10 Incredible Experiences to Have in Argentina

Vast in scale and scenic beyond belief, this South American nation offers an infinite variety of adventures, from gaucho culture in the north to penguin-spotting in the south.

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Laguna de los Tres, Argentina Photo © Milly Brady, wheresmildo.com

1. Hang Out with Penguins on the Patagonian Coast

Punta Tombo is home to one of the largest colonies of Magellanic penguins in South America. During nesting season (September-March) the beach is a-waddle with some 500,000 birds. Keep your eyes open for the other black and white residents of the area – killer whales.

Penguins, Punta Tombo. Photo credit: Sean O'Reilly

2. Indulge in a Traditional Argentine Barbecue

A trip to Argentina isn’t complete without experiencing the national dish: asado. The cut of meat determines the price – the region determines whether it’s beef, lamb, pork, or even venison, llama, or goat being grilled up. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t fear – the side dishes are meals all by themselves.

Asado being prepared. Photo credit: iStock/Graffisimo

3. Keep It Surreal in Salta and Mendoza

From the blindingly white flats of the Salinas Grandes, to the strangely shaped, polychromatic rock formations of the Quebradas de Humahuaca, to the lunar expanse of La Payunia’s black, volcanic desert, it’s easy to feel you’re on another planet.

Quebrada de Humahuaca. Photo credit: iStock/daboost

4. Get a Taste of History at a Bodegon

Buenos Aires offers all kinds of modern, gourmet, and international dining, but for a true local’s experience, seek out the bodegones. These are traditional, family-style restaurants that have often been in the same location for decades – places with hand-painted detailing on the windows, old newspaper clippings on the walls, and ceilings hung with legs of ham and quirky chandeliers.

A bodegon in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. Photo credit: Ellen Hall

5. Hike to a Glacial Lake

Argentine Patagonia is studded with pristine alpine lakes of every shade, from jade green to icy blue to deep sapphire. Trek to iconic Laguna de los Tres, with its magnificent views of Mont Fitz Roy, or choose one of the lesser-known trails and discover your own private lagoon.

6. Ski at the World’s Southernmost Resort

Cerro Castor, in Tierra del Fuego National Park, doesn’t have the fame of Las Leñas or Cerro Catedral – and that’s part of its appeal. With fantastic powder and few crowds, this gem of a resort is worth the journey to (almost) the ends of the earth.

Cerro Castor. Photo credit: iStock/Dmitry Saparov

7. Sip Malbec at the World’s Highest Vineyards

Argentina’s Mendoza region is famous for award-winning wineries surrounded by snowy Andean peaks. But if you want to sample wine grown at the highest elevation in the world, head to the Calchaqui Valley in the Northwest, where you’ll find vineyards at a dizzying 9,842ft (3,000m).

Vineyard near Cafayate. Photo credit: iStock/xeni4ka

8. Discover a Slice of Europe

Argentina is a country of immigrants, and there are traces of international influence everywhere. When you’re sipping tea and sampling cakes at a Welsh teahouse in Trelew, or drinking German beer in the Bavarian-style hamlet of La Cumbresita, you might forget you’re in South America for a moment.

La Cumbrecita. Photo credit: Ministerio de Turismo de la Nacion Argentina

9. Try Land-sailing at Barreal Blanco

This dry lakebed in San Juan Province gets winds of more than 75mph (120kph), perfect for the thrilling sport of carrovelismo – like windsurfing, but on land. Once you’ve zipped your way across the plains, go stargazing at the nearby Complejo Astronómico El Leoncito – the skies in this area are clear 300 nights a year.

Land-sailing at Barreal Blanco. Photo credit: iStock/piccaya

10. Dive into Folklore Culture at a Peña

There’s more to Argentine dance than tango. In the North, gauchos take the floor at boisterous folk music parties that blend Spanish and indigenous traditions. Spectators are highly encouraged to join in.

Traditional folk dancing. Photo credit: Ellen Hall

Want to know more about Argentina? Listen to the World Nomads podcast. How drinking mate defines Argentinians, how to kiss properly when you greet someone, and meet Popi, the scientist who's saving penguins.

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