Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Argentina
The narrow Beagle Channel, separating Argentina's island chain of Tierra del Fuego to the north from remote Chilean islands to the south, serves as a waterway for the world's southernmost city, Ushuaia. It’s also one of the most important bodies of water in South America.
Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfalls system in the world, are truly awe-inspiring to behold, spanning the border between Brazil and Argentina. Though Brazil boasts better views of the falls, Argentina is blessed with about 80 percent of this natural marvel’s 275 separate cascades. Paved trails and catwalks wind their way around the falls—sometimes reaching within an arm’s length of the water—and a free train connects the main trailheads.
Stretching over 1.8 million acres, Nahuel Huapi National Park is Argentina’s oldest national park. Centered around the region’s largest lake, Nahuel Huapi, and encompassing the popular resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche, this enormous park offers mountain and forest hikes, and the opportunity to cruise the lakes.
Watched over by the mighty peak of Aconcagua Mountain—among the highest peaks in the world outside of the Himalayas at 22,837 feet (6,961 meters)—Aconcagua Provincial Park is a dream for hikers, with remote valleys, glacial lagoons, and towering peaks, all with sweeping views of the Andes Mountains.
The Andes Mountains, which form Argentina’s backbone, are to the far west of the country, and separate this nation from bordering Chile. They extend most of the length of South America (some 4,300 miles), stretching down from Venezuela through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and finally, Argentina. At their widest, the Andes are about 430 miles wide and measure an average of 13,000 feet high, which means they are visible from many miles away.
Most visitors to Argentina’s closest connection with the Andes will be from near Mendoza, one of the main wine-growing regions in the country, with its popular Malbec (red) wine. Mendoza is just east of the Andes, and from here, it is possible to visit a lookout point with a good view of Aconcagua, the tallest mountain on the continent, as a day trip. The 22,841 foot mountain is a favorite among mountain climbers, but it an intensive trip that requires planning, training and high-mountain gear. Most visitors will content themselves with seeing, rather than climbing the Andes.
The beauty of Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia has earned it the nickname of the "Eighth Wonder of the World” in Argentina. It’s the planet's third-largest reserve of fresh water and one of the continent's last advancing glaciers, slowly making its way in crackling celestial blue from the granite spires of the Chilean Torres del Paine into Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares).
When travelers make their way to the far southern reaches of Argentina, chances are they’re heading into Tierra del Fuego National Park. The country’s only coastal national park protects the Andean-Patagonian forest, a land of peat bogs, beech forests, glistening lakes, remote beaches, and snow-capped peaks ideal for outdoor adventures.
Potrerillos is a town with an artificial lake outside of Menzoa that is a destination for rafting, kayaking, hiking, and fly-fishing. Visitors can also opt to go horseback riding or do some mountain biking. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and cypress forests, Potrerillos is a particularly scenic location for an outdoor adventure.
Porteños often boast about 9 de Julio Avenue (Avenida 9 De Julio) as the world’s widest boulevard, and with a width of 460 feet (140 meters) with 12 lanes of traffic, they might just be right. Construction on the avenue began in 1937, modeled after the Champs Elysees but twice as wide, and built to commemorate Argentina’s Independence Day, July 9, 1816. It wasn’t fully completed until 1980.
Neo-classical and Beaux Arts buildings line the monumental street, but it’s most recognizable feature is the iconic Obelisco that towers over a small park at the intersection of Avenida 9 De Julio and Avenida Corrientes.
Home to the Casa Rosada—where Eva Peron famously stood on the balcony—and the Metropolitan Cathedral, Pope Francis’ former church, Plaza de Mayo is the historic and political heart of Buenos Aires. Named for the May 1810 revolution, the square’s centerpiece is the Pirámide de Mayo, an obelisk commemorating Argentina’s independence.
More Things to Do in Argentina
With its scenic waterways, riverside fun fair, and lively handicrafts market, the charming provincial town of Tigre offers a welcome change of pace from nearby Buenos Aires. Located on the Tigre Delta at the meeting point of the Paraná River and the Río de la Plata estuary, it’s a popular choice for a day trip from the capital.
In all of Argentina—or perhaps the world—has a stretch of 114 miles ever looked so good. Patagonia is known for holding some of the world’s most breathtaking alpine landscapes, and the section known as Seven Lakes Road is the most spectacularly scenic of it all. Beginning in Villa de Angostura to the north of Bariloches, the road travels all the way to San Martin de los Andes on the shores of Lake Lacár. In between, visitors are treated to epic vistas that stretch all the way out towards Chile, and pass by shimmering cobalt lakes such as Correntos, Espejo, and Falkner. The name of the road is actually a misnomer since there are far more than seven lakes, although all combine to create pinchworthy scenery that borders on the surreal. By summer the road is clear of snow and is the most popular time to visit, although unpaved section can occasionally become muddy after exceptionally heavy rains. Though the road only takes about 3.5 hours to drive from end to end, plan on devoting the entire day towards the exceptional alpine beauty. Many of the lakes have short hikes that lead to sweeping overlooks, and the fly fishing in the gurgling streams is Argentina’s best. Or, to truly immerse yourself in Andean beauty, stay at one of the primitive lodges scattered along the route, and find your own little corner of the forest to sit, relax, reflect, and rejoice in how lucky you are to be here.
