There are more things to do in Mendoza, Argentina than you’d imagine. 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 there twice, and recommend including it in your trip to Argentina.
Curious to find out more? Continue reading to discover the top things to do in Mendoza, Argentina, and for tips to plan your visit.
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. 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 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 bike ride 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.
For a wine tasting tour by bike, click here.
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 at 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.
Check out my post 13 Fantastic Wineries In Mendoza. 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, 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. This 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.
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!
In the Argentine capital of wine, it looks like drinking beer doesn’t make much sense. However, after a day of wine tasting and wandering around the vineyards in the summer heat, you’ll be ready for a cold pint. 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.
Hike Cerro Aconcagua
112 km (about 76 miles) and less than 2 hours away from Mendoza, Cerro Aconcagua, which reaches an elevation of 6,962 meters (22,841 feet), 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.
The hike to Aconcagua requires planning, fitness and proper equipment and you shouldn’t attempt to do it alone. Make sure to research a good company to organize your Aconcagua expedition.
While hiking Aconcagua certainly is one of the top things to do in Mendoza, you don’t have to spend 3 weeks there to enjoy it. 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.
Read my post 11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone Is Actually A Bad Idea.
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 2,720 meters (about 8,924 fee) above sea level, crosses the Vacas River.
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 or you’ll have to go on a guided tour such as this one.
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.
For an extra treat, pick a sunset ride!
Go on a bike tour
If you are an active person, going on a bike tour is what to do in Mendoza. 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 out nice and early as the bike rental is so popular that they run out of bikes sometimes!
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. Remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration; wear a hat and apply lots of sunblock to avoid getting sunburnt.
Spend some time in Chacras de Coria
Chacras de Coria 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. Chacras is fantastically quaint, and quiet – which is great if you value your sleep. Not to mention, it is really close to the wineries (there are a few that are actually right in Chacras de Coria).
Among the things you shouldn’t miss when in Chacras, there is a nice Sunday market where you’ll find souvenirs, antiques and even jewelry. And if joining the fantastic nightlife is one of the things to do in Mendoza, Chacras de Coria is where the fun is, with clubs such as Grita Silencio and La Guanaca.
Rafting is one of the most fun things to do in Mendoza, Argentina. The 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.
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 (almost 197 feet) and of moderate difficulty, so it is not too scary.
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.
For a city tour of Mendoza, click here.
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.
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 errands.
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, the Museo de Bellas Artes – Casa de Fader is a mansion that dates back to 1890 and which used to belong to an affluent couple who hired artist Fernando Fader to restore it and paint frescoes. The mansion has a gorgeous garden, as well as a very good exhibit of artwork.
Mendoza is a fantastic place to fully appreciate Argentinian cuisine. Empanadas, sorrentinos (a stuffed pasta), and delicious meat: there’s nothing better than having a fantastic steak or even an asado (Argentine bbq) accompanied by a local wine.
Vegans traveling to Mendoza should head straight to Cuenco, in Olascoaga 1412. 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.
Make sure to read my post 25 Delicious Argentina Food To Try.
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, 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.
Another area that is perfect for nightlife is Chacras de Coria, where you’ll find the boliches (clubs).
Relax at Cacheuta Thermal Baths
One of the coolest (literally!) things to do in Mendoza is going to Cacheuta Thermal Baths. This spa, hotel and waterpark located along Ruta 82, among the mountains, is a fantastic place to relax with a great array of saunas, mud baths, hot springs and thermal pools. You can even have a massage.
Villavicencio is a beautiful natural reserve in the Andes Mountains, not far from Mendoza. 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.
Get out of the city at San Rafael and Atuel Canyon
Around 3 hours by bus from Mendoza, San Rafael is a great place for outdoor activities. I 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 you can go on a day trip. Make sure to visit Atuel Canyon, a fantastic place with lakes, rivers and beautifully naturally carved rocks.
Practical Information To Organize Your Trip To Mendoza
Where To Stay In Mendoza
Mendoza is a fairly large city with plenty of accommodation options. The best hostels and boutique hotels are all in the area of Calle Arístides, where you’ll also 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:
- Chill Inn Hostel – I stayed there the first time I visited Mendoza and enjoyed the easygoing vibe, the social spaces and the comfortable beds and spotless bathrooms. There is a lovely pool to relax on hot days.
- Park Hyatt Mendoza is an excellent option if you feel like treating yourself. Pick a room with mountain views for an extra treat.
- Tanino Guest House is a lovely option if you are looking for something with a bit more personality. There are double rooms, twin rooms and even budget rooms with shared bathrooms. The bonus is a nice outdoor pool.
- El Encuentro, in Chacras de Coria, is a lovely small boutique hotel on a small side street. It has plenty of rustic charme. There is a small pool in a very well kept garden.
- Plaza Paradiso Petit Hotel is in Chacras de Coria’s main street. Rooms are very large and comfortable, and the buffet breakfast very filling and much better than the average on offer in Argentina.
How to get to Mendoza
Mendoza is well connected to the rest of Argentina and to Chile through a variety of flights and buses.
Several major airlines and even some budget ones fly in and out of Mendoza, with direct flights to Buenos Aires (both Jorge Newbery and Ezeiza airports) which lasts around 1 hour and 45 minutes, and other large cities in the country.
Mendoza airport is located 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.
If you have time to spare, I recommend traveling by bus. Buses in South America are comfortable, and on the longest rides you can fully recline to get some rest. Not to mention, the landscape is gorgeous and it’s a great way to admire the views.
There are direct buses connecting Santiago de Chile to Mendoza. The trip lasts around 8 hours, but keep in mind you may find lines at the border. The views along the way are fabulous.
The ride between Buenos Aires and Mendoza lasts 15 hours.
Make sure to book your bus transfer in advance, and opt for upper deck front seats for the best views!
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: If you like the idea of being completely independent, opt for a car rental. You can pick one 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. Trust your instincts when it comes to safety, and always keep an eye on your possessions. Avoid walking alone on big squares and dark streets at night.
Lastly, and as for any other trip, get 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.
Planning a trip to Argentina? Make sure to check out the following posts:
- A Perfect Argentina Itinerary
- A Guide To The Greatest Things To Do In Argentina
- Top 13 Things To Do In Rosario Argentina: An Insiders’ Guide!
- 25 Unmissable Things To Do In Buenos Aires
- Where To Stay In Buenos Aires
- 11 Fantastic Day Trips From Buenos Aires
- A Complete Guide To Salta Argentina
- The Best Argentine Movies
Have you ever been to Mendoza? What did you like the most about it?