From exploring Patagonia and the Iguazú Falls to tasting Malbec and tango dancing, experience the best that Argentina has to offer.
Argentina’s landscapes cover just about everything South America has to offer, and its cultural heritage is just as diverse. Stretching from the Andean altiplano down to the icy lakes of Patagonia, with jungle, wetlands, Pampa, and cosmopolitan cities in-between, Argentina has something for everyone. Art and music lovers will delight in the museums, street art, and tango of Buenos Aires. The Andes Mountains provide everything an outdoor enthusiast could ask for, and the wildlife spans macaws and vicuña in the north to penguins and whales in the south. There’s no lack of places to visit in Argentina, natural wonders to visit, and cultural experiences to add to your bucket list. Here are the top 25 you just can’t miss while you are in Argentina.
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Listen to the Thunder of Glaciers Calving
The Perito Moreno glacier near the town of El Calafate advances over seven feet every day, making it one of the most exciting places to visit in Argentina. It’s also the most accessible glacier in the country, with viewing platforms that put you right next to the wall of ice as it groans and crackles, audibly and constantly moving forward. You’re almost guaranteed to see the glacier calving when large chunks of ice intermittently break off and plunge into the milky turquoise waters below. Watch the glacier closely because the thundering sound usually arrives after the new iceberg has already splashed down. For the ultimate up-close-and-personal experience, you can go trekking with crampons over the ice. Boat tours can also get you close to Perito Moreno, where you’ll float among the icebergs. Warm up after a day on the ice with a bowl of locro, a traditional Argentine stew that has meat, beans, corn, and pumpkin.
Get Soaked by Iguazú Falls
These tremendous waterfalls, which separate Argentina from Brazil and Paraguay, make the world’s most spectacular border crossing and a top Argentina landmark. You can view the largest waterfall system in the world from all three countries; however, the experience from Argentina’s turf is certainly the wildest and wettest. Here, you can walk over wooden platforms to the Garganta del Diablo, the “devil’s throat,” and peer into this enormous cascade, which effectively feels like an open-air shower. Not wet enough? Get on one of the speedboat rides, which take you on a tour from the much wetter perspective at the bottom of the falls.
Join Football Fans at La Bombonera
Lionel Messi was already a hero, and fútbol (soccer) ruled Argentina long before they won the 2022 World Cup. Murals of Messi adorn every town, and the national team is spoken of with reverence and pride. Nationally, there is no greater football rivalry than between two teams in Buenos Aires: La Boca and River Plate. One of the most famous places in Argentina is La Bombonera stadium in the football-mad neighborhood of La Boca. Get a real taste of popular culture at a fútbol match, and if you manage to see La Boca and River Plate at La Bombonera, you can call yourself an honorary Porteño.
Go Winery Hopping
Mendoza is the most popular place to sample Argentina’s exquisite wines and with 800 wineries in the region, you can easily spend weeks here. However, there are ten regions where Argentina produces wine, from Jujuy in the north to Rio Negro in the south. Pair your winery tours with salt flats, and Inca ruins in the north or whale watching and trekking in the south. You’ll still want to start in Mendoza, then visit other popular wine locations in Argentina like Maipu, Lujan de Cuyo, or the Uco Valley. Make sure to book yourself in for at least one vintners’ meal, where different courses are artfully paired with local wines, including plenty of Malbec. Great lunch spots include the trendy Casa El Enemigo in Maipu, the historic Lagarde in Lujan, and the futuristic Bodega Monteviejo in the Uco Valley.
Get Splashed by a Whale in Puerto Pirámides
Peninsula Valdés is famous for whale watching and is one of Argentina’s biggest tourist attractions. The best spot on the peninsula to see the whales that come to breed and raise their young in Puerto Pirámides. June through November, visitors venture into Golfo Nuevo (New Gulf), where whales frequently surface next to the boats or even breech nearby, splashing the boats as they land back in the water. While the Southern Right Whale is the biggest draw, you will probably also see orcas, penguins, seals, and sea lions. Come towards the end of whale season, and you’re more likely to see penguins who flock to Playa Unión on Peninsula Valdes from October through March.
Dance the Tango in San Telmo
San Telmo is one of the oldest and most charming parts of Buenos Aires, lined with cobbled streets, antique shops, and artistic cafes. But this bohemian barrio is also home to several tango parlors. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Argentina, you can’t go wrong with tango lessons! To watch Argentina’s infamously seductive dance, try El Viejo Almacén, Bar Sur, and the Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso. During the day, you’ll see outdoor tango performances in the main square, Plaza Dorrego, with the best shows on Sundays.
