It is hard to decide what to do in Argentina because it has it all, from massive natural landscapes, epic waterfalls, glaciers, tango, deserts and much more.
This time I was backpacking the country from Bolivia, which was my entry point and my destination was Santiago de Chile.
In this post, I highlight where to stop while traveling the north of Argentina and share some tips to make the most of your time there.
If you have the time, I recommend traveling by bus especially if you are on a budget like I was. Buses in Argentina are good, and the best part is the landscape you will drive through.
Salta: Empanadas and cloudrides
Salta doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The province offers a lot of cool activities to do and is famous for its empanadas salteñas. What can go wrong when there is food involved?
Salta is actually a big city and one of the best ways to check it with a panoramic is from the top of Cerro San Bernardo.
The cable car takes you up the hill with amazing views from the moment you step in.
From the top, it is possible to see a lot of highlights from the city and the view is just breathtaking.
From Salta is also possible to ride one of the highest altitude trains in the world. Tren a la Nubes (Cloud train) reaching over 4200m in elevation!
Cafayate: Colorful landscape
Cafayate is a small town still in Salta province famous for its high-altitude wines. But what attracted me to stop here was its Ravines or Quebradas in Spanish.
Quebrada de las Conchas is the hidden gem that you want to discover here. You can book a tour or rent bicycles to get there, however, the tour includes more stops in the nearby towns.
As you cross this impressive ravine along Route 68, you can see landscapes of reddish tones and geological formations that are millions of years old. It is epic!
Cordoba: Architecture and nightlife
Córdoba can be the second-largest city in Argentina, but has a more chill and relax mood than the capital.
It also preserves a lot of colonial architecture and has a strong Jesuit history that blends perfectly with the more modern side of the city.
The Cathedral of Córdoba is the oldest church in Argentina to be in continuous service.
Cordoba is also well known for its nightlife, and that’s because it homes a big student population.
Six different universities are based in this city, including the University of Cordoba, the oldest university in Argentina and the fourth oldest in the Americas.
No doubt Cordoba deserves a visit!
Buenos Aires: The capital of everything
Besides being the capital, Buenos Aires has a lot to offer, from history, food, tango, culture and a lot of buena onda. It is impossible to visit everything in a couple of days, and it is the kind of city where you can always come back and find something new.
Buenos Aires hides a lot of colorful streets and unique neighborhoods as La Boca, you can find a complete guide here. It also places museums and little cute shops.
If you are a meat-eater, this will be paradise, Argentinians are the gods of Parrillas, but also pizzas and sweets. I’m just in love with alfajores
The best part is that the city has a huge subway system that covers most of the capital, so it is fairly easy and accessible to move around.
And of course, Buenos Aires also hides nightclubs where people dance the tango, but only locals know and are allowed. It is for dancers and tango lovers, and the emotion inside these Milongas is overwhelming.
Tango can only be dance with passion!
Iguazu falls natural park
Iguazu Falls are probably one of the most famous visits if you are in Argentina and it is a reason for it. In the northwest corner of the country, you’ll find a completely different vibe than anywhere else.
The falls form part of both Argentina and Brazil, which have both been declared World Heritage sites and protected by UNESCO since 1984.
Approximately, 80% of the falls are in Argentina and 20% in Brazil. After the Amazon, this is among the continent’s most important remaining forest areas.
Visiting Iguazu National Park is more than the amazing cascades, the dense jungle is the home for a variety of wildlife from exotic birds to monkeys that will try to steal from you.
The Argentinian side offers two trails to check the falls. The upper falls trek provides a view of the falls from above. The lower trek brings you closer to the action. During both treks, you have incredible panoramas of the Iguazu falls.
The park also offers a bunch of cool activities to enjoy the falls to the fullest. By taking a jet boat tour through the river you will almost touch the falls, it will be like taking a shower.
If you have the budget, you can also take a helicopter ride to experience an epic view.
If you want to know current prices and more details about the park
go to the FAQ section on their official website.
HOW TO GET TO IGUAZU?
Puerto Iguazu is the closest town to the park and my recommended base for exploring the area. From the town to the park regular buses and taxis connect downtown with the park entrance.
The quickest and probably the easier way to get to Iguazu is by plane. Buenos Aires offers domestic flights to Puerto Iguazu airport. But it’s also possible to take an overnight bus from major cities too, it just takes more time.
San Luis: Biggest carnival in the Argentina
San Luis was probably my biggest surprise and the perfect stop between Mendoza and Cordoba.
Don’t get fool by its small center, San Luis is all about the natural surroundings including Sierra de las Quijadas National Park for great hiking, salt lakes and flatlands.
Maybe you are feeling tired or maybe need a self-care day after carrying your backpack for days. What better nourishment than visiting El Balde hot springs, the healing properties of these thermal waters will cure your soul.
But for me, the biggest highlight of San Luis was its carnival. Celebrated in March and it usually lasts three days. I’ve never been to the Carnival in Rio but let me tell you that I felt the Samba vibe in San Luis. Actually, a lot of Brazilian comparsas groups are invited to this carnival.
More than 3000 dancers, huge floats, live music and incredible costumes. It’s the definition of a good party!
Mendoza: Calm down and drink Malbec
There are more things to do in Mendoza than drink wine, however, the province is known for its premier wine production and having a glass of its famous Malbec wine is kind of mandatory.
Mendoza city won’t amaze you because the most special thing is the gorgeous surroundings. The countryside offers incredible landscapes from the Andes and adventure sports.
You can also choose a vineyard to visit and rent a bike to do a little exploring. Alongside the vineyards and fincas there are also farms and little homes that produce homemade jams, cheeses and other mouthwatering goods.
Mendoza is also the perfect stop if you are coming or going to Santiago de Chile. There are direct buses connecting these two cities in an 8 hour trip. And the views along the way are stunning.
There are a lot more to see in the north of Argentina. The natural landscape in this country is epic.
These are just some stops I did while backpacking this area. But I cannot wait to come back and discover more places and cities.
Have you been to one of these places? Where should I stop next? Let me know in the comments.
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