Getting an Indian visa on arrival is meant to be easy. But if you ask me, the information available online can actually be confusing.
I am currently planning a trip to India. It will be my second time there, and I will be traveling with my sister. The first time I visited, Italian passport holders couldn’t get an e-Visa so I opted to send my passport to the Indian consulate via a local agency.
I got a 6 months visa for India, which ended up being quite costly, not to mention unnecessary as I only spent 4 weeks there. And as it took a month to process my visa, I could not travel overseas in the meantime (which can be a bit of a hassle when you work as a travel blogger).
Thankfully the regulations have changed and even Italian passport holders can get an e-Visa for India now. So, I’d rather opt for an easier and cheaper process, and keep hold of my passport in the meantime.
That’s why I have been looking for information on how to get an Indian visa on arrival. And to make things easier for you – and for myself – I thought I’d write a step by step guide to get your visa.
In an effort to promote tourism, the government of India implemented the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), also known asTravel Visa on Arrival (TVOA)in November 2014. This allows citizens of a 167 countries and territories (including Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Singapore, South Africa and Vietnam) to get an Indian visa on arrival.
The e-Visa program was later on extended to business travelers and medical tourism purposes.
The India tourist visa on arrival is granted for 365 days, with multiple entry and, depending on your nationality, you can stay for up to 90 or 180 days in the country.
The Indian visa application changes a lot and it can be tricky. That’s why I suggest going the easy way and getting your e-Visa with an authorized agency such asiVisa.com.
iVisa charges a $35 fee to process your visa for you, which honestly is a small price to pay to avoid the issues you can encounter if you try to do it yourself through the government site. They also provide 24/7 support and can manage your e-Visa in any language for you (if you don’t speak English).
Continue reading to discover how to get an Indian visa on arrival.
This is the image you’ll get upon clicking on the link for iVisa
How To Get An Indian Visa On Arrival
Applying for the Indian visa on arrival is actually very easy. You just need to fill out the application, which you can find here.
The “Calculate Your Visa Cost Before Applying” button will allow you to check the price of your visa depending on the processing time (36 hours, 3 days, 5 days).
If you tick the “standard processing” you pick the cheapest option.
The default currency is USD but you can change it into your home country currency if you prefer.
As you click through to fill the application form, you’ll get to this page
Proceed to make the payment. After you pay, you will see a pop up saying “Status Incomplete.” Don’t worry about that, it’s perfectly normal. Just click “complete now.”
Go on to attach additional documents. You should upload a clear copy of your passport in PDF format and a photograph in JPEG. Make sure it has a white background.
Click “save and complete request” when you finish. You will receive confirmation that the application has been received via email and your e-Visa will come to you by email.
Varanasi is one of the designated airports to enter India with a visa on arrival
Some FAQ About Indian Visa On Arrival
If you are concerned about your India visa on arrival, perhaps answering a few questions for you will help.
Do I need a visa if I am not leaving the airport?
No, you do not. If you are only having a layover in India and you are not leaving the airport you don’t need a visa.
How long in advance should I apply for your India visa on arrival?
You need to apply at least 4 days prior to departure and no more than 365 before the date of arrival. So for example, if you plan to arrive in India on 1 November, you should apply no later than 28 October. iVisa can sort out your applicationand all the correct dates so you don’t have to worry about the 365-day window.
How long will my India e-Visa be valid for?
Your India visa on arrival will be valid for a maximum of 365 days from the date of arrival in India. So if you arrive on 1 November 2019 and your passport is stamped on the same day, you can entry India until 31 October 2020.
What do I need to apply for an India visa on arrival?
In order to apply for an India visa on arrival, you will need the following:
A passport that has at least 6 months validity from the date of your arrival in India, and two blank pages. So for example, if you plan to arrive in India on 1 November 2019, your passport should not expire before 1 May 2020.
A return ticket or an onward journey ticket. You may (or may not) be asked to show proof of a valid return or onward journey ticket in order to board your flight. This is a legal requirement and if you fail to provide proof, you may be denied boarding.
A recent photo. It needs to have a white background and you need to be facing in front of you.
A clear copy of your passport. It has to be in PDF format.
A valid address in India. This can just be the hotel where you will be staying once you arrive.
The Indian Tourist Visa On Arrival (TVOA) costs $102.50 USD. You can pay by credit card upon submitting your application. Make sure not to try to pay more than 3 times, as this will block the application process and you’ll haVe to start over.
Make sure to always carry a copy of your visa with you
I have applied successfully. What should I do now?
Make sure to write down your e-Visa application ID so that you can track the status of your application. It normally takes a few days for the application to be processed once you submit it.
My Indian visa on arrival application was approved. What do I do now?
Once your Indian visa application is approved you will receive an email with your Indian visa on arrival attached. Make sure to print a couple of copies of your visa as you will be asked to show it once you get to border control.
You won’t be allowed to show your Indian Tourist Visa On Arrival on your computer, tablet or smartphone.
Please beware that you can enter India via the 28 designated airport and 5 designated seaports. Most people traveling to India fly to Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. Other designated airports include Goa, Varanasi, Calicut, Chennai and Jaipur. Your port of entry has to be the same one stated in the application form.
Can I enter India more than once on an Indian visa on arrival?
Yes, you can enter up to twice in a year on an Tourist Visa On Arrival.
Can I extend my Indian visa on arrival?
No, this is not allowed.
How many times can I apply for an Indian visa on arrival?
You can apply for up to three times in a calendar year (ie from 1 January to 31 December).
Do I need to carry my visa with me at all times?
Yes, you do. The chances you may be stopped and searched by local police or asked to show your visa by the local authorities are very slim, but make sure to carry a copy with you just in case.
Do I need a yellow fever vaccination?
If you come from a country that is affected by yellow fever, you need to show proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entering India. If you don’t, you may be held in quarantine for up to 6 days.
I am not traveling to India anymore. Can I get a refund of my e-Visa fee?
Unfortunately, once you have paid for your Indian visa on arrival, you can’t get a refund.
Pick the easy way to get an Indian visa on arrival
The Easiest Way To Get An Indian Visa On Arrival
The most hassle-free way of getting an Indian tourist visa is to ask iVisa to arrange it for you. The best part of it is that it only takes 48 hours. That’s why my sister and I have decided to get our Indian visa with iVisa. There is a $35 USD service fee, which is actually much cheaper than asking an agency to get your passport and send it to the nearest consulate (or going to the consulate yourself, which in some cases – like for me – requires a flight and a trip proper).
Keep in mind that the rules for the TVOA are bound to change from time to time. I will do my best to keep this article updated but in case of doubt contact the embassy or consulate.
Being a responsible traveler is, now more than ever, a must.
Traveling is an incredibly enriching experience. While we travel, we have a chance to see beautiful places; admire the most amazing wildlife; learn about different ways of life and get in touch with unique cultures and interesting peoples.
However, the way we travel, the places we visit, and even the way we spend our money do have an impact on the environment and on the communities we get in touch with. The least we can do, as tourists, is to minimize the negative impact of our travels, and wherever possible try to turn it into a positive one. This is what responsible tourism is all about.
Though we should all strive to be more respectful of the environment, people and wildlife alike, it’s important to clarify something: nobody is expected to be a perfectly responsible tourist. I know for sure that I’ll never achieve perfection. The whole point here is to make sure to at least be a more aware tourist, a person that knows the real impact of his actions and, more importantly, understands that every little bit will help to make the world a better place for everyone.
In this post, I will suggest all the things you can do to become a more responsible traveler. Before I do so, however, let me clarify what responsible tourism is.
The Declaration on Responsible Tourism was signed in Cape Town
What Is Responsible Tourism?
According to the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism of 2002, responsible tourism is tourism that minimizes negative economic, environmental and social impacts; contributes to improve the well being of local communities, including their working conditions, and has a positive impact on the local economy; has a positive impact on the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and at the same time allows a more meaningful connection between the travelers and local communities; is culturally sensitive.
With the tourism industry accounting for about 10% of the global GDP, you can see how this can have an impact on the lives of people and on the environment, in both a positive and negative way. It’s up to us, travelers, to make sure that tourism has a positive impact on the world as a whole, and that responsible tourism practices are implemented.
We all should become more responsible travelers (in fact, we should learn to be more respectful of the environment on our everyday life, and not just as we travel!), and the good news is that this doesn’t have to be costly!
Continue reading to discover how to become a more responsible traveler.
Overtourism has to be taken into account by responsible travelers
25 Ways To Become A More Responsible Traveler
Beware of overtourism
Overtourism – which refers to the presence of too many tourists in a destination – regularly comes up when talking about responsible tourism. In fact, it is one of the first things you should consider in your pledge to become a more responsible traveler.
Many destinations have become increasingly popular in the last decade or so; but while some do have the infrastructure necessary to deal with the negative impact that tourism brings; others simply don’t.
In places that have a tradition of receiving large amount of tourists, tourism can cause an increase in the cost of living. If tourists are ready to pay higher rates for common goods such as groceries, local shops may increase the prices, but locals may be unable to pay them. Owners of apartment may prefer renting to tourists so that they can charge higher rental rates; and locals who have traditionally lived in the area may be forced to leave as they can’t pay those rates.
