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Things to Do in Argentina

From the desert plains of the north, through the Andes Mountains and green pampas, and to the icy frontier of Patagonia, Argentina lures travelers with its diverse geography. The obvious starting point is Buenos Aires, Argentina’s free-spirited capital, where the old-school romance of the tango is offset by an electric nightlife scene, a passion for fútbol (soccer), and the meat-mad feast offered at parrillas (grill houses). From the capital, long distances and big landscapes divide Argentina, so tours can help visitors cover more ground in one trip. Many visitors go west into the Pampas to ride horses with gauchos (cowboys), enjoy Malbec wine tasting amid the vineyards of Mendoza—650 miles (1,046 kilometers) from Buenos Aires—or head north, where boats dot the water under the UNESCO-listed Iguazú Falls, a good 15-hour drive away. Journeying south, travelers snake through Argentina’s natural wonders in the lake district of Bariloche and along the Andean border with Chile, before hitting the wilderness of Patagonia. Stretching to Ushuaia, 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometers) south of Buenos Aires at South America’s southern tip, it’s a region of ice-capped mountains and shimmering glaciers, where penguins abound and touring ships glide beneath the gigantic icebergs of the Perito Moreno Glacier. In stark contrast, arid desert, red rock canyons, and sweeping highlands hem in the northwestern cities of Salta and Jujuy. Still somewhat off the beaten track, travelers here walk past gigantic cacti in Los Cardones National Park, marvel at Salta’s glistening salt flats, and discover otherworldly rock formations at Ischigualasto Provincial Park.
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Iguazu Falls
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Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfalls system in the world, are truly awe-inspiring to behold, spanning the border between Brazil and Argentina. Though Brazil boasts better views of the falls, Argentina is blessed with about 80 percent of this natural marvel’s 275 separate cascades. Paved trails and catwalks wind their way around the falls—sometimes reaching within an arm’s length of the water—and a free train connects the main trailheads.

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Beagle Channel
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The narrow Beagle Channel, separating Argentina's island chain of Tierra del Fuego to the north from remote Chilean islands to the south, serves as a waterway for the world's southernmost city, Ushuaia. It’s also one of the most important bodies of water in South America.

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Andes Mountains
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The Andes Mountains, which form Argentina’s backbone, are to the far west of the country, and separate this nation from bordering Chile. They extend most of the length of South America (some 4,300 miles), stretching down from Venezuela through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and finally, Argentina. At their widest, the Andes are about 430 miles wide and measure an average of 13,000 feet high, which means they are visible from many miles away.

Most visitors to Argentina’s closest connection with the Andes will be from near Mendoza, one of the main wine-growing regions in the country, with its popular Malbec (red) wine. Mendoza is just east of the Andes, and from here, it is possible to visit a lookout point with a good view of Aconcagua, the tallest mountain on the continent, as a day trip. The 22,841 foot mountain is a favorite among mountain climbers, but it an intensive trip that requires planning, training and high-mountain gear. Most visitors will content themselves with seeing, rather than climbing the Andes.

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Tierra del Fuego National Park
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When travelers make their way to the far southern reaches of Argentina, chances are they’re heading into Tierra del Fuego National Park. The country’s only coastal national park protects the Andean-Patagonian forest, a land of peat bogs, beech forests, glistening lakes, remote beaches, and snow-capped peaks ideal for outdoor adventures.

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Perito Moreno Glacier
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The beauty of Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia has earned it the nickname of the "Eighth Wonder of the World” in Argentina. It’s the planet's third-largest reserve of fresh water and one of the continent's last advancing glaciers, slowly making its way in crackling celestial blue from the granite spires of the Chilean Torres del Paine into Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares).

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Potrerillos
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Potrerillos is a town with an artificial lake outside of Menzoa that is a destination for rafting, kayaking, hiking, and fly-fishing. Visitors can also opt to go horseback riding or do some mountain biking. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and cypress forests, Potrerillos is a particularly scenic location for an outdoor adventure.

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Puerto Madero
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Puerto Madero, once a lackluster cargo port, is now one of Buenos Aires’ most fashionable districts, teeming with upmarket restaurants and glitzy nightclubs. Marooned from the mainland by the Rio de la Plata estuary, the largely pedestrianized island is celebrated for housing some of the city’s most architecturally stunning buildings.

