Taking over almost the entire bottom half of South America is the vibrant and flavourful country of Argentina. In a country where you can experience the supple Atlantic Ocean beaches, the largest ice cap outside of Antarctica and Greenland, one of the world’s most popular (and luxurious) waterfalls, and the highest mountain peak in South America, it’s hard to make a short visit to this country. With so much to see and so much to do, you might find yourself hopping from town to town trying to fit it all in.
If you're looking for the flavour of South America in a bustling city right along the coast, then look no further than Buenos Aires. You might find Tango dancers performing along the Microcentro or you can take in cobblestone streets and wrought-iron lanterns in the historical district of San Telmo. Another popular area to visit is La Boca, a neighbourhood boasting vibrant, playful houses and buildings.
You can visit The Port or if sports are more your style, a visit to La Bombonera is a must. This home of Boca Juniors, the most famous football club in Argentina, allows you to take a walking tour and see the changing rooms, the viewer's area, and even the actual playing field.
If you're looking for a luxurious experience full of exceptional dining and ritzy accommodations, then head to the Recoleta neighbourhood. Boasting the priciest real estate in Buenos Aires, there are top restaurateurs and all of the best shopping boutiques awaiting your arrival. A famous tourist spot here is the Recoleta Cemetery, containing graves of notable people such as Argentinian presidents, Nobel Prize winners, and the granddaughter of Napoleon. You can also take in the historical architecture in Recoleta and relax in many of the areas green spaces.
During the summer months (December through March) you won't find many locals in Buenos Aires. Likely, everyone has escaped to Mar del Plata, the most popular beach resort city in Argentina. The beaches can get quite crowded so it's best to head there early.
After a day at the beach, you can catch one of the famous Tango shows, do some shopping or head to the casino. There's also a live theatre with a wide variety of shows. Mar del Plata also hosts some lovely architecture and historic homes, and if you want to take in the sights, try strolling through Barrio La Perla or Patricio Peralta Ramos Boulevard. Another Mar del Plata attraction is the Zoologico El Paraiso which hosts 300 species of exotic animals, most of which roam free in the nature park. Book a night tour for a more interesting perspective.
Calling all wine connoisseurs! Mendoza, Argentina is Latin America's largest wine producing region and it is near Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas. Wine tours and tastings are popular and can be arranged with a variety of companies. For those who want the wine without the adventure, Mendoza features many wine bars to relax and have a few glasses of the top wines from the region.
For those wanting extra adventure, many treks and expeditions of the Aconcagua can be organized. You also have the option of renting a mountain cabin for spectacular scenery.
The art lovers will want to convene around Plaza Independencia, which houses the Mendoza Museum of Modern Art, and the Plaza Espana, an art piece in itself. Plaza Espana is decorated with typical Andalusian and Spanish motifs. The central wall gives a display of tiled murals depicting the Spanish colonisation.
This town is not for the prim and proper. This is a city for the adventure and nature lovers. With so much natural wonders, it will be hard to fit everything in.
If visiting Antarctica has ever piqued your curiosity, then a trip to Ushuaia might just be your ticket. Antarctic cruises leave from Ushuaia, the Argentinian city that gets the title of "Southernmost city in the world," located just 600 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula.
You can also take in the sights of the Andes peaks off in the distance, or if you want to make a trek, the Martial Glacier is the perfect spot. Located only a few kilometres from city centre, you can hike along a stream to the top or for a more serene trip, take the chairlift all the way up.
The Beagle Channel, named for Charles Darwin's ship (Darwin explored and mapped out the entire southern tip of Patagonia) is perfect for kayakers looking to take in the sights by water.
This is another city for the adventure lovers. About 50 miles away from El Calafte, lies the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the largest reserves of fresh water in the world. The glacier is in Los Glaciares National Park and is a part of the largest ice cap outside of Antarctica and Greenland. You can also take a 4x4 excursion up the mountainous regions surrounding El Calafate to see the beautiful, scenic views.
This is a meat-lovers country. Argentina is renowned for its beef thanks to prime cuts and delectable barbecuing techniques. Argentina favours a slower process with emphasis on smoking with briquettes. Breakfast is a small meal, usually only consisting of coffee and toast, while lunch is a very large meal since dinner doesn’t usually take place until around 10 at night. “Afternoon” tea is common between 6 and 8 and is rarely skipped and you can order small plates to help curb hunger if you just can’t make it until dinner.
Seasons are reversed from that in Northern Hemisphere, so much like Australia, the Argentinians are spending their summer during Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Depending on where you stay in the country could bring a very different climate. Buenos Aires is cooler in the winter but hot and humid in the summer. Areas like the Andes and Patagonia are cool in the summer and very cold in the winter. Be sure to check the forecast for your area of stay closer to the time of your trip.
Major Health concerns are not a risk in Argentina however, for those visiting the Northern Forests, a yellow fever vaccination may be recommended.
As with any country, erring on the side of caution is always recommended. If you’re headed overseas to Argentina, have the peace of mind that comes with booking travel insurance to provide coverage for any unforeseen events.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Douglass Truth.