In countries where tourism is a more recent phenomenon, the infrastructure may not be sufficient to counteract the effects of overtourism, such as overcrowding; increased pollution; waste disposal; exploitation of animals and people; gentrification of specific areas; a decrease in the quality of life of the local community; as well as the spectacularization (with the consequent dilution) of culture.
Many countries have been negatively affected by tourism in this sense. A good example – though by all means not the only one – is Bali.
While the issue of overtourism should be ultimately dealt with by local tourism boards and governments, as a responsible tourist you can certainly do something to lower your impact.
So what can you do to be a more responsible traveler when it comes to overtourism?
The most obvious thing is to visit lesser-known places. Even within a very popular destination, you can easily get off the beaten path. For example, when in Sri Lanka you can go to Wellawaya instead of backpackers’ hub Ella; when in Morocco head to the Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains for a change. The locals will be welcoming, you’ll have the place to yourself and your experience will be very rewarding.
And if you really do want to go to the most popular destinations, consider going in the off season, when there will be less tourists around. The weather may not be as great, but on the plus side you won’t have to stand in line forever to visit popular sites!
Make sure that animal encounters are ethical and that animals are never abused
Be wary of activities where animals are involved
One of the most basic rules to become a more responsible traveler is to stay away of activities and tours that involve the use of animals. Keep in mind that there is a lot of money involved in wildlife tourism, and most operators are interested in profits rather than the well-being of animals.
Activities such as elephant riding, selfies with tigers, swimming with dolphins or manta rays; and shark cage diving – to name but a few – may seem harmless or plain fun to you, but they are truly irresponsible and cause lots of harm and suffering to the animals.
Read more about the use of animals in tourist attractions in this post.
Even giving money to a dancing monkey or to a snake charmer is questionable – it’s pretty much like giving money to a circus, and you surely wouldn’t want to do that, right?
But if you think that it is only activities involving exotic animals you stay away from during your travels, think again. That carriage ride through the streets of Rome or Sorrento may seem very romantic to you, but chances are that the horse is stressed by the traffic, the cars, the scooters and the noise, and all for the sake of keeping you entertained for one hour. And unless you are physically impaired, why would you want to ride a donkey or mule around Petra and why would you want it to carry your heavy backpack during a hike? Just pack as light as possible and carry it yourself!
When doing a safari, make sure that the operator is a responsible one that puts the interests of wildlife first. You should be concerned if you notice things such as jeeps speeding through a national park (speed limits help avoid hitting wild animals); or too many jeeps at a sighting – that’s what happened to my friend in Yala National Park.
Speaking of animals, do not feed wildlife
Most people mean well when they do it, but if you really want to be a more responsible traveler remember that feeding wildlife if one of the most irresponsible practices you can think of: animals should eat what they find in nature, and feeding them ultimately breaks their migration and reproduction cycle. Even feeding bread to the ducks you may see at the park isn’t good for them!
Protect local fauna
Turtle eggs, green sea turtles, sharks, river dolphins and much more. Endangered animals often become human food for the most various reasons (but rarely because of pure hunger). No matter how much the locals rave about the many advantages of eating such things, and even if your foodie self is intrigued, be a responsible traveler and avoid doing so.
For the same reason, avoid buying goods made with the leather or fur of endangered animals.
And by all means, do not pick up starfish from the water for the sake of a pretty photo or to show it to your children. These animals are very delicate and die almost instantly once they are out of water.
Always respect local laws, customs, and places of religious significance
Respect local laws, customs and culture
One of the most rewarding things when traveling is encountering new, diverse and unique cultures and ways of life. Always show respect for the local customs and traditions, and by all means for the local laws. Being a responsible traveler in this sense may require dressing up more conservatively in general; and more specifically covering your head, shoulders and legs when entering a temple or a church (this very much goes for churches in Italy and Spain as well as Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka or Hindu temples in India).
Unfortunately, sex tourism – the practice of traveling overseas in search of sexual activity, usually with prostitutes – is still a thing. Don’t be this person! Do not get involved in the exploitation of women and, by all means do not get involved in the sexual exploitation of children!
It may seem pretty obvious, but one of the basic things you need to do to become a more responsible traveler is to be polite to others – travelers and locals alike, and even more so the people that work in the tourism industry ie the reception staff at your hotel; the cleaning staff; the waiter at a restaurant and so on. Remember to treat people the same way you’d like to be treated: with respect and kindness.
Always ask for permission before taking photos of people
Ask for permission before taking photos of people
In some countries, people love posing for photos and in fact, the minute they’ll notice you snapping something or someone near them, they will call you to ask to take a picture of them too. In others, taking photos is a big no-no, with some groups in Mexico’s Chiapas thinking that photos will steal their soul. As a rule of thumb, make sure to ask permission before taking a photo, and if you get a no as an answer, say ok and politely walk away.
Learn the basics of local language
Always make a bit of an effort to learn the very basics of the language of the country you are visiting. Even saying things such as hello, thank you, please goes a long way, and the locals will appreciate your efforts.
Don’t give money to beggars
I know this sounds quite harsh, and you probably think that as a responsible tourist it is your duty to give to those in need. But are you sure that giving money to beggars is the right way of doing so? In fact, giving money to beggars may only encourage more people to ask tourists for money. Remember that there often is a network of exploitation even behind beggars.
Children are cute, but don’t give money to them – rather, engage with them!
Don’t give money to children
If giving money to beggars is questionable, giving money to children is simply irresponsible. In many places, children are taken out of school and sent to the street to beg for money or to work selling small trinkets. In some cases, it is not even the parents that are sending their kids to the street to look for money, but an actual network of criminals (the so called “begging mafia”) that exploit the children.
If you really want to be a more responsible traveler, look out for organizations that help supporting children in need through schooling, education and inclusion programs, and make a donation to them instead. Even a donation of books, pens and other necessary school material at a local school may be a good idea – check out with the school beforehand to see what is needed.
In fact, don’t even give them candy
Children love candies and in many countries, as soon as they see a tourist approach, they run to ask for a “bonbon.” However, there are many reasons why a responsible traveler shouldn’t give candy (or cookies, or sweets in general) to children.
First of all, sugary goods are unhealthy and you really shouldn’t encourage unhealthy eating habits. Sugar is bad for teeth, and this is something you really want to keep in mind in places where access to dental care (and in fact, access to water and a toothbrush!) isn’t a given.
Lastly, oftentimes candies come in plastic wraps, and many children won’t think about it twice before throwing the plastic wherever they happen to be, adding to an already dire garbage disposal emergency.
Play with the kids instead
Instead of giving money or candy to children, as a responsible traveler you should actually engage with them as kids. You can do so many things in this sense! Join an impromptu ball game in the street; teach them a few words of your language; play magic tricks; or even simply ask them questions. Do remember, however, to always wait for the children to interact first, and never impose yourself and your presence on them.
Are you sure you are devoting your time and skills to the right cause?
Volunteer for an actual cause
There is an ongoing trend among the backpackers’ community that suggests you can travel the world for free or at least for very very cheap, if you pick random jobs along the way. This is not the right post to get into a discussion about free travel (which is a myth, by the way). All I want to say is that, if you really want to be a responsible traveler, you really need to pick the jobs you do along the way (and where and how you do them) wisely.
You know that receptionist or hostel job in exchange for a bed in Antigua Guatemala? It surely helps you to save a whopping $5 to $10 USD per day. You will celebrate your savings; and at the same time the hostel owner will celebrate not having to actually pay a stipend; but the local who’d get that job instead will be left unable to support his family.
If you really want to volunteer, do so for an actual cause. And even in this case, put your responsible tourist hat on and do a thorough research before you surrender your time, skills (and at times even money) to an organization that is supposed to bring relief to a local community. This post by Uncornered Market puts volunteering and voluntourism in prospect.
Patagonia is pristine – also thanks to the fact that people pick up after themselves!
Respect the environment
It is only too often that tourists here in Sardinia, where I live, are caught stealing bags of sand from the beach. Mind you, Sardinia is hardly the only victim of this disrespectful action. I have seen people doing the same on the dunes of Sossusvlei, in Namibia, for example. Please, be a responsible tourist and leave sand (and shells, stones and plants) where it belongs: the process through which sand is formed is very complex and stealing it seriously impoverishes the environment!
Use less plastic
Plastic is an issue anywhere in the world. If you think that turtles or other marine life caught with plastic in its stomach is only an issue in Asia, think again. Less than a month ago a pregnant sperm whale was found on the shores of Sardinia and upon further examination researchers found that she had more than 22 kg of plastic in her stomach.
I know that eliminating the use of all plastic from your daily life is hard, and even harder when you are traveling. But there are some things you can do to produce less waste and to make sure you are doing your bit to become a more responsible traveler.
Use a refillable water bottle with a filter and use it to fill up at hotels and hostels. I travel with a Lifestraw and it is super handy and easy to use.
