I visited Salta, Argentina, during my first trip to the country, and fell in love with it. Salta easily qualifies as one my favorite provinces in Argentina. Blessed with a pleasant climate throughout the year and home to the second largest wine producing region in the country (the first is Mendoza), it is so beautiful that it’s been nicknamed Salta la Linda (Salta the beautiful).
This is not Argentina you’d expect it – and it is a very welcome chance. In a way I feel it is more similar to the neighboring Bolivia. Here, you’ll be able to experience the culture of the Andes and of the Quechua, and to try food that is different from the typical Argentine flavors.
I wholeheartedly recommend including Salta in your Argentina travel plans.
In this post, I share all the top things to do in Salta and provide some information to help you organize your trip there.
The province of Salta is one of the most picturesque in Argentina
13 Fabulous Things To Do In Salta, Argentina
Hang out in Plaza 9 de Julio
Salta was founded in 1582 and has since then retained its colonial charm. The best place to get a proper idea of the colonial past is the main square, Plaza 9 de Julio. It is surrounded by lovely small cafés, cobblestone streets, and hosts the beautiful Cathedral – possibly the most famous landmark in town with its bring pink color.
The Cathedral was built between 1856 and 1882, after the previous cathedral was destroyed in an earthquake. It hosts various religious relics in a small adjacent museum, as well as the ashes of revolutionary war hero Martin Miguel de Güemes are housed, plus a small museum of religious relics.
If you are flexible enough, make sure not to explore the city of Salta, Argentina, on a Monday. That’s when the Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana (MAAM) is closed and frankly it’d be a pity to miss it.
The highlight of this anthropology museum dedicated to the Andean culture and where you’ll find plenty of Inca artifacts are the mummies of three Inca children that were found by scientists in 1999 in the summit of Llullaillaco Volcano, at 6700 meters above sea level and well buried in the snow. It is believed that they had been drugged and then used as human sacrifices to the gods around 1490.
The freezing conditions helped preserve the bodies of the children, to the point that things such as their hair, their clothes and even their internal organs have been preserved.
The mummies are kept in airtight glass cases and only one at a time is shown to the public, in an effort to ensure their preservation.
Another interesting museum is located in the Cabildo, the City Hall located in Plaza 9 de Julio. The museum has an exhibit of documents and various artifacts about the role of Salta in Argentina’s independence. If you don’t want to visit the museum, make sure to at least peep in to admire the building which is a lovely example of colonial architecture, with a nice central courtyard and colorful plants.
Finally, the Museo Pajcha Arte Etnico is a very interesting place if you are interested in pre-Colombian art and Andean culture. It’s a bit out of the center of town, and in fact it is a private collection with limited access hours. The best part of it is that it is off the beaten path so if you visit chances are you’ll get the owner and curator to guide you around, making the visit all the more interesting.
The incredible landscape of the Salta Province
Enjoy the view from Cerro San Bernardo
One of the nicest things to do in Salta, Argentina, is going all the way to Cerro San Bernardo to take in the incredible views. There is a funicular that goes all the way to the top – it’s located at about 1 km from Plaza 9 de Julio. You can also walk the stairs. Make sure to go on a sunny day for a fantastic experience, or at sunset. There are various food vendors at the top, and you can even get a beer and explore the small market.
Ride the Tren a las Nubes
Train travel isn’t exactly a thing in Argentina. The distances are too long and it’s difficult to maintain the rails. There are a few places in the country where trains are used mostly for tourist purposes. Among them there is Tierra del Fuego. Yet, the best train ride has to be the Tren a las Nubes, which you can enjoy near Salta.
The Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) runs from April to December. It is honestly quite expensive but the views along the ride absolutely fantastic. The train goes into the Lerma Valley all the way to the Quebrada del Toro, through San Antonio de los Cobres, known for being one of the highest villages in Argentina. It then goes along La Polvorilla Viaduct, at 4220 meters above sea level.
The tour normally departs very early from Salta, and returns quite late. Make sure to triple check if the train is actually going, as at times you’ll end up sitting on a bus for a big part of the ride.
These are some tours that include Tren a las Nubes options:
Road to the Clouds safari – this actually is a bus tour that follows the rail line, so a good option if you visit in a season when train rides are not offered.
The gorgeous landscape in Purmamarca
Explore the Quebrada de Humahuaca
A road trip along the Quebrada de Humahuaca is one of the absolute best things to do in Salta, Argentina. Words can hardly describe the unique landscape, the lovely small villages, and the breathtaking views along the way.
Among the places to visit in the Quebrada de Humahuaca, make sure to include the many picturesque villages. Among them there are Purmamarca, which is tiny but has a lovely souvenir market and is right at the foothill of the beautiful Cierro los Siete Colores; Maimara, at the foothills of La Paleta del Pintor, a gorgeous colorful mountain.
Tilcara is one of the largest towns in the area, and is famous for its Pucara, a former Inca setting which has been reconstructed practically entirely. If you happen to visit during carnival, make sure to join in the celebrations as they are a lof of fun.
Humahuaca, which is at 3000 meters above sea level, is the largest in the region.
Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to fully explore the quebrada and its villages – I’d suggest to spend at least 3 full days driving around and exploring the villages. Alternatively, there are some good guided day or 2-day trips departing from Salta. These are some good ones:
Salinas Grandes is a must when in Salta – even after some rain
Visit Salinas Grandes
I am pretty sure you have hear of Uyuni Salt Flats, in Bolivia. Well, Argentina has its own smaller (yet grand) version of it, and it is at a couple of hours drive from Salta. It is an incredible place, with a stunning light and perfect to take fun photos where the proportions are all skewed. Unfortunately, I visited a day after it had rained and it was all covered in water – but nevertheless gorgeous. You can go directly there or add it to your Quebrada de Humahuaca itinerary.
Not far from Salta, there is the second biggest wine region of Argentina. Cafayate – that’s the name of the town and of the region – produces various different wines, among which the very Argentine Malbec and Torrentés. There are several wineries you can visit. You can either drive from Salta; go on a day trip or even spend a couple of day for full enjoyment. If you have time, make sure to spend some time driving around the Quebrada de Cafayate – it is splendid.
These are some of the best tours of Cafayate departing from Salta:
If you are into adventure sports, you won’t want to skip this one: among the best things to do in Salta, Argentina, is spending a full day doing adventure sports such as rafting on Rio Juramento and zip lining around the canyon. The best company that runs this kind of activities is Salta Rafting.
It is a full day tour, where you leave at 8:00 am to drive a couple of hours to the base camp. Once there, you’ll be trained and prepped for the rafting, which is fairly easy yet a lot of fun (perfect for families with children too). You’ll then be taken back to the camp where, while you shower, the staff will prepare a fantastic asado.
Those who haven’t had enough can then go zip lining. It honestly is the best zip line I have ever done, with flights of up to 600 meters above the river. Completely exhilarating, if not a bit scary in parts. It is not a cheap tour – but it’s honestly worth it. You can book the tour here.
Go to a peña
If you turn on the radio when in the region of Salta, you’ll notice that the music is different. Salteños listen to a lot of folk music, and one of the most fun things (though admittedly I wouldn’t do it more than once) is attending a peña (folk concert) where you can also watch dance performances. There are several peñas in Salta, and a couple right outside town.
There are a lot of shopping opportunities in the Salta Province
Salta is a nice place for shopping – whether you are looking for local specialties at a food market, or for souvenirs. My favorite market in town is Mercado Municipal San Miguel. It’s a large indoor market where you’ll find all sorts of food stalls, with plenty of chances to grab something to eat; as well as souvenirs. Besides, it is a nice place to spot a bit of local action.
If you are just looking for souvenirs, the Mercado Artesanal is located in the center of Salta in a restored colonial millhouse. There you’ll find plenty of Andean style things such as hats, scarves, ponchos and what not.
