Encircled by the Sierra de Velasco's graceful peaks, La Rioja is quite a sight on a sunny day. And there are plenty of those: summer temperatures rise sky-high in this quiet, out-of-the-way, yet affluent provincial capital dotted with palm trees. It's an understated but quite charming place; even if you’re on a short highlights tour, you might consider stopping off (it’s halfway between Mendoza and Salta) to take a tour to Parque Nacional Talampaya and Parque Provincial Ischigualasto.
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