Ask for no straws in your drinks. In some countries, you’ll even get a straw in your bottle – make sure to point out you don’t want a straw when you order. And if you know you are going to be needing a straw (or else, how are you going to drink your coconut water), carry a reusable straw with you.
Use packaging-free beauty products. I am a massive fan of Lush solid shampoo and conditioner. Not only they don’t come with any plastic wrapping or bottles, but they are the best products I could be using on my delicate scalp! There are many other brands that now produce package-free beauty products.
Pack a canvas bag or two in your backpack, to use at markets or grocery shops instead of plastic bags.
By all means, do not abandon your garbage and, wherever possible, join group efforts to clean up places such as beaches and trails. Such initiatives are easy to find on the web, starting from Facebook.
All that sand in the desert? Leave it there!
Leave no trace
Make sure to leave as little footprint as possible in any place you visit – be it a city, a forest or a beach.
If you like hiking, make sure to stay on the trail as the rest of the area may be in recuperation, and if you get off you step on the local flora and endanger it. And if you need to use the bush during the hike, make sure not to abandon any toilet paper: put it in a bag and dispose of it once back.
By all means, if you have to go for a number 2 when hiking and there is no toilet, try to do it as far as possible from any water source to avoid the risk of contamination (as a general rule, at least 50 meters from a river or lake). For the same reason, avoid washing dishes or even just swimming in rivers or lakes, especially when people drink from it (this is often the case in Patagonia).
Ah, those endless hot showers! Who doesn’t love them? Well, in some parts of the world water is scarce and if you want to be a more responsible traveler (and in fact, a more responsible human altogether), you need to change your habits so that you waste less water.
Take shorter showers, for example. Only do laundry when you have a full load. Ask for your towels not to be changed. And make sure to turn the lights and air-conditioning or heating off when you leave your room. Some cities already have strict policies regarding the use of heating and air-conditioning, to limit the levels of pollution.
Buy local products and food
One of the easiest, most pleasant and fun ways of being a more responsible traveler is by shopping locally. Whether it is a small souvenir that you want to take home, or a meal or a snack that you want to have, go for something that has been locally produced and made to support the local economy.
It’s actually very easy! For example, if you are walking around Bangkok opt to have a fresh pineapple from a local vendor rather than a fruit salad in from a chain supermarket. When you are in Nicaragua, opt to have a fresh lemonade made by the small shop next door, and shop at the local market. Chances are the fruit will taste much better and it will be much cheaper!
The same goes for food. Opt for street food rather than looking for Domino’s Pizza, and check out places that have a good mix of locals and tourists – those are the places where food is bound to be very good and safe to eat.
Buy souvenir at local markets, even better if you see the artist making them – they are way cheaper than those you’ll find at a duty free shop.
Don’t get too carried away with bargaining
Do a bit of bargaining, but don’t go too far with it
Coming from a country where bargaining is not practiced, to me one of the most fun things when shopping at markets in places like Latin America, Asia and the Middle East is that I get to bargain for cheaper prices. However, remember that a nice and easy way to be a more responsible traveler is to not over-bargaining. There is no point in pushing it to get an extra discount, when in reality that is the equivalent of no more than $50 cents.
Stay at local, sustainable places
Picking sustainable accommodation when traveling is easier than you can imagine, so you can do your share as a responsible traveler even when you simply go to bed. The most obvious thing to do in this sense is to stay at local guesthouses and small hotels that are locally owned and family run: you’ll have a far more enriching experience, and you’ll save quite a bit.
Another thing you may want to look for is eco-lodges or community lodges. Eco-lodges typically strive to minimize their negative impact on the environment, and are fantastic accommodation options when staying in a natural area ie the mountains or the jungle. In places like Guyana, local indigenous communities have created several lodges in an effort to use their resources in a constructive manner. They strive to protect the local environment, the culture and since they represent good employment opportunity for the local community.
Last but not least, do your responsible traveler research and look out for places that have been approved by companies such as Green Globe, Earth Check and Rainforest Alliance. What they do is working with hotels in order to raise their profile when it comes to social and environmental practices.
A community lodge like Surama, in Guyana, is a great ethical accommodation option
Travel with ethical tour operators
Whether going on a day tour or on a longer guided trip, be a responsible traveler and pick the operator you travel with wisely. Never take part in tours where cruelty towards animals is involved and promoted, such as elephant rides, dolphin shows, etc.
Make sure to travel with a company that shows respect for the environment; that employees members of local community and gives back to it; that is owned locally or that devotes parts of its profits to a cause.
I traveled with And Beyond in Phinda, in South Africa and Botswana, and was impressed by how much they give back to the local communities and the environment, and by how much they do for the local wildlife.
Responsible tourism in terms of carbon footprint means taking less flights (overland travel can be a lot of fun!), or opting for direct ones. Indeed, taking off and landing consume a lot of fuel and increase carbon emissions.
Living in the island of Sardinia, I don’t have much of a choice and unfortunately in this sense I don’t get to be a responsible traveler: I have to fly everywhere, and more often than not, I can’t even fly directly to my final destination, as there are no direct intercontinental flights from here.
Other than taking less flights, if you really want to be a more responsible traveler start packing lighter and fly carry-on only: less weight on board means that the plane will use less fuel (why did you think Ryanair has raised the fees for checking in luggage so much?).
Do use public transportation wherever possible, and move around by train, bus, metro. Even better: walk or bike! Some cities are incredibly bike friendly!
Spread the word about responsible tourism
I must admit that being a responsible traveler is a bit of work, and while some may do it effortlessly, others may not be aware of the consequences of their (irresponsible) choices when traveling. Do your best to spread the word and help others become more responsible tourists, by politely yet firmly pointing out that certain practices may have a negative impact on the local community, the environment and the wildlife.
Are you a responsible traveler? What practices are you implementing in your every day and travel life to have less negative impact on the world?
A good backpacker travel insurance is essential whether you are planning to go on a short term trip or considering long term traveling.
This post is for all those travelers who are wondering whether they need a backpacker travel insurance. I could go straight to be point and just say that yes, you do. But I have an obsession for explaining myself. Hence, I have decided to break down all the reasons why you do need a backpacker insurance, even when your budget is limited.
You see, backpacking is a lot of fun. I have done my great deal of it. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I still do it, even when I could actually afford to travel a bit more comfortably. One thing hasn’t changed though. Whether I go backpacking or on a more comfortable trip, I always make sure to get a good backpacker travel insurance before stepping out the door.
Yet, I have noticed that there is a dangerous trend in the backpackers’ community. Following discussions in a bunch of Facebook backpackers’ groups I am a member of, I realized that many travelers seem to think that getting a good backpacking insurance isn’t necessary, and that you are not a real backpacker (but rather, an unsuccessful one) if you do.
They say that a backpacker insurance is too costly and likely to be a waste of money. They argue that in most countries they can get prescriptions (including antibiotics) at the pharmacy (let me not get into a discussion about why you should only take antibiotics if a physician prescribes them). They believe that if they are desperate they can go to the emergency room. And they comment that the odds of something happening are very low. They could not be more irresponsible.
In this post, I explain what a backpacker travel insurance is for, and the reasons why you are better off getting one.
You never know when you may need a travel insurance
What Is A Backpacker Travel Insurance For?
I admit that the term backpackertravel insurance can be less than clear and that it can mean several different things.
Yet, a backpacker insurance is an essential item for a trip overseas, one you can’t really see until you have to use it. It’s not like an actual backpack that you stuff with your clothes; or like a pair of good hiking boots that you will wear every day on the trails. In fact, it’s the kind of thing you buy hoping you’ll never really need to use it.
It pretty much means hoping for good luck while at the same time knowing that, in the unlikely event something happens – whether you get robbed; you have a family emergency and need to fly home; you get sick and need to be hospitalized; or you have an accident while walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu– you have a net of protection and don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to get help.
Nowadays, many companies offer backpacker insurance, and I know for a fact that picking the right one is easier said than done. I think it took me weeks of research, questions and considerations before deciding which one to buy. SafetyWing is an excellent backpacking insurance, for example.
Whichever backpacker travel insurance cover you decide to get, make it a point to read and understand all the conditions of the policy before buying it. I suggest calling the company, browsing the site, and even enquiring with a reliable travel agent who, selling several insurance policies along with tour packages, is bound to be knowledgeable on the subject.
The main characteristics of a good backpacker insurance aren’t much different from those of a regular travel insurance. These are the things which – as a minimum – you should be looking for:
Medical insurance, and especially emergency medical and repatriation. This means that you will be covered for things such as accidents, and you will get hospital and doctors’ visits during your trip. It means that you can access a doctor if you break your leg, and even if that traveler’s diarrhea doesn’t go away on its own. Medical repatriation means that if there is no good hospital to assist you nearby, the insurance will cover the costs to transport you to a major one.
Personal accident. This means that in the unfortunate case you lose a limb or are left disabled or blind, your insurance will pay you a set amount.
Personal liability. This means that if, by accident, you cause injury to someone, or damage or cause loss to someone’s property, your backpacker insurance will cover the costs.
