Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina
Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Immerse Yourself in Buenos Aires' Arts and Culture Scene
As the birthplace of tango and home to Latin America's largest theater district, Buenos Aires offers an unparalleled immersion into Argentina's passionate arts and culture. Wandering the neighborhoods of Palermo, Recoleta and San Telmo, you'll discover street art, live music, and world-class museums around every corner.
Start your arts adventure in Teatro Colón, South America's premier opera house. Dating back to 1908, this grandiose theater hosts ballet and classical music performances in an ornate, horseshoe-shaped hall with captivating acoustics. Splurge on orchestra seats to admire the Renaissance-style interior and intricate details up close. For budget travelers, standing room tickets offer affordable access to experience the talent of this renowned opera company.
Next, surround yourself with creative expression at one of Latin America's most important fine arts museums, the MALBA. View an impressive collection of 20th century Latin American artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The modern, light-filled building was designed by renowned architect Clorindo Testa to feature natural lighting, open spaces, and a minimalist style to highlight the artwork.
Of course, no visit to Buenos Aires is complete without seeing a tango show. Head to a milonga like La Catedral in the Almagro neighborhood for an authentic tango club experience. Watch professional dancers perform this iconic dance characterized by drama, passion, and improvisation. Then work up the courage to take a beginner tango lesson yourself - you'll quickly see why tango is often referred to as making love through dance.
In the hip Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood neighborhoods, stroll past colorful street art, indie boutiques, and chic cafes. Stop for a cortado at one of the trendy coffee shops and soak up inspiration from your surroundings. Many buildings are covered in vibrant murals by local artists like Martin Ron and Marino Santa Maria.
As night falls, make your way to a small venue like Thelonious Club to experience Buenos Aires' lively jazz scene. Or for a taste of avant garde theater, Teatro San Martin offers innovative performances in a grand, red curtained space.
What else is in this post?
- Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Immerse Yourself in Buenos Aires' Arts and Culture Scene
- Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Experience the Breathtaking Beauty of Iguazu Falls
- Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Go Back in Time in Charming Colonial Towns
- Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Sip Malbecs in Mendoza Wine Country
- Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Trek the Dramatic Landscapes of Patagonia
- Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Dance the Night Away in Energetic Buenos Aires
- Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Indulge in Mouthwatering Argentine Steak and Empanadas
- Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Meet Locals Over Mate Tea in Quaint Cafes
Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Experience the Breathtaking Beauty of Iguazu Falls
Widely considered one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in South America, the mighty Iguazu Falls straddle the border of Argentina and Brazil where the Iguazu River cascades over towering cliffs. As one of the largest waterfall systems in the world, the sheer power and scale of Iguazu's 275 individual falls is an unforgettable sight.
The majority of the falls are located within Iguazu National Park on the Argentinian side. Visitors recommend starting your exploration at the upper and lower circuits, which provide panoramic views from catwalks suspended just above the tumbling waters. Feel the mist on your face as the deafening roar of Devil's Throat envelops you. Gaze down in wonder at the iconic, horseshoe-shaped cascade sending massive amounts of water crashing down into the river below.
Venture out on the walkways to gain different perspectives on the falls, from right in their midst to scenic overlooks from a distance. The diversity of vantage points allows you to fully appreciate the falls in all their glory. Don't miss the viewpoint at the foot of San Martin Island, which offers a picture-perfect scene of lush green jungle juxtaposed with the falls' endless torrents of whitewater.
While the Argentinian side offers the most extensive views, the Brazilian side of Iguazu deserves exploring as well. Cross the Tancredo Neves bridge to witness the falls from vantage points not accessible on the Argentinian side. A boardwalk extending from the visitor center leads you directly over the top of the falls, providing a unique experience of standing directly above the powerful cascades. Feel the intensity of the falls' relentless flow of water just feet below the metal grated walkway.
A highlight for many is taking a boat ride up the Iguazu River into the heart of the falls. As the boat motors along, revel in a cool shower beneath the cascading sheets of water pouring down from all directions. It's an unforgettable way to get up close to the falls and gain an appreciation of their true enormity and force, completely surrounded by thundering whitewater.
Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Go Back in Time in Charming Colonial Towns
Transport yourself to the past as you wander the cobblestone streets of Argentina's captivating colonial towns. With historic buildings, vintage cars, and old-world charm around every corner, these destinations offer an authentic glimpse into the country’s rich history and heritage.
Salta, located in the forested valleys of the northwest, is one of Argentina’s most endearing colonial cities. Founded in 1582, Salta has impeccably preserved its architectural legacy, with the colonial Cabildo, neoclassical cathedral, and 19th century townhouses lining Plaza 9 de Julio. Meander down Calle Balcarce to see elegant porticos and ironwork balconies characteristic of the colonial era. Grab a table at a traditional peña folk music bar like La Casona del Molino to hear live performances played on Andean instruments. You’ll feel like you’ve journeyed back centuries, yet also connected to the living culture of this storied place.
Further south in the arid desert landscapes of San Juan province lies San José de Jáchal, established in 1751. Wander the sleepy plaza absorbing the unspoiled colonial ambience. Pop into the whitewashed Iglesia San José church to admire the 17th century paintings and baroque wood carvings. Nearby, Cripta Mortuoria holds the remarkably well-preserved mummies of town founders and noble families–an eerie yet intriguing glimpse into the area’s past.
In Patagonia, the Welsh settlement of Gaiman provides a rare look into a different facet of Argentina’s history. Founded by Welsh immigrants in 1874, Gaiman has maintained the Welsh language and customs thanks to generations of inhabitants committed to preserving their heritage. Hear locals conversing in Welsh at one of the tea houses lining the town's quaint streets. Sample traditional Welsh cakes and tarts still baked using original recipes handed down through the generations. The past lives on in Gaiman.
Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Sip Malbecs in Mendoza Wine Country
As the heart of Argentina’s booming wine industry, Mendoza offers oenophiles endless opportunities to indulge in world-class Malbecs and other varietals straight from the source. Dotting the countryside just outside the city are over 1,000 wineries nestled amidst the rolling foothills and snow-capped Andes mountains. Wine lovers flock here to soak up the laidback atmosphere and exceptional wines produced in this sun-drenched region.
Start your wine tasting adventure at Bodega Catena Zapata, the pioneer behind Malbec’s rise to fame. Their high altitude vineyards produce elegant Malbecs with complex flavors and silky smooth tannins. Pull up a seat at their sleek cellar door and sample pours of their most prized Malbec bottles, like the intense, concentrated Adrianna Vineyard Malbec.
For a quintessential wine country experience, head to The Vines of Mendoza’s beautiful winery and tasting room. Settle in on their sunny veranda and take in stunning views of neighboring vineyards set against the stunning Andes Mountains. Knowledgable wine experts will talk you through a flight featuring Malbecs as well as aromatic white Torrontés and earthy Bonarda reds.
Just down the road lies Achaval Ferrer, where innovative practices yield Malbecs of exceptional caliber. Let their sommelier guide you through a comparative tasting to appreciate how differently Malbec expresses itself depending on where the grapes are grown. You’ll gain insight into how wind, soil, sun exposure, and elevation all influence the flavors and qualities of Mendoza Malbecs.
For a more active, hands-on experience, join a bike tour with Mendoza Wine Tours. Pedal from winery to winery soaking up gorgeous vineyard scenery as your guide shares an insider’s perspective. Make stops at family-run bodegas rarely open to the public to try limited production wines paired with empanadas and local cheeses under the vines. It’s a laidback, fun way to discover hidden gems off the beaten path.
Don’t miss indulging at the Instagram-famous Monasterio Del Ángel, housed in a former monastery on a lush vineyard estate. Make a reservation for their wine pairing experience at the candle-lit cellar restaurant, where each course is skillfully matched with Monasterio’s complex single vineyard and blended Malbecs. Sip and savor between grape picking, blending sessions, and wine tastings - a full immersion into their sustainable winemaking.
Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Trek the Dramatic Landscapes of Patagonia
With its rugged mountain peaks, expansive ice fields, and endless steppe, Patagonia's dramatic natural landscapes demand to be explored on foot. Trekking routes thread through the region's national parks, taking you through meadows carpeted in wildflowers, valleys filled with azure glacial lakes, and along paths with nonstop views of the craggy Andes. Seeing Patagonia's awe-inspiring terrain up close, under your own power, creates an experience like no other.
