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My Favorite 14 Things to do Mendoza – Understand
Mendoza is right across the majestic Andes from Santiago de Chile and is an agriculture hub. Wine and olives are major exports from the region and an amazing 1,200 wineries call the region their home. Mendoza and Cordoba are the warm heart of Argentina, with more smiles and friendly people and a decent amount of English speakers.
Mendoza has some great food and lovely Spanish architecture, with thousands of trees shading the downtown avenues.
There is a distinct small-town feel to the city and there isn’t too much too see.
However, Mendoza and Argentina itself have become expensive; gone are the days of a $10 steak – you will spend closer to $30 for steak and wine these days.
My Favorite 14 Things to do Mendoza – Get Around
The taxi mafia has made sure there is no Uber in town. Taxis from the airport can be had for a reasonable $9 but inner city rides (or rides to the winery region) seem to be excessively expensive.
There is one tram line that runs through the city and eventually to Maipu – the winery hub. With my broken Spanish, I wasn’t able to find any help with buying a ticket. That’s exactly what I told the person checking tickets but nobody wanted me to pay on the spot – which is what I kept offering.
There are plenty of cheap buses but you need a great sense of orientation and solid Spanish to navigate them. Luckily, most of downtown Mendoza is walkable.
My Favorite 14 Things to do Mendoza – Safety
Mendoza has serious crime and poverty issues. The line between safe and unsafe isn’t clear. Many of the city’s areas seem right on the edge of scary to normal. Muggings seem rather normal in the city and especially in the winery regions. Heed the advice of locals of where to go and when, avoid quiet streets at night and take taxis where possible.
My Favorite 14 Things to do Mendoza – Sights
Plaza Independencia (Independence Square)
Plaza Independencia is the center of downtown, where most of life in Mendoza seems to happen on a warm day.
Plaza España (Spain Square)
This lovely landscaped area features a fountain, Spanish-style tiles and a marble monument. The benches here provide a welcome respite from walking around the city.
Paseo Sarmiento (Vine Walk)
Take a stroll down Paseo Sarmiento, which is the main pedestrian zone, for more city life and outdoor cafes.
Godoy Cruz (Godoy Cross)
Godoy Cruz is a more low-key neighborhood and doesn’t have much to offer besides a number of upscale restaurants. However, it’s a good way to see more of the ‘normal’ way locals live without venturing into the real dangerous neighborhoods.
Terraza Jardín Mirador (Garden Terrace Lookout)
This great rooftop terrace on top of a city administration office has some seriously great views over the city.
It also serves as a garden and has regular sunset wine tastings. You will need to ask around for events but if you ask nicely there is always an attendant on the 7th floor who will let you up to take pictures.
Maipú is the main winery region close to Mendoza. Use the Mendoza tram to get there (there is only one line and this is the final stop).
Maipu is a small city and it’s no fun to walk around; I used a taxi to hop from a winery tour at Bodegas López (Lopez Wineries) to one around the olive oil plant Olivícola Pasrai (Olive Boutique). Both were great tours.
You can also take another bus and try to find Mr Hugo (don’t walk or cycle there) and start the winery tour there instead.
El Sosneado is about a 90-minute drive south of the city of Mendoza but the region has some of the most scenic wineries in Argentina. Plan your trip ahead and rent a car for this.
My Favorite 14 Things to do Mendoza – Eat & Drink
Mendoza is expensive – expect New York City prices for most good restaurants. The quality is generally really good, too, though.
I shopped around before settling on La Lucia and had my sole steak and wine adventure at this excellent parilla (the Av. Aristides location rather than the one on Av. Sarmiento). The Foursquare rating does not reflect how great this place is; the service is super-friendly, the food is fantastic and the prices are moderate.
Argentina goes through 15% inflation per MONTH right now, since the currency was allowed to float freely. Businesses are still adjusting to these major issues. I felt I paid a lot here but also got a lot of great food.
Orégano was such a find that I went twice in just two days. The pizza oven is what this small place stands for but I loved the amazing salads the most. The ultra-fresh produce, dressings and breads made it so good that I almost did not want the pizza anymore.
The salads are also pretty cheap, while the pizzas are expensive (but they are easily big enough to share).
Hangar 52 is right along Arístides Villanueva, which has a dozen or so bars.
I can imagine that it is pretty classy in summer but in winter most places here seem just OK.
Silla 14 is housed in a historic building with great old architecture. It’s more reminiscent of a Vienna coffee house than a third generation coffee shop. Nevertheless, the staff are friendly and the coffee is great.
BRÖD Panadería (Bread Bakery)
BRÖD Panadería has a lovely outdoor patio (great for spring or early fall days) and decent fresh bread and sandwich creations. Think of a Spanish coffee shop with a more modern look.