Baggage and property insurance. This means that your backpacker travel insurance will cover you in case of theft, loss or damage to your luggage (if the airline doesn’t deliver your backpack); and even loss or damage to any gear such as smartphone, laptops, cameras etc. One thing to be aware is that most insurance companies will put a limit to the number of items you can insure. If you travel with a lot of electronic gear (that’s the case for me!) you do need an insurance that covers more than one item.
One thing you likely won’t need is trip cancellation, which is a classic of most insurance policies but won’t be as relevant to a backpacking trip where you plan to move from one country to another. Trip cancellation usually refers to unexpected interruptions and sudden changes to your travel plans caused by factors such as flights being cancelled or other reasons that stop you from traveling.
Another thing you must absolutely consider is the kind of activities you plan on doing during our trip. For example, if you enjoy things such as hiking and adventure sports, you may have to pay a little extra for a sports travel insurance, or for a trekking insurance. If you plan on renting a car every now and then, you may want to get an insurance that also covers for “collision damage waiver excess.”
Finally, you want to make sure that your backpacker travel insurance has an emergency number that can be contacted 24/7.
Now that I have clarified what backpacker insurance is and what it should cover, let me explain why you do need it.
Continue reading to find out why you need to get a good backpacker insurance.
Sometimes trips don’t go as planned – that’s what insurance is for
11 Reasons To Get A Good Backpacker Travel Insurance
You may get sick during your backpacking trip
I have yet to meet a backpacker that never got sick on the road. Sure enough, I got my good deal of food poisoning (in fact, I think I get food poisoning every time I am in Mexico), throat infections and the like, and each time I did I was glad that I could call my backpacker travel insurance to sort out a doctor’s appointment, get all the tests done, and get the necessary prescriptions.
You may need prescription medications
Would you go to a pharmacy in your home country and expect to get prescription medications without an actual prescription? Well, you wouldn’t really. So why would you do it while traveling? Don’t get me wrong – I have certainly tried my luck with this; and even very recently if I may add so.
During a recent trip to Argentina, I recognized that the symptoms I was having were those of a urinary infection. It was a Saturday evening, I was in Buenos Aires and I was getting ready to go out for a drink. I thought about popping into the nearest pharmacy and asking for some quick fix before getting back to business (aka drinking beer).
As soon as I asked the pharmacist to please give me the prescriptions (I thought) I needed, she asked me whether in Italy I can get them off the counter or if I’d need a prescription. She had a point!
I ended up having to call my insurance company, who sent me to the nearest hospital where a doctor examined me and prescribed the necessary medications. The insurance even located the nearest pharmacy for me – and all medical expenses were covered by it.
Not a pretty photo: the terrible wound I got in Jordan
You may injure yourself
If you enjoy hiking as much as I do, a good backpacker insurance company that covers for hiking, or even a sport or trekking insurance is necessary. While hiking isn’t dangerous per se, accidents while hiking may occur. I was hiking the Jordan Trail when I accidentally wounded myself going through some thick bushes, and sure enough I couldn’t apply stitches myself – good thing my insurance sent me to the nearest clinic for that.
Your precious laptop may get stolen
Or your camera, or smartphone. The point I am trying to make is that while not all backpackers carry a laptop or a camera, they all carry a smartphone or a tablet. Chances are that you may leave your tablet locked away in your room when you go out; but someone may snatch your phone out of your pocket – yes, even if it is zipped up! In fact, someone may even steal your locked away tablet.
Though you may have saved all your documents and photos in the cloud, what about the actual phone or laptop? A good insurance will cover for it and help you replace it.
Or you may be the one losing things
Moving from hostel to hostel, or better from country to country while backpacking means you will inevitably lose things. It is not the end of the world if you drop a sock, a headlamp or a book – they can be easily replaced.
But what if you lose your passport? Now, that is a nightmare! I only know too well: I forgot it in the photocopy machine at a random shop in Nicaragua right before crossing the border to Costa Rica. I was able to retrieve it then, but what if I hadn’t been? A good backpacker insurance usually includes passport loss coverage, which means that you will get help sorting out a new one.
Just in case – you do need a good insurance!
The airline may lose your backpack
You are just starting your trip. You check in your backpack, board your plane, and 12 hours later find yourself in a different continent. Pity your backpack didn’t make it there: the airline lost your luggage. It’s one of the most annoying things that can happen to travelers. Chances are that you will be getting your stuff in a day or two (or nine, as it happened to my sister once). But you will still need some clean clothes and toiletries to get by while you wait for your luggage to arrive. A good backpacker insurance will cover the costs of replacing your backpack and all the items in it.
You may want to join a guided trip
What? A backpacker going on a guided trip? Believe it or not, it does happen. Unless you can drive through the Sahara desert by yourself, or cross the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia alone, obviously.
Ok, back to being serious now. There are places you won’t be visiting independently, because it is simply too complicated. When you join a guided group trip, and even more so one that has a high level of adventurous activities, the operator will require to purchase a good travel insurance. That’s when your backpacker travel insurance will come in handy.
Or go to countries where it is required
Did you know that there are some countries that will deny you entry unless you don’t show proof of having a backpacker insurance? Make sure to double check whether you can enter the country (or countries) that you are planning to visit, and to get your insurance accordingly.
You may miss your flight
No matter how hard you try to leave nice and early for a flight, you may get stuck in traffic. I remember I was in the very civilized London once, and I left something like 4 hours in advance to get to the airport nice and early. Pity that there were power cuts along the rail line and I was stuck on the train, and by the time I made it to the airport I was unable to check in and board my flight. If this happens to you, your insurance may be able to cover the costs of the new flight you may need to purchase, and help you get a refund for the missed flight.
Most of all, remember to have fun during your trip
Just because it hasn’t happened yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t
One of the most frequently asked questions in backpacking groups across Facebook is whether you need proof of onward travel when traveling to Central America countries. I won’t hide this from you: I get annoyed at it every time.
You see, the simple answer to this question is that proof of onward travel is required by law, and you may or may not be asked for it. However, every time this question comes up, I also see comments by travelers saying they were never asked, or that they were asked but managed to get through the border somehow.
My point is always the same. Just because someone, or even everyone has been lucky and wasn’t asked, it doesn’t mean the law is not there and that there are no chances you’ll be the one who gets asked.
Why am I ranting about this, now? Because the exact same principle applies to backpacking insurance. Just because it’s never happened to you or anyone you know before, it doesn’t mean it never will.
The costs to benefits ratio is – actually – great
I know what most of you are thinking: why pay for something that you are hoping you will never use? Because to be fair, it is not that expensive, and once you think about the cover that even the most basic backpacker travel insurance will provide, then it’s not bad value at all. After all, it’s better to pay a policy that costs a mere $2 USD per day (yes, that cheap!) than having to pay thousands in case something happens. Your good luck costs just $2 USD. If you ask me, that’s totally worth it.
And if you don’t have that extra $2 USD per day, then maybe you shouldn’t be traveling altogether. Work for a little longer, save a little more and postpone your trip when you can make sure you can actually fully afford it in a more responsible, sensible manner – backpacker insurance included.
Planning on doing some adventure sports? You definitely need a good travel insurance
So, What’s A Good Backpacker Travel Insurance?
There are hundreds of good insurance companies out there. However, researching which policy is the best for a long term trip that involves visiting more than one foreign country; during which you may be off grid at times; during which you may be practicing adventure sports; while you will be carrying all sorts of gear such as cameras, laptop and other electronics – may take you weeks. And let’s face it, shopping for backpacker insurance isn’t exactly fun.
I like SafetyWing, a good insurance perfect for people who, like me, move around a lot, going from one country to another and hardly know their itinerary in advance, and carry their job with them.
SafetyWing is a very affordable insurance (it starts at $37 per 4 weeks). It is a fantastic combination between a great medical insurance for travelers, and a great old school travel insurance. At the moment, SafetyWing doesn’t cover electronics (so it’s better for those who don’t carry too many valuables with them) and extreme adventure sports – however, they are working on adding these two options in the next couple of months.
What I like about it is that it works like a subscription: you pick a start date and can cancel whenever you want. There is no maximum duration for your trip (so it’s perfect even if you don’t have a return date set) and you can set up monthly auto-renewal so that you can be sure your coverage won’t expire. And instead of paying it all at once for a year (if you are traveling that long) you just pay every month – so you don’t have to shell out a huge chunk of money all at once.
Another great advantage of SafetyWing is that it actually gives you some (limited) coverage in your home country. In my case, I still get free medical assistance in Italy by virtue of being still a resident (this is where I pay all my taxes!), but I know that in some countries like the US you need to have a health insurance, so this is very convenient.
The actual final monthly cost of SafetyWing depends on a number of factors – ie your age and the countries you will be visiting (it’s going to be more expensive if you plan to visit the US). Each quote is personal, so I recommend visiting SafetyWing website to get a quote for your personal backpacker travel insurance.
