For many travellers, Argentina as a country has the same seductive appeal as the tango for which it is famous. Like this iconic couple’s dance, Argentina embraces you, constantly moving to the rhythm of the streets and improvising with every step.
Its major cities are all full of life. The famous capital Buenos Aires is South America’s most visited city and a place like no other. Sure, there’s chic cosmopolitan shopping, world-class nightlife and gourmet cuisine. But it’s the city’s classic rawness that makes it a global magnet for travellers. The ramshackle but colourful neighbourhoods where traffic noise drowns out accordion tunes, the cafes and parillas (grills), the bustling open-air markets, and the beautiful historic centre with its European colonial architecture. San Telmo is the city’s oldest neighbourhood and a good place to enjoy the urban atmosphere of cafes, street performers, tango lounges and antique markets in a colonial setting. The atmosphere is perhaps the biggest attraction in Buenos Aires, but the Recoleta Cemetery and Plaza de Mayo are among the main sights. Argentina’s other major cities share the energetic bustle of BA, but have their own character. Mendoza is a lively but relaxed city, characterised by wide avenues. It is known as the wine capital far beyond Argentina’s borders and is an ideal starting point for the Argentine Wine Route, which passes through the hundreds of wineries in the region. Due to its proximity to the Andes, it is also a good starting point for winter sports and other outdoor activities. The ancient university city of Córdoba is known for its distinctive musical culture, with the Cuarteto being the number one musical style. The city also boasts some of the best colonial sites in the country. Bariloche, also located at the foot of the Andes, is a major tourist destination, popular for its skiing opportunities, beautiful beaches and chocolate shops.
A natural wonder
As fascinating as city life in Argentina can be, the country’s powerful natural attractions are at least as good a reason to visit. The landscapes are incredibly diverse, from the high peaks of the Andes and the famous Perito Moreno glacier to cactus-filled deserts, sandy Atlantic beaches and biodiversity-rich wetlands. With some 30 national parks in the country, there’s always a good place nearby to see some of the country’s natural wonders. One of the highlights of the subtropical north is the spectacular Iguaçu Falls, by far one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. Argentina’s wildlife includes flamingos, penguins, caimans and capybaras, sea lions and sometimes even whales. The coastal town of Puerto Madryn is a must-see, especially if you visit in autumn. From here you can easily travel to Punta Tombo and Peninsula Valdes for whale watching and to see up close some of the millions of penguins that come to Patagonia each year to nest and raise their young. Head to El Calafate for a visit to the popular Los Glaciares National Park, where you’ll see the famous glaciers and the icy Lago Argentino. Marvel at the many colours and remarkable rock formations of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a northern mountain range that stretches far beyond the Bolivian border. You’ll pass through traditional villages and see indigenous women with their herds of goats. Other great destinations for nature lovers include the Ibera wetlands (home to the country’s most diverse wildlife) and Talampaya National Park, an important site for archaeological and paleontological discoveries.
Some other highlights
Rural life in general is a very pleasant facet of Argentina, relaxed and close to nature. Rural villages are a breath of fresh air from the country’s bustling cities and a great way to experience traditional culture. The north is as South American as Argentina gets. Its wine regions are world famous and an increasingly popular tourist destination. If the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires is too much for your taste, Mendoza and Salta are excellent choices. They are also a good starting point for exploring the picturesque regional vineyards and friendly villages with the Andes mountains in the background. Salta is also the starting point for the Cloud Train, a historic railway that seems to operate only to provide travellers with unforgettable views. The Traslasierra Valley is a pleasant, green valley and one of the many places where you can enjoy a world-class spa, as there are of course hot springs here. Finally, if you like to spend a day at the beach, Argentina has much to offer. Mar del Plata is one of the main destinations for beach resorts.