16 (Unique!) Things to Do In Argentina

When you think of Argentina, you might think of tango and steak in Buenos Aires, Malbec from Mendoza, or snow-capped mountains in Patagonia. But what else does Argentina have to offer?

From hidden hiking spots to straddling the border and visiting the world’s most beautiful bookstore, Argentina has something to offer every kind of traveler and will leave you with experiences you’ll never forget.

Keep reading for some of the most unique experiences for travelers in Argentina, as shared by some of the travel bloggers that know the country best – you might just find the inspiration you need as you plan your next trip.

Things to Do In Argentina

1. Hike Cerro Tronador in Bariloche

cerro tronador

Near the small mountain city of Bariloche, there is a unique hiking experience that’s managed to remain well off the beaten path – Cerro Tronador, located in Nahuel Huapi National Park around 2 hours from Bariloche.

Along the trail, you’ll enjoy stunning views as you walk through the breathtaking Patagonian forest, camp next to two glaciers, and spot condors flying high above you. It’s one of the best hikes in Patagonia yet with very few other people!

The Cerro Tronador hike is 14 kilometers each way, making it too hard to complete in a day. However, staying overnight in the mountain hut called Refugio Otto Meiling or camping on Cerro Tronador is half the experience.

Camping next to the hut is completely free and staying overnight in Refugio Otto Meiling is 1500 ARS per person per night.

Those who choose to stay in the hut can enjoy heating, a mattress to sleep on, and the option to cook in the kitchen for a small fee. If you plan on camping be sure to bring an alpine tent and warm sleeping bag – it gets bitterly cold and windy on Cerro Trondador!

There are also tours of Cerro Tronador from the hut onto the glaciers and even up the mountain. At the hut, be careful not to wander too far onto the glacier as deep crevasse are hidden by snow.  

A bus leaves Bariloche to the small town in Nahuel Huapi National Park every day. From the town, you must sign in at the visitor center and begin the hike to the hut. No bookings are required too which means you can plan around the weather. 

Contributed by Bailey of Destinationless Travel

2. Wine Tasting in Cafayate

Have you ever done any wine tasting abroad? Most wine lovers will be heading for Mendoza. However, Cafayate in the Salta Province, located in northwest Argentina, is much more of a hidden gem. If you prefer off-the-beaten-path, then head for Cafayate instead of Mendoza.

You can go vineyard hopping and do wine tastings at multiple wineries in Cafayate. In and around Cafayate there are a dozen of wineries that are open for visitors. Go during the day as wineries close around 5:00 pm. Some wineries also offer tours, lunch, or snacks.

For wine tasting and purchasing, reservations are usually not needed, and bottles can be shipped abroad. The surroundings and taverns are gorgeous!

Cafayate is the home of the delicious white Torrentés wine, and the ideal climate conditions of Cafayate – such as sunshine hours, rainfall, and altitude – are ideal for vineyards. Cafayate is located about 3.5 to 4 hours south of Salta, the capital of the Salta Province.

The drive is a beautiful road trip through a rough landscape with mountains, cacti, wild rivers, and a natural amphitheater. Rent a car and drive yourself or visit Cafayate as a day trip from the capital with a group tour – tours are surprisingly inexpensive!

Contributed by Elisa of Flitter Fever

3. Climb Aconcagua

Aconcagua sits calmly on Argentina’s Western flank, a few miles away from the Chilean border and a few hours drive outside of Mendoza. The Stone Sentinel – as it is often called – sits at 22,841 feet (6,962 meters) above sea level. It’s the highest mountain in all of South America, or anywhere outside of the Himalayas.

Before you put on those boots, there are a few things to note. The mountain is often described as an “easy summit” and the world’s highest trek, phrases that lull you into a false sense of security.

It’s true that you can get to the top of Aconcagua with no scrambling, no ropes, and often without even putting crampons on. Yet this is a serious mountain, needing time and preparation. A jaunt to the top with an organized company such as Grajales or Inka Expeditions will cost you around $4500 US. To go independently is a death sentence for all but the most experienced (and crazy). 

