A Guide To The Most Fun Things To Do In Mendoza, Argentina

A Guide To The Most Fun Things To Do In Mendoza, Argentina

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.

For a great itinerary through Argentina, read my post A Flash Pack’s Argentina Itinerary.” Make sure to also read my post A Guide To The Greatest Things To Do In 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.

things to do in Mendoza

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:

Check out my post 13 Fantastic Wineries In Mendoza.”

Looking for more wine regions in Argentina? Make sure to visit Salta! Read my post A Complete Guide To Salta Argentina.”

Love wine tourism? Make sure to read my post Seven Amazing Estates To Do Wine Tasting In Stellenbosch.”

Take part in the Vendimia

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.

what to do in Mendoza

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!

Mendoza Argentina

A good beer at the end of a hot day in Mendoza, Argentina

Drink beer

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:

what to do in Mendoza

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.

Read my post 11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone Is Actually A Bad Idea.”

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:

Mendoza Argentina

Make sure to pay a visit to the Puente del Inca

Visit the Puente del Inca 

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:

things to do in Mendoza

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:

what to do in Mendoza

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:

Mendoza, Argentina

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.

Go rafting 

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:

Or ziplining

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.

These are the best ziplining tours in Mendoza:

things to do in Mendoza

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:

things to do in Mendoza

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.

Mendoza Argentina

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.

Eat

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.

These tours all go to Cacheuta Thermal Baths:

Visit Villavicencio

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.

These tours go to Villavicencio:

Mendoza, Argentina

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.

Here is a selection of places to stay in Mendoza:

things to do in Mendoza

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:

How to get to Mendoza

Mendoza is well connected to the rest of Argentina and to Chile through a variety of flights and buses.

By plane

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.

Traveling to Buenos Aires? Make sure to read my post 25 Unmissable Things To Do In Buenos Aires” and my guide on “Where To Stay In Buenos Aires.”

Mendoza airport is located at about 30 minutes drive from the center of town. To get from the airport to the city you can either get a taxi or a remis (cab) or opt to book a transfer.

These are some reliable transfer services to and from the airport:

By bus

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.

Traveling to Chile? Make sure to check my post Ten Incredible Places To Visit In Chile.”

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!

things to do in Mendoza

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?

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Discover the things to do in Mendoza, Argentina - via @clautavani