The village of Cachi is simply gorgeous and it’d be a pity to miss it. It’s a very well preserved colonial village where you’ll get a good fix for history and colonial architecture. You can get there driving along the Cuesta del Obispo, a winding road from where you’ll get breathtaking views.
You’ll find lots of regional food in Salta. Make sure to try locro, a stew of meat, corn and potatoes; humitas, which are husks filled with corn and cheese; tamales, aka steamed leaves filled with meat, potatoes and corn flour. They are very popular street foods, but you can also find them in family run restaurants or at the Mercado San Miguel.
You have to eat empanadas when in Salta!
Rumor has it that Salta is where empanadas were invented. I can’t swear to this, but for some reason this is the first place where I tried them and to be honest, for as many empanadas I have had in my multiple trips to Argentina, I have yet to find one that is as good as the ones I have had in Salta. Make sure to get your fill of these light pastries filled with meat and onion, or spinach and ricotta, or even ham and cheese.
Practical Information To Organize Your Trip To Salta, Argentina
Where to stay and eat in Salta and its province
There are plenty of excellent places to stay in Salta and in the Quebrada de Humahuaca, as well as several good restaurants. Here are a few recommendations for you:
When in Salta, make sure to eat at El Viejo Jack. It is a very unpretentious parrilla that serves very good food at more than reasonable prices. If you fancy Argentine style pizza, go to La Colonial. It’s as local as it gets. You’ll find a good selection of small restaurants and fancier ones in the Quebrada de Humahuaca. El Churqui, in Purmamarca, serves typical regional dishes, including llama and the popular humitas.
Salinas Grandes are among the best attractions near Salta
Guided tours of Argentina that also go to Salta
If you aren’t a master of organizing, if you don’t have time for it or if you just want to leave the planning to the experts, you may opt for a guided tour of Argentina that also goes to Salta and takes you to all the best places to visit in the region. The following are some excellent options:
Best of Argentina 3 weeks– this tour goes to all the best places to visit in Argentina, including Patagonia, Iguazu Falls and Salta.
Salta is well connected to the rest of the country thanks to a good web of buses and flights. It takes around 20 hours by bus from Buenos Aires and just about the same amount of time from Mendoza.
Martín Miguel de Güemes international airport is located at about 11 km from the center of Salta and has regular direct flights to Buenos Aires and other cities in Argentina. To get from the airport to the city, you can opt for a cab or for a private transfer, which you can book here.
Salta city is easy to move around, and I honestly recommend to just walk everywhere. If you plan to get out of the city (which you totally should!), your best bet is to rent a car. You can check out the prices of car rental here. Alternatively, you can opt to join one of the many guided tours that regularly depart from the city.
When to visit Salta
The best time to visit Salta is at the end of the summer and in the fall, when you’ll have better chances of clear skies and warm days. June to August (Argentine winter) are also good: this is when Patagonia is under snow and it can get very cold in other parts of the country.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina is by far one of the most incredible, breathtaking places in the world.
I have seen a fair share of waterfalls in my travels, but none of them left such a strong impression as Iguazu. Take Victoria Falls (the massive waterfall marking the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Africa), for example. Honestly, it is amazing and massive – but it can’t compare to Iguazu Falls.
Have you heard of Kaieteur Falls, in Guyana? It is one of the most unique places on earth, and not many people visit it (provided they even know where it is). Well, I have been; I loved it, and I strongly encourage you to visit (here’s a complete guide to visiting Kaieteur Falls, just in case). But once again, it can’t compete with the grandeur of Iguazu.
What about the famous Niagara Falls, then? Put it this way: upon visiting Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Eleanor Roosevelt said “My poor Niagara.”
Iguazu Falls are made of a huge series of large and small waterfalls (the amount really depends on water levels) that you can admire from an incredible array of viewpoints. There are so many, indeed, that you can easily spend a couple of days visiting Iguazu Falls, especially if you decide to view them from both the Argentine and the Brazilian sides (which I wholeheartedly recommend).
After sharing some background information about Iguazu Falls, this post will provide all the advice you need to organize your visit to Iguazu Falls, Argentina, as well as some tips to visit the Brazilian side.
Few places are as special as Iguazu Falls
A Practical Guide To Visiting Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Some background information on Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls, or Las Cataratas del Iguazú in Spanish, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and were named one of the Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011. They stretch for almost three km between the Argentine province of Misiones and Brazilian state of Paraná and they are the largest waterfall system in the world (though they are not the highest ones).
They are so spectacular that, if you are planning a trip to South America, you should make sure to include them in your itinerary.
Iguazu Falls are constantly changing, and that your experience there may change a lot depending on the year you visit, on the time of year you visit, and even on the day. Visit after some heavy rains, and some trails may be closed due to flooding, and some wooden paths even completely carried away by the water. Other times, there may be very little water.
When I visited Iguazu Falls, the flow of water was nice and strong, but it hadn’t rain in a while so I could walk all of the trails and paths to all the viewpoints. But, since there was a lot of water, I still got (pleasantly) sprayed by the myst.
This is what Iguazu Falls look like after heavy rain
Best time for visiting Iguazu Falls
I’d dare say that any time is a good time to visit Iguazu Falls, and no matter when you go you’re bound to having an incredible experience. Having said that, I recommend visiting in either the shoulder or the dry season, when you’ll have higher chances of clear skies but the temperatures are not as hot.
If you manage to go at the very beginning of the dry season, you should be able to see the falls at their fullest. I visited at the end of February and was very lucky, with 3 full days of sun – though it was actually very hot and humid.
December to February is the rain season, but the other side of the coin is that you get to see the waterfalls in their full power. April to June is the dry season, and August and September are even drier and cooler.
Iguazu Falls receive tourists any time of year, but if you want to avoid the largest crowds don’t go in January or July, when it is peak summer season for the Argentines, or when they are having their winter break.
How long should you stay in Iguazu?
I recommend spending at least 2 full days (and 3 nights) visiting Iguazu Falls. Both the Argentine side and the Brazilian side take a full day to visit, if not more. Yes, there are guided tours that go to both sides in one day, and there even are day trips from Buenos Aires (more about that later) as a last resort; but this is a place that deserves to be seen at a a relaxed pace to be fully enjoyed.
If you have a chance, visit both sides of Iguazu Falls – the experience will be different!
Which side should you visit?
If you are on a trip across Argentina, it only makes sense to visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina. However, if you are spending a few days in the region (which I wholeheartedly recommend), you should visit both sides. After all, Brazil is literally just across the river. Both Argentina and Brazil have national parks, but the experience you’ll be having in each of them is different.
If you have the option of visiting both sides, visit Iguazu Falls, Brazil, first. If you only have time for one, opt for the Argentine side. The Brazilian side is very panoramic, and you’ll get perfect close up photos of the giant waterfalls.
But the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls is honestly much more fun. You’re literally IN the waterfalls. Trails take you above them, below them, under them (if you do the boat ride), and you can see a lot of wildlife.
The view at Garganta del Diablo
The best trails and viewpoints in Iguazu National Park
You should factor in a minimum of 6 hours in the park, though I recommend spending a good 8 hours there to walk all the trails at a nice pace and spend plenty of time to admire the views.
Once you are inside Iguazu National Park, in Argentina, you should take the Jungle Train (Tren de la Selva) which stops in 3 different places. Make sure to get off at the stop immediately after you get on, as this is the starting point of the Upper and Lower Circuits. These two are meant to take you around the park and to all the best viewpoints to fully enjoy Iguazu Falls. I recommend walking both of them.
The Upper Circuit is a shorter trail of less than one km that takes about one hour to complete. It has a wooden path that takes you to the top of the falls from where you can enjoy impressive views.
The Lower Circuit is a longer trail that will take you up to 3 hours, with several viewpoints. This is the trail you need to walk to catch the boat to San Martin Island and the boat that goes right under the waterfalls.
