As the eighth-largest country on earth, it hardly merits saying that Argentina has more than its fair share of fascinating places to discover. If you’re looking to join South America tours around this country, make sure these seven cities, ranging from cultural hubs to adventure playgrounds, are included on your itinerary.
Unmissable Argentine cities to visit on South America tours
For culture: Buenos Aires
A capital city like no other in South America, Buenos Aires is as elegant and alive as it is huge. Home to a mixture of cultures from across the world, its skyline is dominated by tall, European-style buildings rising up into the sky and merging into plazas and wide avenues.
Buenos Aires is a beautiful if sometimes chaotic place of stunning architecture and leafy neighborhoods, where hot afternoons are best spent relaxing in a street side cafe in the chic Palermo neighborhood. As there’s never a dull moment in this capital, it’s easy to get lost exploring the colorful streets of harborside La Boca or while away an evening – or two – catching a tango show in San Telmo.
For beautiful landscapes and unique culture: Salta
A world away from Buenos Aires, Salta is another elegant Argentine city, yet one demonstrating another side to the country’s culture. Although its colonial architecture, such as the neoclassical cathedral in the main square, gives a sense of the city’s history, it is the Inca artifacts held in its museums and the pre-Incan settlements in the surrounding countryside that show Salta’s unique cultural flavor.
Nearby, the rainbow colored Quebrada de Humahuaca, a dramatic canyon where the rocks appear in every shade imaginable, makes for an excellent day trip.
For hiking: El Chaltén
Argentina’s self-declared hiking capital, El Chaltén sits on the doorstep of Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage place of exceptional natural beauty.
From this base, hikers can trek to Laguna de Los Tres at the base of the iconic spires of Cerro Fitz Roy, one of Patagonia’s most famous mountains or discover multi-day trails and camping grounds deeper in the national parks.
For wildlife: Puerto Madryn
Puerto Madryn, one of the cities settled by Welsh immigrants in the 1800s, is yet another of Argentina’s diverse cities. But this area also promises other attractions for South America tours: the incredible diversity of wildlife found at the nearby Valdés Peninsula.
The largest Magellanic penguin colony in South America breeds at Punta Tombo, while the area’s permanent residents, huge colonies of seals and sea lions lounge upon the shores of the peninsula. During the summer, groups of orca hunt in the waters while between June and December, a large group of southern right whales migrate here to breed.
For skiing: Bariloche
The architecture of Swiss-influenced Bariloche gives visitors a sense that it’s been transplanted from the alps of Europe, but it’s the nearby Cerro Catedral ski resort that really makes the city seen anywhere other than Argentina.
As one of the top centers in South America, Cerro Catedral has a huge selection of ski lifts, runs and incomparable vistas of the gleaming waters of Lake Nahuel Huapi. It’s also a destination for chocolate and beer lovers – both of which can be sampled in the city center.
For wine: Mendoza
As the world’s top producer of malbec, South America tours in Argentina wouldn’t be complete without some time spent in the wine region, Mendoza. Here, old, established wineries in the Maipú Valley and Luján de Cuyo rub shoulders with newer outfits in the up-and-coming Uco Valley, while the whole region is abundant with restaurants serving delicious fare – accompanied by an excellent glass of red, of course.
For epic natural landmarks: El Calafate
Perhaps Argentina’s most famous natural landmark, Glacier El Perito Moreno is a looming block of ancient ice that towers 200-ft. (60m) above the milky waters of Lago Argentina.
Accessible by tour from El Calafate, this glacier is one of the most impressive in all of South America, if not the world, particularly because visitors can get right up close to the ice thanks to a boardwalk positioned directly opposite the glacier’s snout.