Argentina offers its visitors an impressive range of adventures and activities. From exploring the vast landscape of Patagonia to the foothills of the Andes, going off-grid in its northeastern wetlands and rainforests, or falling in love through tango in its capital city, there's never enough time to discover it all.
For many travelers, heading to South America and seeing Argentina is undoubtedly a bucket list trip. And since it's such a large country with a lot of ground to cover, it's helpful to have on hand a guide to the best things to do in Argentina!
What to Do in Argentina
1. Whale Watching in Peninsula Valdés :
The northeastern side of Patagonia – on the Atlantic Ocean – is rich in biodiversity. The cold waters are a breeding ground for southern right whales, which migrate to the area in droves every year. Visitors who find themselves there at the right time can see the animals up close and personal with guided boat tours, snorkel and diving excursions, and even shoreline sightseeing.
Elephant seal colonies and sea lions are the in-house residents along the beaches of Peninsula Valdés; watch out for the orcas that keep a close eye on their prey! If you're planning a trip, try to head there between August and October for peak whale action.
2. Wine Tasting in Mendoza :
Argentina is known for its Malbec, a French grape that took particularly well to the South American soil. However, there's so much more wine to explore! Mendoza is just one of Argentina's winemaking regions, but is the best-known due to the concentration of wineries and longstanding history of the industry.
From the traditional old-school labels to the creative young upstarts, the options for top-notch experiences are endless. There's plenty of outdoor activities in Mendoza as well, like visiting the area of Potrerillos, the Puente del Inca, and even Mount Aconcagua – the highest peak outside of the Himalayas!
3. Dance Tango in Buenos Aires :
Another iconic export from Argentina is the tango. Sultry, seductive, and utterly captivating, it's hard not to see why. Of course, watching it and dancing it are two very different endeavors. If you find yourself strolling the streets of the San Telmo neighborhood on a weekend, you'll run into dancers showcasing their prowess to anyone walking by.
If you want something a little more comprehensive, visit a milonga for a taste of how the locals really dance tango. However, if you're looking to bust a move, you'd be best advised to book a private class first.
4. Admire the Glaciers in El Calafate :
In the southwestern corner of Patagonia lies part of the continent's largest ice field, known as the campo de hielo patagónico sur. Los Glaciares National Park is nestled up on the border with Chile and provides stunning views from within the Andes mountains. The landscapes are otherworldly, with very few photos doing the natural beauty justice.
Both experienced and newbie hikers and climbers will fall in love with the area, especially when they make it to the Perito Moreno glacier. Its massive wall of ice is almost 19 miles long and provides a dramatic backdrop over the milky blue waters of the Lago Argentino. If you're lucky, you'll be there to witness when large pieces of the glacier crack off and plunge into the icy waters below.
5. Hike Through the Andes Mountains :
Argentine sections of this impressive mountain range includes sub-polar tundra, high-altitude deserts, stunningly beautiful lake regions, and more. Adventure seekers the world over flock to Argentina for a chance to explore the Andes; with national parks along the way (from Patagonia down to Tierra del Fuego), the hardest part will be choosing an itinerary. Most hikers center their plans around El Chaltén or El Calafate, though you can also explore the areas around San Martín de los Andes and Villa la Angostura.
There's a wide range of trails that cater to every level of expertise, from simple day hikes to multi-day excursions a bit more off the grid. If you're on your own, many of these can be completed without a guide, and the well-maintained circuit of campsites and refugios means you'll be in good shape throughout the trek.
6. Birdwatch in the Iberá Wetlands :
A lesser-known, but no less impressive, part of Argentina is the northeastern region around the Corrientes province. The Iberá National Park is home to some of the world's largest freshwater wetlands, and was a beloved spot to conservationist Douglas Tompkins. The Iberá wetlands are full of channels and islands that provide a natural habitat to over 360 species of birds.
Boat trips through the waterways allow avid birdwatchers to snag up close and personal sightings of the area's fauna, from kingfishers and flightless tinamous to capybaras and capuchin monkeys.
7. Sail Through the Beagle Channel :
Cutting through Tierra del Fuego, the Beagle Channel – named as such after the ship that carried Charles Darwin around South America – can be accessed from the city of Ushuaia. Travelers can take a variety of boat cruises that depart from the port and explore the surrounding natural environment.
Everything from whales to sea lions and penguins can be spotted, and the majestic mountain backdrop adds an extra level of beauty to the experience. There are several islets and lighthouses to explore along the way as well, providing insight into the area's rich maritime history. When you make it back to shore, try some of the area's best delicacy: spider crab.
8. Ski in Patagonia :
In the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed, meaning if you're looking for an endless winter you're in luck. Between June and September, from Las Leñas down to Bariloche, Argentina's winter sports game ramps up into overdrive.
Skiers and snowboarders will fall in love with the quality and variety of runs on offer; a nice bonus is that rentals, passes, and classes tend to be much more affordable than in the US or Europe. After a long day on the slopes, cozy up fireside at one of the area's charming cabins while you sip on a hot chocolate.
9. Explore Gaucho Life in the Pampas :
Argentina is known for its long history as an agricultural powerhouse, and the onset of cattle farming in the 19th and early 20th centuries continued to transform its economy and landscape. The vast, flat area between Buenos Aires in the east and the Andes out west is known as las pampas, where working ranches called estancias are at the forefront of the action.
Many of these ranches host activities for visitors, offering a peek (albeit pretty touristy) at what life in the campo is like. There are some higher end experiences, however, that include luxe creature comforts as a nice balance to the rugged outdoors. Dive into a delicious asado (barbecue), watch the gauchos tame the horses, and connect with the pastoral beauty that surrounds you.
10. Discover Iguazú Falls :
The impressive Iguazú falls – which are situated between Argentina and neighboring Brazil – are a UNESCO World Heritage site and extremely popular with visitors from across the globe. The surrounding lush Atlantic rainforest contrasts with the powerful and imposing falls from the Río Iguazú; the park contains plenty of ways to get up close and personal with Mother Nature's bounty.
Brave souls can even take a boat ride up through a section of the falls. Of course you'll get entirely soaked, but the pure adrenaline rush you'll feel after is priceless.