Once you have walked both circuits, you can go back to the train stop to get on the next train going to the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). Once the train stops, just take the wooden trail that leads to the waterfalls for about 1.2 km (one way). Along the way, you’ll be able to spot lots of turtles and at times even crocodiles in the water.
Make sure to factor in enough time to visit the Garganta del Diablo, as it seriously is the highlight of Iguazu Falls. It’s massive, and the views is nothing short of amazing.
Another trail you can take is the Macuco trail, which goes all the way to Arrechea Waterfall. It’s a nice nature walk that should take you around 3 hours in total and during which you can admire lots of wildlife, and which takes you to a lesser visited part of Iguazu National Park where you can even swim in a natural pool.
Though the best views of Iguazu Falls are bound to be from the sky, I recommend not doing a helicopter tour. Argentina has banned them a few years ago, in an attempt to reduce the level of noise which causes noise pollution and disturbs wildlife. They are still available from the Brazilian side, but please refrain from doing it!
The wildlife in Iguazu is very abundant
Wildlife in Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Make sure to keep your eyes wide open when visiting Iguazu Falls, as you will be seeing lots of interesting wildlife. Birdwatchers will be in for a treat, as there are beautiful, colorful toucans and yellow-eyed bluebirds. You will also spot lots of coatis, which are quite similar to raccoons and not shy at all. Make sure not to feed them – though they will try to grab your food! And by all means don’t pet them: they may bite or scratch, and that hurts.
Needless to say, there are also lots of monkeys and supposedly also jaguars – though I haven’t heard of anybody who’s spotted these elusive mammals.
Iguazu National Park in Argentina is open every day from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Visitors are allowed to enter until 4:30 PM.
Entrance to the National Park for non residents is 700 Argentine Pesos (ARS), which at the current exchange rate is about $15.4 USD. You can buy tickets directly at the park, paying in cash (only pesos accepted) or by credit card. If you validate your ticket at the ticket window upon leaving you can get a 50% discount on your second visit (but only if you visit on two consecutive days).
Tickets to Iguazu National Park include access to all the trails, boat ride to San Martin Island and Tren de la Selva. Boat tours that go under the waterfalls are extra.
Inside the park you’ll find toilets, restaurants and kiosks.
Make sure to dress appropriately and be prepared to get soaked!
What to wear when visiting Iguazu Falls
Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes is a must when visiting Iguazu Falls, Argentina. However, it’s also very hot, and you’re likely to get wet – so perhaps wearing sandals is a better idea. Having said so, this is a list of essentials you should wear and pack for your day at Iguazu Falls:
A pair of goodwalking sandals, best if they have good grip and traction on the slippery paths;
Getting to Iguazu Falls from Puerto Iguazu is very easy. Buses leave regularly from the bus station to go to Iguazu National Park. Alternatively, you can take a taxi.
Guided day and multi-day trips to Iguazu Falls
You can easily visit Iguazu Falls independently making use of public transportation. A guided tour will likely provide a more complete experience, especially if you manage to get a knowledgeable guide that shares a lot of information about the geology of the waterfalls, the nature and the local wildlife.
These are some good tours of Iguazu Falls, Argentina, all departing from Puerto Iguazu – the closest town on the Argentinian side:
One of the coolest things to do in Iguazu Falls is exploring it at night. The overall experience is incredible – animals are more active then; the waterfalls glow in the natural light of the moon and the starts, and the atmosphere incredibly eerie. This isn’t something that happens every day, but just when there is a full moon. So, if it is something you are interested in doing, make sure that your travel plans to Iguazu coincide with a full moon.
Night tours of Iguazu Falls take place for 5 consecutive nights every month. There are 3 departures – one at 7:45 PM, when you see the moon rising; one at 8:30 PM, when you see the final stages of the rising moon and the falls start being better illuminated by the natural light; one at 9:15 PM, which honestly is the best one as you this is when the falls will be better illuminated.
I wholeheartedly recommend spending at least a couple of days in Iguazu to fully enjoy it. However, if you are tight on time (ie you are on a business trip to Argentina) and only have a spare day, you’ll be glad to know that there are guided day trips that depart from Buenos Aires and that include round-trip flights and a guided tour of Iguazu National Park in Argentina.
It will be a very long day, with a very early departure (the flight lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes) and it won’t be cheap. But if a day is all you have, it is still worth it in my opinion.
These are the best day trips to Iguazu Falls departing from Buenos Aires:
If you are spending a few days in the region, you should also consider visiting the Brazilian side of Iguazu. Going there is very easy: buses depart from the main bus station in Puerto Iguazu and take you across the border. Once you are there, the driver will collect all passports for border control, and will get them back to you stamped.
If you have a US passport you need to arrange a visa to travel to Brazil. You can do so here.
If you’d rather join a guided tour to visit the the Brazilian side of the waterfalls, these are some good ones that depart from Puerto Iguazu:
When in Argentina, visiting Iguazu Falls is a must!
Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip To Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Where to stay in Puerto Iguazu
Puerto Iguazu is the closest town to Iguazu Falls in Argentina, so it makes sense to look for accommodation there – unless you want to opt for one of the expensive hotels inside the national park. As it is a very popular destination, there are lots of excellent accommodation options.
This is a selection of good places to stay in Puerto Iguazu:
Jasy Hotelis close to the center of Puerto Iguazu and at a very short distance from the bus station. It has very large rooms – in fact, they are more like chalets; a good restaurants and bar; and a nice small pool. Click here for the latest ratesand here for reviews.
Guided tours of Argentina that also go to Iguazu Falls
If you aren’t a fan of organizing your travels, if you don’t have time to do so or if you just want to leave the boring planning to the experts, you should join a guided tour that also goes to Iguazu Falls, Argentina. The following are some excellent options:
Iguazu and beyond – this GAdventures tour departs in Buenos Aires and goes all the way to Rio, via Iguazu.
Iguazu Falls independent adventure – G Adventures has two versions of this tour: a regular and an upgraded one. Both of them go to both sides of the falls; the upgraded one includes some meals and offers nicer accommodation.
Best of Argentina 3 weeks– a great 21 days tour that hits the best places to visit in Argentina, including Patagonia, Iguazu Falls and Salta.
Puerto Iguazu is well connected to the rest of Argentina by plane and bus. Flights land at the airport which is close to the city. There are regular daily flights that leave from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Palermo, Buenos Aires. The main companies flying to Puerto Iguazu are LATAM, Aerolinas Argentinas and as of late Norwegian Air. The flight from Buenos Aires takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.
From the airport, you can get to town via public transportation or taxi. Alternatively, you can arrange your private transfer here or here.
Rio Uruguay has overnight buses from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu. The ride takes around 17 hours.
Peninsula Valdes is one of the places to visit in Argentina
With so many things to do in Argentina, it is easy to fall in love with it. Don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with many of the countries I have visited. For example, I have officially declared my love for Nicaragua. But Argentina holds a special place in my heart, I feel culturally very close to it and my love for it is so deep that I keep thinking I should actually move there. I even bought a one way ticket to Buenos Aires a couple of years ago, and just as I had started looking for a place to rent, I had to change my plans. But I have been back, and I plan to go back for more. Indeed, there are so many places to visit in Argentina, so many things to do in Argentina that I don’t think a lifetime would be enough to experience them all.
Whenever I visit Argentina, I am impressed by its stunning beauty. Whether I explore one of the gorgeous cities or get deep in its incredible nature, I feel captivated by the atmosphere, by the positive vibes I get, and I feel totally charmed by the people. It may be the similarities in our cultures, but as an Italian it is easy for me to connect with Argentinians: I can spend hours deep in conversation with them – talking about anything from their obsession with futból (“It was not off-sight!”) to politics and literature. And there is nothing better than doing this while enjoying a delicious meal and drinking a fantastic glass of Malbec.
Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the places to visit in Argentina
Argentina tourist attractions are many. This incredible country has something for just about anybody: cities packed with interesting museums; a fantastic cultural life; tango galore; unique wildlife; mountains and glaciers; infinite possibilities for adventure seekers; friendly people who are always in for fun; incredible food and delicious wines.
