I love Buenos Aires. There are so many things to do in Buenos Aires that a lifetime wouldn’t be enough for me to go through them. So much I love it, that after having been there three times I realized that I could live there. I feel incredibly comfortable there – perhaps the fact that I speak Spanish fluently and that I can easily pass for Argentinian helps a bit (interestingly enough, the only other place where this regularly happens is Tel Aviv!).
This is to say, I think visiting Argentina without taking the time to properly explore Buenos Aires (or Baires, as the Porteños call it) would take out from the overall experience of the country.
Check out my posts A Guide To The Greatest Things To Do In Argentina and A Flash Pack’s Argentina Itinerary for a more complete guide about the country.
Buenos Aires is the beating heart of Argentina, not to mention its political, economic and cultural centre. It’s a city that offers a lot in terms of places to visit and activities. It’s as charming as the most beautiful European capitals (they even call it “the Paris of South America”), but it has that warm, welcoming vibe that only South American cities have. It’s easy to fall in love with it.
On any given tour of Buenos Aires you’ll notice that this is a city where old meets new – right next door: gorgeous colonial buildings sit right next to modern skyscrapers. There are some beautiful city parks, and so many museums. The large boulevards give way to tiny cobbled alleys. There are many cafés where the locals enjoy drinking coffee and eat medialunas (which are tiny croissants); there are a multitude of bars and clubs; milongas to practice tango; restaurants and budget eateries; boutiques and flea markets. And since Argentinians are literally obsessed with futból, the Bombonera is the ultimate place to enjoy a great football match.
In this post, I highlight all the things to do in Buenos Aires that are fun, budget friendly and that are simply unmissable.
These are some of the best guided tours of Buenos Aires:
Walking along the busy Microcentro is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires
25 Fun Things To Do In Buenos Aires
Walk around Microcentro
One of the unmissable things to do in Buenos Aires is to walk around Microcentro, the commercial heart of the city. This is where the trendy Porteños can be seen in the morning, all dressed up on their way to work or jumping from one business meeting to the other. It’s not the most charming area of the city – all large boulevards and crossroads. But here, you’ll get to see the famous Obelisco, and the building of the Ministry of Health, which has a huge steel image of Eva Peron on both its north and south side.
Spend some time in Plaza de Mayo
Not too far from Microcentro, Plaza de Mayo is another must see in Buenos Aires, not only because it is splendid, but also for its symbolic value. I am a former human rights lawyer, so to me visiting the square where the mothers of the desaparecidos – the victims of the Argentinian dictatorship – meet regularly to demand justice for the victims of the regime and to protest against the violations of human rights committed by the dictatorship is almost a rite of passage. I happened there during the demonstrations a few times, and it is a touching, intense experience. If you have an opportunity, join a demonstration: is what to do in Buenos Aires if you care about human rights.
One of the symbols of Buenos Aires, the Casa Rosada is a must see
Visit the Catedral Metropolitana and the Casa Rosada
Right in front of Plaza de Mayo there are the beautiful Catedral Metropolitana and the Casa Rosada, one of the symbols of Buenos Aires! Casa Rosada is the seat of the Argentinian President, and the political heart of the city. There often are some interesting art exhibit in the garden, and during the summer months Porteños enjoy eating their lunch in the park right outside. This is one of the most local things to do in Buenos Aires.
Browsing the stalls at Feria de San Telmo
Shop at the Feria de San Telmo
The most charming barrios of Buenos Aires are San Telmo and La Boca. San Telmo used to be somewhat a posh area where the rich Porteños used to live but then, after an epidemic of yellow fever in 1870, they moved to Recoleta. In the last few years, it has become an incredibly popular place to hang out, packed with artists and bohémien. It is known for its Sunday antiques market and for the lively Feria de San Telmo (the local market).
Walking around San Telmo, especially on Sundays during the feria, is one of the most fun things to do in Buenos Aires (and there are lots of good shopping opportunities). The area has a good local feel, there isn’t as much traffic as in Microcentro. And if you hang around long enough, you can even see a tango show in Plaza Dorrego.
Visiting La Boca is one of the unmissable things to do in Buenos Aires
Go to La Boca
La Boca is a major tourist attraction with its colorful and iconic Caminito. Walking a bit more into it, there are some interesting finds too. Besides, La Boca is where the Bombonera, Boca Juniors impressive stadium, is located. Visiting is one of the unmissable things to do in Buenos Aires, but keep in mind that, aside from the few streets that are packed with tourists, it tends to be a dodgy area – even locals will warn you to steer away from the non-touristy areas.
