Argentina Highlights: Top Ten Sights Not to Miss
Argentina has a dizzying array of sights to offer. There is the exciting capital of Buenos Aires, stunning landscapes, wildlife, culture, wine and the tango.
The landscapes vary from glaciers to salt plains, vineyards to rugged mountains, lake districts to lush tropics. Bunny was almost overwhelmed when planning her 6-week adventure to the country. Particularly since it’s a big country and the distances are great; for example, you cannot just hop from one site to another in a rental car. Taking internal flights or traveling long distances by (the excellent) bus system is a must.
Below is Bunny’s personal Top 10 list from all the amazing sights in Argentina. It wasn’t easy to narrow them down to just ten. Make sure not to miss these!
The glacier known as Perito Moreno is generally recognised as one of the most spectacular natural landscapes not only in Argentina but in the whole world. At five kilometres long, with an average height of 74 metres, it is a jaw-dropping spectacle.
Bunny was mesmerised just staring at the incredible mass of ice in front of her. The frequent calvings, where large junks of ice fall from the glacier, causing thunderous ruptures and massive ripples in the turquoise water below, were thrilling.
Perito Moreno is easy to visit either as part of an organized tour or independently. If you want something a little extra special, the Mini-Trekking Adventure by Hielo and Aventura is the way to go. The tour is very well organised and gives you an opportunity to experience a special connection with the glacier. You get to taste it (literally) and explore it in a more intimate way than you can from the balconies, as impressive as the views from there are.
Bunny thinks Iguazu Falls are the greatest waterfalls in the world. Bordering the frontier between Argentina and Brazil, they are an astonishing sight, comprising approximately 275 waterfalls and spanning an impressive 2700 metres. It is no wonder that Iguazu Falls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts 1,5 million visitors every year.
Bunny has visited the three great waterfalls - Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls and Iguazu Falls - in the past five years and thinks, as wonderful as the two others are, that Iguazu Falls were on a whole other level of awesomeness. The cascades just went on and on, with a new marvellous waterfall appearing one after another. A true world wonder if there ever was one.
Hiking in El Chalten
El Chalten is often referred to as the trekking capital of Argentina. It is no surprise as the town has some of the most stunning scenery in the world right at its doorstep.
Bunny did two of the most popular day hikes in El Chalten: Laguna Torre and Laguna de los Tres. Both were spectacular, well-signposted trails, with views of the majestic Fitz Roy looming in the background. Even better was that both hikes started right from town and were doable without a guide.
Plus, El Chalten itself is a charming small town, with a chilled vibe and lots of choice for accommodation. Bunny particularly appreciated the great restaurants, including not-so-common vegetarian options, and small breweries that served the weary but happy hikers of El Chalten.
Road Tripping in Salta Area
The Salta region in Northern Argentina is made for road-tripping. There is amazing, otherworldly scenery and the distances, for once, are doable by car. Bunny particularly recommends the following three roads:
Salta to Cafayate road: Approaching Cafayate, Quebradas de las Conchas has some of the most unique scenery Bunny has seen (or photographed) anywhere in the world. La Garganta del Diablo, Amphitheatre and the Obelix are the most famous formations along the route. The best time to go is just before sunset for hypnotic colours on the rocky mountains.
Cafayate to Cachi road: This is another gorgeous, if somewhat uncomfortable, drive on an unpaved road. The scenery around Angastaco Natural Monument is almost moon-like, with mineral-streaked mountains and jagged sandstone rock formations with amazing contours.
Cachi to Salta road: After leaving Cachi, the road enters the scenic Los Cardones National Park - a vast, arid landscape with cacti overload. The cacti here are unusually large and photogenic, and numerous llamas and donkeys graze around for additional photo opportunities. The road ascends up to 3348 metres, before winding down towards Salta on an unpaved, narrow mountain road, providing some exhilarating and scary driving.
The Lake District
Bunny spent five indulgent days in the Argentinian Lake District. She grew up in a country of lakes but couldn’t help but be impressed by the beautiful waters of Argentina.
She stayed in the delightful Las Balsas in Villa la Angostura and the legendary Llao Llao at the other end of the Nahuel Huapi National Park, exploring the area in between at a lazy pace for picnics and photos.
Las Balsas was a perfect place to wind down for a couple of days in a gorgeous setting. It also marks the beginning of the Seven Lakes Drive which offers mesmerising lake scenery, impressive mountain views, picturesque valleys, thick pine forests, clear rivers, raging waterfalls and more. It is a perfect road trip on a sunny day in the Argentinean Lake District.
