Argentina, the eighth largest country in the world, is a spectacular country with great diversity, from the tallest mountains in South America to the long stretch of Atlantic Ocean coastline in the east, the incredibly large and diverse city of Buenos Aires and the dramatic mountain vineyards of Mendoza. There’s tango, gauchos, parrillas (steakhouses), trekking in Patagonia and the spectacular Iguazu Falls that borders Brazil. It’s hard to imagine ever running out of things to do and see in Argentina.
READ ABOUT ARGENTINA
WHEN TO GO
Given the size of Argentina, it’s not surprising that there are micro-climates that should be considered when deciding when to visit. If you’re going to Buenos Aires, spring (from September to November) is likely the best time, as the weather is nice and crowds are reasonable. March and April are also quite nice. These same times are good for Mendoza, because of the harvest. In early March, you can catch Vindemia, the annual harvest celebration.
If you’re going for the skiing and winter sports in the Andean ski resorts, June-August are prime months, but don’t plan to head into the southern regions in the dead of winter as some parts of Patagonia can get cut off by blizzards.
WHERE TO GO
Argentina is a very large playground, with tons of options for things to do. Once you’ve determined what you want to do, you can decide where to go and how you’re going to get there.
WHERE TO STAY
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IN BUENOS AIRES
In Buenos Aires, there are lots of great boutique hotels and luxury hotels in the Recoleta, a high-class neighborhood with a lot of upscale shopping and dining, and it’s a very safe neighborhood for travelers. The Palermo district is make up of several smaller areas and offers lots of green space to play in. San Telmo feels like the real Buenos Aires. You’ll have your pick of great parrillas and nightlife here.
Our hotel recommendations in Buenos Aires:
- Alvear Palace: Trip Advisor | Expedia | See it on Booking.com
- Melia Recoleta Plaza Hotel: Trip Advisor | Expedia | See it on Booking.com
In Mendoza, you can choose between modern hotels in the city center, like the Park Hyatt or Intercontinental (slightly outside the center), or stay in a wine lodge in the countryside. Both have their benefits.
If you like to walk to different places for dinner and feel more centrally located, the Park Hyatt can’t be beat. It’s very close to the coveted Vines of Mendoza wine shop. Outside of town, the Cavas Wine Lodge is a very romantic and luxurious and the new Vines Resort and Spa is a sight to be seen. It’s gorgeous and has the acclaimed Siete Fuegos restaurant on site.
Lares de Chacras is a family hotel that many visitors rave about. In Patagonia, where you stay is largely dependent on where you’re going. As the area is rather large and barren, you’ll need to locate which lodges are close to where you’ll be.
Our hotel recommendations in Mendoza:
- Park Hyatt: Trip Advisor | Expedia | Book a room
- Casa de Uco Vineyard & Wine Resort: See on Booking.com
Where you stay in Patagonia depends greatly on what you’re planning to there, but there are a few hotels that we think are worth basing yourself at, for at least a day or two, just to soak up the amazing views.
WHAT TO EAT
ARGENTINEAN STEAK: Argentina is known for its gauchos and parrillas, because of its love for meat — beef and lamb, mostly, grass-fed and largely considered to be the tastiest in the world. Parrillas are in abundance throughout the country, where you can order popular cuts like bife de chorizo or lomo. Try it with some chimichurri (a sauce of herbs, garlic and vinegar), and a side of provoleta (a piece of provolone cheese cooked on the grill with oregano).
EMPANADAS: Empanadas are made to perfection here. Look for a shop popular with the locals where home cooks have been stuffing empanadas for dozens of years.
Remember that people eat much later in Argentina than in the U.S. Lunchtime is around 2pm and dinner doesn’t start until 9pm. Arriving to a restaurant at 7pm is bad form, also it may not be open yet. Plan accordingly — embrace the siesta.
If you’re spending time in Mendoza and Buenos Aires, you’ll find a large number of modern cuisine restaurants with incredibly creative menus and enticing tasting menus. One of our favorite dining experiences ever was at Aramburu in Buenos Aires. The 10-course meal was outstanding in every aspect. In Mendoza, wine lunches are something to indulge in daily. Instead of just rushing through a winery tour and tasting, spend midday enjoying a multi-course meal served with wine pairings at one of the large, modern wineries in the region.
Top Argentinean chef, Francis Mallman has a couple of restaurants in Mendoza where you’re sure to find an incredible steak and authentic asada — 1884 Francis Mallmann and Siete Fuegos at the Vines Resort and Spa.
For dessert, be sure to try dulce de leche, a sweet caramel sauce is used to fill cakes and churros, spread over breads and served with ice cream. Another sweet treat is Argentina’s take on gelato, Helado, served in many different flavors, much like in Italy.
WHAT TO DRINK
Wine is, of course, very popular in Argentina. You’ll find that wine is drank with most meals. The gem of Mendoza is Malbec, and there are plenty of high-quality producerswho would love to have you taste their wines. Always buy/drink local!
A popular drink throughout Argentina is mate, which is served in a container with a straw. The container is filled with yerba mate and then steeped with hot water, much like tea and then drank throughout the day. This is a very traditional drink and you often see locals carrying around their mate drinks.
If you’re up for it, try some chicha, a traditional fermented beverage made from grains, fruits and roots. Or just stick with the wine. That’s what you came here for anyway!