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San Telmo
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The central barrio of San Telmo is one of Buenos Aires’ tango haunts. Formerly an upmarket residential area, the area’s “old mansions and faded glory” vibe set the perfect scene for the artists and musicians who now call this enclave home. The streets here are picturesquely cobbled, and the fascinating little shops are well worth a browse.

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Plaza de Mayo
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Home to the Casa Rosada—where Eva Peron famously stood on the balcony—and the Metropolitan Cathedral, Pope Francis’ former church, Plaza de Mayo is the historic and political heart of Buenos Aires. Named for the May 1810 revolution, the square’s centerpiece is the Pirámide de Mayo, an obelisk commemorating Argentina’s independence.

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Argentino Lake (Lago Argentino)
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Encompassing a colossal 566 square miles (911 square-kilometers), Argentino Lake (Lago Argentino) is the largest lake in the country. El Calafate, the UNESCO-listed Perito Moreno Glacier, and the Upsala Glacier are all perched on its shores, so the lake serves as the gateway to some of Patagonia’s most impressive glacial landscapes.

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More Things to Do in Argentina

Palermo

Palermo

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Buenos Aires’ largest barrio, the northeastern district of Palermo is one of the city’s most affluent and fashionable neighborhoods. Known for its beautiful parks, grand monuments, and art museums, Palermo is whereporteños (locals) come to eat, shop, and party, with a buzzing nightlife and some of the city’s top restaurants, bars, and cafés.

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Aconcagua Provincial Park

Aconcagua Provincial Park

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Watched over by the mighty peak of Aconcagua Mountain—among the highest peaks in the world outside of the Himalayas at 22,837 feet (6,961 meters)—Aconcagua Provincial Park is a dream for hikers, with remote valleys, glacial lagoons, and towering peaks, all with sweeping views of the Andes Mountains.

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Seven Lakes Road

Seven Lakes Road

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In all of Argentina—or perhaps the world—has a stretch of 114 miles ever looked so good. Patagonia is known for holding some of the world’s most breathtaking alpine landscapes, and the section known as Seven Lakes Road is the most spectacularly scenic of it all. Beginning in Villa de Angostura to the north of Bariloches, the road travels all the way to San Martin de los Andes on the shores of Lake Lacár. In between, visitors are treated to epic vistas that stretch all the way out towards Chile, and pass by shimmering cobalt lakes such as Correntos, Espejo, and Falkner. The name of the road is actually a misnomer since there are far more than seven lakes, although all combine to create pinchworthy scenery that borders on the surreal. By summer the road is clear of snow and is the most popular time to visit, although unpaved section can occasionally become muddy after exceptionally heavy rains. Though the road only takes about 3.5 hours to drive from end to end, plan on devoting the entire day towards the exceptional alpine beauty. Many of the lakes have short hikes that lead to sweeping overlooks, and the fly fishing in the gurgling streams is Argentina’s best. Or, to truly immerse yourself in Andean beauty, stay at one of the primitive lodges scattered along the route, and find your own little corner of the forest to sit, relax, reflect, and rejoice in how lucky you are to be here.

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La Boca

La Boca

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Few places in Buenos Aires are photographed as frequently as Caminito Street. The main artery of the waterfront La Boca neighborhood is a jumble of old buildings, brightly painted facades, and street-side market stalls, with hawkers, buskers, and tango dancers adding to the atmosphere.

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Nahuel Huapi National Park

Nahuel Huapi National Park

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Stretching over 1.8 million acres, Nahuel Huapi National Park is Argentina’s oldest national park. Centered around the region’s largest lake, Nahuel Huapi, and encompassing the popular resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche, this enormous park offers mountain and forest hikes, and the opportunity to cruise the lakes.

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Obelisk (Obelisco de Buenos Aires)

Obelisk (Obelisco de Buenos Aires)

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The Buenos Aires Obelisk (Obelisco de Buenos Aires), among the city’s most iconic landmarks, towers over the intersection of two main thoroughfares. Erected in 1936 to commemorate the quadricentennial of the city’s founding, the pencil-like column stands a striking 220 feet (67 meters) tall and marks the spot where the nation’s flag was first flown.

