Beautiful, defiant and intense, Argentina seduces with its streetside tango, wafting grills, fútbol (soccer), gaucho culture and the mighty Andes. It's one formidable cocktail of wanderlust.
Arriving in Buenos Aires is like jumping aboard a moving train. The modern metropolis whizzes by, alive with street life from busy sidewalk cafes, to hush parks carpeted in purple jacaranda blooms in springtime. Stylish porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) savor public life – whether it's sharing mate (a tea-like beverage) on Sunday in the park or gelato under handsome early-20th-century stone facades. There are heaps of bookstores, creative boutiques and gourmet eats. Buenos Aires isn't the only stunner – Córdoba, Salta, Mendoza and Bariloche each have their unique personalities and unforgettable attractions, so don't miss them.
From mighty Iguazú Falls in the subtropical north to the thunderous, crackling advance of the Glaciar Perito Moreno in the south, Argentina is home to a vast natural wonderland. Diversity is a big part of it. The country that boasts the Andes’ highest snowbound peaks is also home to rich wetlands, rust-hued desert, deep-blue lakes, lichen-clad Valdivian forests and Patagonia's arid steppes. Wildlife comes in spectacular variety, from penguins and flamingos to capybaras, giant anteaters, whales, guanaco herds and more. In this vast country, stunning sights abound and big adventure awaits.
Food & Drink
Satisfying that carnal craving for flame-charred steak isn’t hard to do in the land that has perfected the art of grilling. Parrillas (grill houses) are ubiquitous, offering up any cut you can imagine, alongside sausages and grilled vegetables. Thin, bubbly pizzas and homemade pastas also play central roles, thanks to Argentina's proud Italian heritage. But there's more. Buenos Aires fads are fun and fast-changing, bringing gourmet world cuisine to both upscale restaurants and the shady cobblestone neighborhoods. Grab a table, uncork a bottle of malbec, and the night is yours.
Cultural activities abound here. Tango is possibly Argentina’s greatest contribution to the outside world. The steamy dance has been described as ‘making love in the vertical position.’ And what about fútbol (soccer)? Argentines are passionately devoted to this sport and, if you're a fan, chanting and stomping alongside other stadium fanatics should definitely be in your plans. Add a distinctive Argentine take on literature, cinema, music and arts, and you have a rich, edgy culture – part Latin American and part European – that is thoroughly distinctive.
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Among the Earth's most dynamic and accessible ice fields, Glaciar Perito Moreno is the stunning centerpiece of the southern sector of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Locally referred to as Glaciar Moreno, it measures 30km long, 5km wide and 60m high, but what makes it exceptional in the world of ice is its constant advance – up to 2m per day, causing building-sized icebergs to calve from its face.
West of Fiambalá, the paved road winds through the high desert, past picturesque red rock escarpments known as the Quebrada Angosturas, and into some serious altitude, topping out at the Chilean border. It's a stunning drive, with no services apart from a seasonal white-elephant hotel halfway between Fiambalá and the frontier. Los Seismiles are the peaks above 6000m, and you'll see several of them, including Ojos del Salado (6879m), the world's highest volcano.
One of Buenos Aires' most beautiful monuments, this 22-story building has a unique design inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. Its structure is divided into hell, purgatory and heaven; its height (100m) is a reference to each canto (song); and the number of floors (22) mirrors the number of verses per song. Dreamt up by the Italian architect Mario Palanti, Palacio Barolo was the tallest skyscraper in South America when it was completed in 1923.
Dominating the view in all directions along the Chilean border, the snowcapped cone of 3776m Volcán Lanín is the centerpiece of this national park, which extends 150km from Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi in the south to Lago Ñorquinco in the north. Come here for some of the region's best hiking, including the ascent of the star of the Lake District – the picture-perfect cone of Volcán Lanín.
The spectacular rock formations and canyons of this dusty desert national park are evidence of the erosive creativity of water. The sandstone cliffs are amazing, as are the distant surrounding mountainscapes. You must enter by guided visit, arranged at the visitors center. The standard 2½-hour trip is included with your entrance fee. You'll be ferried in comfortable minibuses and there’s little walking involved; nevertheless, take water and protection from the fierce sun.
On the Argentine side of the marvelous falls, this park has loads to offer, and involves a fair amount of walking. The spread-out entrance complex ends at a train station, with departures every half-hour to the Cataratas train station, where the waterfall walks begin, and to the Garganta del Diablo. You may prefer to walk: it’s only 650m along the Sendero Verde path to the Cataratas station, and a further 2.3km to the Garganta. You may well see capuchin monkeys along the way.
The region's most famous park is Parque Provincial Aconcagua, home of 6962m (22,841ft) Cerro Aconcagua, the highest peak outside the Himalayas and a favorite climbing destination. Reaching the summit requires a commitment of at least 13 to 15 days, including acclimatization time. Non-climbers can hike to base camps and refugios (rustic shelters) beneath the permanent snow line; easily, the best and most accessible long hike is to Confluencia from the park entrance at Laguna Horcones.
A 1.1km walkway across the placid Río Iguazú leads to one of the planet’s most spectacular sights, the 'Devil’s Throat.' The lookout platform is perched right over this amazingly powerful, concentrated torrent of water, a deafening cascade plunging to an invisible destination; vapors soaking the viewer blur the base of the falls and rise in a smoke-like plume that can be seen several kilometers away. It’s a place of majesty and awe, and should be left until the end of your visit.
One of Argentina's most-visited national parks, Nahuel Huapi occupies 7500 sq km in the mountainous southwestern Neuquén and western Río Negro provinces. The park's centerpiece is Lago Nahuel Huapi, a glacial remnant over 100km long that covers more than 500 sq km. The lake is the source of the Río Limay, a major tributary of the Río Negro. Some of the region's best hiking is found here, from challenging multiday treks to easy rambles.