One of the most famous multi-day treks is the "W" circuit in Torres del Paine National Park. Regarded as one of South America's greatest treks, the "W" encompasses glaciers, the iconic Cuernos del Paine granite towers, and the turquoise lakes of the Paine Massif. Hike from refuge to refuge, with stops to admire massive glaciers like Grey Glacier and the imposing French Valley. The further you venture on the "W," the more you'll be enveloped by Paine's majestic mountainscapes. For many hikers, seeing the Cuernos del Paine at sunrise after hiking the steep pass on the circuit's most challenging day is one of the most magical memories.
In Los Glaciares National Park, tackle the Fitz Roy trek to admire the jagged needles of Cerro Fitz Roy piercing the Patagonian sky. Trails from El Chaltén village lead you right to the base of this iconic mountain, with stops at pristine lakes and viewpoints like Laguna de Los Tres with its picture-perfect reflection of Fitz Roy. Stand dwarfed gazing up at the sheer granite spires, with wildflowers blooming at your feet. There's perhaps no better place to appreciate the raw natural beauty of Patagonia.
For more solitude, lace up your hiking boots in Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina's southernmost park. Climb through lenga forests past scenic overlooks like Lago Roca, with views of the Beagle Channel's deep blue waters and distant snowy peaks. Listen for the rush of hidden waterfalls and keep an eye out for condors and alpine flowers as you trek. Or embark on a guided hike on the coastal trail to Lapataia Bay, ending your walk at the symbolic "End of the World" signpost. Combining forests, mountains, lakes and sea, Tierra del Fuego's varied landscapes encapsulate the essence of Patagonia's allure.
Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Dance the Night Away in Energetic Buenos Aires
As the birthplace of tango, Buenos Aires comes alive when the sun goes down. The city’s passionate spirit fills the streets and clubs, where live music and dancing flow until the break of dawn. Night owls flock to BA for its energetic late night scene thriving well into the wee hours. When evening falls, porteños emerge primed to dance the night away.
No visit to Buenos Aires is complete without experiencing a sultry tango show. Many theaters in neighborhoods like San Telmo and Puerto Madero put on spectacular displays of this steamy dance. Make a reservation for Rojo Tango’s show in the historic Faena Hotel, where a revolving cast of 40 dancers performs athletic moves choreographed to convey tango’s heady mix of power and sensuality. Arrive early to take photos on their signature red carpet entrance before being immersed in a dazzling production rich in emotion and artistry.
Next, head to a local milonga to mingle with tango dancers of all skill levels. At iconic late night spot La Catedral Club in Almagro, you’ll see tango performed in its most authentic habitat. Score a table on the balcony overlooking the checkered dance floor to watch couples execute complicated footwork and dramatic dips. Soak up the quintessential porteño experience of embracing a dance partner amidst tables of locals chatting late into the night.
When you’re ready to show off your own moves, mosey down the street to Club Fulanos. Their beginner tango classes are lively and welcoming, even for complete newcomers. The talented instructors break down the building blocks in a fun, lighthearted way. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you grasp the basics to confidently hit the dancefloor. Then enjoy social dancing until the wee hours, putting your new skills into practice.
As Saturday night rolls around, make your way to Niceto Club in the hip Palermo district. Each weekend, the house and techno venue brings in top notch DJs from Argentina and beyond. Sip on a fernet and coke amidst the eclectic crowds as world class beats transform the air. With excellent sound systems and trippy visuals, you’ll easily get lost in the music at this renowned undergound club. Outside, the lively street party goes on past sunrise.
No night out in BA is complete without stopping by a classic jazz club. Head to Thelonious in Palermo Hollywood to soak up the sounds of Argentina’s best jazz performers until 3 or 4am. Its speakeasy vibe and extensive whisky list complement the diverse music, from tango-infused sets to bluesy jam sessions. Grab a seat near the tiny stage to fully immerse yourself in the city’s smokey, vintage jazz club culture.
Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Indulge in Mouthwatering Argentine Steak and Empanadas
Argentina is synonymous with exceptional quality beef and indulging in the country’s renowned steaks and empanadas is a must. Argentines take their beef extremely seriously, priding themselves in grass fed cattle that yield tender, flavorful cuts to melt in your mouth. With so many cuts and cooking methods to choose from, beef lovers will find nirvana savoring Argentina’s carnivorous cuisine.