You’ll need a couple of weeks to acclimatize and hopefully get a good weather day for the summit push. Give yourself six months to prep, get the right kit, develop some fitness routines and research permits, and other logistics.

Reality check aside, if you’re prepared for Aconcagua, there’s a fantastic adventure to be had, and one you’ll never forget.

Contributed by Dave Chant

Visit Aconcagua

There are plenty of day trips from Mendoza to the area surrounding Aconcagua, which include visits to the nearby Puente del Inca and an asado lunch. Plus, excursions to the “Confluencia” base camp at Aconcagua are popular as well, and perfect for those looking for a taste of the adventure without summiting.

4. Experience Wildlife in Peninsula Valdes

If you’re looking for a unique destination in Argentina, I’d recommend visiting Peninsula Valdes in coastal Patagonia. Situated in the province of Chubut, Peninsula Valdes is one of South America’s finest nature reserves and it’s a place where you can spot sea lions, elephant seals, southern right whales, and more. It’s basically a nature lover’s paradise!

While this isn’t a traditional beach destination, it’s one of the best beaches to visit in Argentina for its incredible wildlife, attracting visitors from all over the world.

Some of the highlights on the peninsula include visiting the biggest Magellanic penguin rookery, having BBQ for lunch at an estancia, going on a boat tour to view sea lions, touring the hippie beachside town of Puerto Piramides, and peeping at elephant seals from steep sandy cliffs.

The nice thing about Peninsula Valdes is that it’s always a good time to visit! Sea lions and elephant seals can be spotted year-round, penguins from September to March, southern right whales from May to December, and orcas from September to April.

Reaching Peninsula Valdes involves a bit of work, but it’s so worth it. You’ll first need to make your way to the city of Puerto Madryn; you can either take an overnight bus or fly into the nearby city of Trelew.

Once you reach Puerto Madryn, you can use the city as a base and book day excursions to Peninsula Valdes, or you can choose to stay in Puerto Piramides which is the only town on the peninsula.

Contributed by Audrey of That Backpacker

5. Have a Coffee at El Ateneo Grand Splendid

buenos aires

It’s not uncommon for people walking into the El Ateneo Grand Splendid book shop to stop and stare as they enter the store. One of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, El Ateneo Grand Splendid was once a theatre in the heart of Buenos Aires.

With high frescoed ceilings, rounded balconies, and intricate theatre boxes, Grand Splendid maintains many original features. Its red velvet curtains are still on the stage, which now houses a café, and books are tucked into the various corners around the historical theatre.

Built in 1919 as a theatre for the performing arts, the Theatro Grand Splendid hosted a number of tango legends who performed on its stage. Just 10 years later, in 1929, the theatre was converted into a cinema – the first in Buenos Aires to show sound film, with live tango orchestras accompanying the silent films.

At the turn of the new millennium, the Grand Splendid was under threat of demolition before being converted into the El Ateneo bookstore, today one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

Somehow, it has managed to keep its original grandeur throughout these transformations and maintains its magnificent interior today.

While the bookstore offers a relatively standard selection of books (mostly in Spanish) and there is something slightly incongruent about seeing Harry Potter and romance novels nestled in old theatre boxes, there’s a wonderful sense of opulence about the place.

Located in Recoleta, one of the best places to stay in Buenos Aires, the bookstore is easily accessible to travelers and worth dropping by for a peek of a bygone era – making a visit easily one of the best things to do in Buenos Aires.

Contributed by Roxanne of Faraway Worlds

Best Hotels & Hostels in Buenos Aires

6. See the Rainbow Mountains in Jujuy

Argentina’s northernmost province Jujuy is one of the most beautiful and best places to visit in Argentina. And while it’s very popular among locals, it is nearly completely off the beaten path among foreign tourism. 

To get here, fly into San Salvador de Jujuy directly or combine it with a trip to Salta, an equally beautiful province just to the south. Salta’s airport is just an hour away, making it easy to combine the two.

I recommend renting a car and exploring on your own but there are a lot of organized day trips into Jujuy from Salta as well. 

