Most visitors to Argentina rave about Buenos Aires. While it is a beautiful and iconic city, there is so much more to see in Argentina that often is forgotten behind BA’s glamor. Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world. It’s full of geographical diversity from the hot jungles of the north to the mysterious glaciers in the very far south. To solely visit Buenos Aires is to only get part of the story of this varied country.
Not sure where else to explore? Consider adding some of these further afield destinations to your travel itinerary:
Mar del Plata
Mar del Plata is where the weary Porteños (the citizens of Buenos Aires) escape the city on their vacations. Argentina has a vast coast line, but this is the most popular resort town by far. It’s main draws are the beaches, the nightlife, and the old school grand casino. During the summertime this resort town is bursting with beach-lovers and events. Many of the shows and concerts that usually occur in the capital are moved to out here to be enjoyed al fresco.
Iguazu is Widely considered to be one of the defining highlights of South America, the Igazu waterfalls are taller than Niagara Falls and double the width. They are actually composed of 275 different waterfalls separated by islands that stretch across the Argentine-Brazilian border. Many tourists prefer to visit the view from both sides of the border. On the Argentine side there are many The walking trails on the Argentine side of the Iguazu falls offer viewpoints of both the falls and the surrounding rainforest.
Salta is located in the far northwest of Argentina, which makes it a popular stop for travelers coming to and from Bolivia. The small city is known as Salta la Linda (Salta the fair one), for its nice weather, scenery and architecture. The highlights of Salta are old colonial buildings dating to the 18th century that bear a strong resemblance to Andalucia in Spain. Outside town there is stunning desert scenery. It’s the starting point of the Train to the Clouds, which is one of the highest railways in the world.
Argentina’s third largest city and perhaps its most pleasant. Although only three hours away from Buenos Aires by bus, Rosario has an entirely different, laid back and sunny atmosphere. The city is known for its neoclassical architecture, gorgeous parks, and for being the birthplaces of Che Guevara.
Rosario is a lovely city to walk along the Parana River, visit the fanciful modern art museum, or indulge in amazing ice cream.
Argentina’s second largest city, which was considered the capital of the region long before Buenos Aires popped up on anybody’s radar. Cordoba was founded way back in 1570, and its historic old town with its colonial architecture is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nowadays it is still a major city, known for its many universities, theaters, and cultural centers. It has one of the liveliest and youngest populations of anywhere in South America.
From Cordoba you can continue on to the Sierras de Córdoba, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country among Argentineans. Here you’ll find rolling hills and mountains with pleasant small towns, some with heavy German influence.
Mendoza is the capital of Argentina’s wine region, where 1.5 billion liters of wine are produced a year. Mendoza itself is a stunning small city set at the base of the Andes and is just a short drive away from the tallest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas.
Mendoza’s hundreds of wineries, known as bodegas, are all within driving distance and can be visited on an organized tour or self-guided by bicycle. Mendoza is also a great place to try a variety of adventure sports.
Along the Andes further south is the smaller city of Bariloche. Bariloche is unique for its Alpine atmosphere, thanks to an influx of settlers from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland at the turn of the century. You can see the European culture reflected in the chocolate shops, ski resorts, and plethora of St. Bernard dogs.
Bariloche is also known for its stunning scenery. It sits along the banks of the Nahuel Huapi Lake, with the Andes as a backdrop. Nearby is Argentina’s oldest national park, Nahuel Huapi National Park, where there are lots of hiking and mountaineering opportunities.
El Calafate and Ushuaia
These two far south towns are the major jumping off points for exploring southern Patagonia.
El Calafate is the hub to visit Los Glaciares National Park and the Perito Moreno Glacier. This is one of the most famous glaciers in the world, where you can actually hear ice cracking and falling into the sea as it grows and advances.
Ushuaia is famously known for being the southernmost city in the world. It’s also the largest city in Tierra del Fuego and a good base for exploring the region. The area used to be home to the Yamana Indians who have now been entirely wiped out. Common activities in Ushuaia include glacier hiking and skiing.
- Stephanie Yoder