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Colon Theatre (Teatro Colón)

Colon Theatre (Teatro Colón)

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With its opulent architecture and fine acoustics, the Colon Theatre (Teatro Colón) ranks alongside Paris’ Opera Garnier and London’s Royal Opera House as one of the world’s most impressive theaters. Reopened after extensive renovations in 2010, the Colon Theatre is the premier venue for opera, ballet, and classical music in Buenos Aires.

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Devil's Throat (Garganta del Diablo)

Devil's Throat (Garganta del Diablo)

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With 14 cascades tumbling over 260 feet (80 meters) into a cloudy mist as they hit the frothing water below, Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo) is easily the star of Iguazu Falls. The tallest of Iguazu’s 275 waterfalls, Devil’s Throat is evenly split across the border of Argentina and Brazil, making it easy to visit no matter your starting point.

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Tigre

Tigre

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With its scenic waterways, riverside fun fair, and lively handicrafts market, the charming provincial town of Tigre offers a welcome change of pace from nearby Buenos Aires. Located on the Tigre Delta at the meeting point of the Paraná River and the Río de la Plata estuary, it’s a popular choice for a day trip from the capital.

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Recoleta Cemetery (Cemiterio de Recoleta)

Recoleta Cemetery (Cemiterio de Recoleta)

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While it may seem odd that one of Buenos Aires’ principal attractions is a cemetery, this is no ordinary graveyard. Recoleta Cemetery(Cemiterio de Recoleta) is one of the world’s most exquisite necropolises—home to more than 6,400 tombs, mausoleums, and monuments laid out in formal tree-lined avenues, including the grave of Eva Perón (Evita).

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Lapataia Bay

Lapataia Bay

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Lapataia Bay is where Argentina’s RN 3 road ends, a road that is a continuation of the Pan-American Highway, which stretches all the way to Alaska. Roadies are always stopping to pose next to the sign here in Lapataia Bay, and it’s worth thinking about how far they’ve come to get there! According to the sign, the distance between this spot and Alaska is a whopping 11,090 miles (17,848 kilometers).

Most visitors don’t take the land route to Lapataia Bay, however, and instead fly into Argentina. The bay is within Parque National Tierra del Fuego, a popular day trip from Ushuaia, which sits only 10 miles away. The park offers a chance to get out into nature, overlook azure lakes and bays, walk through native beech forests and in season, catch both the firebush, which blooms bright red, and the spooky-looking orange “pan de indio,” golf ball-sized mushrooms that grow on some of the trees.

If you have more time, try out some of the other trails in the park, which covers almost 150,000 acres of this island off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland.

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Los Glaciares National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares)

Los Glaciares National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares)

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PaLos Glaciares National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares) protects Argentina’s wild Patagonian expanses of icy glaciers and mountain lakes. With a massive 47 glaciers, the Andean ice cap is the largest outside Antarctica and Greenland. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to several natural wonders, including Perito Moreno Glacier and Mount Fitz Roy.

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Rojo Tango

Rojo Tango

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The sultry passion, intricate footwork and dramatic embraces of the Argentine tango always make for a show-stopping performance and attending a professional tango show is the highlight of Buenos Aires for many visitors. With its award-winning shows, gourmet cuisine and lavish surroundings, Rojo Tango is arguably the most luxurious venue to experience the tango and it’s an intimate spot, with just 100 seats.

Guests can attend the show or opt to couple it with a pre-show dinner, where you’ll dine in style in Hotel Faena’s dramatic red velvet and gold cabaret theater. The dazzling tango performances, which take you on a journey from the roots of tango to modern-day, are equally impressive, including an extensive repertoire of jazz and classical tango by legendary Argentine composer Ástor Piazzolla. It’s a luxury experience from start to finish, with exquisite costumes, a world-class tango quintet performing live, and a wine list featuring top quality Malbecs and choice vintage wines.

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Recoleta

Recoleta

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An elegant residential district just north of downtown, Recoleta is Buenos Aires at its most polished—think luxury apartments, upscale boutiques, and perfectly manicured parks. The grand centerpiece is Recoleta Cemetery, a mini city of marble mausoleums and ornate crypts, where Eva “Evita” Perón was laid to rest.

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