Luxury Travel to Argentina: An Insider Guide
Argentina is a varied country, and there is so much to discover.
One of Latin America’s largest countries, Argentina is home to thundering waterfalls, gigantic glaciers and impressive open plains.
From what to do to where to stay, we’ve put together this insider guide to Argentina to help you get closer to the locals and discover all that this fascinating country has to offer.
Why travel to Argentina?
Argentina is a haven for adventure travellers. From ice climbing in Los Glaciares National Park to reaching the ends of the Earth in Ushuaia, there are all sorts of activities to get your heart racing. Argentina’s Patagonia is undoubtedly the best place in the country for adventure travel. Located in an area near the Andes on the border with Chile, the incredible glacial landscape of El Calafate and Los Glaciares is made up of stunning mountains, lakes and glaciers.
An intrepid way to explore this breathtaking region is by getting up close to the still-advancing Perito Moreno glacier. At 30 kilometres long, 5 kilometres wide and up to 60 metres high in parts, this impressive glacier can move up to 2 metres a day. Watching chunks of ice split and crash into turquoise waters is an awe-inspiring phenomenon. Travellers can explore the glacier on walkways that allow you to see the glacier from different angles, or take a boat trip around the base.
In nearby El Chalten, Argentina’s best climbing and trekking can be found. Once a remote outpost, El Chalten is a small village of just 500 people, nestled beneath the FitzRoy and Cerro Torre mountains. With jagged peaks piercing the skyline and an array of cliff faces, even the most accomplished of climbers can be challenged here. While the steepness of some faces cater to more advanced climbers, there are many easier treks and climbing expeditions for less experienced travellers.
Moving further down the country, frontier city Ushuaia is on the map as the last centre of civilisation before the Antarctic. The presence of the Beagle channel here means travellers can journey along dramatic coastline and explore wildlife in the surrounding waters. For a different vantage point over the dramatic landscape, travellers can ride in a helicopter across the region. Adventurous globetrotters can also spend their time here hiking in the beautiful Lapataia National Park, or skiing during the winter months.
For wildlife lovers, Argentina’s rugged Patagonian coast can’t be beaten. The stunning Peninsula Valdes is home to a wealth of marine life. Here, travellers can spot Southern right whales, sea lions, orcas, magellan penguins and elephant seals amongst others. With majestically barren beaches and crystal clear waters, Peninsula Valdes has some of the most stunning scenery in the country. If that’s not enough, there are also three giant salt lakes in the middle of this peninsula. In this wonderfully isolated part of the world, travellers can go whale watching, visit penguin colonies or dive in deep blue seas. Other activities on offer here include horse riding, salmon fishing, birdwatching and cycling.
More daring travellers can get off the beaten track in Bahia Bustamante, just south of Peninsula Valdes. Founded many years ago by a small estancia (ranch) to harvest seaweed in the area, this small town has only recently become a tourist destination. The clear air here is suited to various wildlife, particularly birds. The greatest diversity of seabirds in Patagonia can be found here; with 21 breeding colonies, standout species include Steamer Ducks, Magellan Penguins and Chilean Flamingos. Marine life is also abundant here, with sealions, orcas and dolphins often spotted. Dotted with small islets and white sandy beaches, this Argentinian coastline is a delightful place to explore.
Culture and food
Beyond its rugged coastline and dramatic countryside, Argentina’s cities offer a world of food and culture to discover. As well as an abundance of classical architecture and tree-lined boulevards, capital Buenos Aires is the beating heart of Argentina’s food scene. True foodies can spend their time in the Argentinian capital learning how the city’s culinary heritage has transformed into ‘La Nueva Cocina Argentina’ of today. For lunch or dinner, foodies can then visit one of the many traditional Buenos Aires Parillas (steak restaurants) in the vibrant La Boca district.
For a taste of local culture, visitors to Argentina can learn about the ancient art of tango. In Buenos Aires, meeting the country’s finest tango experts is a great way to learn about the mesmerising dance before getting involved in it yourself. Travellers can take a private tango lesson with a professional, or let loose in local late-night dance hall Milonga, where amazing live bands and dancers drift their way into the night. If you’d rather watch the action from afar, enjoying a Rojo tango show at the capital’s Faena Hotel is a fantastic way to do so.