At times our trips don’t go so smoothly
What You Should Do After Buying Your Backpacker Travel Insurance
Once you finally got convinced and bought a good travel insurance, there are a few things you should do before you set off for the trip of a lifetime.
First of all, make a note of your policy number, your insurance emergency contact number and its e-mail. Download a copy of the policy: keep one for yourself, making sure it is easily accessible while on the road and even if you don’t have internet; and share a copy with a family member or your best friend. Make sure to also keep a copy in the cloud – just in case!
Most year long policies have auto-renewals, so you don’t have to worry about it expiring. This is the same for SafetyWing, which you pay in monthly installments. If your backpacker insurance doesn’t renew automatically, set up a reminder a couple of weeks before it’s meant to expire.
Final Thoughts On Getting A Backpacker Travel Insurance
I suppose you get the idea of how important I think having a good backpacker insurance is. I’ve had to use my travel insurance a bunch of times, and it really helped me. What you need to understand is that life is unpredictable, and even when we want to be optimistic and keep a positive attitude, we can’t foresee the future.
I always hope that I won’t have to make use of my travel insurance, and I sincerely hope you don’t have to use it either. But in case it is necessary, I am glad I bought it. It helps me face unexpected emergencies, and it is a responsible thing to get as an adult.
Have you ever had to use your backpacker travel insurance? Let me know in the comments!
Legal Disclaimer: This post was written in cooperation with SafetyWing. The views provided remain my own.
With so many wineries in Mendoza, picking which ones to visit isn’t easy. These are spread across three main regions – Maipú, Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley, each of them having its charm.
The province of Mendoza is the biggest wine producer in Argentina, and one of the biggest in South America. Here, a combination of excellent soil, favorable weather conditions and the know-how of the people who moved to the region in the late 19th century contributed to the growth of vineyards and to the development of the wine industry.
With that came wine tourism: people from Argentina and the world regularly include Mendoza in their itinerary around the country to enjoy its natural beauty and especially to taste the incredible wines.
I visited Mendoza for the second time during a recent trip to Argentina. Much like the first time, my second time in Mendoza included a lot of wine drinking, with tours to some of the most famous as well as the lesser known wineries in Mendoza.
In case this isn’t obvious yet, let me clarify it: if good wine is what you want, you are going to find it in Mendoza. In fact, Mendoza wine is simply fantastic (I have a soft spot for Malbec, I admit it), and there are a lot of vineyards in Mendoza where you can try it – each of them offering a different kind of experience.
In this post, I will highlight my favorite wineries in Mendoza, with information on the kind of experience you can expect to have there. However, before I get to the juicy bits, let me give you some concise background information about Mendoza.
Mendoza is a lovely city to explore
There’s More Than Just Wineries In Mendoza
Most people visit Mendoza to taste all the fabulous Mendoza wine and spend very little time there – some stay no longer than 36 hours in Mendoza. I won’t deny that they have a point about the wine, and sure enough during my first visit all I wanted to do was going on wine tours in Mendoza. However, Mendoza has a lot more to offer, and if you only spend enough time there you will realize that wine is only part of the fun in this part of Argentina.
Founded in 1561, Mendoza is one of the largest cities in Argentina with a population of roughly 2 million people. It is a university town, which means that the overall vibe is that of a young city, easygoing and not in the least pretentious. It’s the kind of place where, during the summer months, you’ll find people sitting at cafés and bars, enjoying a glass of wine (or craft beer, an ever growing trend) and having a chat with friends.
A guided tour of Mendoza is a pleasant way to get to know more about its history, culture and to visit the most important attractions. The city has a few very good museums and art galleries – not necessarily in the city center, actually. If you have time to visit just one, make sure to go to the Museo de Bellas Artes – known as Casa de Fader. It’s located in a beautiful mansion and the exhibit is fantastic.
These are some good tours of Mendoza that go to all the city landmarks:
At the weekend, locals join the many tourists in visiting the best wineries in Mendoza, where they get to taste wine, bike around, or have a fabulous meal. Otherwise, they go explore the magnificent surroundings.
Indeed, the province of Mendoza is fantastic for nature lovers. It’s where the highest peak of the Andes (in fact, of South America), Cerro Aconcagua, is located. It’s home of rivers where you can have a blast rafting and canyons where you can zip line or just enjoy the landscape. Here you can relax at a natural spa; eat a proper Argentine asado; go horseback riding and much more.
These are some of the best guided activities outside Mendoza:
13 Wineries In Mendoza That You Absolutely Have To Visit
There are so many wineries in Mendoza that picking which one to visit is easier said than done. Most visitors try to squeeze at least two or three wine tours in a day, and spend no more than 2 full days in Mendoza. It’s a pity, because Mendoza vineyards (or bodegas, as they are known locally) all differ one from the other, and the experience you end up having in each is different.
Some wineries in Mendoza are large and stylish, and their wines are exported overseas. Others are smaller, and the production very limited, with no distribution to the market (local or international): the only place to buy a bottle is the vineyard itself.
If you are tight on time and want to make the most of your trip to Mendoza, squeezing in as many wineries in Mendoza as you can possibly visit in one day, a guided tour may be a good option. It will end up being more expensive, but it’s definitely more efficient in terms of transportation and organization.
The following are some excellent Mendoza wine tours:
TIP: You can try to keep the costs of your time in Mendoza by doing a self guided wine tour. The best area to do it is Maipu, where you can rent bikes and then head to the vineyards yourself. Mr Hugo Bikes is a good place to get a bike, and you’ll be given a map and tips on which wineries to visit at a discounted rate.
TIP: If you are a real wine lover and committed to wine tasting, give yourself at least three full days to explore Mendoza wineries, and an extra day or two to get out of the city to hike or just enjoy nature. Stick to one or at most two wine tours per day, and pick the activities for the rest of the day wisely. For example, a cooking class is a perfect compliment to a wine tasting tour!
Continue reading to discover the nicest wineries in Mendoza.
Some of the best wineries are in Maipu
Best wineries in Maipú
Bodega Familia Zuccardi
Why I love Familia Zuccardi: Zuccardi is one of those wineries in Mendoza where you can have a full experience, with so many on site activities to keep you entertained for a full day.
Familia Zuccardi is a bodega located in Maipú, right outside the city. It is one of the largest and best known wineries in Mendoza, and Sebastian Zuccardi has been recognized as one of the top wine makers in Argentina.
At Familia Zuccardi, you can spend a full day biking around the vineyard; learning about the process of wine making; and tasting wine. Familia Zuccardi also has its olive grove – so you can also taste some high quality olive oil. They also run cooking classes. Needless to say, the wine is fantastic – make sure to buy a few bottles in the incredibly stylish on site shop.
Located at the winery there is a fabulous restaurant where I wholeheartedly recommend stopping for lunch. If you are brave enough, go for the 7 courses meal which will get you a taste of empanadas, salads, lots of vegetables, a proper asado with 4 different kinds of meat (from chorizo to beef to lamb and pork), and a mouthwatering desert. Needless to say, the meal is accompanied by a selection of the best Mendoza wine.
Biking around Bodega Familia Zuccardi
Why I love Trapiche: Trapiche wines can be found all over the world, so visiting this vineyard is a bit like going home, and finally discovering where the fantastic wine you’ve been sipping comes from.
Trapiche easily qualifies as one of the best wineries in Mendoza. Producer of some award winning wines, this bodega is located in Maipú, where it was established in 1883 – thus being one of the first Mendoza vineyards. The building – which dates back to the early 20th century – didn’t initially belong to the vineyard. It was sold in 1970 and then abandoned, to be finally acquired by Trapiche in 2006 with the aim of restoring it and bringing it back to its full glory.
The one to Trapiche is one of the most interesting Mendoza wine tours. Not only you get to taste the world-class wines, but you also visit a historic establishment and get to peep into the barrel room.
Bodega Tempus Alba
Why I love Tempus Alba: It’s stylish and modern.
Tempus Alba is located in Maipú and it’s very easy to reach on a wine and bike tour (it’s on the map that Mr Hugo Bikes hands out to people who rent there). The winery is beautifully located, with gorgeous views of the vineyards that you can enjoy throughout lunch. You can opt to join a guided tour or to walk around the vineyard and olive groves by yourself, following the plaques.
The on-site restaurant serves good food. If you visit in the good season, get a table on the terrace for gorgeous views of the vineyards.
At Bodega Lopez
Why I love Lopez: Despite my big love for boutique wineries, it’s kind of fun seeing the big guys at work.
Bodega Lopez is one of the five biggest wineries in Mendoza, and it’s the perfect place to observe the production of the famous Mendoza wine on a very large scale. The fermentation tanks, the barrels, and even the bottling plant here are much bigger than in other wineries.
The bodega is located in Maipú. Here, tours and tasting are actually free – which is always a bonus. You get to taste two wines. The on site restaurant is a perfect place to take wine tasting to a better level – accompanying it with delicious food.
Bodega La Rural
Why I love La Rural: Their wine is only consumed locally.
Very few wineries in Mendoza don’t export their products. Bodega La Rural, located in Maipú, is one of them, and when you visit you get to taste wines that you wouldn’t find at the shops or restaurants at home. That’s a major bonus point, if you ask me.