The most popular attractions in Jujuy are its small villages and rainbow mountains. Purmamarca is one of the most picturesque. This tiny village is filled with artisans selling woven tapestries and rugs and furniture carved out of cactus.

Towering over the town is the 7-colored mountain, a small mountain bathed in what I’d bet is more than 7 shades of red. Many day trips to Purmamarca include a visit to Argentina’s Salt Flats as well! 

The largest mountain, that could compete with its more famous counterpart in Peru, is the Hornocal in Humahuaca. It’s more commonly known as the 14-colored mountains. This one is a bit harder to reach but it’s worth it. You’ll drive for nearly an hour up a winding road with hairpin turns.

At the top, purchase some coca leaves to chew to help with the altitude. It’s nearly 16,000 feet (5,000 meters) high here! The rainbow mountain in the distance is enormous. While day trips are easy and tempting, Jujuy deserves at least a few days.

Contributed by Erin of Sol Salute

7. Visit Paseo del Buen Pastor in Córdoba

When looking for unique things to do in Argentina, be sure to check out the Paseo del Buen Pastor in Córdoba. The unique landmark which combines the old and the new is also home to the renowned Church of the Sacred Heart.

This interesting site was once a women’s prison, which in 1970 suddenly got shut down then later restored and converted into an arts center. The church which makes up part of the attraction was fully refurbished in the 21st century preserving a NeoGothic style and showcasing works of the local art school.

The site also consists of a shopping gallery and various restaurants and commercial outlets from which you can buy gifts from. During the weekend you’ll find many locals gather around this area for a drink or a bite to eat and watch the dancing water fountains on display.

For any new visitor to the city, this is the perfect place to come for lunch and in the evening you can find light shows and musical concerts.

Many travelers are concerned about their safety in Argentina but you’ll find by sticking to the main cities like Córdoba you’re in good hands. This pleasant city has lots going on and a trip to the Paseo del Buen Pastor should be at the top of your list when in Córdoba.

Contributed by Daniel of Layer Culture

8. Hike the Laguna Torre Trail

laguna torre

One of the most amazing things to do in Argentina is to hike the Laguna Torre trailThe hike leaves from El Chalten, the self-proclaimed hiking capital of the world.  This is in the northern part of the Los Glaciares National Park. 

The 11.2-mile (18-kilometer) roundtrip hike is one of the most spectacular hikes in Patagonia. 

Laguna Torre trail passes through fields of wildflowers and past the beautiful Margarita waterfall.  There are several viewpoints where you can see the Cerro Torre and other snow-covered peaks in the distance. 

In the early stages of the hike, you can also see Mount Fitzroy peeking over the top of the nearby hills.  Most of the trail is fairly flat and passes through meadows and woods.

The last section of the trail goes up a stony path, blocking most of your view, until a truly jaw-dropping view of the jagged Cerro Torre peaks appears, with a glacier sliding down one side into a circular alpine lake with icebergs floating in it.  This one view alone will make your trip to Patagonia worth it!

Allowing a few more days than you think you will need for a visit to El Chalten will maximize your chances of having a clear day for the hike.  If all your days are clear, there are several other stunning hikes in the area to do. 

If most of your days are cloudy, you can relax in El Chalten at one of the many restaurants and bars or enjoy a spa. 

By James Ian of Travel Collecting

9. Ride the Train at the End of the World in Ushuaia

One of the most unique things to do in Argentina is to ride the train at the end of the world. Its official name is the Southern Fuegian Railway. In Spanish, it’s referred to as “El Tren del Fin del Mundo.” You can pre-book tickets online.

Ushuaia was developed as a penal colony in the late 19th century, with prisoners arriving in the 1880s. Prisoners were tasked with building a proper prison for themselves under the supervision of the Argentinian government, and originally used oxen to carry the materials from the mountain down to the town.

Eventually, they built the railway to assist in transporting materials.

The train departs from The End of the World Station and crosses over the Pipo River and through the National Park. On the ride, you’ll have incredible views of the Valley of Pipo River, Cerro Guanaco, Cerro la Portada, and Monte Susana. Y

ou can see the hard work of the prisoners in the Cemetery of Trees and the nearby sawmill Lombardich. At the end of the ride, you can explore more of the national park. 

