With jaw-dropping scenery, abundance of exotic wildlife, colonial towns and cities rife with superb cuisine and vibrant culture, it is no wonder that Argentina is a popular travel destination. Located in the southern region of South America in a large, elongated shape, Argentina was sparsely inhabited by a few indigenous tribes before Spain’s colonized it in the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, the country is an independent republic featuring varied landscapes from rich plains to thick jungle, majestic mountains, pastoral steppes and impressive glaciers. An overview of the best places to visit in Argentina.
Once a retreat for Argentina’s aristocracy, Mar del Plata today is the country’s top beach resort city. Located on the Atlantic Coast in the Buenos Aires Province, Mar del Plata attracts millions of tourists every year to its sandy beaches and lively culture. During the summer weekends it can get very crowded here but outside the summer months, the city takes on a much more relaxed feel.
At the geographical center of Argentina is Cordoba, the country’s second largest city. Surrounded by picturesque valleys and mountains, Cordoba is best known for its concentration of Spanish colonial buildings. Most of these historic palaces, churches and monuments are found in the city center within an area known as the Jesuit Block. Cordoba is also home to more than 200,000 students, producing the city with a youthful and lively atmosphere.
Located on the shores of Gulfo Nuevo, the city of Puerto Madryn is best known as the gateway to Peninsula Valdes. It is also a popular summer destination because of its beautiful beaches although the water can be very cold. With the explosion of tourism in recent years, Madryn has undergone rapid growth, and the town’s small permanent population swells exponentially during the summer months. Whale Watching tours are also popular as the Southern Right Whale uses the waters of Gulfo Nuevo for breeding and giving birth. From July to September the whales are so close they can be viewed from the mainland.
With its chocolate shops, Swiss-style architecture and picturesque setting of pristine lakes and snow-capped mountains, San Carlos de Bariloche appears more like a village in Switzerland. Instead, it is an enchanting city in the Río Negro Province of Argentina. Commonly referred to as simply Bariloche, San Carlos also serves as a gateway to spectacular landscapes and outdoor adventures. The nearby mountains are a hot spot for snow skiing, containing one of South America’s largest ski stations at Cerro Catedral.
Formerly used as a penal colony because of its isolated location, Ushuaia’s remote beauty is now what makes it one of the most popular places to visit in Argentina. Regarded as the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia is located on the Beagle Channel, serving as a popular base for Antarctica cruises, winter sports and wildlife viewing. The nearby mountains of Glacier Martial and Cerro Castor provide hiking in the summer and snow sports in the winter.
Located in Latin America’s largest wine producing region, Mendoza is a popular tourist destination not only for its wine but also for its proximity to Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. Furthermore, Mendoza offers access to beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures such as hiking, horse riding, river rafting and more. At the heart of Mendoza is its main square, Independence Plaza, which is surrounded by restaurants, shops, museums and beautiful buildings that are illuminated at night.
Formerly a sleepy town in a remote region of Patagonia, El Calafate is now a booming tourist town thanks to the establishment of the nearby Los Glaciares National Park. Located in Argentina’s Santa Cruz Province, El Calafate serves as a starting point for many tourist excursions of which the Perito Moreno Glacier is the most popular due to its spectacular display of cracking and thundering ice breaks. El Calafate itself is a charming town where tourists can stroll down the main street and visit souvenir shops and museums like the Glaciarium to learn about all about the region’s glaciers. In addition to hotel lodging, there are also several nice restaurants.
Los Glaciares or Glaciers National Park is home to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. Located in the Santa Cruz Province of the vast Patagonia region, the national park features the largest ice cap outside of Greenland and Antarctica. The repeated advancing and retreating cycle of the glaciers presents a never ending show of cracking ice and thunderous booms as giant blocks break away and crash into the lakes with enormous splashes. While the glaciers are located in the southern section of the park, the northern section features majestic mountains such as Mount Fitz Roy, offering hiking and mountain climbing.
Pulsating with vitality and seductive charm from colorful European architecture to animated neighborhoods, sensational shopping, gourmet cuisine and sizzling nightlife, it is no wonder that Buenos Aires gave birth to the captivating tango dance. Located off the southeastern coast of South America, Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina and one of Latin America’s largest cities. This vibrant cosmopolitan city is composed of several districts called barrios. Some of the most visited of these barrios include the Microcentro where The Obelisco is located. San Telmo is popular for its flea markets while La Boca’s multicolored architecture and tango street dancing make it a world famous district.
One of the world’s most stunning natural wonders, Iguazu Falls is a series of magnificent waterfalls located on the Iguazu River, straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina. The falls in and of themselves are a breathtaking spectacle, but their beauty is all the more enhanced by the surrounding lush forest teeming in exotic wildlife. The falls area and wildlife are protected by the Iguazu National Park. The park features many excellent walkways while boat rides are available which take people close enough to the falls to get wet from the spray. The town on the Argentine side is called Puerto Iguazu and is small and pretty. It also it offers some of the best hostels, top-end hotels and spas in Argentina.