Visit Recoleta Cemetery
Visiting Recoleta is one of the most pleasant things to do in Buenos Aires. This is where the wealthy Porteños moved after the yellow fever epidemic of 1870. I particularly enjoy Avenida Alvear with its villas and shops. Recoleta is also home to the famous historic Cementerio de Recoleta, where lots of famous Argentinians are buried – first and foremost Evita Peron.
Things you come across when walking around in Palermo!
Walk around Palermo
Palermo is a good place to hang out and walk around. It gets crowded on Sundays, when Porteños go to one of the many parks and they can be seen drinking their mate – a bitter infusion made of yerba mate which they love (they even take the thermos, mate and cup and bombilla, which is the straw they use to drink it, on their travels!). Personally I never acquired a taste for mate, but the social experience of sharing it is one of the nicest things to do in Buenos Aires.
Walk along the river in Puerto Madero
I am a Puerto Madero kind of girl and that is where I love to go for a walk any time I am in Buenos Aires. Lots of Porteños enjoy running along the waterfront. There are excellent restaurants and pubs along the river, and some interesting art galleries. It’s one of the coolest places in Buenos Aires.
Puente de la Mujer, in Puerto Madero, is a must see
Admire the Puente de la Mujer
The famous Puente de la Mujer, a bridge planned by architect Calatrava, is Puerto Madero’s trademark and an unmissable sight. Make sure to stop for a photo. Going to see it at night, when it is beautifully illuminated, is one of the top things to do in Buenos Aires.
Visit the Museo de Bellas Artes and Museum of Latin American Art
When the weather is not good, one of the nicest things to do in Buenos Aires is visiting the museums. I recommend going to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, whose exhibit includes pieces of painters such as Renoir, Monet, Picasso and Gauguin; the Museum of Modern Art and the excellent Museum of Latin American Art (MALBA).
MALBA is located in a beautiful modern building located in Palermo neighborhood. It has a collection of contemporary and historical Latin American artist, such as Frida Kahlo. There are occasional temporary exhibitions which are very interesting.
Fun during a street art tour of Palermo
Take a street art tour of Palermo
Buenos Aires is thriving with street art. The best place to see interesting street art pieces is Palermo Hollywood. I recommend going on a guided tour, with a good guide that will explain the historical, social and political reasons behind each mural; the technique used and who will put everything in context to give you a better understanding of Argentinian history and way of life.
Hang out in Plaza Serrano
Plaza Serrano is in the heart of Palermo Hollywood. It’s a lovely, airy square surrounded by nice cafés, pubs and lots of shops, and there is a market at weekends where you can buy lots of nice souvenirs at a real steal. It’s a nice place to hang out – allegedly, one of the most local things to do in Buenos Aires.
Enjoying an icy cold craft beer is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires in the summer
Enjoy a craft beer
During my first trip to Argentina, I missed having a good craft beer. Things changed since then and now Buenos Aires is packed with excellent breweries. Some chain ones like Patagonia can be found all over the country. Others are smaller. Either way, having a good craft beer is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires. If you happen to be in Palermo in the summer, you’ll literally find them one after the other, each packed with a good mix of locals and tourists. It’s fun!
A good place to get Malbec!
Or a glass of Malbec
Malbec is produced in the region of Mendoza, where you can visit the various vineyards and go on wine tasting tours. If you don’t have time to go to Mendoza, the next best thing is to find a good winery in Buenos Aires and pick a good bottle. It’s best done in good company and with a good steak!
A tango show in Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo
Dance tango in a Milonga
Buenos Aires is (together with Montevideo) one of the birthplaces of tango. I am not a dancer at all, but I find tango incredibly sensual and passionate and I enjoy watching the shows. There are many milongas in Buenos Aires – places where tango is danced. Some are so famous that they are more like theaters and even require advanced bookings; others are smaller and give a much more intimate feel. I like it either way. Needless to say, watching a tango show is one of the unmissable things to do in Buenos Aires.
These are some of the best tango shows in town:
You can even take a private tango class.
Watch a fútbol match at La Bombonera
I have always been under the impression that nobody could be more obsessed with football than the Italians, or the Spaniards. Then I went to Argentina and realized Italians are amateurs. People in Argentina take fútbol really seriously and the best way to understand how importantly they take it is to watch a game with them. And for an even better experience, watch one live at Bombonera, the famous stadium in La Boca. Here, the vibe is incredible, lively. For a real treat, try to get a ticket for the superclásico – Boca Juniors v. River Plate. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Buenos Aires.
