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Argentina Travel Guide

Considering a Trip to South America? Here’s How to Get a Bonus Vacation En Route

Combine an Argentina and Panama trip with Copa Airline’s free layover offering.

With European destinations swarming with tourism, Argentina and its many gems are an excellent alternative. From the historic architecture of Mendoza City to the awe-inspiring vistas waiting at the Andes Mountains, a trip to Argentina is a dream. But you know what is even better than a trip to one country? A trip to two countries.

Copa Airlines offers an extended layover in Panama City for travelers headed to South America at no additional cost. After drinking your fill of Malbec in the “Wine Capital of the World,” here is how to make the most of a layover in Panama City.

First, an Introduction to the Cuyo Wine Region

Argentina’s Cuyo Wine Region is home to a slew of new wineries. One of the most dramatic in the region is Bodega Salentein. Roman elements inspire the winery’s architecture, with accommodations, restaurants, and an art gallery. Salentein transports you into an Italian-style bodega (wine storehouse), emphasizing the unsurprising similarities between Argentinian and Italian wine.

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While in the Luján de Cuyo region, the must-see bodegas are Bodega Catena Zapata and Bodega Kaiken. Bodega Catena Zapata wine tours teach you about winemaking in the terroir of extreme altitudes and dives into the science of winemaking. Zapata is a family-owned and operated bodega, with pictures of family members dating back to 1902 and enduring stories about the many family members and their ancestors who helped shape the business.

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Comparatively, Bodega Kaiken is livelier and more modern, with a large outdoor restaurant, Ramos Generales Restaurant by Francis Mallmann, that is recognized as one of the best places to eat in the area. Seating for the restaurant is sprawled between the grapevines, and white tarp acts as a shade from the extreme sun. This is more of a family-friendly experience, with a fun and interactive atmosphere during winery tours and exploring the grounds.

A Visit to Mendoza City

Mendoza City is the best base for exploring the larger Cuyo Wine Region. The city is filled with Art Deco buildings, historical architecture, and walkable streets that are bike- and car-friendly. Nicknamed “The Wine Capital of the World,” the city has a dramatic backdrop of the Andes Mountains rising in the distance.

Wineries like Casa Vigil double as an art gallery, showing the history of the area’s wines paired with sculptures scattered throughout the vineyard and bodega. And, of course, with great wine comes excellent food. In the land-locked, mountainous, and dry climate environment, red meat is a staple in the Cuyo Region (as it is throughout Argentina). You could find yourself at a traditional Asado, watching the sunset while watching flamenco in the shadows of the Andes. This is the place to really dive into Argentine cuisine, and the best place to do this is at La Juanita restaurant.

Malbecs and red blends pair perfectly with the smokey meat. If you’re not picky with your wines, you will love the multiple-course meals with local wine pairings offered at most bodegas throughout the entire region.

INSIDER TIPIf you’re visiting Mendoza City, don’t skip the opportunity to hike the Andes Mountains.

Adding Panama to Your Argentina Trip

After days of sipping Malbec in view of the Andes Mountains, you may not be ready to head home yet. If you choose to fly with Copa Airlines, you have the opportunity to extend your trip with a layover in Panama City—all at no extra cost.

Copa’s stopover program makes exploring another city, either to or from Mendoza City, easy and affordable. The transfer is easy and can be done in the Panama City airport in about an hour. If you are flying business in Copa Airlines, their main lounge is at the Panama City airport, making it the perfect pit stop on the way to Mendoza. Although it is a long flight, jet lag shouldn’t affect your travels like it does when traveling to other continents with dramatic time changes. Mendoza is only an hour ahead of the Eastern Daylight Time Zone (EDT).

INSIDER TIPCopa allows you to plan ahead and make a stopover that ranges from 24 hours to seven days for no extra cost.

On the way back home, take some time to stop in Panama City and see a completely different vibe from the mountains and wineries of Mendoza City. With city nightlife, beaches, and a tropical climate, you’ll enjoy a dramatically different experience from the mountainous regions of Argentina. You could find yourself here for one night, dancing to Reggaeton or Salsa. Or you could find yourself hiking through the jungles of the Panama Canal Zone.

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The options of places to stay in Panama City may feel overwhelming, but a few hotels have partnered with Copa Airlines to give discounted rates to travelers using the stopover program. Boutique hotels like Amarla are perfect for relaxing after a long flight. The adults-only hotel is covered in greenery and offers many restorative activities, such as yoga, spa treatments, and unique excursions. It is also very close to some of the main attractions in the city, like the Canal Museum, Cathedral Basilica Metropolitana, Molas Museum, and many more.  Their on-site restaurant, Kaandela, uses hyper-local ingredients to create a menu with Panamanian and South American-inspired meals.

If you want something more family-friendly, try out the Gamboa Rainforest Reserve. Located in Soberanía National Park on the Panama Canal, the main priority here is what the forest can provide. A huge pool, night safaris on the reserve, and over 340 acres of rainforest make this a great place to stay when taking a long layover. Only 30 minutes from Panama City, it makes it easy to get the best of the area without being too stuck within the city.