Studded with outstanding natural wonders and endowed with one of the world’s hot-list cities, Argentina is a vast and varied land. The wine, the fishing, the tango, the mountaineering, the skiing, the literature, the beef, the architecture, the clubbing – all this will provide you one of the most exciting journeys you’ll ever take! No joke. While so many things in Argentina are exciting, some things are better defined as ‘mind blowing.’ Here are 11 of these things or 11 reasons for you to visit Argentina.
1. Argentine Wine
It is a rare and special treat to drink a glass of wine in the same city its grape was grown. Argentina is the fifth largest wine producing country by volume, so these opportunities abound. You can enjoy Salta's aromatic Torrontes and classic Cabernet Sauvignons in the north or a meaty Mendoza Malbec in the central region of the country. The small town of Maipú, near Mendoza, is so packed with wineries, olive oil farms and other gourmet businesses that it’s easy to hit five or six in a day. All offer tours and most finish proceedings with at least a small sampling of their produce.
2. Iguazu Falls
"Poor Niagara!" These were the words Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed when she visited Iguazu Falls for the first time. There are waterfalls and there are waterfalls. And then there’s Iguazú. A visit is a jaw-dropping, visceral experience, and the power and noise of the cascades live forever in the memory. The falls were established in 1984 as Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Along with Nahuel Huapi National Park in Patagonia, Iguazu Falls is one of the most frequented tourist sites in Argentina, and for good reason. Visitors can enjoy the awe inspiring views of the falls along with tours, treks, and water sports at their base. An added benefit is the setting: the falls lie split between Brazil and Argentina in a large expanse of national park and rainforest.
Go on, give it a try. So what if it’s one of the world’s most sophisticated dances. It’s so sexy, you’ll be fired up enough to make it through that long Buenos Aires night. For a unique outdoor experience, head to the bandstand at the Barrancas de Belgrano park in Buenos Aires, where the casual milonga ‘La Glorieta’ takes place on Sunday evenings at around 8pm (free tango lessons are given earlier). Also try Club Gricel with its wonderful aging wood dance floor and Confitería Ideal, the mother of all historic tango halls.
4. Buenos Aires
The Argentina capital is one of the world’s most exhilarating cities, with astounding art, fascinating neighbourhoods, fabulous food and a passionate population blazingly devoted to having fun all night long. Feast on steaks at Palermo's Las Cañitas or wander for hours in the Recoleta cemetery, where BA's rich and famous are buried. Bring a camera for Evita's grave.
5. Ushuaia Winter Sports
Ushuaia is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world, located on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. It offers abundant opportunities to enjoy its rich culture, history, and natural beauty. Sports enthusiasts can play in the winter wonderlands of Glacier El Martial and Cerro Castor areas and go skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and more. Nature and wildlife lovers can catch a glimpse of local birds, penguins, seals, and orcas that colonize the islands in the Beagle Channel. Art lovers can take in the Biennial of Contemporary Art at the End of the World, hosted in Ushuaia since 2007.
6. The Awesome Color and Pleasure of Salta
The city of Salta offers a wealth of experiences from the natural wonders of its geology, to delight of its local foods, to an interesting cultural and historic background. Tourists enjoy guided tours through the Calchaquí Valley or venture out in their own rented cars to see the incredible multi-colored rock formations and the quiet adobe villages nestled with-in and built long ago. The Salta region is also known for its delicious wines and traditional fare such as humitas, locro, and empanadas.
7. The Andes
Stretching nearly the whole length of Argentina’s western edge, this amazing mountain range offers high deserts, scenic lakes, great hiking and the continent’s highest peak, Cerro Aconcagua often called the "roof of the Americas." In the Andean northwest, the World Heritage–listed Quebrada de Humahuaca snakes its way upward toward Bolivia. It’s a harsh but vivid landscape, a dry but river-scoured canyon overlooked by mountainsides whose sedimentary strata have been eroded into spectacular scalloped formations that reveal a spectrum of colors in undulating waves.
A country that is never shy to celebrate, Argentina has many a wonderful festivals. Buenos Aires is a host to festivals all through out the year including the “The Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Film (BAFICI)”, “Fashion Buenos Aires” which celebrates fashion in a week-long event twice a year, “La Rural” the nation's two-week farm fair and gaucho festival, a gay pride parade, as well as festivals celebrating art, music, tango and more. JuJuy celebrates the “Semana de Jujuy” when the quaint city bursts to life for a week of partying to celebrate its founding. In Villa General Belgrano(near Córdoba) Oktoberfest is enjoyed in the first two weeks of October – with an enormous beer festival that celebrates German culture.
9. Glaciar Perito Moreno
Among the Earth’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields, Glaciar Perito Moreno is the stunning centerpiece of the southern sector of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Locally referred to as Glaciar Moreno, it measures 30km long, 5km wide and 60m high, but what makes it exceptional in the world of ice is its constant advance – up to 2m per day, causing building-sized icebergs to calve from its face. In some ways, watching the glacier is a very sedentary park experience, but it manages to nonetheless be thrilling.
10. The Steaks in Argentina
Beef. It’s what’s for dinner. Argentina has the world's highest consumption rate of beef, at 65 kg a year per capita. They love it and know it well. What makes Argentine steaks so tasty? Many beef producers in Argentina still use the older methods of pasture and grass feeding their cows. This is a more expensive process, but the cows are healthier and, so it is said, the beef tastier. There is a movement in Argentina towards feeding lots and grain feeding, so you better get on down to an Argentine parilla (steakhouse) while the getting is good!
11. Tierra del Fuego
Maybe it’s the austral light, or just knowing that the next step south is Antarctica. Whatever it is, this trove of mystical islands, cut off from the northern world by the Straight of Magellan, is indescribably magical. A storied past of shipwrecks, failed religious missions and indigenous extinction contributes to the powerful mystique of this end-of-the-earth location. Travellers flock here to glimpse the furthest reaches of the continent, and ah – what a view it is! The barren northern plains of Tierra del Fuego give way to peat bogs and moss-draped lenga forests that rise into ragged snowy mountains.
For getting around and seeing these marvels, you can generally rely on a well-developed infrastructure inherited from decades of domestic tourism. Argentina offers such a hallucinating variety it’s all but impossible to take in on one trip – don’t be surprised if you find yourself longing to return to explore the bits you didn’t get to see the first time around.