5 Things to do in Argentina
Featured destinations: Argentina, Buenos Aires, Iguazu, Ushuaia
Published 30 March 2016
On first glance it’s easy to be overwhelmed by Argentina. The country is huge; 1,073,519 square miles to be precise. It takes more than seven hours to fly from Salta in the north to Ushuaia in the south – that’s two days and 15 hours if you fancy driving. To help you plan your Journey, we’ve chosen five of our favourite Argentine stops, although understandably, unless you have plenty of time or a reasonable portion of your budget set aside for flights, it’s best not to try and cram them all into the same trip.
Spelt Iguassu in English, Iguaçu in Portuguese and Iguazú in Spanish, which appropriately translates as ‘Big Water’, these magnificent waterfalls plunge dramatically over 80-metre cliffs, forming a natural border between Argentina and Brazil. The best way to appreciate the falls is to head as close to the spray as possible, either on a boat trip or by walking the boardwalk around the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), the most impressive of the cascades. So what are you waiting for? Bag up your camera, grab your waterproof and prepare for an unscheduled shower! Take it from us: this is truly an awesome site and if you’re going to do just one thing in Argentina, this should be it.
Buenos Aires, Argentina’s diverse capital, is alive with colour, history and culture, a sprawling metropolis where you can tuck into the country’s juiciest steaks and sip on its finest wines. The 48 barrios (districts) that make up the city include the colonial San Telmo and the brightly coloured La Boca, featured on many a postcard, both well worth a few hours wandering. But you simply can’t visit Buenos Aires without catching a tango show of some kind. Whether it is an energetic street performance or a dinner show at a hotel or a theatre, it’s an impressive and evocative display of dance and expression.
Mendoza is pleasant enough, but your real reasons for visiting are the surrounding vineyards, producers of Argentina’s world-renowned Malbec. The city has wine tours coming out of its ears, varying from cheap and cheerful tastings just outside town to longer, full-day excursions to the Uco Valley with a gourmet lunch included. Further afield, the snow-capped peaks of the Andes are easily visited on a tour from Mendoza, many of which take you to the base of Cerro Aconcagua, America’s highest mountain at 6,962m.
At the foot of the Andes, surrounded by lakes, Bariloche is a scenery lover’s dream. The town itself is reminiscent of a Swiss Alpine village, with a quaint main square, plenty of fondue restaurants and chocolate shops, and even a friendly St Bernard that likes to pose for photos. But for the best vistas you should head to the impossibly pretty mountains of Cerro Campanario, the creaking glaciers of Nahuel Huapi National Park and the glassy lakes of Llao Llao National Park, all easily reached from town. They don’t call this area Argentina’s Lake District for nothing.
Ushuaia is known as ‘el fin del mundo’, or the ‘end of the world’, as there’s no larger settlement between here and Antarctica, just 700 miles further south. Ushuaia is bursting with attractions, the best of which is Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago of twinkling blue seas, thick forests and snowy mountains. There’s wildlife aplenty, including grey foxes, condors and even a beaver colony, introduced from North America in the 1940s. Other highlights include cruises on the Beagle Channel, where you might see sea lions (and if you’re lucky, whales and dolphins) and trips to the nearby colony of gentoo and Magellanic penguins. And do not leave town without trying the freshly-caught king crab. It’s delicious!
If you fancy visiting Argentina, try our Southern Highlights Journey, travelling from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, visiting Iguazu Falls on the way.