Feast on a Traditional Argentine Asado
Argentina may be most famous for quality steak, but a true Argentine asado has three courses of meat, with steak as the third course. Asado restaurants usually have a grill near the door, so you can admire the variety of meat on offer. The first course of an asado is a variety of sausages, which are just as often pork as they are beef. The second course is sweetmeats, including liver and kidneys. Make it through all that, and you’ll be rewarded with a big juicy steak at the end. Don’t underestimate the size of each of these courses. This country has an average annual beef consumption of 260 pounds per capita.
Ride With the Gauchos
The gaucho is the Argentine cowboy—a rider of horses, a worker of cattle, and a free spirit. You’ll find gauchos riding on horseback throughout Argentina through the estancias and farmland, from Patagonia and the flat Pampa to the high-elevation Andes Mountains and the rivers and plains between. Getting into the saddle with a few gauchos is one of the wildest activities to do in Argentina and the best way to experience the national obsession with horseback riding. Afterward, you’ll find it hard not to don a boina, a poncho, and a pair of alpargatas. Mendoza, Salta, Cordoba, Patagonia, and San Antonio de Areca are major equestrian regions.
Follow Darwin’s Voyage Through the Beagle Channel
The Beagle Channel is named for the ship that Charles Darwin sailed on during his famous expedition in the 1830s. From Ushuaia, several tour companies offer navigation in the Beagle Channel, where you will see penguins, sea lions, fur seals, and lots of marine birds. Tours visit one of the most literary locations in Argentina, the lighthouse from Jules Verne’s book The Lighthouse at the End of the World, which still goes by the French name Les Éclaireurs. The most popular island in the channel is Hammer Island, where you can see nesting pairs of Gentoo, King, and Magellanic Penguins. If you want even more excitement, sail around the infamous Cape Horn. Be sure to go when there’s a window of calm weather, as this is one of the most dangerous places in the world, with over 800 shipwrecks–so far.
Get Your Passport Stamped at the 'End of the World'
Tierra del Fuego National Park offers some of the best hiking trails in Patagonia, where you can walk through coastal forests and spot dolphins, flightless vapor ducks, and other marine wildlife. Sign up for a canoa tour, where you’ll paddle canoes or rafts from the Argentina side of Lago Roca through a maze of islands to Lapataia Bay and the Beagle Channel. Fondly called the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia is one of the most famous places in Argentina. When you get there, don’t miss the opportunity to get your official “Fin del Mundo,” or End of the World, stamp on your passport from Ushuaia’s tourism office. If you’re just back from your bucket list Antarctic cruise, you can also get Antarctica stamps.
Marvel at the Mausoleums in Recoleta
Recoleta has been one of Buenos Aires’ most upmarket neighborhoods for centuries, full of important Argentina landmarks. There’s no better testimony to this barrio’s wealth than the 6,400 magnificent mausoleums in Recoleta cemetery. These graves are much more than just tombstones; several crypts feel larger than nearby city apartments, with multiple chambers, elaborate sculptures, and palatial copulas. By far, the most popular grave is that of Eva Perón, known as Evita, the First Lady who worked to get women the right to vote in 1947. There are Argentine presidents, Nobel Prize winners, and athletes like the Argentine boxer Luis Ángel Firpo with his life-size statue. Wander around on your own or take a walking tour, which is the best way to see all the most famous and elaborate tombs. Rest your feet after the walk at one of the new microbreweries that have sprung up on Calle Vicente Lopez on the south side of the cemetery.
Climb Aconcagua (or at Least Part of It)
Towering 22,837 feet above sea level, Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas and one of the most famous places in Argentina. Over 2,000 climbers every year attempt to summit this Andean massif. The climb isn’t technical, making it one of the most accessible high peaks in the world. So far, the youngest climber to summit was just 9 years old, and the oldest was 87. However, this peak claims several lives each year, as the icy graves on the mountainside will testify. It all depends on the unpredictable weather and the route you take. Not interested in climbing? Aconcagua National Park has dozens of hiking trails and lakes. Los Horcones Lake is popular for fishing and at a much more reasonable 9,514 feet above sea level.
Read a Book in a Literary Cafe
Buenos Aires is a cultural capital of the world largely because it attracted the great literati in years past. In the 19th century, Buenos Aires bred influential Argentine authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Adolfo Bioy Casares, who each spent considerable time in cafes and bars in the city. This literary history has made bookshops and cafés some of Argentina’s most important tourist attractions. Retrace the steps of the great writers of Argentina by visiting their favorite haunts and cafés. Unmissable stops include Café Tortoni, Florida Garden Café, and El Ateneo, which used to be a grand theater and is consistently rated as one of the best bookstores in the world. Order the traditional café con leche and two “media lunas,” Argentina’s soft doughy version of the croissant.