Contributed by Pamela of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

10. Hike Perito Moreno Glacier

perito moreno

Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most incredible places to visit in Argentina. Perito Moreno Glacier is unique because it’s a glacier that is accessible, and is actually growing. Experts are still debating as to why Perito Moreno Glacier is growing while many glaciers are regressing.

You can see Perito Moreno via a boat tour or from viewing platforms but the best way to experience Perito Moreno Glacier is by hiking it!

To hike Perito Moreno Glacier you have to book a tour – Hielo & Aventura is an amazing company with access to the glacier. These tours make sure no damage comes to the glacier.

There are two different ways to hike Perito Moreno Glacier – one is a “Mini Trek” and one is a “Big Ice Adventure.” The Mini Trek was about 2 hours hiking the glacier, plus a boat ride to and from the glacier and transport to the viewing platforms of the glacier.

“The Big Ice Adventure” is about 7 hours on the ice and requires more effort (and harnesses).

At the end of your hike, you’re treated to a glass of whiskey on the glacier ice. It’s an incredible experience!

By Lindsey of Have Clothes, Will Travel

11. Zipline over the Rio Juramento in Salta

Many people traveling to Argentina skip the northern province of Salta for destinations that are more internationally famous such as Patagonia or Iguazu Waterfalls.

However, this part of the country has a lot to offer – beautiful mountain landscapes, unique traditions and culture, delicious flavors, and some of the best wines in the country.

But one reason adventure and adrenaline seekers should travel to Salta for is the thrilling zip lines over Rio Juramento. At about 2 hours drive from Salta in a scenic canyon, these are some of the best zip lines that you can hope to experience in the world – in fact, nothing will compare to it after you do it!

There is a total of 9 lines, with one of them 700 meters long and literally flying over the river, 200 meters below. Just imagine the views while flying!

If you are keen to add more adrenaline to this already fun experience, you can opt to raft in the river – there are fun yet easy rafting excursions and the experience is safe and very well organized. A fantastic Argentine asado lunch is the perfect way to finish off the day.

This guide to rafting and canopy in Salta has everything you need to know about what to expect!

Contributed by Claudia of My Adventures Across The World

12. Visit Laguna Esmeralda near Ushuaia

laguna esmeralda

Ushuaia is a must-visit destination when exploring Argentina. Right outside of the city, Laguna Esmeralda hides in the mountains and is one of the popular hikes in Tierra Del Fuego.

The starting point of the trail is about a 20-minute drive from Ushuaia, and the 3 miles trail to the lake starts in a Lenga forest. After a while you leave the woods behind you and continue to walk in an open field of peat moss – this trail is considered easy and fits all ages.

The view of the mountains around is gorgeous, but not as gorgeous as the view of the lake itself. The view of the emerald water of the lake surrounded by the icy mountains is like taken from a picture.

The water is freezing even in summertime, so it’s not recommended to get in. Just take the time to enjoy the views and appreciate nature.

The peat moss fields get muddy (all year long), and that might be the challenging part. Make sure to wear good hiking shoes and you are all set.

Contributed by Moshe of The Top Ten Traveler

13. Visit Recoleta Cemetery

recoleta cemetary

Visiting Cementerio de la Recoleta (Recoleta Cemetery) is a must in Buenos Aires. It is nicknamed the “City of the Dead,” but it is very much alive with tourists, perhaps the world’s most famous cemetery because Eva Peron is buried here.

Eva’s story is sad – she died of cancer at age 33. She was buried in an understated Duarte family mausoleum 20 years after her death in 1952. Her admirers leave notes and flowers at her gravesite.

Most of the mausoleums date back to the 1800s to honor Buenos Aires’ rich families and politicians. There are 6,400 statues, sarcophagi, coffins, and crypts in this cemetery. The designs range from neo-Gothic and Art Deco to forest rock cave and Art Nouveau.