Another thing I really love about La Rural is the Museum of Wine which is hosted there, and which is filled with wine production antiques. This winery, which belongs to the Rutini family, has an incredible collection of instruments that were used to make wine towards the end of the 19th century.
The guide typically explains how these instruments were used and the method of wine production, and that’s when you discover that some of the methods (not the instruments, obviously) are still used – to produce the museum wines line (the one offered during the tasting). More contemporary production methods are used for the other wines.
There are some incredible wineries in Lujan de Cuyo – photo courtesy of Karen Corby (flickr)
Best wineries in Luján de Cuyo
Bodega Catena Zapata
Why I love Catena Zapata: Aside from the fantastic wines, I am a massive fan of the funky main building which is in the shape of a Mayan pyramid.
Catena Zapata winery is located in Luján de Cuyo. It was founded in 1902, when Nicola Catena, who arrived in Argentina from Italy, planted his first Malbec vineyard. Until then, Malbec grapes had been used to blend Bourdeaux wine, but Nicola Catena saw the full potential for turning it into a great wine in and of itself – the fabulous Malbec wine.
Since 1902, the winery grew so much to become one of the largest in the region, and wine-making knowledge has been passed on to newer generations to produce some of the best Mendoza wine. In the 1960s, a huge economic crunch that affected Argentina had its adverse effect on this fantastic winery, which however survived also throughout the difficult years of the dictatorship and the war against the United Kingdom and continued to produce excellent wines.
Make sure to try the fantastic Nicolas Catena Zapata wine.
Bodega Luigi Bosca
Why I love Luigi Bosca: Aside from the fantastic wines, you get to visit an incredible art installation.
Luigi Bosca is probably one of the priciest wineries in Mendoza. Yet, it is worth a visit. You get to taste 4 different wines, under the guidance of some excellent guides who not only speak perfect English but who really do answer any possible question you may have.
At the end of the tour you can visit an art installation of 14 pieces, the “Via Crucis del Vino” (“Wine Way of the Cross”), by artist Hugo Leytes. It took him almost a year to complete each piece, and once you see them in sequence you get a full idea of the process of wine making, and you can finally see the parallelism with the life and death of Jesus Christ.
Bodega Ruca Malen
Why I love Ruca Malen: Not only the wine is delicious, but you can pair it with an incredible lunch at the on site restaurant.
There is a reason why Bodega Ruca Malen is included in my list of best wineries in Mendoza and why I insist that you should visit. This incredible vineyard won the 2014 prize for best wine tourism in the world, especially thanks to the restaurant which is by far the best among all the vineyards restaurants you can hope to visit.
The menu at the restaurant is updated every 3 months, so that it is strictly seasonal, and each time the menu is put together to be paired with 5 specific wines – so each meal you may have there is a combination of excellent food with the perfect wine pairing. It is a fixed menu of 5 different courses, and you’ll love it.
If the weather is nice, you can sit outside and admire the incredible view of the vineyard and the mountains as you eat your lunch.
The guided tour through the winery is very good – exhaustive, interesting with plenty of details about wine production, about the history of the winery, etc. There even is a blending class (I did one in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and can promise you it is a lot of fun).
Why I love Terrazas de los Andes: It simply has the most breathtaking views. And there is a hotel where you can sleep to take in more of those views.
Located in Luján de Cuyo, Terrazas de los Andes is one of the best wineries in Mendoza when it comes to views and landscape. The name is due to the terraces on which the various kinds of grapes are grown, at different altitudes.
The buildings (including the tank room), the hotel and the surrounding landscape at this bodega are simply stunning. The buildings are located next to an old bodega that dates back to 1898, and they are all beautifully kept despite the devastating earthquake that hit the area a century ago.
The guide selects the wines that you get to taste based on your actual preferences, so the experience is even better.
Bodega Clos the Chacras
Why I love Clos de Chacras: Once you are inside the property, you forget you are so close to town.
Clos de Chacras is located in the lovely quaint town of Chacras the Coria, very close to Mendoza. It is one of the beautiful boutique wineries in Mendoza. The main building dates back to the 1920s and has been nicely restored, so the feeling you get upon walking in is that of old style charm.
The tour goes through the working winery and at the end of it you get a tasting of various wines, which are served with cheese. There is a restaurant where you can have lunch or dinner, or if you just want to relax at the end of the day, you can sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine.
Bodegas y Viñedos Doña Juanita
Why I love Bodegas y Viñedos Doña Juanita: This truly is a family run business, where you literally walk into someone’s house and his backyard.
Doña Juanita is one of the smallest wineries in Mendoza, and a strictly family run business – so small that wine is literally only sold to the people who visit the winery. The small scale production here is synonym with excellent quality.
As opposed to other bigger wineries where a guide does the tour, in this case you get the actual owner of the winery showing you around his place – and since he speaks no English, his friend (who on the other hand speaks it perfectly) will act as interpreter.
When Federico (that’s the name of the owner) shares stories about the wine and details about wine production, and as he tastes wine with his guests, you can see the passion he puts in what he does.
At the end of the tour, you can opt to hang around for dinner. In this case, it truly is a home made asado – all the better for a local experience.
The stunning Bodega Salentin – photo courtesy of Mark Surman (flickr)
Best wineries in Uco Valley
Bodega Andeluna Cellars
Why I love Andeluna Cellars: It’s the perfect place to end a day of tasting Mendoza wine.
Bodega Andeluna Cellars is located in Uco Valley and it’s one of the most pleasant wineries in Mendoza. It’s a truly gorgeous place, where you’ll get to enjoy a warm welcoming, a very good tour run by a knowledgeable guide, and an excellent wine tasting menu where you can pick the kind of wine and even the number of samples you want to taste.
The tasting is done in a beautiful room, sitting on comfortable couches; and you can hang around as long as you want after the tour. There even is an outside porch where you can sit to admire the views – unless you want to go for a walk in the vineyard.
Why I love Bodega Salentin: The acoustic of the wine cellar is incredible.
Bodega Salentin is one of the largest wineries in Mendoza, with a wine cellar that holds 5000 barrels. Located in the Uco Valley, this bodega is simply gorgeous. The ground floor has a mosaic of the rose of the winds, which represents the intention of Bodega Salentin to export its wines throughout the world. If you happen to actually get to the center of the mosaic, pay attention to the acoustic: it’s fantastic, to the point that concerts are regularly held here.
The tasting is led by a guide that will point all the main characteristics of the wine – the color, the aroma, the taste.
Make sure to get to the cellar early enough to also get to visit the Killka Gallery. It was opened in 2006 and it has an exhibit of contemporary Argentinian artists, as well as dutch paintings from the 19th and 20th century.
There are many fantastic wineries in Mendoza – photo courtesy of Hugo Pardo Kuklinski (flickr)
Further Information To Organize Your Visit To Mendoza Wineries
When to visit Mendoza wineries
Mendoza is a great place to visit year-round, as it is mostly sunny. Having said so, I recommend visiting between October and April, between spring and early fall, when everything is either in full bloom or incredibly green. Summer months in Mendoza tent to be hot, so if you are going then just be prepared.
I have been to Mendoza twice – once in February, just as the harvest season was about to start, and once in March, right after the harvest had ended. Both times it was fantastic.
How To Get To The Wineries In Mendoza
I am a massive fan of road trips, which is why if I am not traveling solo I always end up renting a car (my sister and I did that in South Africa and had a blast). This is to say, that I can see a point in renting a car and driving to the wineries you want to visit yourself. It’s the best way to pick only the wineries you want to visit; and to stay there for however long you want. The other side of the coin is that you’ll have to make sure to limit yourself with the wine tasting, for obvious reasons.
Out of three main wine regions in Mendoza, only Maipú and Luján de Cuyo can be biked. You have to take the bus to get there (it’s fairly easy and inexpensive) and then rent a bike, either at Mr Hugo’s Bike Rentals in Maipú or at Baccus in Chacras de Coria, in Luján de Cuyo. Biking to the wineries is a fun thing to do, safe and easy. Bike rentals will give you a map and recommendations of the wineries you can reach, as well as discount codes for the wine tasting.
Alternatively, you can just join a guided bike tour that departs from Mendoza. Here is a selection of the best:
If you don’t want to have the responsibility of driving, yet like the idea of going at your own pace, you may want to hire a driver and go on a customized tour. It surely ends up being more expensive than a group tour, but if there’s a few of you sharing the car, it won’t be nearly as bad as you imagine. You will be picked up by a driver directly at your hotel and won’t have to worry about anything other than enjoying the wine. This tour goes to the Uco Valley, where you’ll find some of the best wineries in Mendoza.
On a small guided group tour
Small guided group tours are a great way to experience what the region has to offer, and they are much cheaper than private tours. Unfortunately, the itinerary is set – but you will be in good company, you won’t have to worry about driving, you’ll be picked up and taken back to your hotel and, most importantly, you’ll still get to taste some excellent Mendoza wine.
