Start free associating on the word ‘Argentina,’ and it’s quickly apparent why the country has long held travelers in awe: tango, beef, gauchos, fútbol, Patagonia, the Andes. The classics alone make a formidable wanderlust cocktail.
Just wait till you get here. Arriving in Buenos Aires is like jumping aboard a moving train. Outside the taxi window, a blurred mosaic of drab apartment blocks and haphazard architecture whizzes by as you shoot along the freeway toward the center of the city. The driver – probably driving way too fast while chain-smoking and talking incessantly about government corruption – finally merges off the freeway. Then the street life appears – the cafes, the purple jacaranda flowers draped over the sidewalks and porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) in stylish clothing walking purposefully past the newspaper stands, candy kiosks and handsome early-20th-century stone facades. And it’s not just BA that’s a stunner – Córdoba, Mendoza and Bariloche each have their unique personalities and attractions, and are all worthy of your visit.
While Argentina’s big cities have a lot of urban pleasures to offer, their real purpose is to springboard travelers into the country’s greatest attraction: the natural world. From mighty Iguazú Falls in the subtropical north to the thunderous, crackling advance of the Perito Moreno Glacier in the south, Argentina is a vast natural wonderland. The country boasts some of the Andes’ highest peaks, several of which top 6000m near Mendoza and San Juan. It’s home to rich wetlands that rival Brazil’s famous Pantanal, mountains painted in rustic colors, deserts dotted with cacti, massive ice fields and arid steppes in Patagonia, cool lichen-clad Valdivian forests, glacial lakes, Andean salt flats, a spectacular Lake District, penguins, flamingos, caimans, capybaras and more. All unforgettable sights and adventures waiting for you to experience and be amazed by – and you will be, bet on that!
Tango is possibly Argentina’s greatest contribution to the outside world, a steamy dance that’s been described as ‘making love in the vertical position.’ In Buenos Aires especially, you’ll find endless venues for perfecting your tango moves, from dance salons to milongas (dance events) to atmospheric cafes. Satisfying that carnal craving for juicy steaks isn’t hard to do in the land that has perfected grilling those wonderfully flavorful sides of beef. Parrillas (steak houses) are on practically every corner and will offer up any cut you can imagine. Add an exhilarating passion for fútbol – Argentines are truly devoted to this sport and experiencing a live match should be on your itinerary – and you have a rich edgy culture, part Latin American and part European, that you can’t help but fall in love with.