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Argentina is a country that manages to do everything just right.

Its cities are some of the safest and most electrifying in Latin America, from swanky Buenos Aires to on-the-edge Ushuaia. Its food is simply mouth-watering, whether you’re tucking into wine and steak or a mid-afternoon alfajor and cappuccino. Its wildlife is stunning and diverse, with both rainforest and Antarctic animals in Argentina’s borders. And Argentina’s cultural attractions are best described as must-dos, rather than must-sees – whether you want to feel like a rugged gaucho or a five-star tango dancer, the land of silver has it all.

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Buenos Aires

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A Europeanesque blend of the dynamic and the debonair

Many call beautiful Buenos Aires the Paris of Latin America, and it’s not hard to see why.

Neoclassical Paris-style buildings, themselves designed by French architects, loom large over leafy streets, chock full of flashy wine bars, cafes, pizzerias and bookshops. You’re never far away from a quality cappuccino or stone-baked pizza here, the legacy of centuries of Italian immigration.

Yet, Buenos Aires has a character of its own too. You can feel it when tango dancers enthral you on the street corners of colourful La Boca, surrounded by coloured houses that give Balamory a run for its money. Or, when you stroll along the seafront, hair swaying in the city’s namesake gentle Atlantic winds. And you can feel it when tasting your way through Argentina’s world-class cuisine, from cheesy empanadas to tender steaks.

 

Iguazú Falls

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Hear me roar

It’s hard to put into words just how jaw-dropping the Iguazú Falls are. Not only is the chasm deep enough to accommodate the London Eye, but there are also waterfalls all around its edges – 275 at the official count. Be sure to pack some good walking shoes for this trip: the network of boardwalks and series of viewing platforms are more akin to a hiking trail (albeit a wheelchair-friendly one). You’ll get right up to the falls’ edge, where colourful butterflies licking up the spray juxtapose the thunderous roar of the gushing water.

For something more unique, get close to the falls’ base on a boat ride or take to the air with the resident swifts in a helicopter ride.

 

Salta

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A journey through time

Ancient and contemporary Argentina come together in Salta. A colonial city located not far from the Bolivian border, and a centre of the revolution, Salta is a fascinating mélange of indigenous and European culture and history.

Cobbled streets lined with white arches and ornate churches (even by Latin American standards) make you think you’re somewhere in Europe, until the sight of chulitas in bowler hats reminds you otherwise. A day of sightseeing here can consist of the macabre Incan mummies collection at the archaeological museum and the cathedral where the ashes of Güemes, one of the heroes of the Independence War, are entombed.

Salta’s surrounding countryside also boasts an unfairly large collection of natural wonders. You can gaze at many of the Andes’ quintessential landscapes: cactus-studded mountains, blood-orange canyons and even a small expanse of salt flats. Salta also has unique outdoor attractions, such as the Tren de las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) that snakes its way through towering viaducts and past Inca ruins, and lush vineyards further down where you can sample some of Argentina’s famous red.

Córdoba

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The elegant and intoxicating cultural capital

Understatements come easy in Córdoba – for example, calling it a university town when this city boasts seven. Or, calling it a good place for culture when there are festivals, concerts, art galleries and colonial architecture galore.

Córdoba is a weird mix of Argentina at its most traditional and modern, a tale of two cities in one. The UNESCO-listed former headquarters of the Argentinian Jesuits is now one of the University of Córdoba, one of the oldest universities in Latin America. Its surrounding hills and pampas are a fantastic place to learn horse riding, and perhaps even let out your five-star side with a game of Polo. You may want to take a 5PM siesta afterwards because Córdoba’s energy reaches a fever pitch at night. This is, after all, the city that invented fernet with coke, Argentina’s quasi-national drink.

If you happen to be visiting in October, be sure to take a day trip to Villa General Belgrano. Settled by German immigrants, this pleasant little town took on all the trimmings of their former homeland, including one of the continent’s largest Oktoberfests.