Although prices fluctuate as much as the Argentinian economy and the inflation rate is very high, I did not find it expensive to visit Argentina.
Before giving my advice on the things to do in Argentina and stating what the unmissable places to visit in Argentina are, here is a bit of background information on how to prepare for what may well be the trip of a lifetime.
Great things to do in Argentina: a guide for adventure junkies and nature lovers
Deciding when to visit Argentina
Any time is a good time to visit Argentina. But I may be biased! Indeed, most of those who spend their holidays in Argentina opt to travel in the late spring and summer months, between November and March, when it is possible to enjoy the whole country thanks to the favorable weather conditions. The months of January and February are peak season and places will be busy – it is a good idea to make reservations for buses, flights, and even hostels during those months.
One of the things to do in Argentina is admiring its wildlife
One of the best things to do in Argentina during the summer months is enjoying its wildlife, in particular in the area of Peninsula Valdes and Punta Tombo (but keep in mind that the whales and orcas are spotted during the winter months). Patagonia is best visited in the summer, when Perito Moreno is not prohibitively cold; the same can be said for Tierra del Fuego. I should however point out that Buenos Aires does get tremendously hot in the summer months!
Visas aren’t necessary for people who hold passports of European Union countries, United States and Switzerland. Passports are stamped and a tourist visa is given, free of charge, for 90 days from the date of arrival. Citizens of Canada need anonline visa(Argentina Reciprocity Fee).
It may be necessary to show proof of onward travel – such as a round trip plane ticket. I also advise to purchase travel insurance prior to traveling. You can get yours here.
Crossing the border to and from Argentina
There are several places to cross the border between Argentina and Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay. Crossing the border is usually a rather easy process but keep in mind that no fruits and vegetables can be carried into Chile. Whatever fresh food item one may be carrying, needs to be either discarded before crossing the border or declared in the immigration card. The fines for omitting to do so aren’t high, but the Chilean authorities will take their time in measuring every single item that can’t be carried into Chile, and this may slow down the entire border crossing process!
Currency in Argentina
The Argentinian peso is the most fluctuating currency in South America, if not the world. Inflation rate are very high and prices can change dramatically in the course of a few weeks.
Credit cards are not widely accepted and using them usually imply a surcharge. Dollars are widely accepted and until the recent change in government which has allowed the dollar to peso exchange rate to fluctuate, travelers who carried dollars usually found it better to exchange it in the blue market than in banks and official currency exchange office.
Just to give an idea, back in 2015 $1 USD was officially exchanged at around 8 Argentinian Pesos, but I was able to exchange it at up to 14 (almost double the official rate) in the blue market.
The removal of restrictions on buying and selling dollars and allowing the peso rate to float according to the market means that the peso has been devalued and the blue market for dollars has significantly shrunk.
At the moment, $1 USD is worth about 42 Argentinian Pesos.
I still think that one of the best things to do in Argentina is carrying some dollars, just in case.
Safety in Argentina
I found Argentina to be safe. I am generally oblivious to danger – I have visited what are considered some of the most dangerous cities in the world and I have never encountered a problem. I generally keep a low profile, whereby I use minimum precaution, such as keeping my eyes open, carrying a copy of my passport around and leaving the original one in a safe, keeping my bag strapped around my shoulder and not wearing anything too flashy (but then again, that is my style anyways) and all goes well.
Transportation in Argentina
Some of the distances in this huge country are very large. For example, getting from Puerto Madryn to El Calafate takes a good 20 hours, and from Mendoza to Buenos Aires 15 hours. Unless traveling overland is a matter of principle, I think that flying may well be one of the best things to do in Argentina, and at times it may also save a little money – just make sure to book well in advance.
Having said so, buses in Argentina are usually punctual and comfortable. Seats can be fully reclined and long distance buses even pass around meals (don’t expect anything fancy). Seats usually have a personal screen, headphones and there even is wifi.
Where to stay in Argentina
The range of places to stay in Argentina is incredible: from hostels to hotels, from bed and breakfast to guest houses and even to couch-surfing, there is something for any budget. The standard of hostels is generally good: clean, well equipped, with a nice environment and they even organize nights out, parties and dinners for very good prices.
Staying in an estancia is one of the things to do in Argentina – photo courtesy of Mariano Mantel (flickr)
One of the best things to do in Argentina, however, is staying in an estancia (called finca in some parts of the country), a ranch. Most estancias are located a bit off the beaten path, and staying in one is a great way to get to know in depth some of the most interesting aspects of the culture of Argentina.
Eating in Argentina
Fact: food in Argentina is delicious and one of the top things to do in Argentina is eating. Argentina is a real paradise for meat eaters, and enjoying a good asado (a mix of barbecued meats) is a must. So delicious is asado that there even are online resources that explain how to make a good one at home.
Yummy things to do in Argentina: eating asado – photo courtesy of Jesus Dehesa (flickr)
Vegetarians and vegans may have a bit of a hard time, but things are improving and the choice of places to eat for them is anyways quite large, especially in cities such as Buenos Aires and Mendoza. Thanks to its Italian heritage, in Argentina there is a lot of good Italian food and home made pasta and pizza are available in lots of restaurants, making the life of vegetarians and vegans a bit easier.
Things to do in Argentina? Trying empanadas – photo courtesy of einalem (flickr)
In the north west regions, empanadas (sort of small calzones with various fillings) are a good option of cheap and tasty food, along with the humitas (sort of tamales, made of corn dough).
Argentinians typically eat a small breakfast consisting of café con leche (coffee with milk) and medialunas, which are small croissants. International hostels and hotels do offer a bigger variety.
Dulce de leche (caramelized milk, almost nauseatingly sweet) is very popular and pretty much spread on anything, or so it seems. A popular snack is alfajores, two rounded dry biscuits joined together by (usually) dulche de leche and often covered in chocolate. I don’t have a very sweet tooth so I didn’t particularly enjoy them.
Drinking in Argentina
Beer in Argentina isn’t really that great. Quilmes is perhaps the best one, followed by Salteña which is more popular in the region of Salta.
Enjoying a good glass of Malbec: one of the things to do in Argentina – photo courtesy of vmiramontes (flickr)
Among the recommended things to do in Argentina, there is trying the fantastic wines and taking a wine tour, especially in the region of Mendoza and in Cafayate. Malbec is a fantastic grape that perfectly accompanies meat dishes.
The ritual of Mate
One of the things to do in Argentina is trying mate – a bitter infusion made with chopped yerba mate leaves and hot water. Drinking mate is a huge part of the Argentinian culture, to the point that people in Argentina hardly leave their home without carrying a thermos of hot water, enough yerba mate, a cup (which is usually called calabaza, Spanish for pumpkin, and is indeed a calabash gourd) and a bombilla, the straw used to drink it.
Drinking mate is a national ritual: Buenos Aires parks are packed with people sitting on the grass and drinking mate on Sundays. They pass along the cup and the straw and sip it for hours at end. It is not uncommon to also see mate stations, where people empty their calabaza and fill up on hot water.
Places to visit in Argentina
Buenos Aires is among the unmissable places to visit in Argentina. It is a great (and huge) European-looking city with an fabulous Latin Vibe. Next to state of the art modern buildings there are beautiful examples of colonial architecture. It is packed with parks and interesting museums. Its boulevards are immense, but just around the corner there are tiny cobbled alleys. There is a good reason it is called “The Paris of South America.”
And as if this was not enough already, there are gorgeous little cafés where the porteños (how people living in Buenos Aires are called) like to meet; trendy bars and night clubs; milongas where even the most reluctant ones will be seduced by tango; restaurants that serve delicious local and international food; fantastic shopping opportunities (actually, although I am not a shopaholic, I found shopping is one of the things do to in Buenos Aires).