Bask in the Glow of Purmamarca’s Mountain of Seven Colors
A scenic one-hour drive north of the city of San Salvador de Jujuy, bright orange cliffs peek out between hillsides of cactus on either side of the road. The town of Purmamarca is built at the base of hills that glow fantastical shades of red, magenta, purple, and orange. Follow the trail that loops around behind those hills to walk among cliffs of even brighter hues. It’s a half-hour hike, and there is a road for those who don’t feel like walking. While you’re there, check out the Inca ruins at Tilcara, half an hour north of Purmamarca. Keep going another half hour past Tilcara, and you’ll find Humahuaca, another colorful mountain, UNESCO Heritage Site, and an important Argentina tourist attraction.
Look Up to the Biggest Dinosaurs in the World
Some of the world’s largest dinosaur fossils have been discovered in southern Argentina, in the dusty lowlands of the Neuquén region. Ginormous fossils of carnivores and herbivores continue breaking records in Patagonia, and the nuclei of these discoveries are in El Chocón, near the town of Neuquén. Paleontologists have made this flat region one of the best places to visit in Argentina for anybody who loves dinosaurs. Don’t miss Museo Ernest Bachmann where you can see the skeleton of a Giganotosaurus carolinii, which was even larger than a Tyrannosaur Rex. Only an hour away, at Museo Carmen Funes you’ll find one of the largest herbivore dinosaurs, the Argentinosaurus huinculensis.
Walk on the Lunar Landscape of Salinas Grandes
Salinas Grandes is a salt flat reminiscent of Bolivia’s famous Uyuni, where the expanse of salt sparkles like snow, and a sense of scale quickly vanishes. This is one of the best places to play with taking trompe l’oeil photos, like holding a friend in the palm of your hand or balancing a truck on your nose. At over 11,000 feet of elevation, with no cities in the area, it’s also a fabulous place to get photos of the Milky Way. Spend the night in the middle of the salt flats in a dome at Pristine Camps to get the best nighttime photos. Done with photography? Visit nearby Barrancas, where pictographs and petroglyphs document the llama caravans that traveled through the canyon for over 2,000 years. As recently as 2018, caravans of llamas brought goods from Bolivia to trade with the people of Salinas Grandes. This is also one of the best places to go in Argentina to spot the endangered vicuña, a shy, delicate cousin of the llama.
Wander Into the Wetlands
One of Argentina’s newest national parks is the Iberá National Park, a triumph for Argentine conservationists. It has some of the country’s most diverse flora and fauna alongside an exciting reintroduction program for jaguars, tapirs, anteaters, pampas deer, and red-and-green macaw. Explore this freshwater reserve by horseback, motorboat, or canoe. The most adventurous can try wading into the wetlands from the water’s edge, where caimans float, capybaras bathe, and over 360 species of birds chirping. It is one of the largest wetlands in the world and one of the best places to visit in Argentina for birders. There are four access points to enter the park, and you’ll want to make plans to visit from Portal San Nicolás or Portal Carambola if you’re traveling from the nearby city of Corrientes. There are no entrance fees, but visitors are required to register with the park service on arrival. Vehicles with high clearance and four-wheel drive are highly recommended.
Cheer on the Gauchos at a Pato Match
Argentines love equestrian sports and polo, but it’s pato that’s the national sport. Invented in the wilds of Argentina in the 1600s, pato is the gaucho version of polo, a rougher game that involves a lot more adrenaline. Every January, the biggest annual pato festival takes place an hour north of the city of Córdoba in the town of Jesús María. Watching a raucous game of pato is one of the best equestrian activities to do in Argentina. If you want to see a classic polo match, the best place is right in Buenos Aires, at the Campo de Polo in the well-heeled Palermo neighborhood. There are another twenty polo fields and fifteen pato fields in Buenos Aires alone, so it should be easy to watch a match near wherever you’re staying in the capital city.
Soak in the Hot Springs Next to Uruguay
The hot springs and spas along the border between Argentina and Uruguay are wildly popular with tourists from Buenos Aires and were only recently discovered by international travelers. Driving north from Buenos Aires, you’ll first come to Colón, which has 13 pools, each with different temperatures and clientele. Some of the pools are theme parks for kids, and others are adult-only. Another hour and a half north is Concordia, famous for five different hot spring resorts, three family-friendly and two for adults. (An added bonus in Concordia is the ruins of a castle where French author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry found the inspiration for his book The Little Prince). Keep going north another hour, and you’ll find Federación, where about 120 thousand gallons of 180.5°F water gushes up out of the earth every hour, right in the middle of town. The hot springs complex has several spas, adults-only areas, and of course, a water park for kids. This is one of the most relaxing things to do in Argentina and a great way to cap off any trip.
