Image source: Flickr - Gustavo Brazzalle
For those looking to travel to Argentina, it's recommended to allot a few weeks - or even a few months, if you have the time - as the country is full of great places to explore. Whether you're looking for art, culture, food, drink, spectacular scenery, or wildlife experiences you'll find it if you know where to go. The most budget-friendly way to get around the country is the bus, although the most convenient way is by airplane, with carriers like LAN Argentina and Aerolineas Argentinas offering domestic flights. But, where will you fly to? To help you plan your trip, here are five not-to-miss destinations in Argentina.
No article on Argentina would be complete without mentioning Buenos Aires, the country's largest city and capital. This sultry city is known for its thought-provoking street art, abundant tango, vibrant nightlife, and endless opportunities to explore local culture. We recommend you stay at one of the city's art hotels -- Art Factory Hostel for budget travels or Art Hotel for something with more privacy. You can also book a street art walking tour or stenciling workshop with graffitimundo for an interactive experience. It's also recommended to spend some time experiencing local tango culture, either by taking a class, doing dinner and a tango show, or by visiting a milonga and watching locals dance the night away (or join in if you think you can keep up). For something delicious, sit down for some asado (Argentinian barbecue) or visit a cafe - the locals love their coffee - like Caf Tortoni Buenos Aires' oldest coffee shop since 1858.
In Mendoza you're sitting right at the base of the famous Andes Mountains, where wine, outdoor adventure and Spanish colonial architecture abound. If you like Argentinian Malbec wine, Mendoza is a must. This is where the country's best wine comes from, and it's easy to take a day trip by local bus to the Maipu Valley to rent bikes and cycle through the vines. Mendoza isn't only about wine, though. Outdoor beauty is also a big attraction, and from Mendoza one can visit the Andes Mountains and Parque Provincial Aconcagua, where you'll get a stunning view of Aconcagua, the Western and Southern Hemispheres tallest mountain at 22,837 feet. In the city itself, stroll through the bustling Plaza de Independencia where street snacks and performers abound, and the city's inspiring modern art venue - Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno de Mendoza - resides. Don't leave without heading up to Terraza Mirador for an aerial view of Mendoza and beyond.
Like Mendoza, Salta in the north offers seemingly limitless opportunities to discover the Andes and wine, although here the star of the show is Torronts, a lesser-known aromatic white wine worth discovering. Another reason to visit Salta is to visit the Reserva del Huaico, a nature reserve located above the clouds. What's truly unique about this natural attraction is that it is by appointment only, and visitors have a four-hour limit with optional guide, meaning you can trek, bird watch, and partake in natural history walks in peace. Alternatively, you can take a unique journey into the clouds via the Tren a la Nubes, reaching heights of 13,850 feet.
In terms of interesting sites in the city, there are a number of museums and heritage venues, like El Museo de Arqueologa de Alta Montaa, focused on Inca culture; Museo de Arte Etnico Americano Pajcha for indigenous art; and the striking Iglesia San Francisco, which dates back to 1625 and features an Italian-inspired design with contrasting hues of bright yellow, red and white. Salta is also the best place in Argentina for attending a pea and seeing a folklore show, with gauchos donning ponchos and dancing to folk music in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
Now we go down into Patagonia to one of the region's must-visit cities: San Carlos de Bariloche, more commonly known as Bariloche. If you like hiking, Bariloche is full of beautiful trails, with TrekBariloche being a popular outfitter and offering hikes like the Cerro Bella Vista for bird's eye views from 5,741 feet in the air and Refugio Frey for a mix of woodland, water and mountains. Whether you do it by bus or on foot, the Seven Lakes Circuit is also not to be missed, featuring 124 miles stretching from Bariloche to the famous Andes Mountains. Along with hiking and natural beauty, Bariloche is also known for its chocolate. In fact, its nickname is the "Chocolate Capital of Argentina." Each year the city unveils an enormous Easter egg during the holiday season, weighing about 8,800 pounds and standing over 27 feet high. Lucky for locals and visitors, it's then destroyed and eaten.
You can't visit Argentina and not spend some time at "The End of the World." You'll even be able to get your passport stamped to show all your friends how far off the globe you went. In Tierra del Fuego National Park - encompassing 243 square miles and the world's southernmost national park - wildlife and boating experiences abound. Take a trip to De los Lobos to spy adorable sea lions, Martillo Island to see penguins, and the aptly-named Los Pjaros (Bird Island) for marine birds. Many visitors also enjoy sailing the Beagle Channel - just like Charles Darwin did in 1933-34 - where animals and glacier landscapes set a serene scene.
Where would you start your own exploration of Argentina?
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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