While it may seem odd that one of Buenos Aires’ principal attractions is a cemetery, this is no ordinary graveyard. Recoleta Cemetery(Cemiterio de Recoleta) is one of the world’s most exquisite necropolises—home to more than 6,400 tombs, mausoleums, and monuments laid out in formal tree-lined avenues, including the grave of Eva Perón (Evita).
Encompassing a colossal 566 square miles (911 square-kilometers), Argentino Lake (Lago Argentino) is the largest lake in the country. El Calafate, the UNESCO-listed Perito Moreno Glacier, and the Upsala Glacier are all perched on its shores, so the lake serves as the gateway to some of Patagonia’s most impressive glacial landscapes.
Buenos Aires’ largest barrio, the northeastern district of Palermo is one of the city’s most affluent and fashionable neighborhoods. Known for its beautiful parks, grand monuments, and art museums, Palermo is whereporteños (locals) come to eat, shop, and party, with a buzzing nightlife and some of the city’s top restaurants, bars, and cafés.
The central barrio of San Telmo is one of Buenos Aires’ tango haunts. Formerly an upmarket residential area, the area’s “old mansions and faded glory” vibe set the perfect scene for the artists and musicians who now call this enclave home. The streets here are picturesquely cobbled, and the fascinating little shops are well worth a browse.
The striking salmon-pink façade of Argentina’s presidential palace—the Casa Rosada (Pink House)—is one of the capital’s most iconic sights, presiding over the historic Plaza de Mayo square. Home of the Argentine President and government offices since 1862, it’s been the backdrop for some of Argentina’s most important political events.
Few places in Buenos Aires are photographed as frequently as Caminito Street. The main artery of the waterfront La Boca neighborhood is a jumble of old buildings, brightly painted facades, and street-side market stalls, with hawkers, buskers, and tango dancers adding to the atmosphere.
With its opulent architecture and fine acoustics, the Colon Theatre (Teatro Colón) ranks alongside Paris’ Opera Garnier and London’s Royal Opera House as one of the world’s most impressive theaters. Reopened after extensive renovations in 2010, the Colon Theatre is the premier venue for opera, ballet, and classical music in Buenos Aires.
Lapataia Bay is where Argentina’s RN 3 road ends, a road that is a continuation of the Pan-American Highway, which stretches all the way to Alaska. Roadies are always stopping to pose next to the sign here in Lapataia Bay, and it’s worth thinking about how far they’ve come to get there! According to the sign, the distance between this spot and Alaska is a whopping 11,090 miles (17,848 kilometers).
Most visitors don’t take the land route to Lapataia Bay, however, and instead fly into Argentina. The bay is within Parque National Tierra del Fuego, a popular day trip from Ushuaia, which sits only 10 miles away. The park offers a chance to get out into nature, overlook azure lakes and bays, walk through native beech forests and in season, catch both the firebush, which blooms bright red, and the spooky-looking orange “pan de indio,” golf ball-sized mushrooms that grow on some of the trees.
If you have more time, try out some of the other trails in the park, which covers almost 150,000 acres of this island off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland.
Victoria Island (Isla Victoria)—the largest island in Nahuel Huapi lake—lies at the heart of the eponymous national park. The island is characterized by rugged coastline, volcanic black-sand beaches, and pine forest, and features a backdrop of snow-capped peaks; all of which make it one of the most picturesque spots in Argentina’s Lakelands.
Purmamarca, in Jujuy Province, just north of Salta, is considered one of Argentina’s most beautiful villages. The town’s adobe houses and Spanish colonial church are all pretty in their own right, but the backdrop of the spectacular Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors ) makes the area particularly picturesque.
The Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse marks the dangerous rocks at the entrance to Ushuaia Bay in the Beagle Channel. Locals often wrongfully call this the Lighthouse at the End of the World, which is technically incorrect because the lighthouse Jules Verne made famous in his novel lies further east, but it’s oddly accurate, too; it’s the last mainland reference most sailors see on their way to Antarctica.
Located just five miles from Ushuaia, Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse is a common destination for short tourist sailing trips. The waters surrounding the lighthouse are a sea-goers dream, as penguins and both South American and fur sea lions are spotted regularly. Bird life is abundant, too, with black eyebrow albatrosses, steamer ducks and upland geese often seen on the nearby islands. Many tours also include landing on Karelo Island.
It’s worth mentioning that the region is stunning, but harsh. The weather – and most commonly the wind - can be fierce, but it’s all part of the southern Patagonian experience.
Puerto Madero, once a lackluster cargo port, is now one of Buenos Aires’ most fashionable districts, teeming with upmarket restaurants and glitzy nightclubs. Marooned from the mainland by the Rio de la Plata estuary, the largely pedestrianized island is celebrated for housing some of the city’s most architecturally stunning buildings.
- Things to do in Buenos Aires
- Things to do in Mendoza
- Things to do in Salta
- Things to do in Ushuaia
- Things to do in El Calafate
- Things to do in Puerto Madryn
- Things to do in Córdoba
- Things to do in El Chaltén
- Things to do in Cachi
- Things to do in San Miguel de Tucumán
- Things to do in Chile
- Things to do in Uruguay
- Things to do in The Pampas
- Things to do in Northwest Argentina
- Things to do in Patagonia