These are the best small guided group tours to Mendoza vineyards:
The hop-on hop-off bus is a great way of visiting some Mendoza wineries. Depending on the day of the week, the bus goes to a different wine region. Make sure to reserve your Mendoza hop on hop off wine tour in advance.
Make sure to buy some good Mendoza wine!
Tips For The Perfect Wine Tasting In Mendoza
With so many wineries in Mendoza, deciding which one to visit can be overwhelming – that’s why I selected a few for each region, in an effort to help you pick the best.
Whichever way you decide to do your wine tasting in Mendoza (on a guided tour, by bike, or driving yourself), make sure to plan it in advance. If you do it independently, do call the vineyard or send them an email for a reservation.
Most Mendoza vineyards open at 10:00 am, and virtually all of them have a restaurant. I recommend visiting one in the morning, hanging around for lunch so that you can continue enjoying the wine along with delicious food; and then moving on to another winery.
More than anything else, unless you are taking a guided tour I don’t recommend visiting more than two wineries in a day. Wine tours take time to be fully enjoyed, and the last thing you should do is rushing while tasting wine!
Where To Stay In Mendoza
Mendoza has some excellent accommodation options, either in the city or in the immediate surroundings.
Here is a selection of places to stay in Mendoza:
Chill Inn Hostel – it’s a lovely hostel located on Aristides, the most lively area of Mendoza. It boasts a very easygoing vibe with excellent social spaces; comfortable dorms; clean bathrooms and a nice pool to relax on hottest days. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
There are more things to do in Mendoza, Argentina than you’d imagine, if you only decide to spend enough time there. The capital of the Mendoza Province is known for its wine production, for the incredible food (this is where you’ll eat some of the best steaks in Argentina) and for the gorgeous landscapes of vineyards and mountains.
To be fair, Mendoza city itself isn’t that special (though the nightlife there is pretty incredible). But it’s not the city you should be focusing on during your visit: it’s the incredible surroundings. I have been to Mendoza twice, and each time enjoyed the hikes, the landscape, the wine, the steaks and everything else it has to offer. I wholeheartedly recommend including it in your trip to Argentina.
In this post, I highlight the top things to do in Mendoza, Argentina, and share some tips to make the most of your time there.
A wine tour is a must in Mendoza
21 Fun Things To Do In Mendoza
Indulge in a wine tasting tour, or more
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Mendoza is the fabulous Malbec wine. It’s thus safe to say that one of the best things to do in Mendoza is a wine tasting tour. What I love about it is that wine in Mendoza is affordable, and you can walk away with a $5 USD bottle of excellent wine that will impress your family and friends.
Malbec is the most famous variety produced in the Mendoza Province (but not only), but while there you’ll be able to try others such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat (which is also popular in Uruguay), Merlot and Chardonnay.
Wine tasting tours usually last around 4 hours, and consist in a guided walk or biking through the vineyards, a visit of the cellar and fermentation area, and wine tasting. Some tours also have wine pairings and lunch. The prices of guided wine tasting tours are quite high.
TIP: You can keep the costs down by doing a self-guided tour – renting bikes and going to the vineyards yourself. However, if you add the costs of the bike rental, the tours and the tasting and each vineyard, and that of the lunch you will eventually want at one of the vineyards, you may realize that splurging in a guided tour isn’t a bad idea after all.
These are some of the best wine tasting tours in Mendoza:
If you travel dates are flexible enough, make sure to visit Mendoza between the end of February and the beginning of March, in time for the harvest and to attend Mendoza’s biggest event – the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia.
The Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia has been celebrated since 1936. It’s an incredible series of folklore, pageants (with the election of a Vendimia Queen), music performances and fireworks. It lasts 10 days and begins with the blessing of the grapes.
Pay a visit to the Museo Nacional del Vino
A visit to the Museo Nacional del Vino is a nice addition to a wine tasting tour. Most day trips don’t go there, actually, but you can go alone. It’s a nice place to get some background information on the history of wine in the province of Mendoza. For example, you’ll learn how an Italian immigrant made it to Maipù in the late 1890s and started the first winery in the region. You’ll also be able to see some antique wine making tools, bottles and labels.
Olives and olive oil are one of the local specialties in Mendoza
Visit the olive groves
Wherever there are vineyards, there are beautiful olive groves. This goes for Italy, Israel, South Africa and even for Mendoza, Argentina. Here, you’ll be able to taste some delicious olives and olive oil which will be the perfect accompaniment to salads and bread. Quite a few vineyards also have their olive groves. Familia Zuccardi even allows you to pick your olives to create your bottle of olive oil!
A good beer at the end of a hot day in Mendoza, Argentina
In the Argentine capital of wine, it looks like drinking beer doesn’t make much sense. However, believe it or not, after a day of wine tasting and wandering around the vineyards in the summer heat, and provided you are not drunk (in which case, I wholeheartedly recommend to stay in your room drinking lots of water), you’ll be ready for a cold pint. I knew I was, and I was glad to find a good craft beer pub right next to my hotel.
The good news is that Mendoza has some excellent craft beer places. A Patagonia pub is located in the heart of Chacras de Coria, and you can even do a beer tasting tour. Here is a selection of the best:
Hiking Cerro Acongagua is one of the top things to do in Mendoza – photo courtesy of Miguel (flickr)
Hike Cerro Aconcagua
At 112 km and less than 2 hours drive from Mendoza, Cerro Aconcagua, which reaches an elevation of 6962 meters, is the highest peak in South America and in the Andes mountain range. The hike to the peak is a challenging 3 weeks walk consisting of hiking, walking on ice with crampons, and even climbing – and you’ll need to be very fit to do it.
There are several hiking trails on Aconcagua. The most popular one is the Normal Route, which takes roughly 18 days and starts in Lower Harcones Valley and reaches Plaza de Mulas.
TIP: The hike to Aconcagua requires planning, fitness and proper equipment and you shouldn’t attempt to do it alone. Make sure to research a good company to organize your Aconcagua expedition.
While hiking Aconcagua certainly is one of the top things to do in Mendoza, you don’t have to spend 3 weeks there to enjoy it. The good news is that you can actually visit on a day trip and even just a walk to Camp 2 on a clear day is guaranteed to provide incredible sunset views.
These are some of the best day trips and day hikes to Cerro Aconcagua:
Don’t confuse this Puente del Inca with the one in Machu Picchu, Peru. As opposed to the Peruvian one, this one is a natural bridge that, at an altitude of 2720 meters above sea level, crosses the Vacas River.
TIP: You can visit the Puente del Inca during a trip to Cerro Aconcagua – it’s a nice addition to the itinerary. You’ll need a car to get there (you can rent one here) or you’ll have to go on a guided tour.
These are the best guided tours that also go to the Puente del Inca:
A lovely ride through the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina
Go horseback riding
If you are a fan of horseback riding, one of the nicest things to do in Mendoza, Argentina, is going for a ride. There are several places where you can do this. I am hardly a pro when it comes to horseback riding so I opted for something short and easy right outside of Mendoza, riding through the beautiful vineyards around sunset time. But if you want, you can go on longer rides at the base of the Andes, in the Uco Valley, in the Quebrada del Condor and other gorgeous places where you’ll enjoy gorgeous landscapes.
TIP: For an extra treat, pick a sunset ride!
These are some of the best horseback riding tours available:
A bike ride through the vineyards is one of the things to do in Mendoza
Go on a bike tour
If you are an active person, going on a bike tour is what to do in Mendoza. My first time there, I rented a bike and with some friends did a self guided tour through Maipù vineyards. It was a lot of fun, especially towards the end of the day when we were all happy from the wine tasting (don’t worry though, there isn’t much traffic at all in the area, and drivers there are used to tourists riding bikes so pay extra attention).
Last time, I biked through Zuccardi vineyard, which is huge, and went horseback riding around a smaller, more local vineyard.
The best place to rent bikes near Mendoza is Mr Hugo’s Bikes. They will give you a bike, a very good map and lots of tips on routes and wineries to visit during the day. Make sure to head there nice and early as they are so popular that they run out of bikes sometimes!
TIP: Make sure to pick a bike with a basket. You’ll need it to hold your bag, camera and the bottles of wine you’ll buy along the way.
TIP: Remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration; wear a hat and apply lots of sunblock to avoid getting sunburnt.
You can even go biking in the Andes region from Mendoza.
The following are the best bike tours departing from Mendoza – either visiting wineries, or more adventurous ones through the mountains:
Chacras de Coria is a lovely quaint town near Mendoza – photo courtesy of Pek&Anoek (flickr)
Spend some time in Chacras de Coria
Last time I visited Mendoza, Argentina, I actually stayed in Chacras de Coria. This is a small town right outside Mendoza, which in recent years has become a popular place thanks to its fantastic restaurants, shopping opportunities, and great nightlife.
However, for as popular as Chacras has become, it’s still fantastically quaint, and quiet – which is great if you value your sleep. Not to mention, it is really close to the wineries (there are a few that are actually right in Chacras de Coria).