Make sure to book a tour so you can learn the stories of the city’s permanent “residents,” such as Liliana Crociati de Szaszak. She was only 26 years old when she died in an avalanche in Innsbruck, Austria on her honeymoon.

Her statue looks like a 60s hippie, and her faithful dog Sabu stands by her side.

You will also delight in the cemetery cats here – these felines find their temporary “resting place” in the shade where they can nap during the day. It is exhausting to ignore the visitors.

Contributed by Terri Markle of Female Solo Trek

Best Hotels & Hostels in Buenos Aires

14. Meet Penguins in Parque Nacional Monte León

penguins argentina

Although many years ago, Puerto Santa Cruz used to be Patagonia’s capital, there is not much left of the past glory. However, Puerto Santa Cruz is a good pit stop if you are traveling up Argentina’s Atlantic coast, especially to see the wildlife.

In 2004, the Monte León National Park was founded just to the south of the city, with its penguin colony at the port of Punta Quilla, located about 17 kilometers south of the town center.

To visit, pass the gate of the Punta Quilla’s industrial harbor and then walk about 2.5 kilometers along the coast right next to some impressive cliffs. It’s essential to check the tides before you go since during the high tide the water rises all the way to the cliffs.

This “pinguinera” is an important colony of Magellanic penguins consisting of more than 20,000 specimens. Since the pinguinera is not very accessible, the animals are more undisturbed than in other places. You should consider yourself an intruder and keep your distance as much as you can.

As soon as you approach the penguins more than about twelve meters, they get nervous and pace away. So, please, be a good guest and stay as far away from them as you can.

Contributed by Renata of Bye:Myself

15. Straddle the Border at Iguazu Falls

iguazu falls

The Iguazu Falls divide Argentina and Brazil in a large national park, much of it covered by rainforest with abundant flora and fauna. There are 275 separate cascades of water – and up to 300 in the rainy season.

Together they are the largest waterfall system in the world, and are absolutely spectacular. Their thunderous roar, numerous rainbows, and spray are memories that will stay with you a lifetime.

The falls can be seen from both countries. On the Brazilian side, you can get closer to the foot of the falls and enjoy panoramic views of the Argentinian side.

There is a network of paths that take you to various viewing platforms and it is possible to take a boat trip out to the foot of the falls (albeit not quite as close as the boat gets on the Argentinian side).

On either side of the falls, consider taking an Iguazu Falls tour with an experienced guide who can show you exactly how to get to the very best lookout spots to enjoy the falls.

On the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls, you will see ‘curtain’ cascades from the great viewing platforms. There is the opportunity to actually walk under one of the waterfalls and the spray is really refreshing!

The Macuco Trail is an hour-long trek through the jungle that takes hikers to the Salta Arrechea waterfall. The effort is well worth it as this is the only spot where swimming is allowed.

Contributed by Chrysoula of Travel Passionate

Visit Iguazu National Park

Tickets to Iguazu National Park are available online – make sure to secure your ticket in advance as you plan your trip to Argentina!

16. Experience Switzerland in San Carlos de Bariloche

bariloche

Located in the Lake District of the Andes close to the Chilean border, Bariloche is a small town that has grown from nothing since the early 1900s.  It is heavily influenced by the Swiss brothers Felix and Maria Goye who settled in the town of Valais on the Swiss-French border.  

The town is unique in its appearance as many of the buildings are built in the style of a Swiss alpine village and the main square is surrounded by Tyrol-style buildings.  The Swiss influence can be seen in the pastries that are available in the bakeries and the beautiful Swiss-style chocolatiers that are found across the town.

In the summer months, the town is perfect for alpine hiking in the surrounding mountains and water sports on the Lago Nahuel Huapi which the town is built alongside.  A small beach in the town is the perfect escape.

In the winter months, the town is a bustling ski resort with a number of areas, perfect for any experience level.  Cerro Catedral is the main ski area and is also a great area for summer hiking.

Bariloche is about 1,600 km southwest of Buenos Aries – a 20 hours drive time, or accessible by daily flights with Aerolineas Argentinas and LAN Argentina. 

Contributed by Suzanne of Meandering Wild