Argentina’s most famous hotel, Llao Llao, was an altogether different Lake District experience. Everyone from Fidel Castro to Barack Obama has lodged in this marvellous lake-side property, and Bunny wanted her share of the splendour. She was pleased with her stay and found the amazing infinity pool and impeccable afternoon tea service (a vegetarian version was even on offer) perfectly suited for her discerning tastes.
Quebrada de Humahuaca
This narrow and arid mountain valley in the province of Jujuy is called Argentina’s Rainbow Valley. It is famous for its colourful mountains that flaunt every shade from rich reds to dark greens as well as vibrant pinks and more earthy tints of brown and gray.
It is a surreal landscape, something that Bunny had not experienced before. Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors) is the most accessible, rising just above the pretty village of Purmamarca.
Serrania de Hornocal is a whole mountain range with impressive waves of colour. It is located 25km east of Humahuaca, at the end of a beautiful mountain road. It is an utterly spectacular view, best appreciated at sunset.
In fact, Quebrada de Humahuaca was declared a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO for its cultural and historical importance and beautiful scenery. The towns of Humahuaca, Tilcara and Purmamarca make excellent bases for exploring the beautiful region.
Flamboyant. Colourful. Gritty. Aristocratic. Confusing. Cool. Immense. Vibrant.
Bunny wasn’t quite sure what to think of Buenos Aires at first, but the city gradually won her over. The distinct neighbourhoods all have their own charms and the more Bunny explored, the more she liked Buenos Aires.
Funky Palermo Soho with its nightlife, the haunting beauty of Recoleta Cemetery, the antique markets of San Telmo, the colour explosion of El Caminito in La Boca, the sleek and modern Puerto Madera, the historic Plaza de Mayo, the bustle of Hollywood, the passionate tango on any number of streets at any time … Bunny has a hard time picking her favourites in the Argentinian capital. Just try to capture as many as you can!
Argentina is a premium wine destination and Bunny made sure she got her share of the country’s palatable collection during her trip.
She visited two of Argentina’s celebrated wine regions: Uco Valley close to the Chilean border near Mendoza and Cafayate in the Valles Calchaquíes in Northern Argentina. She was not overly impressed with Mendoza itself but loved these two smaller areas and their quiet charms.
Uco Valley remains relatively undiscovered and has some fabulous winery stay options. It is not spoiled by visitors (yet), so Bunny enjoyed blissful tranquility whilst sipping delicious wines at the beautiful Alpasion Lodge in the foothills of the Andes.
Cafayate is a high-altitude viticulture region known for its excellent white Torrentes wines. Bunny had overdosed on the red Argentinian Malbec earlier during her trip, so she appreciated the chance to gulp down some delectable whites for a change. Adding to her enjoyment, Cafayate had dramatic mountain and desert views and a lovely Patios de Cafayate wine estate.
Whichever wine region you choose, stay inside a winery, Bunny says. This makes the wine-tasting experience so much easier as you can simply crawl back to your room after you have finished partaking in generously poured glasses of delicious wine, sometimes served by the winemakers themselves.
Salinas Grandes (Salt Plains)
This expansive desert is a dried-up lake, now one of the world’s largest salt flats, albeit less known than its bigger sister in Bolivia.
Salinas Grandes is a white vastness that dazzles the few visitors that make their way there. The contrast between the bright blue sky and the whiteness of the salt makes it look like a desert made of ice and snow.
There is no admission and you can explore the salt flats on your own by foot. If you want to venture further on the field by car, you will have to enlist the help of a local guide. With a guide, you can explore up close the almost glacial-like ponds and touch their spiky, crystalline insides.
Salinas Grandes is also a fun place to visit! Posing for goofy perspective photos (bring a tripod) is one of the most popular things to do there and it really is hilarious.
Salinas Grandes overlaps the provinces of Jujuy and Salta. The drive from Purmamarca is a spectacular, twisting mountain road, taking you up to 4,100 metres at the highest point.
Easy Day Trips to Fabulous Neighbouring Countries
During her 6-week Argentina tour, Bunny also made small hops into some of Argentina’s neighbouring countries. She participated in amazing hiking expeditions in Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia, admired panoramic views of the Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side of the river and sailed to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay to spend a sun-filled day in its charming old town.
All these forays were easy trips from Argentina, providing short and welcome respites from her relentless pizza-eating-Malbec-drinking Argentina exploration. Although technically not in Argentina, she considers these side trips as an essential part of her unforgettable Argentina expeditions.
So, there you have it. Bunny’s top ten Argentinian highlights. If Bunny returned to Argentina, she would probably re-visit most, if not all, of these places.
Don't agree with Bunny? Let her know in the comments section below.