Not to mention, one thing that can’t be missed when visiting Argentina is watching a futból match and there is hardly a better place to do so than Buenos Aires’ Bombonera stadium. There are so many things to do in Buenos Aires that I truly didn’t know where to start from. It took a few visits for me to be able to see it all. Yet, most of those who spend their holidays in Argentina only visit once and may well try to make the most of it in a few days. So, here is what to do in Buenos Aires in just a few days.
One of the things to do in Buenos Aires is visiting its iconic attractions. In this city, modernity and history mix gracefully. BAires, as the locals call it, is incredibly spread out, but with a little bit of effort, most of the tourist attractions can be visited in a day. I am a good walker, and the excitement of visiting a new city usually helps.
Things to do in Buenos Aires: exploring its iconic attractions, starting from Microcentro
I find Microcentro, the commercial centre of the city, to be a good starting point to begin exploring Buenos Aires. One of the things to do in Buenos Aires is spotting the trendy porteños and Microcentro is just perfect for that: here they can be seen dressed up, rushing to business meetings. Among the places to visit in Argentina, Buenos Aires Plaza de Mayo deserves a special mention. This is where the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo used to meet with pictures and signs of the desaparecidos – the victims of the Argentinian dictatorship – demanding to know where their sons were being held and reporting the human rights violations committed by the authorities. Plaza de Mayo is a place I am particularly drawn to, because of my previous career in international human rights law – for which I still hold a very strong interest.
Among the things to do in Buenos Aires, there is visiting the iconic Casa Rosada
Right on Plaza de Mayo there are the Catedral Metropolitana and the iconic Casa Rosada, seat of the Argentinian President and the political heart of the city. Not far from it, I find Manzana de las Luces to be another must see, as it is the oldest colonial church in Buenos Aires.
Exploring Puerto Madero is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires
One of the things to do in Buenos Aires which I truly enjoy is going for a walk in Puerto Madero, which used to be a pier once but currently is one of the trendiest barrios of the city, with its luxury apartment buildings and trendy restaurants. Puerto Madero is also home to famous architect Calatrava’s Puente de la Mujer, which I find to be a real work of art. Another part of Buenos Aires I enjoy exploring is Recoleta. This is where the wealthiest families of Buenos Aires moved in the 1870s, when an epidemic of yellow fever hit the neighborhood of San Telmo. One of the best things to do in Buenos Aires is strolling along Avenida Alvear, with its beautiful villas, the lovely shops and the Cementerio de Recoleta, the cemetery where Evita Peron, one of the most important persons in Argentinas history, is buried.
Here are some great tour options to get an introduction to Buenos Aires:
I never have to think too hard about what to do in Buenos Aires if the weather doesn’t allow me to venture outside. It is packed with fantastic museums! My two favorites are the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, which has Argentina’s best art collection with pieces of Renoir, Monet, Picasso and Gauguin, and the Museum of Modern Art.
Exploring Buenos Aires most charming barrios
I find San Telmo and La Boca to be the most charming barrios of Buenos Aires, and paying a visit to these two charming neighborhoods is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires. San Telmo used to be an elegant area where the wealthiest families in town lived but, following the yellow fever epidemic, they moved to Recoleta. San Telmo, with its cobbled streets and colonial buildings, is now a favorite of artists and bohémien, famous for its Sunday antiques market and for the lively Feria de San Telmo (the local market).
Exploring Boca and its Caminito is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires
La Boca is where Italian and Spanish immigrants settled in the 19th century and it is now a popular tourist spot for its colorful Caminito and for the Boca Juniors impressive football stadium, La Bombonera. Try a walking tour of La Boca, like this one
Pretending to be a Porteño in Palermo
Exploring Palermo – what to do in Buenos Aires on Sundays – photo courtesy of Gabriel Joandet (flickr)
People tell me I could easily pass for an Argentinian with my looks. I tend to agree – most Argentinians are of Italian descent anyways; besides, the only other Claudia Tavani I know of lives in Buenos Aires, so that must mean something. So, one of the things do to in Buenos Aires which I enjoy the most is mixing with the locals on Sundays, and spending my time in one of the many city parks.
I enjoy the ones in Palermo, where I usually rent a bike to go explore Palermo Viejo, one of the trendiest areas of Buenos Aires, packed with gorgeous buildings, cobbled streets and beautiful boulevards. I think I make quite a good impression of an Argentinian, but I am immediately recognized as a foreigner as soon as I refuse to drink mate. I know that drinking this bitter infusion of yerba is what to do in Buenos Aires to pass for a local, but I can’t bring myself to like it.
If there is one thing I realized the minute I landed in Argentina, it is that people take fútbol very seriously there. Diego Armando Maradona is still a national hero and Lionel Messi is a star.
Going to La Bombonera for a fútbol match is definitely one of the things to do in Buenos Aires. I would dare to say, it is a fantastic cultural experience, a great way to get into the local vibe and atmosphere and to meet the locals. Besides, I am Italian and although I am not obsessed with football, I must say that I occasionally like to go to the stadium.
I know what to do in Buenos Aires next time I go: get tickets for a superclásico – Boca Juniors v. River Plate.
Despite having studied ballet a lifetime ago, I am a hopeless dancer. But tango is so sensual, so captivating, that I could not resist the opportunity to watch a tango show in one of the many milongas and then let myself be carried away by its passionate rhythm. Dancing tango is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires, in fact, one of the things to do in Argentina.
Day trips from Buenos Aires
Visiting El Tigre
One of the things to do in Buenos Aires on Sundays is… getting out of the city! At about 35 km from north of Buenos Aires, Tigre and its river delta are a favorite of porteños and they are nice places for aday tour from Buenos Aires. A train ride away from Retiro station, Tigre is a small, quiet city where I love to go to get away from the heat of Buenos Aires during summer days.Check here for more details on an El Tigre day tour
Things to do in Buenos Aires on a Sunday: get out of the city! – photo courtesy of David Almeida (flickr)
I enjoy its Puerto de Frutos, a lovely local market that sells any kind of goods. I also like going for a boat ride that takes me along the delta: the view of the traditional homes and nature are stunning.
Colonia del Sacramento is a perfect day trip from Buenos Aires
The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 and is truly pretty. The main attraction of Colonia del Sacramento is the Barrio Histórico, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its old gate, the Portón de Campo; the tiny Calle de los Suspiros; the beautifully kept colonial buildings; Plaza Mayor 25 de Mayo and Plaza de Armas; and the ruins of the Convento de San Francesco. The lighthouse is the perfect spot to admire the views of the Rio de la Plata. Colonia is also packed with perfectly kept vintage cars – I love taking photos of them.
Buenos Aires is packed with good hotels and hostels. Picking a place to stay is always a matter of personal preferences and interests. I like a bit of local feel and I enjoy walking everywhere, so to me the best places to stay in town are all in San Telmo, which is a charming area packed with lovely restaurants, cafés and bars.
I foundAmerica del Sur hostel to be a good choice. There are dorms (all having a private bathroom) as well as private rooms – all of them are cozy, modern and very comfortable. America del Sur organizes nights out as well as tango workshops too. Check here to book now or here to see reviews
There are plenty of good restaurants in Buenos Aires, spread all over town. Some great international and fusion restaurants are in Palermo, one of the trendiest areas of Buenos Aires. Yet, my pick is Fresh Market, in Puerto Madero. It took me a while to find this, as really the restaurant is no more than a few tables in what really is a grocery store. But the food is incredible (I highly recommend the fresh salmon) and the choice of dessert out of this world!
You could also try a food tour to see more of the cuisine in Buenos Aries. Here are some great tour options:
Puerto Madryn, the Peninsula Valdes and Punta Tombo
Puerto Madryn is definitely one of the places to visit in Argentina. A small port town on the Gulfo Nuevo, it gives easy access to some of Argentina tourist attractions: the beautiful Península Valdés and Punta Tombo. In the summer months, it is is a beach destination to which lots of people who spend their holidays in Argentina travel, as it is the perfect location for one of the most incredible things to do in Argentina: admiring the thriving wildlife. And as a bonus, it also is a nice place to just hang out.