Tour the Sparkling Seven Lakes
Synonymous with Argentine Patagonia, the 70-mile Seven Lakes Route is the most popular road trip in the country. You’ll go by sparkling turquoise lakes, forests of old-growth trees, and snow-capped volcanoes. The best way to enjoy the scenery of this route through the Lanín and Nahuel Huapai National Parks is by bike. It’s a four-day trip for most cyclists, with plenty of camping opportunities in the national parks. Most start in San Martín de los Andes on the shores of Lácar Lake and finish at Villa La Angostura on the massive Nahuel Huapai Lake. If you’re coming from Bariloche, it may be easier to do the route in reverse. Short on time? You can drive the route in only four hours, visiting some of the best places in Argentina for spectacular lakes that don’t require long hikes. The road and campgrounds tend to be crowded in January and February, making March the best time of year to enjoy this scenic route.
Make Friends and Try Mate
The most social and unique thing to do in Argentina is try mate (pronounced mah-tay). If you’ve made friends with any Argentines, you’re sure to be offered a sip. Everywhere you go in Argentina, you’ll see people with a thermos tucked in their arm and a round cup with a metal straw sticking out. The cup is also called mate, and the metal straw is a bombilla (pronounced bom-bee-yah). Grown in the subtropical regions north of Buenos Aires, mate is a shrub with wide leaves that contains about as much caffeine as tea. Grocery stores tend to have a whole aisle of mate, which is sold in paper bags like flour. Join any circle of Argentines, and mate will be passed around. The host will pour some hot water in the mate and pass it on. You should drink all the mate before passing it back to whoever has the thermos. Traditionally, everybody shares the same bombilla, but since the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s much more acceptable to have your own bombilla.
Protect Penguins’ Happy Feet
These adorable, tuxedoed birds are one of the main reasons people choose to travel to the southernmost points on the planet and one of the biggest tourist attractions in Argentina. Sadly, a long list of environmental challenges is decreasing penguin populations in Argentina, and educating the public is one way conservationists combat the problem. Show your support for penguins by going to visit them with environmentally responsible tour operators like Say Hueque, so you can learn about protecting penguin habitat. Punta Tombo and Isla Martillo are the two most popular places to see penguins. If you want to spot fuzzy little penguin chicks, the best time to arrive is December to January.
Speak Lunfardo like a Porteño
People from Buenos Aires are called Porteños, a reference to the port city, and they don’t speak Spanish, they speak Lunfardo, also called Chamuyo. To really get a feel for the city, learning local slang is one of the best things to do in Buenos Aires. The roots of this particular version of Spanish are intertwined with Italian immigrants, but new terms are coined every year. Common words are “pibe” for a teenager and “mina” for a woman. Two words that you’ll hear most are “guita,” which means money, and “che” which means dude or friend. This last one is such common street slang that the famous Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Guevara has gone down in history as Che. Pick up a copy of the Lunfardía dictionary or take lessons at a language school.
Go Skiing or Dog Sledding in July
Head to Ushuaia for some winter fun if the northern hemisphere gets too hot for you between June and August. There are two ski resorts in Ushuaia, Martial Glacier is right in town, and Cerro Castor is only half an hour away. Cerro Castor has 8 chair lifts and 34 ski runs, making it one of the biggest ski resorts in South America. There are even more cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling places, including Tierra Mayor, Las Cotorras, Nunatak, Haruwen, and Llanos del Castor. Haruwen’s ice sculpture festival in mid-August makes it the top location in Argentina for winter art. Next to Cerro Castor is the dog sled park Siberanos de Fuego, which translates to “Siberians of Fire.” Even closer to town is Valle de Lobos, where you can take dog sled rides or just go meet the dogs. If you want something more adventurous, there are numerous areas where you can go backcountry skiing.
Hike the Argentine Glacier National Park
Montana does not have the only Glacier National Park in the Americas. Argentina’s Parque Nacional Los Glaciares encompasses 47 giant glaciers and more than 200 smaller glaciers. Even more famous than the glaciers are the spectacular mountain peaks. Mount Fitz Roy is the most iconic Argentine landmark, and any outdoor enthusiast hiking in the area will recognize the skyline from the outdoor company Patagonia’s logo. Plan several days in the nearby town of El Chaltén so you can visit turquoise lakes like Laguna de Los Tres and Lago Desierto. Chaltén means “smoking mountain” in the Indigenous Tehuelche language and was the original name of Mount Fitz Roy.