Argentina is a vast and diverse country where you can experience mountainous grandeur, tropical jungles, spectacular waterfalls and cosmopolitan cities.
But the sprawling expanse of Argentina is difficult to cover without plenty of time on your side, so here is my handy guide to the 5 must-sees of Argentina.
It is likely that Buenos Aires will be the first stop on your trip, and it is incredibly easy to get lost in Argentina’s most exciting city. Anybody interested in Eva Peron – Argentina’s flambuoyant First Lady – will want to check out her final resting place in the Recoleta cemetery, the Eva Peron museum, and, of course, the famous balcony of the Casa Rosada. You can browse the stalls at the San Telmo Sunday market, or visit colourful La Boca.
If good food and wine is more your style then there is no shortage of great bars and restaurants.
The picturesque town of Colonia del Sacramento is a short boat trip across the Rio de la Plata, which divides Argentina and Uruguay.
Iguazu Falls lies on the northern border, straddling Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and is either a short flight from Buenos Aires, or an 18-hour bus ride. With no low-budget airlines operating in most of South America the buses are the cheaper option, but they do not run cheap. However, they are a comfortable way to travel, and the overnight bus saves the cost of a night’s accommodation.
Iguazu Falls is arguably the most spectacular of Argentina’s natural wonders, and visitors can also skip across the Brazilian border to view stunning panoramic vistas of the falls.
Wine lovers will not want to miss Mendoza, home of the world’s greatest Malbec wines. The region sits in the foothills of the Andes, and although the city of Mendoza itself is not much to write home about, the wineries and fincas are a great place to stop and sample the many wines on offer.You can also take cookery classes like the one we took at the Finca Adalgisa.
Mendoza is an ideal gateway into Chile, with the bus journey taking you through breathtaking scenery over the High Andes, directly to Santiago.
Peninsula Valdes, Patagonia
If you are not yet ready to leave, Patagonia is another of Argentina’s must-sees. As the bus rumbles further and further south, the landscape becomes increasingly flat and wild, eventually giving way to mile-upon-mile of deserted scrubland.
The city of Puerto Madryn is where to stop if you want to witness Argentina’s amazing wildlife. From here you can arrange transport onto the Peninsula Valdes where you can see Magellan penguins, elephant seals, Southern Right Whales, and—if you are very lucky—the incredible spectacle of Orcas hunting seals in the shallows of Punta Norte (February only).
Perito Moreno Glacier
El Calafate is far south, and is the place to go if you want to experience the Perito Moreno glacier. With tours ranging from a couple of hours sightseeing to a few days hiking the glacier with crampons, there is something to suit every traveller’s ability and budget. The deafening sound of tiny shards of ice splintering from the giant north face and hurling themselves into the waters below is something that you will never forget.
This post is part of my ‘5 Must-Sees’ series. Of course, every country or city offers infinitely more than 5 points of interest, but—unless you are travelling indefinitely—it is often the case that you have to choose. In this series I intend to focus on the absolutely unmissable sites in countries, or cities, that I visit.
Have you visited Argentina? Is there a ‘must-see’ that you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.