Puerto Madryn is one of the places to visit in Argentina – photo courtesy of Christian Ostrosky (flickr)
In the winter and spring, between June and December, Puerto Madryn is one of the places to visit in Argentina as it is possible to admire the austral whales directly from the town jetty (although apparently the best place to spot the austral whales is Puerto Pirámides, in the Península Valdés). Check here for more information on a whale watching tour
One of the best things to do in Argentina is learning more about its incredible wildlife, and Puerto Madryn is an excellent place to do that as it has several interesting museums. One of them, the Ecocentro, is a work of art of interactive exhibits where great artistic sensibility and outstanding scientific research are joined together for superb results. It also has a fantastic library from which it is possible to admire a beautiful view of the gulf (and spot the marine life).
I visited Puerto Madryn during the summer months (between December and March), which is when the strong Patagonian winds blow almost uninterrupted. For this reason, I was unable to see the austral whales. Yet, like most of those who visit Argentina, I went all the way to Puerto Madryn to further explore the region – and it was a good choice!
One of the activities I enjoyed the most was going out on a boat expedition to admire mammals such as dolphins and sea lions in their natural environment. This was one of the highlights of my trip and the main reason why I find that Puerto Madryn is one of the places to visit in Argentina.
One of the most incredible things to do in Argentina is enjoying the gorgeous wildlife
Among the things to do in Argentina, there is visiting the Reserva Faunística Península Valdés, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of the best places to visit in Argentina to observe the incredible wildlife in its natural habitat. Among others, during my tour of Peninsula Valdes I admired sea elephant and lions, guanacos, nandus, foxes, magellan penguins. Depending on the season, even orcas show up. I even swam in Puerto Pirámides. The Atlantic water wasn’t cold, but the strong wind meant that as soon as I got out I was covered in sand!
This photo is the proof that Punta Tombo is one of the places to visit in Argentina
Another of the places to visit in Argentina is Punta Tombo, the largest penguin nesting region in South America. Besides a variety of birds which includes cormorants and seagulls, here lives a colony of over half a million magellan penguins who set up their nest and lay their eggs each year between September and April. Taking a tour of Punta Tombo to walk around there is one of the most fun and surreal things to do in Argentina. I surely enjoyed feeling a minority when penguins walked around the site. They look really cute and they are really loud!
Here are some great options for tours in Puerto Madryn:
I generally prefer staying in hostels rather than hotels, as I find the atmosphere much more friendly. When I visited Puerto Madryn, I stayed at Hi Patagonia, a lovely hostel which, for the way it is set up, looks more like a home. And indeed, it does feel homey, with the common areas where guests can hang out, good dorms and a properly equipped kitchen. Hi Patagonia regularly organizes asado nights (eating asado is one of the things to do in Argentina) for a very convenient price, and nights out for its guests. Check here to book now or here to read more reviews
Where to eat in Puerto Madryn
Although I mostly ate at the hostel, one of the restaurants I tried in Puerto Madryn is Estela, which is considered the best restaurant in town. It offers a great choice of meat, pasta and fish dishes and the atmosphere is very cozy.
Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego
Among the fantastic things to do in Argentina, there is admiring its unspoiled nature and appreciate its wilderness. Ushuaia is one of the places to visit in Argentina just for that.
What makes Ushuaia one of Argentina tourist attractions is its location, in a wide bay on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. The Martial mountain range is at its north, whereas the Beagle Channel lays at its south. Those who visit Argentina usually travel to Ushuaia in the summer months, when the city (which is the closest point to Antarctica) gets a lot of daylight and the temperatures, despite being cold, are not as prohibitive as in the winter months (May to August).
Tierra del Fuego is one of Argentina tourist attractions – photo courtesy of Indrik myneur (flickr)
Ushuaia is a perfect base for some incredible adventures and to embark on some of the most incredible things to do in Argentina, such as hiking, kayaking, dog sledding, wildlife watching and Antarctica cruises. Among the places to visit in Argentina that can be easily accessed from Ushuaia, there are Cerro Martial and its glacier, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel.
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Argentina, and there are hardly better places than the scented forests of Tierra del Fuego National Park for that.
There are several walking trails, some offering views of the Beagle Channel and of Isla Navarino and Isla Hoste, and on any of them it is possible to admire the flora and wildlife that lives in the area, which includes cormorants, seagulls and even condors. The best hike is that of Laguna Esmeralda.
Furthermore, one of Argentina tourist attractions is the Tren del Fin del Mundo, a fantastic train ride that goes through the Tierra del Fuego National Park.
As I have pointed out already, admiring the incredible wildlife is one of the most amazing things to do in Argentina. Boarding a day cruise across the Beagle Channelis a great way to explore the various islands of Tierra del Fuego, such as those of the Alicia Archipelago.
Things to do in Argentina: visit Tierra del Fuego – photo courtesy of Piero (flickr)
Bird Islands, Seal Islands and Isla Martillo are among Argentina tourist attractions in terms of wildlife as this is where it is possible to admire colonies of sea lions and seals as well as the Magellan Penguins. Included the places to visit in Argentina that can be explored during a tour of the Beagle Channel is the beautiful Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse.
Those who visit Argentina generally agree that, even without blowing their budget, it is possible to get some really good accommodation. I generally look for plain cozy rooms with basic comforts as I don’t really need luxury, and occasionally treat myself to nicer places. In Ushuaia, I opted to stay atPosada Fin del Mundo, a wonderful building with huge windows that offer spectacular views. Rooms aren’t really spacious, but they are cozy and comfortable and the breakfast is delicious. The owners are real stars! Check here to book nowor here to read more reviews
Where to eat in Ushuaia
One of the things to do in Argentina is enjoying the excellent food. There’s plenty of good restaurants in Ushuaia. I loved grabbing some quick bits at Almacen Ramos Generales, which has freshly baked bread and good croissants. My favorite restaurant in town is María Lola Restó, which is also very popular among the locals.
El Calafate, Patagonia and the glaciers
Patagonia is without the shadow of a doubt among the places to visit in Argentina, and the small town of El Calafate is the perfect access point to it. El Calafate is located on the southern coast of Lago Argentino, surrounded by the Andean peaks, lakes and glaciers. Although the main feature of El Calafate is its location, I find this small town to be really pretty and a lovely place to relax for a few days, as it is packed with nice cafés, restaurants and shops. Those cafés come in really handy with the sudden weather changes. Even in the summer months, El Calafate can be really cold and it can snow!
El Calafate is one of the places to visit in Argentina – no doubt about that
Perito Moreno Glacier is among the most famous Argentina tourist attractions. From a distance, the view is that of an enormous river of ice that slowly moves towards the lake, surrounded by mountains. Getting closer, the glacier looks like a wall of ice. One of the most fantastic things to do in Argentina is thus taking a cruise on Lago Argentino, along the Canal de los Témpanos, to get right to the bottom of Perito Moreno and to admire the icebergs that float on the lake.
Perito Moreno glacier well deserves to be among Argentina tourist attractions
Yet, visiting the Perito Moreno is not simply a visual experience. One of the best things to do in Argentina is indeed listening to the ridges that, torn away from the glacier, crash loudly onto the lake – the sound this produces is similar to that of a thunder in the distance.
Hiking Perito Moreno is one of the things to do in Argentina but I was too cold to contemplate the thought!
I love hiking and for this reason I am one of the many who visit Argentina to enjoy its fantastic trails. Among the most incredible things to do in Argentina is hiking on the Perito Moreno glacier, apparently. I say ‘apparently’ because I must admit that I chickened out of this one as I thought I would be too cold, and I was right – to me it was cold enough already just seeing the Perito Moreno from the viewpoint.