For the quintessential Argentine steak experience, start at a traditional parrilla (steakhouse) like Don Julio’s in Palermo. Their specialty is perfectly cooked steaks paired with rich red wines from Mendoza. Settle into the rustic interior and watch skilled asadores grill premium beef cuts over hot coals. Opt for the lomo cut, similar to a tenderloin, or their 45 day dry aged ribeye. The simple preparation allows the exceptional beef to shine. Sides like fried potatoes and bone marrow add to the hearty, indulgent feast.
Next, experience Argentina’s famed entraña steak at Parrilla Peña. This prized cut comes from the flank, yielding a distinctive, intense flavor when grilled. The sizzling plates are brought right to your table, served sliced to expose the reddish purple center. Dip chunks of tender entraña in chimichurri sauce for added herby flair. Order an alta malbec red to complement the rich, juicy flavors. You’ll gain new appreciation for Argentine beef’s incredible depth and diversity.
For a contemporary twist, reserve a spot at i Latina in Palermo Soho. Their tasting menu reimagines Argentine flavors with preparations like Wagyu ribeye with beetroot powder and Patagonian lamb with quinoa rice. Their signature smoky Josper oven adds complexity, enhancing each course with notes of wood fire. Indulge in the chef’s contemporary take on classic cuisine while admiring the trendy see-and-be-seen vibe.
Of course, no meal is complete without empanadas, the delightful handheld meat pies synonymous with Argentina. For traditional empanadas baked to perfection, Cafe San Juan in San Telmo is beloved by locals. Their classic fillings like beef, humita corn, chicken and ham & cheese exemplify the balance of flavors these baked treats should possess - flaky pastry packed with juicy, well-seasoned fillings. Order a medley to share family style and watch them disappear quickly.
For gourmet empanadas in upscale environs, check out Proper in Recoleta. Fillings like beef tenderloin with cabrales cheese and serrano ham with mozzarella elevate humble empanadas to haute cuisine. Savor them with fine wines in their elegant wine bar or people watch from a sidewalk cafe table. Empanadas never tasted so luxurious.
Tango, Trekking and Tastings: The Top 16 Things To Do In Argentina - Meet Locals Over Mate Tea in Quaint Cafes
A steaming gourd of yerba mate tea passed around a circle of friends - this classic ritual offers a window into authentic Argentine culture. Sharing mate (pronounced mah-tay) represents a time-honored tradition, creating opportunities to connect with locals over the bitter, caffeinated beverage. Seek out quintessentially Argentinian cafes serving mate to enjoy a taste of tradition paired with easygoing conversation.
In laidback San Telmo, duck into Bar Plaza Dorrego near the historic main plaza. Old photos, tango posters, and strings of tiny flags decorate the cozy space. Pull up a chair at one of the wooden tables and watch as the staff make their rounds pouring hot water over mate gourds. The bittersweet, earthy flavor perfectly complements empanadas or medialunas pastries. Strike up a chat with fellow patrons about their San Telmo haunts as candombe drum beats drift in from street performers outside.
For a bohemian vibe, Cafe Tortoni in downtown Buenos Aires has been a cultural institution since 1858. Waiters in bowties deliver mate on antique silver trays amidst the classic green walls and white marble tables. Order a tray of buttery biscuits or flaky tarts to accompany your mate while taking in the nostalgic ambiance. Perhaps you'll be seated near a table of local artists or writers, contributing to the cafe's creative legacy.
In the university district, opt for a sidewalk table at La Poesia. Students and professors come here to read, chat, and people watch over steaming mates. The aroma of fresh coffee and pastries floats through the doors as you watch porteños rush past. It's a prime spot to practice your Spanish chatting with locals about classes, art, philosophy or football. You'll blend right in.
Further afield in Mendoza wine country, make a stop at Anna Bistró. Order their signature malbec along with a gourd and bombilla straw to properly enjoy mate like the locals. The picturesque vineyard views stretching down to the Andes make a perfect setting to sip the hot beverage. Strike up a conversation with the winemaker owner to gain insight into Argentina's booming wine industry from a respected local.