Argentina is the world’s eighth largest country and one of the most popular places to visit in South America – whether you are backpacking the continent or just on a short, budget holiday. From the cafe culture of Buenos Aires to the natural beauty of the Iguazu Waterfalls and the Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina has something to offer visitors of all kinds. Some of the world’s most dramatic scenery can be found here in the Patagonian Stepp, the Andes, and the lush Lake District. It is also often viewed as the most cosmopolitan and European country in the region. Take your time exploring – the vast landscape takes time to get to and is worth all the distractions you’ll find along the way.
This travel guide to Argentina will help you plan your trip to the land of steak, wine, and mountains! In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. After Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their separate ways, the area that remained became Argentina. The country’s population and culture were heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, with Italy and Spain providing the largest percentage of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until about the mid-20th century, much of Argentina’s history was dominated by periods of internal political conflict between Federalists and Unitarians and between civilian and military factions. Second in South America only to Brazil in size and population, Argentina is a plain, rising from the Atlantic to the Chilean border and the towering Andes peaks. Aconcagua (22,834 ft, 6,960 m) is the highest peak in the world outside Asia. Argentina is also bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay on the north, and by Uruguay and Brazil on the east.
The northern area is the swampy and partly wooded Gran Chaco, bordering Bolivia and Paraguay. South of that are the rolling, fertile Pampas, which are rich in agriculture and sheep- and cattle-grazing and support most of the population. Further south is Patagonia, a region of cool, arid steppes with some wooded and fertile sections. Argentina’s cultural and culinary traditions, natural beauty and diversity, as well as its business opportunities attract several hundred thousand U.S. citizen visitors each year. Buenos Aires, other large cities, as well as some rural destinations, have well-developed tourist facilities and services, including many four- and five-star hotels. The quality of tourist facilities in smaller towns outside the capital varies.
Places to Visit:
Iguazu Falls– People come from all over the world to see what is perhaps Argentina’s star natural attraction: the mighty Iguazu Falls. Made up of some 275 individual waterfalls and cascades, the park in which they’re located has an amazingly comprehensive and well-maintained set of catwalks that allow you get right up close and personal with the vast sprays of water.
Perito Moreno Glacier– Perito Moreno glacier is located in Southern Patagonia. It’s a chunk of ice 250 km2 (97 sq mi) in area and 30 km (19 mi) in length. It’s one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in the Andes, which (by the way) holds in its icy grasp the world’s third-largest store of fresh water.
El Chalten- El Chalten was built in 1985 as a way of helping to secure a disputed border with Chile. Today however it’s raison d’être is solely tourism: it’s located at the northern end of Los Glaciares National Park near the mountains Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, making it a hotspot for hikers, climbers, mountaineers and anyone who just wants to enjoy the ridiculously amazing scenery. Ideal for: hikers, trekkers, nature lovers, those fond of small town life, glacier trekkers, mountain climbers, campers, ice climbing, microbrewed beers, trying delicious Patagonian lamb
Mendoza Province – Mendoza = wine. The very dry, very sunny Mendoza region is close to perfect for wine cultivation, particularly as the Rio Mendoza (formed in the Andes) provides all the necessary water for irrigation.Unsurprisingly then, the best thing to do in Mendoza Province is tour the many excellent wineries, some of which are world-famous. Organized bus tours are readily available, but the best way to do it is to hire a private car with a knowledgeable driver and get a personalized itinerary. The region is most famous for its Malbec, but other wines produced in Mendoza Province include Torrontes, Semillon, Syrah and Tempranillo.
Bariloche – First the skiing: Catedral Alta Patagonia is a ski resort located about an hour from Bariloche (you can get a cheap bus there). It has 40 lifts and over 100 km of marked trails for your carving pleasure. Look up and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and the odd Andean Condor as well. From 15 September until 15 October is generally regarded as the best time to go.
Quebrada de Humahuaca – The largest city and main jumping-off point for exploring this area is Salta. Salta boasts some good hostels, plenty of tourist and car rental agencies and a nice central plaza, but it’s not a place you should plan to stay for more than a couple of nights. The real gems are the small towns located near Salta (such as Tilcara, Cachi, Cafayate and Humahuaca) and the landscapes in and around them. They’re best explored by car, but if you don’t have a car and don’t want to hire one, stay in Cafayate and do a tour of the nearby viewpoints from there.
CITIES IN ARGENTINA
Bahía Bustamante- Bariloche- Barreal- Buenos Aires- Cachi- Cafayate- Camarones- Comodoro Rivadavía- El Bolsón- El Chaltén- Gaiman- Humahuaca- Iguazú Falls- Las Leñas- Luján de Cuyo- Maipú- Mendoza City- Molinos-Puerto Madryn- Punta Tombo- Purmamarca- Salta- San Antonio de Areco- San Juan-San Martín de los Andes- San Rafael- San Salvador de Jujuy- Sarmiento and the Bosque- Petrificado- Tilcara- Trelew- Tunuyán- Tupungato- Ushuaia- Uspallata Villa La Angostura- Villa Traful
Argentina’s magnificent landscapes create memorable backdrops for amazing experiences. Wine lovers can sample world-class Malbecs at Mendoza’s high-altitude vineyards with Andes Mountain views; adventure seekers revel in the colorful canyons of the Northwest; and nature lovers marvel at the thundering torrents of Iguazú Falls. In Patagonia, top-notch outdoor activities beckon, from scaling translucent glaciers to spotting penguins and whales. Urban adventures also await in Buenos Aires, with its thriving foodie scene, chic shopping districts, and vibrant nightlife.