Aside from the obvious draw (wine!), the Mendoza region in Argentina is gorgeous, friendly, cultured, and full of activities for visitors. Here are ten of the best reasons to visit Mendoza – though I could list many more!
- The wine is on point. Mendoza is Argentina’s wine country, which is a huge tourist draw in itself. If you’re a wino, there’s no shortage of options for you from restaurants to tasting rooms to vineyard tours. Our tour and tasting at Trapiche (a label commonly found in the United States) was especially memorable.
- You have easy access to the mountains and the endless activities they offer. Like rafting, hiking, hot springs, and #7 on this list.
- You can stuff your face with fresh empanadas. And they come with all kinds of fun fillings, including corn! But beef empanadas won me over every time.
- You can buy artisanal goods in the heart of the city. The weekend art market in Plaza Independencia has a host of unique handmade goods that you can purchase as souvenirs. I bought handmade bone knives for the men in my family and mate sets for the women. Leather goods are also common in Argentina – I couldn’t resist buying a leather jacket during my visit.
- You can relax in the massive Parque General San Martín. This park is worth a dedicated trip for the serenity of the lake and surrounding mountains. It’s great for a stroll or for renting bikes if you want to cover more ground. Bonus: there is a fresh fruit juice stand in the middle of the park where you can customize your own juice blend!
- You can rent bikes and ride to Cerro de la Gloria for impressive views of Mendoza. The incline is steep, but the payoff is worth it. Rent bikes in the Parque General San Martín and ride over to the foot of Cerro de la Gloria. The peak of the large hill offers unparalleled views of the city and surrounding mountains. The hilltop is home to the large monument to the Army of the Andes, famous for marching across the Andes to help liberate Chile from Spanish rule during Chile’s fight for independence in 1817. The monument is also accessible by car.
- You can get in touch with your inner gaucho and ride horses in the Andes. By far my favorite activity in the Mendoza region. Read more about my horseback-riding experience here.
- You can experience a good old-fashioned asado. Asados are Argentina’s version of a backyard barbecue, and they are awesome. It consists of cooking a ton of meat on a big grill, toasting cervezas and vino, and stuffing your face with delicious local food. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
- You’ll get to experience Argentinian hospitality first hand. You may have heard tales of people in South America being nice. Well, it’s true. Between Santiago, Mendoza, and Buenos Aires, I can’t recall encountering a single ill-intentioned person (not that they don’t exist somewhere).Our host family was especially hospitable. My friend, Adam, was staying with them for the duration of his Fulbright Scholarship, and they happily opened their home to me for nearly a week. We ate dinner together nearly every night, drank local wine, talked about anything and everything, danced, laughed, cooked together, and had an all-around great time. I think of them often and hope to be able to return their hospitality one day.
- It can be relatively inexpensive to get there – depending on the time of year you go. Argentina isn’t exactly a budget destination for air travel, but there are workarounds that can make it affordable. For instance, booking a flight into Santiago de Chile and taking the bus over the Andes into Argentina can save hundreds of dollars on travel. Santiago can be a very affordable destination from the United States, while flights connecting through Buenos Aires tend to be more expensive. I recommend following The Flight Deal which frequently posts deals to Santiago (just the other day I saw a deal for a $365 roundtrip flight from D.C. to Santiago – less than it costs to fly many places in the U.S.!). Your options from there include the aforementioned bus journey, or booking a separate flight into Mendoza (it’s a quick hour over the mountains).
Are you convinced yet? What else would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments!
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