Watching a polo match is one of the most fun things to do in Buenos Aires
Watch a polo match
Did you know that one of the national sports of Argentina is polo? You can go for a lesson, though I should warn you it is very expensive. Alternatively, you can go to a polo match at Campo Argentino de Polo. Games usually take place between September and November.
Eat a good asado
Vegans and vegetarians have a hard life in Argentina (though watch this space, there is an increasing trend in restaurants that only serve vegan and vegetarian food in Buenos Aires). As a proper capital, Buenos Aires has an incredible array of excellent restaurants. Fine Italian dining, sushi, pizzerias, Vietnamese food – name it: Buenos Aires has it all.
Yet, one of the best things to do in Buenos Aires, and that the locals truly enjoy, is eating a proper asado, a mixed grill with several kinds of meat: from the unmissable beef (the favorite local cut is bife de chorizo) to chicken, pork and lamb. Those who enjoy meat should never leave Buenos Aires without having tried it.
There are plenty of restaurants around town where to have asado. Locals typically go to places called “bodegon” – which are a bit cheaper than the restaurants tourists seem to prefer. A good bodegon usually serves other traditional dishes too, such as milanesa – a dish of breaded then fried meat that the Argentinians inherited from their Italian ancestors.
Trying empanadas is a must in Buenos Aires
Gorge on empanadas
Few things are as delicious and as satisfying as empanadas, and eating them is what to do in Buenos Aires if you are craving comfort food. These are made with a bready kind of dough which is then filled with a variety of things – they can be nice and simple such as the ones with ham and cheese; they can have chicken and onions; beef and there even are vegetarian versions with eggplant, zucchini and pumpkin. Locals can distinguish the various kinds by the way they are closed. I haven’t been able to learn yet! My favorite place to eat empanadas is in San Telmo Market, at La Panaderia. There is always a line, but it’s worth waiting. Accompany with a cold beer for even better results.
Try dulche de leche and alfajores
I may be killed next time I am in Buenos Aires, but I admit I actually do not really like dulche de leche – a very thick, sticky spread made with condensed milk and heaps of sugar. Besides, I am lactose intolerant so I really can’t eat it. Having said so, locals swear by it, and enjoy alfajores – a cookie sandwich with dulce de leche in the center. Trying it is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires.
Have dinner at Peron Peron
Peron Peron is more than a restaurant: it’s a proper cultural experience. This nice restaurant opened a few years ago in Palermo Hollywood. It’s (obviously) run by Peronistas – Peron supporters and fans. Inside, there are photos of Eva and Juan Peron anywhere – but rather than feeling overwhelming, you’ll feel entertained and actually, the place is very cozy. At about every hour a song is played, the Peronistas anthem, and all locals sing it. It’s quite a show. Oh and food is actually delicious (I tried the empanadas de ossobuco and the milanesa), portions are generous and the prices reasonable. Make sure to reserve a table if you go with friends.
Spend a night at The Argentine Experience
If you want to learn a bit more about Argentinian culture in a fun way and while eating delicious food, spending a night at The Argentine Experience is one of the unmissable things to do in Buenos Aires. The lovely hosts will introduce you to local sign language and basic slang; they’ll teach you how to prepare excellent empanadas; and they’ll help you order the best steak you’ll have in Buenos Aires. All of this while pouring excellent wine into your glass.
You can book The Argentine Experience here or here.
Experience the life of a gaucho
If you like horses and the idea of getting out of the city, one of the things to do in Buenos Aires is going on a gaucho experience. You’ll go riding, enjoy a fabulous meal and drink lots of wine in a gorgeous setting.
These are some good gaucho experiences:
El Tigre is a lovely place for a day trip
Get out of town in El Tigre
Buenos Aires does get overwhelming, especially in the summer months when the heat is pretty much unbearable. One of the best things to do in Buenos Aires is getting out of town. I recommend going to El Tigre, a lovely small city at about 35 km from Buenos Aires that can be reached on an easy train ride from Retiro train station and where it is possible to take boat tours around the river delta.
These are some of the best guided day trips to El Tigre
Go on a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento
Another good day trip from Buenos Aires is to Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay, which can be reached by a quick (1 hour) ferry ride. Walking around Colonia feels like stepping back in time. Imagine beautiful cobbled alleys with flowers pouring outside gardens onto the streets; a gorgeous lighthouse with spectacular views over the Rio de la Plata, and vintage cars scattered around town. It’s no wonder that it is a UNESCO world heritage site.