Among the things you shouldn’t miss when in Chacras, there is a nice Sunday market where you’ll find souvenirs, antiques and even jewelry. And if joining the fantastic nightlife is one of the things to do in Mendoza, Chacras de Coria is where the fun is, with clubs such as Grita Silencio and La Guanaca.
Rafting is one of the most fun things to do in Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza River runs to the region and it is thanks to it that the vineyards have water. However, it’s also a great source of adventure. There are some good Class III rapids, so it’s not hard core rafting at all, but you are guaranteed fun.
Several companies run rafting trips outside of Mendoza. The following is a selection of the best tours:
If rafting isn’t enough to quench your thirst for adrenaline, the one of the best things to do in Mendoza is ziplining. In fact, you can actually combine this experience with rafting, for a full day of adventure. Ziplining is usually done in the Valley of Potrerillos. There are 6 cables, with an average height of 60 meters and of moderate difficulty, so it is not too scary.
Visiting Parque San Martin is a must – photo courtesy of Diego A (flickr)
Visit Parque San Martin
Parque San Martin easily qualifies and the nicest park in Mendoza. It was designed by Carlos Thays, a famous urban planner and landscape architect, in the late 1800s, and inside you’ll find 34 sculptures, a rose garden and a lake which is a perfect picnic spot. It’s also a great place to spot some local action.
These city tours of Mendoza include a visit to Parque San Martin:
Plaza Independencia is an important landmark in Mendoza, Argentina
And Plaza Independencia
In your wanderings through Mendoza, you’ll definitely end up in Plaza Independencia. This is the heart of Mendoza, the largest green space within the city, and a cool place to relax and do some people-watching.
At the center of the square there is a large, beautiful fountain. And occasionally you’ll also see a small market of artisans selling their handicrafts right in the square.
Not far from Plaza Independencia you’ll find some other smaller squares such as Plaza España which are also worth visiting.
Make sure to take a stroll on Peatonal Sarmiento – photo courtesy of Diego A (flickr)
Walk along Peatonal Sarmiento
If you really want to mingle with the locals, one of the ultimate things to do in Mendoza, Argentina, is going for a walk along Peatonal Sarmiento. This is a long, airy pedestrian-only boulevard lined with lots of cafés and shops, where the locals love hanging out. You’ll also find banks and pharmacies in case you need to run some errants.
TIP: Most of the restaurants along Peatonal Sarmiento cater to tourists, so they aren’t the best and cheapest places in town to grab a bite. Opt for smaller places on the side streets instead.
Visit the Museo Bellas Artes
Located right outside Mendoza in Luján de Cuyo there is the Museo de Bellas Artes – Casa de Fader, a mansion that dates back to 1890 and which used to belong to an affluent couple who hired artist Fernando Fader to restore it and paint frescoes. The mansion has a gorgeous garden, as well as a very good exhibit of artwork.
Mendoza is a fantastic place to fully appreciate Argentinian cuisine. Empanadas, sorrentinos (a stuffed pasta), and delicious meat: there’s nothing better than having a fantastic steak or even an asado (Argentine bbq) accompanied by a fantastic wine. If you like the idea of eating but are intrigued to learn more about the secrets of Argentinian cuisine, one of the things to do in Mendoza is a cooking class. The small group cooking lesson with lunch is the perfect combination of learning, eating and enjoying wine.
Vegans traveling to Mendoza should head straight to Cuenco, in Olascoaga 1412. I went there in search of vegan ice-cream (I am lactose intolerant so that is the only option for me) and ended up stopping by for lunch. This small eatery is open Mondays to Saturdays for lunch only. You serve yourself and pay by weight, which makes it extremely budget friendly, and have an incredible choice of very healthy options.
Enjoy the incredible night scene
One of the most fun things to do in Mendoza is going out at night. When the weather is nice, make sure to head to Calle Arístides, the heart of nightlife in Mendoza. This is where locals meet to have a drink (by the way: Fernet and Coke is their cocktail of choice); but you’ll also find lots of tourists as there are quite a few hostels around. That’s actually exactly where I stayed during my first trip to Mendoza!
Another area that is perfect for nightlife is Chacras de Coria, where you’ll find the boliches (clubs).
Relax at Cacheuta Thermal Baths
One of the coolest (literally!) things to do in Mendoza is going to Cacheuta Thermal Baths. This spa, hotel and waterpark located along Ruta 82, among the mountains, is a fantastic place to relax with a great array of saunas, mud baths, hot springs and thermal pools. You can even have a massage.
Villavicencio is a beautiful natural reserve in the Andes Mountains, not far from Mendoza. If you like the idea of admiring wildlife, a tour to Villavicencio is what to do in Mendoza. There, you’ll be able to see local wildlife including guanacos, ostriches, condors and if you are lucky even pumas. It’s the same area where the local mineral spring water comes from. Most of the time, tours to this reserve include a visit and lunch at a local winery, and at times even entrance to the historic spa resort of Villavicencio.
Atuel Canyon is a perfect trip from Mendoza, Argentina – photo courtesy of Miguel (flickr)
Get out of the city at Atuel Canyon
At around 3 hours by bus from Mendoza, San Rafael is a great place for outdoor activities. I honestly recommend spending a couple of days there to appreciate all the nature and to go hiking, kayaking and even paragliding. If you don’t have time to spend a couple of days there, you can go on a day trip. Make sure to visit Atuel Canyon, a fantastic place with lakes, rivers and beautifully naturally carved rocks.
Where To Stay In Mendoza, Argentina
Mendoza is a fairly large cities with plenty of accommodation options. The best hostels and boutique hotels are all in the area of Calle Arístides, which is where you’ll find an incredible array of restaurants and bars and which is very close to the center of town. Alternatively, head to Chacras de Coria for some lovely boutique hotels.
Mendoza deserves a visit during a trip to Argentina
Practical Information To Organize Your Trip To Mendoza, Argentina
Guided tours that go to Mendoza
Traveling around Argentina independently is fairly easy, but if you are tight on time or if you aren’t the most organized person, you may want to leave the planning bit to the experts who will book transportation, accommodation and all activities.
The following are some tours of Argentina that include a visit to Mendoza:
Mendoza and Bariloche multi-sport: this is the perfect tour for adventure lovers, with plenty of hiking, biking and rafting. It’s a demanding tour, so only join if you are physically fit. It lasts 9 days.
Mendoza is well connected to the rest of Argentina and to Chile through a variety of flights and buses.
Several major airlines and even some budget ones fly in and out of Mendoza, with direct flights to Buenos Aires (both Jorge Newbery and Ezeiza airports) which lasts around 1 hour and 45 minutes, and other large cities in the country.
If you have time to spare, I recommend traveling by bus. Buses in South America are comfortable, and on the longest rides you can fully recline to get some rest. Not to mention, the landscape is gorgeous and it’s a great way to admire the views.
There are direct buses connecting Santiago de Chile to Mendoza. The trip lasts around 8 hours, but keep in mind you may find lines at the border. The views along the way are fabulous.
The ride between Buenos Aires and Mendoza lasts 15 hours.
TIP: Make sure to book your bus transfer in advance, and opt for upper deck front seats for the best views!
Biking is a fantastic way of moving around Mendoza, Argentina
How to move around Mendoza
Depending on where you plan to stay, you can easily move around Mendoza on foot, by bike or by public transportation. The city is fairly walkable, but keep in mind that the wineries are outside the city.
By bus: Like in the rest of Argentina, public transportation in Mendoza is quite reliable. You can’t pay for your ride directly on the buses, so if you intend to move around by bus make sure to get a Redbus card at kiosks which are scattered around the city.
By bike: Bikes can be rented at hostels, hotels or at various places around town. They are a good way of getting around and to get to the wineries.
By taxi: Taxis are easily available in Mendoza, and quite cheap so a good way to travel around town and even outside of it.
By car: Alternatively, if you the idea of being completely independent, opt for a car rental. You can pick your car directly at the airport. Check out the prices of car rental here.
When to visit Mendoza
Mendoza is sunny year-round, with cold winters and very hot summers. Though you won’t miss the sun if you visit in the winter, I think the summer months (from December to March) are the best to visit. That’s when you’ll see the vineyards in full bloom, and if you visit at the end of February you can even attend the Vendemia festival.
Spring and Fall (October, November and April) are the best months to visit if you intend to go hiking.
Safety in Mendoza
Like the rest of Argentina, Mendoza is a fairly safe city. Having said so, it grew a lot in the last couple of decades, and with that the crime rates (especially petty crimes) increased. Do trust your instincts when it comes to safety, and always keep an eye on your possessions. Make sure to avoid walking alone on big squares and dark streets at night.
Lastly, and as for any other trip, I recommend getting a good travel insurance for your trip to Mendoza, especially if you intend to do any adventurous activity. Check out the prices of travel insurance here.
Have you ever been to Mendoza? What did you like the most about it?
Hi, my name is Claudia. One day I packed my life and started traveling… except I packed too much. Follow me as I fill my life with dreams, drop the weight and inspire you to live your dreams. View and download my media kit here (updated Oct 2018). Learn more about me here…