Iguazú Falls & the Northeast
Northeast Argentina is defined by water. Muscular rivers roll through plains that they flood at will, while fragile wetlands support myriad birdlife, snapping caimans and cuddly capybaras. The peaceful Río Iguazú, meandering through jungle between Brazil and Argentina, dissolves in fury and power in the planet’s most awe-inspiring waterfalls.
Salta & the Andean Northwest
Argentina’s northwest sits lofty, dry and tough beneath the mighty Andes. Nature works magic here with stone: weird, wonderful, tortured rockscapes are visible throughout. There's a definite Andean feel characterizing the area's indigenous communities, traditional handicrafts, llamas and Inca ruins, and the high, arid puna (Andean highlands) stretching into Chile and Bolivia.
Mendoza & the Central Andes
A long, narrow sliver of desert landscape, the Mendoza region is home to two of Argentina’s claims to fame – the Andes and wine. The city itself is lively and cosmopolitan and the surrounding area boasts hundreds of wineries offering tours – an educational (and occasionally intoxicating) way to spend an afternoon or a month.
Bariloche & the Lake District
Home to some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, the Lake District is one of Argentina's prime tourist destinations. People come to ski, fish, climb, trek and generally bask in the cool, fresh landscapes created by the huge forests and glacier-fed lakes.
The Pampas & the Atlantic Coast
There's Buenos Aires, and then there's the province of Buenos Aires. Home to more than a third of the country's population, this is the nation's economic powerhouse: these fertile grasslands financed Argentina’s turn-of-the-century golden age and still produce most of the country's famous beef.
Patagonia’s cavorting right whales, penguin colonies and traditional Welsh settlements are all accessed by Argentina’s coastal RN 3. While this paved road takes in some fascinating maritime history, it also travels long yawning stretches of landscape that blur the horizon like a never-ending blank slate. It’s also a favored travel route for oversized trucks on long-haul trips.
Salta & Jujuy Provinces
Intertwined like yin and yang, Argentina’s northwestern provinces harbor an inspiring wealth of natural beauty and traditional culture. Bounded by Bolivia to the north and Chile to the west, the zone climbs from sweaty cloud forests westward to the puna highlands and some of the most majestic peaks of the Andes cordillera.
Córdoba & the Central Sierras
Argentina’s second city is bursting with life. Home to not one but seven major universities, Córdoba has a young population that ensures an excellent nightlife and a healthy cultural scene. Córdoba also boasts a fascinating history, owing its architectural and cultural heritage to the Jesuits, who set up shop here when they first arrived in Argentina.
Along the Río Paraná
The mighty Paraná, the continent’s second-longest river at 4000km, dominates the geography of Northeast Argentina. The cities along it have their town centers a sensible distance above the shorelines of this flood-prone monster, but have a costanera (riverbank) that’s the focus of much social life.
Save for the travel hubs of El Calafate and El Chaltén, RN 40 and its offshoots are a bit of a backwater. The ultimate road trip, RN 40 parallels the backbone of the Andes, where ñandús doodle through sagebrush, trucks kick up whirling dust and gas stations rise on the horizon like oases.
Tierra del Fuego
The southernmost extreme of the Americas, this windswept archipelago is as alluring as it is moody – at turns beautiful, ancient and strange. Travelers who first came for the ends-of-the-earth novelty discover a destination that’s far more complex than these bragging rights. Intrigue still remains in a past storied with shipwrecks, native peoples and failed missions.
A bustling city of wide, leafy avenues, atmospheric plazas and cosmopolitan cafes, Mendoza is a trap. Even if you’ve (foolishly) only given it a day or two on your itinerary, you’re bound to end up hanging around, captivated by the laid-back pace, while surrounded by every possible comfort.