As hiking is one of the things to do in Argentina and one of the activities I enjoy the most, I joined a hiking expedition that from Estancia Cristina led me to a viewpoint from which I could admire the Uppsala glacier. It was a very windy day – as any proper summer day in Patagonia, yet the hike wasn’t too strenuous.
Hiking is one of the most fantastic things to do in Argentina
During this day tour of Estancia Cristina and Uppsala Glacier, I walked along the Cañadón de los Fósiles, where I was able to observe a large number of marine fossils dating back to an era precedent to the formation of the Andes, and I got to see one of Argentina tourist attractions from the great viewpoint of Lago Guillermo. Finally, not only I saw the stunning Uppsala glacier but I also got to visit Estancia Cristina, which was once a ranch and it has currently been turned into a fabulous boutique hotel where it is great to spend a few nights, and which has a great annexed museum.
One of the other things to do in Argentina in the surrounding areas of El Calafate is kayaking on Lake Argentino. I dare anybody getting on the freezing waters!
Is visiting Torres del Paine one of the things to do in Argentina? I think not!
Lots of people who visit Argentina and go to El Calafate feel tempted to go on a day trip to Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile. This is a great place to visit, and it is for a good reason that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The strong Patagonian wind almost blew me away in Torres del Paine
Yet, of all the things to do in Argentina, I would not recommend going to Torres del Paine just for a day. I speak with good reason as I was one of those who made the mistake and wasted a full day (and a good amount of money – but after all, I have always said I am an unsuccessful backpacker) on what turned up to be just a bus trip where stops would consist of no more than 30 minutes for pictures. The park is too gorgeous to just spend a few hours there and deserves at least a few days to explore the various hiking trails.
I don’t like having to repeat myself, but it is only fair that I do. One of the best things to do in Argentina is taking in the fantastic view and America del Sur hostel in El Calafate is a great place to do so. It is a bit outside the centre of town, on a hill overlooking Lake Argentino.
One of the fondest memories I have of Argentina is having a very early breakfast before a day trip and seeing the sunrise from the cozy common room of America del Sur hostel. Dorms are cozy and comfortable and they all have private bathrooms. The hostel also offers tours and organizes asado nights. It is a great place to meet other travelers too. Check here to book nowor here to compare reviews
Where to eat in El Calafate
Eating is one of the things to do in Argentina. I tried various restaurants in El Calafate and eventually I made up my mind that the best one is La Tablita, a great parrilla that serves delicious meat and fish dishes, and has a great wine selection. The atmosphere is very cozy and the service excellent.
Adventure sports are among the things to do in Argentina, first and foremost hiking, but also rafting and kayaking. Considered the Argentinian hiking capital, with its iconic Fitzroy mountain range, El Chalten is one of the places to visit in Argentina for adventure sports.
El Chalten, with its access to Cerro Fitz Roy, is one of the places to visit in Argentina
Located in the northern side of the Parque Nacional los Glaciares, El Chalten is just a tiny village. Yet, it is the perfect starting point for many hiking trails and fairly easy to reach even on a day trip from El Calafate. As I was based in El Calafate and had to get a bus back, I opted for the 3 hour trail Laguna Torre, which offers incredible views of the Cerro Torre.
I am completely in love with Mendoza, and I may have biased views about it. It is one of my favorite places to visit in Argentina, so much so that I plan to go back there. This nice city full of boulevards and cosmopolitan cafés, yet the pace of life is more relaxed there. Lively during the day, Mendoza becomes fully alive at night when locals and tourists crowd the many restaurants and bars.
Cerro Aconcagua is one of the places to visit in Argentina – photo courtesy of xxxx (flickr)
The main features of Mendoza are its proximity to the Parque Provincial Cerro Aconcagua – home of the highest peak of the Western hemisphere, the Cerro Aconcagua (6962 meters) – and the fact that the region where Mendoza is located is the most incredible wine producing region of South America. It is thus easy to understand why Mendoza is one of Argentina tourist attractions.
I have insisted that trying the fabulous food is one of the things to do in Argentina. It is now time to mention the fantastic wine too. Lots of people that visit Argentina go to Mendoza specifically to go on wine tasting tours, and I won’t deny that this was my case too. The next time I go to Mendoza I will also take a wine tasting course.
Visiting the bodegas near Mendoza is one of the things to do in Argentina
The area of Mendoza is packed with incredible bodegas (vineyards) producing world class Malbec and Merlot wines. Although some travelers may opt for the classic tours, I explored the region on a bike. At a leisurely pace, I biked from bodega to bodega and in each one I had a tour of the vineyards, of the cellar and a (few) sampling of wine at the end. I won’t deny that by the end of the day I was happily tipsy.
Furthermore, as most people who visit Argentina, I also bought several bottles of wine. They were really cheap and I wanted to take them back home for my family to try. They made my backpack incredibly heavy and almost impossible to carry, but the delicious wine I could enjoy in the comfort of my home was worth every effort!
When traveling on a limited budget, among the best things to do in Argentina there’s sleeping in one of the great hostels that can be easily found in all cities. I opted for Chill Inn and it was an excellent choice. There are several kinds of accommodation to choose from. I opted for a mixed dorm with shared bathroom.
The kitchen is perfectly equipped, though I admit that I hardly cooked as on most nights the managers organized dinner for the guests. They also sell bottles of wine and have a great selection. There’s also a small but lovely pool to hang out in the summer, and a nice garden. Check here to book nowor here to read reviews
Where to eat in Mendoza
I am not too fussed when it comes to accommodation (within limits!), but I am a picky eater and if I have to spend money for food, I may as well go for quality. That’s how I discovered Siete Fuegos. If eating is one of the things to do in Argentina, and whenever in need of a bid ot pampering, this is the place to do it! A great selection of wines, excellent food, a fabulous setting make this one of the best restaurants in the country.
Salta and the North West
Salta is the biggest city in the North of Argentina, laying on a beautiful valley surrounded by the fantastic Andean peaks. It’s the indigenous heart of the country, and I find that it deserves to be listed among the places to visit in Argentina. The central plaza is a great place to hang out and among the places of interest in town there are the Cathedral and Iglesia San Francisco. I also enjoyed getting the teleférico to the Cerro San Bernardo, which allowed me to have a great view of the city (hint: go right before sunset to take in the incredible light).
Salta is one of the places to visit in Argentina – photo courtesy of Paul Campbell (flickr)
One of Argentina tourist attractions are its great museums. Salta is home to a great anthropology museum, the MAAM (Museo de Antropologia de Alta Montaña), considered the most important museum of North Argentina. I love anthropology museums as they allow me to better understand the history and culture of a region and I find MAAM to be excellent, with its fantastic exhibition of Inca artifacts, and 3 mummies found in 1999.
Rafting is one of the things to do in Argentina
Among the incredible things to do in Argentina there are all sorts of adventure sports. Patagonia is generally considered the best region for hiking, but Salta and its surroundings offer incredible opportunities to adrenaline seekers. One of my most memorable days to date is the one I spent rafting, hiking and zip lining over the Rio Juramento with Salta Rafting, the most reputable operator in the area. So much I enjoyed it that I have resolved that next time I visit Argentina I will go to Salta again to join one of their expeditions.
The day started quite early: at 8 am, together with a bunch of other adventure seekers who were spending their holidays in Argentina, we left Salta. After around two hours drive on a beautiful, scenic road, we reached the base camp on Rio Juramento, where we provided all necessary equipment to raft and we were fully trained.
There were four groups of 6 during the rafting expedition, plus a dog that I had sitting in front of me most of the time, just enjoying the view and the fresh water! Two kayaks went ahead of the group and stopped at key points to take some action shots, so I didn’t even have to worry about having a camera on me.
After two hours of rafting (which by the way went incredibly fast, as they were a lot of fun!) we found a bus waiting for us to get back to the base camp, were we had the chance to take a shower and then were offered a delicious asado – just to remind us that one of the top things to do in Argentina is eating!
