Baking hot, energetic and brash, (San Miguel de) Tucumán, the cradle of Argentine independence, is the nation’s fifth-largest city and feels like it; the metropolitan bustle can come as quite a shock compared with other more genteel northwestern capitals. You may prefer it at night, when the fumes and heat of the day have lulled, and cafes and bars come to life.
Booming Puerto Iguazú sits at the confluence of the Ríos Paraná and Iguazú and looks across to Brazil and Paraguay. There’s little feeling of community: everyone is here to see the falls or to make a buck out of them, and planning laws seem nonexistent as hotels go up on every street.
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (North)
In the northern part of the park, the Fitz Roy Range – with its rugged wilderness and shark-tooth summits – is the de facto trekking capital of Argentina. It also draws world-class climbers for whom Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy are milestone ascents notorious for brutal weather conditions.
Quebrada de Humahuaca
North of Jujuy, the memorable Quebrada de Humahuaca snakes its way upward toward Bolivia. It’s a harsh but vivid landscape, a dry yet river-scoured canyon overlooked by mountainsides whose sedimentary strata have been eroded into spectacular scalloped formations revealing a spectrum of colors in undulating waves.
San Martín de los Andes
Like a mellower version of Bariloche, San Martín has two peak periods: winter for skiing at Cerro Chapelco and summer for trekking, climbing, etc, in nearby Parque Nacional Lanín. Brave souls also swim in the chilly waters of Lago Lácar on the western edge of town.
Of the trinity of northwestern cities, (San Salvador de) Jujuy lacks Salta's colonial sophistication or Tucuman's urban vibe and is often bypassed by travelers. Nevertheless, it has a livable feel, enticing restaurants and is the most culturally indigenous of any of Argentina’s cities.
San Luis & Around
The little-visited province of San Luis holds a surprising number of attractions, made all the better by the fact that you’ll probably have them all to yourself. The province is popularly known as La Puerta de Cuyo (the door to Cuyo), referring to the combined provinces of Mendoza, San Luis, La Rioja and San Juan.
Argentina’s second center for quality wine production, Cafayate is a popular tourist destination but still has a tranquil small-town feel. It’s spectacularly scenic, with the green of the vines backed by soaring mountains beyond, and is one of northwest Argentina’s most seductive destinations.
It’s not hard to see why the hippies started flocking to El Bolsón back in the '70s. It’s a mellow little village for most of the year, nestled in between two mountain ranges. When summer comes, it packs out with Argentine tourists who drop big wads of cash and disappear quietly to whence they came.
Unpretentious Paraná, capital of Entre Ríos province, is a sleepy, slow-paced city perched on the hilly banks of its eponymous river. There's a lovely riverbank for strolling and a few minor attractions. Paraná was the capital of the Argentine Confederation (which didn’t include Buenos Aires) from 1853 to 1861.