Where to go in Argentina
One of the world’s greatest cities, Buenos Aires is a must-visit on any trip to Argentina. This eclectic city has heaps of tradition, as well as a resurgence of modernity amongst its streets. There is a great variety of things to do in this city, from dancing in tango saloons to sipping sundowners in stylish new bars, restaurants and nightclubs. While exploring this diverse city, travellers can tour the elegant belle-epoque Mansions of Racleta, catch a tango show or impromptu street performance or explore the stylish boutiques of Palermo. To visit Buenos Aires without the crowds, the best time to go is from April to June (autumn) or September to December (spring). January and February are also good times to visit in terms of temperature but this is the peak tourist season.
One of the most picturesque wine regions across the globe, Mendoza is prime vine growing territory. With almost constant sunshine and water supplied by the run-off from the Andes, the varieties of wine grown here are some of the best the world has to offer. As well as enjoying the good life and sampling the excellent wine grown here, travellers can raft in the foothills, explore the area on foot or on horseback or dine in one of the many world-class restaurants here. For the best wine harvests, visit Mendoza between March and April.
Sitting on the border between Argentina and Brazil, the Iguazu Falls are one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sights. The majority of the 275 cascades sit on the Argentinian side, where a well-planned system of trails and walkways allows visitors to experience every angle of the falls. One of the most astonishing parts of the Falls is the Garganta del Diablo, or ‘Devil’s Throat.’ Here, several hugely powerful falls join, and water crashes against rocks. As they are situated within Argentina’s Misiones province, the area surrounding the falls makes up a significant part of the Atlantic Forest. One of the most ecologically diverse regions in the world, this area is home to thousands of plant species, hundreds of bird species, and animals such as howler monkeys, ocelots and tapirs.
Argentina’s Patagonia has a lot to offer, with notable regions including El Calafate, El Chalten and Ushuaia. To experience the Argentinian tradition of a ranch stay, though, your best bet is to visit the Patagonian region of Las Pampas. The legendary plains here are known as gaucho territory, and it’s easy to see why with the area’s wide open spaces, fresh air and relaxed pace of life. Best enjoyed between October and April, the Argentinean Pampas offer plenty of opportunity to horse ride beside gauchos or enjoy an afternoon asado (BBQ).
Argentina’s Lake District
With snow-capped peaks, verdant hills and crystalline water bodies, Argentina’s Lake District has a distinctly alpine feel to it. The perfect place to enjoy the outdoors, there are so many outdoor activities on offer here. Travellers can explore the area by hiking, mountain biking, fishing, golfing, horse riding, kayaking, mountaineering, rafting or skiing. This lakeside paradise is also just a stone’s throw from Bariloche, home to the best chocolate in the country.
Where to stay in Argentina
Boutique hotels in Buenos Aires
Argentina’s capital is a wonderful blend of stylish neighbourhoods and traditional communities. In some of the city’s most up and coming districts, luxurious boutique hotels abound. In the waterside neighbourhood of Puerto Madero, the striking Philippe Starck Faena Hotel is located in the the restored El Porteño building. This once war time factory has been elegantly transformed into an up to date property, with rooms and suites overlooking the buzzing quaysides of Puerto Madero. This stunning hotel boasts fine dining, traditional Argentinian cuisine and even the opportunity to watch the renowned Rojo Tango show.
A more picturesque lodging, Legado Mitico in the hip Palermo district caters to creatives and lovers of tradition. The eleven rooms here are each inspired by a famous Argentinian figure, including tango dancer Carlos Gardel, writer Jorge Luis Borges, and Evita Peron. Inquisitive travellers can read about the historic figures in the communal library, before relaxing with a drink on the patio.
Estancias, or working cattle ranches, are great places to stay for travellers who want to immerse themselves in the Argentine way of life. With beautiful landscapes up and down the country, there are plenty of estancias to pick from. Unsurprisingly, some of the best can be found in picturesque Patagonia, particularly in the Las Pampas and El Calafate regions.
