Argentina is one of the most popular countries to visit in South America and for good reason. Being the world’s eighth largest country, it offers limitless opportunities for exploration–from trekking in the Patagonian Andes, sipping coffee on a sidewalk cafe in Buenos Aires, whale watching on the coast, indulging in Argentine beef and wine, to basking in the mists of Iguazu Falls. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy in Argentina.
11 Top Things to See and Do
Buenos Aires – Known as the “Paris of South America,” Buenos Aire’s blend of European elegance and Latin culture makes it one of my favorite cities to visit. Be sure to spend a few days enjoying the amazing food, culture, sights and nightlife! Explore the pedestrian mall of Florida Street, the various great museums including the Malba, wander among the dead at the Cementerio de la Recoleta, dine in style at Puerto Madero, stroll around the historic San Telmo neighborhood, and drink a Fernet and Coke at a boliche. The lovely cafe culture and endless list of things to do make it easy to see why people fall in love with Buenos Aires.
Iguazu Falls - As one of Argentina’s top attractions, the roar of 275 different waterfalls crashing 80m (262ft) into the Rio Iguaçu are sure to impress. This place is truly jaw-dropping with its sheer size and power. The falls are actually divided between Brazil and Argentina, and both sides offer a very different view–I prefer the Argentine side because there is more to see. From Buenos Aires hop on a bus (17 hours) and head up to Puerto Iguazu National Park, entry cost to the park is 130 ARS for foreigners and 50 ARS for Argentine nationals.
Ushuaia – Head to Ushuaia if you want to visit the most southerly city in the world. Being the largest city in Tierra del Fuego it is a popular town with travelers coming to the end of their South American journey, or traveling to Antarctica. Here you will find many opportunities for glacial adventures, skiing, and wildlife viewing in the Beagle Channel and the snow-capped Martial Range. It is enjoyable to wander the picturesque city with it’s colorful clapboard houses and the snow-capped Martial Mountains in the backdrop. Prices are more expensive here, and in Patagonia in general, than in other parts of the country.
Drive the Ruta de los Siete Lagos (Route of the Seven Lakes) - Drive or hop on a bus from Villa Angostura and head towards San Martin de los Andes to enjoy some spectacular scenery along the foothills of the Andes. The drive is known as the seven lakes road and the road is rough in some sections, but the trip is beautiful and well worth it if you are traveling north from Bariloche. Once you arrive in San Martin de los Andes you can stop over for a day or two and enjoy the local hikes and swimming at this picturesque lakeside town.
Perito Moreno Glacier - Located within the amazing Los Glaciares National Park, this glacier is sure to awe anyone at almost 15,000 feet wide and 200 feet tall. If you are lucky you will get to see the glacier calving off into the ocean!
Tren de las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) - The route of El Tren de las Nubes is a 400 kilometer, 16 hour round trip journey into the Andes departing from Salta. Enjoy the breathtaking landscapes as the train climbs to over 4000 meters. Due to the overpriced ticket price and seasonal operation, another option is to take a day tour in vehicle from Salta that follows the trains route, and adds a visit to a salt flat into the mix. Many tour operators in Salta offer this option for around $20 for a day trip (highly recommended).
Tour Mendoza’s Vineyards – Head to Mendoza to explore the most famous wine making region of the country. Argentines love their wine and are known to produce the worlds best Malbecs. You can either sign up for a wine tour, or rent a bike and cruise from vineyard-to-vineyard for tastings. Some vineyards offer free tastings, and other charge for a tour and tasting. Another popular wine region in Argentina is around Cafayate.
Quebrada de Humahuaca – Journey up into the colorful red rock valley known as the Quebrada de Humahuaca. Rich in ancient Incan history and culture, the valley was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Here you can spend your days getting lost in history wandering the adobe clad streets of Humahuaca, pondering pre-Inca ruins of Pucará de Tilcara, or just sit back and enjoy the view the colorful Cerro de Siete Colores (Mountain of Seven Colors) in Purmamarca.
Valle de la Luna - The ‘Valley of the Moon’ is a dramatic landscape that dates back to the Triassic period. Akin to Zion National Park in the States, wind and rain have carved the rocks into lunar landscapes that give this it’s name. Wildlife spotting is also possible here and is home to foxes, owls, armadillos and condors.
Learn to Tango – Famous for the Tango, there are many studios in Buenos Aires that offer lessons. If you just want to watch a performance there are plenty of opportunities to catch this sensual dance on the streets or at a show.
Stay at an Estancia - Many estancias in Argentina’s Gaucho country have opened their doors to the public. These rural estates that were once the private getaways of wealthy families can be enjoyed for either day trips or overnight stays.
Tips For Traveling Cheap
- Take an overnight bus - Take an overnight bus if you are traveling long distances or if the journey is more than 8 hours, this will save you the cost of a night’s accommodation.
- Travel off-season - Travel during the off-season between March-June or September-November to avoid price spikes during the heavy tourist season. Accommodation will be cheaper, attractions will be less crowded, and booking travel will be easier and unlikely to be full.
- Menu al Día/Tenedor Libre - Eat the set menu of the day at local restaurants or eat at tenedor libres, an all-you-can-eat style buffet restaurant.
- Pay What Locals Pay - Always pay in the local currency, and if you don’t know how much the item should generally cost try to confirm the posted price.
- Get the Best Exchange Rate - Since Argentine citizens are restricted in purchasing dollars, you can get premium exchange rates by selling your US dollars on the black market. Caution: Make sure you have a trusted source and are not receiving counterfeit pesos and attempt at your own risk.
- Use Discount Cards - Student and teacher discount cards (ISIC, IYTC ó GO 25, ITIC) can amount to incredible savings for some travel and entry to museums and attractions. If you plan on spending a considerable amount of time in Buenos Aires other discount cards to consider include: La Nacion Club and La Nacion Premium Club Cards, Tarjeta Guia Oleo, Tarjeta VIP. *Always bring a student ID with you no matter if it’s old, expired or you have an ugly picture.
What are your favorite places in Argentina? Do you have any secrets for traveling cheap? We want to know!