 

Mendoza

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Raise a glass, lace up your boots

Picture Mendoza and you’ll probably think of wine – as Argentina’s top wine-producing region, a visit here is the perfect opportunity to sample the best of the country’s vintage. Touring one of the many surrounding vineyards will show you the wine-production process, from stemming and pressing to getting it shipped, before a tasting session. The cherry on the cake is the backdrop of snow-capped Andean hillcrests.

For those who want to get a bit more active, make a beeline for the mountains: as well as the ubiquitous Andean whitewater rafting, hiking and horse riding on offer, the highest mountain in the Americas, Aconcagua, is located nearby. While scaling it is nothing short of a serious undertaking, the national park where it sits offers plenty of day hikes and walks with some wildlife spotting.

 

Peninsula Valdés

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A wildlife spectacle on Argentina's shores

The sheer volume and diversity of wildlife in Peninsula Valdés is comparable to that of the Galápagos Islands or the Pantanal, and yet it doesn’t receive nearly the same flow of tourist traffic.

Sitting near the stormy yet nutrient-rich waters of the Atlantic, the bays that flank the peninsula’s isthmus are the prime breeding and calving ground for southern right whales. At the height of calving season, around August, almost a third of the species’ global population is concentrated into this area, so it’s not uncommon to see multiple surfacing from atop the cliffs. On the peninsula’s eastern edge, blubbery elephant seals flop about and penguins dig nesting holes.

While the peninsula’s scenery, miles of flat Patagonian steppe, is somewhat uninspiring, it harbours many animals. Skunks, armadillos and cavies scurry through the dry bush, rheas and guanacos mingle with the local flocks of sheep. An animal worth keeping your eyes out for is the mara, a member of the guinea pig family with legs like an antelope unique to Argentina.

 

El Calafate and El Chaltén

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Frozen beauty and fossils beckon

Named after a berry unique to Patagonia, the pleasant hamlet of El Calafate is a well-known stop on the Patagonian hiker’s trail. The star attraction around here is a tie between two jaw-dropping wonders of nature: the pointy peaks of Mount Fitzroy, whose unique shape inspired the logo of the clothing brand Patagonia; and Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, a bright blue glacier. Locals took a page from the Iguazú Falls playbook and built a boardwalk to get you as close to the ice as is safely possible. Every now and then, a piece falls off with a resounding splash.

The region also offers plenty of more unusual experiences, such as walking on the glacier itself, taking you to an otherworldly landscape where the ice sheets are punctuated by turquoise puddles of meltwater. Palaeontology enthusiasts will also be in their element here, with hikes through the aptly named Fossil Valley and a forest of petrified trees.

Since they’re located quite close to Torres del Paine in Chile, combining the three sites makes for the classic Patagonia itinerary.

 

Ushuaia

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A cosmopolitan outpost with outdoor adventures aplenty

Many people get only a quick look at the self-styled End of the World before being whisked off to Antarctica – this is, after all, a popular launchpad for cruises. Yet, such a flying visit does not do this city of superlatives justice.

Ushuaia is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Even a gentle stroll along the harbour front is a feast for the eyes, with Andean peaks at point-blank range and the wind-battered waters of the Beagle Channel on either side. A well-developed ecotourism industry makes it easy to go deeper into both on a day trip. Tierra del Fuego National Park offers the ultimate back-to-nature experience with its verdant forests and bubbling streams, while the Beagle Channel is well-known for its iconic red and white lighthouse and seabird colonies. Going a little further afield to Isla Martillo will give you an aperitif of Antarctic wildlife, with albatrosses in the channel and three species of penguin – Magellanic, gentoo and king.

The town of Ushuaia is also a lovely place to spend a day or two in. It has a collection of fascinating museums, including a former penal colony whose frigid conditions gave it a grizzly history. There’s no shortage of places to take shelter in when the weather turns sour - there are cosy pubs with roaring fireplaces and gourmet restaurants that bring Argentina’s beloved cuisine to the End of the World.

Browse our selection of Argentina holidays if you're feeling inspired, or get in touch with one of our travel experts to discuss your ideal trip.

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