Offering gorgeous landscapes and natural attractions, cosmopolitan cities, tempting cuisine and lively culture, Argentina is a traveler’s paradise. Nature lovers can traverse the Patagonian steppe, climb South America’s highest peak, walk among thousands of penguins, and see some of the world’s most amazing waterfalls. Hikers can sample the stunning scenery of the lush Lake District, with its glorious lakes and white-tipped mountains, and revel in Patagonia’s glacier-carved landscapes and painted Andean deserts.
Situated in the southern part of South America, Argentina is bordered by Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay to the north, Uruguay to the northeast, and Chile to the west. Argentina also has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline.
Visitors looking for an urban adventure will find it all in Buenos Aires, shopping for affordable designer clothes and enjoying some of the world’s best steaks during the day, and sampling the scintillating nightlife and maybe even learning how to dance the sexy tango in the evening.
One of the most spectacular and memorable sites in Argentina is Iguazu Falls, taller than Niagara Falls and four times as wide. Located on the border with Brazil, Iguazu Falls features 275 cascades spread in a horseshoe shape over nearly two miles of the Iguazu River. The falls are part of a jungle ecosystem protected by Argentine and Brazilian national parks on either side of the cascades. Two-thirds of the falls are on the Argentinian side of the river, where visitors can also tour Iguazú National Park, with its jungle trails and bird hikes. Plan a full day in the park to fully enjoy the wildlife flora and fauna.
For a much colder water display, visit Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and the breathtaking Glaciar Perito Moreno, one of earth's most dynamic and accessible ice fields. A low gap in the Andes allows moisture-laden Pacific storms to drop their loads of precipitation east of the divide, where they accumulate as snow. Over millennia, under tremendous weight, this snow has recrystallized into ice and flowed slowly eastward. Visiting the Moreno Glacier is no less an auditory experience than a visual one, as huge icebergs on the glacier's face cave and collapse into the Canal de los Témpanos (Iceberg Channel). From a series of catwalks and vantage points on the Península de Magallanes, visitors can safely see, hear and photograph the glacier as the enormous chunks crash into the water.
Though Buenos Aires might attract most of the tourists, Mendoza, in the west-central part of Argentina, is a bustling city with wide avenues, atmospheric plazas and cosmopolitan cafés, and shouldn’t be missed. Lively during the day, the city really comes into its own at night, when the bars, restaurants and cafés along Av Arístides fill up and overflow onto the sidewalks with all the bright young things, out to see and be seen.
Throughout Argentina, Mendoza is synonymous with wine, and this is the place to base yourself if you’re up for touring the vineyards, taking a few dozen bottles home or just looking for a good bottle to accompany the evening’s pizza.
The cuisine of Argentina is uniquely distinctive in South America because of its strong resemblance to Spanish, Italian, French and other European cuisines rather than the other Latin American cuisines. Another determining factor is that the country is one of the world's major food producers. It is a major producer of meat (especially beef), wheat, corn, milk, beans and, since the 1970s, soybeans. Given the country's vast production of beef, red meat is an especially common part of the Argentine diet, and is featured prominently on most restaurant menus. And considering the large wheat production in Argentina, white bread is also popular, as is Argentine pizza.
Visitors to Argentina will likely fly into Ministro Pistarini International Airport, about 15 miles from Buenos Aires, which serves most major air carriers. Taxis and buses are readily available to take you into the city.
From the scorching subtropical summers of Chaco and Formosa provinces, to the freezing, gale-force winter winds of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina has wildly varied climates. Remembering that the seasons in Argentina are the reverse of the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere, the best time to visit Buenos Aires is in the spring (September through November), when the jacarandas are in bloom and temperatures are blissfully cool, and in fall (March through May). Summer (December through February) in the capital is hot and humid. Mendoza, Córdoba and the Lake District are all spectacular in fall, when the leaves put on an epic display, temperatures are comfortable and the crowds are thin.
Summer is the best time to hit Patagonia, when the weather’s milder and more services are available. Ski season runs mid-June through mid-October, and the resorts are most expensive and most crowded in July and August when every resident of Buenos Aires seems to be on the slopes.