Zip lining is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Argentina
Looking for more adventure, some of us then went zip lining on a system of ten cables connecting various parts of the canyon, going above the river. We flew as fast as bullets. It was scary, breathtaking yet a lot of fun and the views were spectacular! By the end of the day, I was exhausted – I fell asleep really early after a quick shower, but I was really happy!
Of all the things to do in Argentina, spending a day filled with adventure is the one I most highly recommend.
Another of the great things to do in Argentina that can be enjoyed while in Salta is taking the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds), which goes through the Quebrada del Toro to reach a spectacular viaduct suspended at 64 meters and 224 meters long, and also crosses a desert which is at 4220 meters above sea level.
South west of Salta, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Argentina is the Calchaquíes Valley – a gorgeous combination of dry landscapes, pretty adobe villages, traditional crafts markets and some of the best wines in the country. The good news is that, compared to the rest of the north of Argentina, this region is still not as explored. Among the unmissable Argentina tourist attractions in the area, there are the Devil’s Gorge, the Conchas Gorge and the beautiful Cafayate, a village surrounded by picturesque wineries.
Here are some great options for tours in and from Salta:
One of the most charming places to stay in Salta isBloomers B&B, a fantastic guest house that only has 5 rooms, each one different from the other, yet all beautifully decorated and cozy. The atmosphere is very friendly, and the breakfast menu – which changes daily – delicious. Click here to book now
Where to eat in Salta
My favorite restaurant in Salta is El Viejo Jack. This unpretentious parrilla doesn’t look too charming, but the food is delicious, the service fast and friendly, and the prices more than affordable.
I also enjoyed Pizzeria La Colonial. Sure, this isn’t nearly the best pizza one can have in Argentina (far from it) but almost all customers are locals, the atmosphere is easy going and the prices very cheap. I surely enjoyed it!
Exploring the incredible Quebrada de Humahuaca is one of the things to do in Argentina: this well deserves to be among the places to visit in Argentina thanks to its breathtaking landscapes. This is a land where blue skies meet the high desert planes, small adobe villages are scattered along with small yet interesting archeological sites. It is a palette of colors, so unique to be included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The people who live in the Quebrada are among the few remaining indigenous groups of Argentina – they are Quechua, much as the indigenous groups that currently live in Cusco and the Sacred Valley of Peru.
Quebrada de Humahuaca – one of the places to visit in Argentina – photo courtesy of Klaus Balzano (flickr)
Among the villages to visit in the Quebrada de Humahuaca there is the tiny yet lovely Purmamarca, which is right at the foot of Cerro de los Siete Colores, and which has a lovely market – one of the things to do in Argentina is haggling for some beautiful crafts in Purmamarca. The village of Maimará looks incredible against the “Paleta del Pintor”.
Attending the Carnival of Tilcara is one of the things to do in Argentina – expect to get dirty!
Tilcara is among the places to visit in Argentina for its colorful and friendly people and its unique carnival, which lasts a few days and where the celebrations are contagious: musical bands walk around the village, incessantly playing their music while others dance and play tricks to passersby, throwing flour or talcum powder at them. The result is messy, yet a lot of fun.
The Pucará de Tilcara, an Inca archeological site just outside the village, is an interesting place to spend a few hours – don’t expect anything as magnificent as Machu Picchu, but it can have its charme.
On the other side of the Trópico de Capricornio, the village of Uquía is located at over 2800 meters above sea level and has a beautiful church built in the 17th century. Humahuaca, at almost 3000 meters above sea level, is the largest village in the area and one of the places to visit in Argentina for it is packed with color, beautiful cobbled streets, lively markets and friendly locals.
Reflections of clouds on the water: Salinas Grandes are among the places to visit in Argentina
West of Purmamarca, one of the most interesting places to visit in Argentina is the beautiful Salinas Grandes, a large salt flat at 3350 meters above sea level. The visual effect of the salt flats is a blinding light, though when the region gets some rain, the area appears like a large lake that beautifully reflects the mountains and the clouds. Visiting Salinas Grandes is one of the things to do in Argentina!
The Quebrada de Humahuaca is packed with good restaurants for all budgets. The one I enjoyed the most is El Churqui, in Purmamarca, which is in a gorgeous historical building and prepares typical regional dishes, including llama.
Cataratas del Iguazu
Of all the things to do in Argentina, visiting the incredible Cataratas del Iguazu is, to put it simply, a must. Located between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, these incredible waterfalls are among the best Argentina tourist attractions for they are spectacular, a natural wonder and a real show of the mighty power of nature.
Unmissable things to do in Argentina: visiting the mighty Iguazu waterfalls
The nearest town to the waterfalls is Puerto Iguazu, at the border with Brazil. The town itself is nothing special, but it is a great base for exploring the waterfalls, as several buses per day leave from the bus station in Puerto Iguazu, either going to the Brazilian border and dropping visitors off directly at the park in Brazil, or to the Argentinian park. There are several restaurants and bars to hang out and try the local specialties – which are different from that of the rest of the country.
The climate in this part of the country is tropical, and it is hot and humid throughout the year.
Those who visit Argentina should never skip a visit to the Cataratas del Iguazu. I am glad that when I visited the region, I decided to spend at least 3 days there as I wanted to see the waterfalls from both the Brazilian and the Argentinian side.
Iguazu waterfalls are among the places to visit in Argentina
My recommendation is to actually visit the Brazilian side first, and leave the Argentinian one as the cherry on the cake. The Brazilian side is indeed very panoramic – the views are incredible and there are endless possibilities to take postcard-like pictures. It is also possible to follow several trails to admire the local wildlife (though the most interesting animals are night creatures!).
The Argentinian side was, to me, way more fun. That was when I was able to see the waterfalls from a distance, and then get close to them, get under them, get above them. I truly lived the waterfalls. I followed the various trails to cross to Isla San Martín; I walked through a 1 km footpath on the forest to reach the famous Garganta del Diablo, where a platform is laid right above the river. And I even got on a zodiac to get all the way under the waterfalls and get completely soaked – it was one of the most incredible things to do in Argentina.
One of the things to do in Argentina: admiring Iguazu waterfalls from the Garganta del Diablo
What makes the Iguazu waterfalls one of the places to visit in Argentina is the fact that it is a unique site. It is an all encompassing experience. Visual as much as auditive, as I could hear the roar of the waterfalls long before I could actually see them. But I also felt the water, as the power of the waterfalls is so strong that the water sprinkled all over me.
There are many things to do in Argentina in Iguazu National Park. It is possible to go rafting, hiking on various trails (such as the Black Well Trail and the slippery Sendero Macuco) and even kayaking. One of the most interesting experiences, apparently, is seeing the full moon from the Garganta del Diablo, when the natural light illuminates the waterfalls. I didn’t get to do this as the full moon can only be enjoyed on 5 consecutive nights per month and I wasn’t visiting Iguazu during one of those days.
Here are some great tours for visiting Iguazu Falls:
When I visited Iguazu I was traveling with a few other people and we decided to stay at Jasy Hotel. It was an excellent choice. We shared a private room and it was really spacious, it even had some basic kitchen facilities like a fridge and a microwave. The garden is beautifully kept, there is a small pool where we could relax after a day of exploration, and a good restaurant. Click here to book nowor check here to read more reviews
The bonus was the Caipirinha we were offered upon arrival: it was delicious.
Where to eat in Puerto Iguazu
Aside from the colorful market north of the centre, Puerto Iguazu is packed with good places to eat. El Quincho de Tío Querido is a good option for a typical Argentinian parrilla – the prices are more than reasonable.
Aqva is a fancy restaurant that offers some local specialties such as the surubi fish. It is on the pricey side but may be a good option for a special night out.
Things to do in Argentina: living a gaucho experience
Have you ever been to Argentina? What were your favorite things to do in Argentina?
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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…