going up to 5.14d (very hard). Nearby climbing hotspots include Cochamo in Chile or Frey in Bariloche, but access to Piedra Parda is much easier. Have a campground, or for more relaxation, Hosteria Mirador Huanquech in the nearby town of Gualajana run by a wonderful couple who can recommend not only routes but also the history, wildlife, indigenous culture, and unique geology can teach about what makes it. Such a special place.
- El Bolson
El Bolson has one of the most spectacular artist markets in South America (about half capacity on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays). Drink a local microbrew (the raspberry beer from Cervecería El Bolsón is delicious), or eat Argentina’s most respected gelato at Jouja, where everything is organic and all-natural, with no artificial flavors or colors. Hike the Cajon de Azul, ski the super relaxing and family-friendly Cerro Perito Moreno, or take a bus or hitch to nearby Lago Puelo, where locals come in summer to swim in the gorgeous but cool lake.
- Mar del Plata
Mar del Plata is a modern and developed resort town located on the Atlantic coast of Argentina. It is the second most-visited city in the country after Buenos Aires, thanks to its 10-mile sandy beaches such as the expansive Punta Mogotes and the surf breaks of the popular Playa Grande. It’s a cross between a seaside getaway and a bustling city, with museums, aquariums, and vibrant nightlife. While Argentina is famous for its red meat, the seafood here is fresh by the rules of the sea. There are a ton of reasonably priced restaurants to enjoy all day long right around the harbor. Mar del Plata is family-friendly but also home to a raucous party vibe that oozes clubbing and drinking until the wee hours of the morning, so it definitely has something for everyone.
Just an hour by train from the center of Buenos Aires, Tigre is the ideal day trip to get out of the city. The city is home to a delta of hundreds of islands and waterways. There’s even a museum of yerba mate, the herbal drink Argentina’s craze. The best way to experience the tigre is by small boat or kayak (Sudeste Passos is recommended), as these can lead down smaller, less-traveled waterways with a better chance of spotting wildlife.
- Villa La Angostura
In the picturesque lake area, it is the main town along Siete Lagos Drive. Most of the activities revolve around the lake, as Lago Nahuel Huapi is the focal point here. There’s sunset sailing, fishing in the Corentoso (the world’s smallest river), and gorgeous hiking in the myrtle (array) forests. It is a local legend that Walt Disney was so inspired by the magic of the forests of the region that he based scenes of Bambi on them.
The place is like Avatar, if only the land in the movie Avatar was overrun by tourists with cameras. But no matter how many pedestrians, it is still worth a visit. Iguazu National Park has some of the most stunning waterfalls on the planet and is accessible from both the Argentine side and the Brazilian side of the border. There are about 275 falls in total, ranging from gentle tricycles to full-on powerhouses like Devil’s Throat. Walk the trails, get an up-close and personal exploration from a boat tour, or if have extra cash, fly-over in a helicopter.
If Argentina has some of the best waterfalls, mountains, and deserts in the world, why shouldn’t it also find a giant glacier that puts on a calf show every time a thunderstorm hits? While the city of El Calafate is plentiful and not that interesting (nearby El Chalten is more attractive), so does the draw of the national park that houses one of the country’s most visited attractions, the Perito Moreno Glacier. Really for that sort of thing, there are multi-day boat tours that reach lesser-known and even more stunning glaciers. But for those who have the time or budget just to see one, an adventure trek with crampon Perito Moreno is the way to go.
In the country’s northwest, this is the place to relax and experience live folkloric music, some of the best empanadas in the country, and local types of wine, such as Toronto’s, in droves. The city of Salta is colonial and cultured – take the time to see the world’s best-preserved mummies, the Children of Llullaillaco, on display at the High Altitude Archaeological Museum. Just north of the city are tranquil pueblos like Tilacara and Purmamarca, where the famous Seven-Colored Mountains can be hiked and photographed in all their glory.
- Bahia Bustamante
Bahia Bustamante is a private sheep farm spread over 210,000 acres in Patagonia. It welcomes up to 18 guests at a time from August to May, who mostly come for the unique wildlife experience. It is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and an IBA (Important Bird and Biodiversity Area), owing to its diversity of both seabirds and marine mammals.
In complete transparency, the city itself is overcrowded and leaves much to be desired. But it makes the list for one strong reason: dinosaurs. The Ernesto Bachmann Municipal Museum displays the remains of Giganotosaurus Carolina (the name means “Great Lizard of the South”), believed to be the largest carnivorous dinosaur ever found. And the Argentine Urquiza Paleontological Museum houses the world’s most complete titanosaur. In San Patricio del Chanar, an allosaurus (wind lizard) was discovered during the construction of the Familia Schroeder winery. It is currently on display in one of its rooms.