These are some good day trips to Colonia del Sacramento:
At San Telmo Market you’ll find local shops and lots of good food
Practical Information About Buenos Aires
Where to stay in Buenos Aires
There is an abundant choice of good places to stay in Buenos Aires. You should pick your place based on the kind of experience you want, and the area where you want to spend most of your time. I like Palermo, so I usually head there. Here is a short selection of places to stay in Buenos Aires:
I will soon be publishing a more comprehensive post about the best places to stay in Buenos Aires.
Getting in and around Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has two airports. Ministro Pistarini International Airport and it is known as Ezeiza. It’s located at about 1 hour drive from the center of town, and very well connected to the rest of the world. Aeroparque Jorgue Newbery, locally known as Aeroparque, is located in Palermo and connects Buenos Aires to the rest of the country, though there also are some international flights.
The best and cheapest way to move around Buenos Aires is by public transportation. Buses and subway are efficient and easy to use, and connect the various neighborhoods. You need to get a SUBE card to be able to use the public transportation, and regularly top it up with credit.
Taxis are easy to get, and they aren’t expensive. Uber is illegal in Argentina, though some people still use it. It’s better if you actually download the app Cabify which allows you to order a cab telling you the price you’ll be paying by credit card. It’s very easy to use – it works pretty much like Uber.
Have you ever been to Buenos Aires? What are the things to do in Buenos Aires that you enjoyed the most?
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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!
Flying to Argentina
Most people who fly into Argentina usually land in Buenos Aires Ezeiza airport (its international airport). 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 an online 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.
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, last time I was in Argentina $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.
Today (May 2018), $1 USD is worth about 23 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.
Check out my detailed post “25 Unmissable Things To Do In Buenos Aires.”
Things to do in Buenos Aires
Touring Buenos Aires iconic attractions
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.
Visiting Buenos Aires fantastic museums
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.
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.
Watching a fútbol match at La Bombonera
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 a day 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.
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.
Venturing to Colonia del Sacramento (Uruguay)
Colonia del Sacramento is among the places to visit in Uruguay, is only one hour away from Buenos Aires by ferry. It is a lovely escape for a day trip from Buenos Aires. One of the things to do in Buenos Aires is thus catching a fast boat across the Rio de la Plata to visit the gorgeous little city of Colonia del Sacramento.
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.
Read more about Colonia del Sacramento and the fantastic things to do in Uruguay on my post “The top seven things to do in Uruguay.”
Where to stay in Buenos Aires
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 found America 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.
Where to eat in Buenos Aires
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!
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).
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 superbe 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
Furthermore, as I am particularly active and I find that one of the things to do in Argentina is being adventurous, I think Puerto Madryn is perfect as it offers great opportunity for hiking, biking, going kayaking or even learning how to windsurf.
Things to do in Argentina? Swimming!
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!
Where to stay 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.
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 attraction 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.
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 Channel is 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.
Where to stay in Ushuaia
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 at Posada 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!
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.
Check out my post “A Complete Guide To Perito Moreno Glacier.”
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.
My advice to anybody who is willing to hike the glacier is to make sure to wear proper great – good hiking boots and socks, a good snow jacket, hat, scarf and gloves and thermal underwear will all be necessary.
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.
Read more about my backpacking misadventures on my post “How to be an unsuccessful backpacker.”
Where to stay in El Calafate
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.
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.
Read my detailed post “A Guide To Hiking Around Fitz Roy, In El Chalten.”
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 to Mendoza. 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, just as that time I did a wine tasting tour in Slovenia.
Read more about Slovenia on my post “Seven touristy and not so touristy things to do in Slovenia.”
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!
Where to stay in Mendoza
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.
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.
Where to stay in Salta
One of the most charming places to stay in Salta is Bloomers 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.
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!
Quebrada de Humahuaca
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!
Where to stay in the Quebrada de Humahuaca
Posada El Sol is a good hostel a bit out of the centre of Humahuaca. It is a beautiful building in adobe, with a nice, well kept garden and an equipped kitchen. There are dorms as well as private rooms. Breakfast is included in the price.
A more upper scale and comfortable place to stay is Cielo Arriba Casa, which is closer to the main square and has very few rooms located around a beautiful patio.
Where to eat in the Quebrada de Humahuaca
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.
Where to stay in Puerto Iguazu
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.
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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