In Las Pampas, boutique Estancia La Bamba is authentic, intimate and refined. This flawless property is great for travellers who want to experience the rugged romance of the gaucho in a stylish and well-run setting. There are eleven rooms here, which all seamlessly blend the rural environment with contemporary style. The ranch’s shaded patios are the perfect place to relax or watch the ponies, while more active travellers can enjoy a range of equestrian excursions.
World-class Eolo in El Calafate is an estancia in a league of its own. Sitting on a 10,000 acre piece of land between the town of El Calafate and the majestic Perito Moreno glacier, this property is perfect for nature lovers. Inspired by the historic estancias of the area, simplicity is key here. However, simplicity doesn’t mean compromising on luxury – food here is produced using delicious local produce, making for a dynamic and exciting menu that can be enjoyed alongside sweeping views.
Wine lodges in Mendoza
With one of the finest wine growing regions in the world, it’s not surprising that Argentina is also home to many great wine lodges. The recently opened Vines Resort & Spa is a delightful blend of elegant and contemporary. The hotel has been built with the surrounding environment in mind and merges perfectly into the uniform horizon of the Uco Valley’s vineyards. Each bedroom here comes with its own modern kitchen, sitting area and private patio.
Set in the heart of the wine country, Cavas Wine Lodge is one of the most romantic properties in Mendoza. Each room here comes with its own private plunge pool and uninterrupted views out over the vineyard and the Andes. Other luxurious amenities on offer include an excellent spa facility, the Cavas restaurant and an underground cellar showcasing 250 carefully selected wine regions from the Mendoza region.
Jacada’s Argentina experiences
Private glacier tours
Argentina’s glacier region is out of this world, and an exclusive way to see it is on a private tour of Perito Moreno Glacier. A 2.5 hour drive through varied terrain will take you past beautiful views, including the Corner of Sighs, where you’ll get your first full view of the glacier. You’re likely to pass wildlife too on the drive, and may spot everything from red and grey foxes to cinnamon-coloured guanaco deer. Once you arrive at Perito Moreno, your guide will accompany you along the various walkways. With superb viewpoints and outstanding photo opportunities, Perito Moreno is a sight not to be missed.
Journey to the end of the world
In frontier city Ushuaia, there are plenty of opportunities to get active. Travellers can hike through beech forest to impressive viewpoints or kayak through the Ovando River and Green Lake. Perhaps the most enticing thing to do in Ushuaia, though, is to ride the train to the End of the World. One of two narrow-gauge tracks left in Argentina, the Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino once ferried prisoners from the island’s prisoners to work in the nearby National Park. The aptly named ‘Trencito de los Presos,’ or little train of the prisoners, journeys along the Pipo river until it reaches Macarena waterfalls. Along the way, passengers will be rewarded with stunning views of Monte Susana and the Martial Glacier, as well as a lesson in history.
Iguazu Falls boat trip
No trip to Argentina is complete without a visit to the captivating Iguazu Falls. With a Jacada private tour and boat trip, travellers can get closer than ever to the cascading waters. On the tour, travellers can explore the various wooden walkways that lead along the many chutes of the falls. To witness the stunning Devil’s Throat part of the falls, travellers can walk along a flat catwalk built above the Upper Iguazu River, where they’ll reach a magnificent lookout point.
Gourmet Buenos Aires
The Argentine capital is known for its culinary traditions. Specialising in everything from steak to chocolate, Buenos Aires is a foodie’s paradise. A great way to get a well-rounded view of Buenos Aires’ food scene is during a full day Buenos Aires gourmet experience. Beginning with an hour’s introduction to Argentinian cuisine, you’ll learn all about the city’s culinary heritage and its development into Buenos Aires’ new food movement, ‘La Nueva Cocina Argentina.’ Then, travellers can enjoy lunch in traditional Parrilla Il Mattarello in the vibrant La Boca district before going behind the scenes in Tarquino’s kitchen. This full day gourmet tour ends with discovering Argentina’s wines with an expert sommelier and a delicious tasting menu at a top city restaurant.
Private tour of the Lake District
The vistas in Argentina’s Lake District are picture-perfect, as travellers can discover on a private full day tour of the region and its surroundings. Starting in Bariloche, you’ll be taken on a scenic forty minute drive to along paved and gravel roads through changing landscapes and natural wonders. Once you’ve reached the picturesque Villa La Angostura, you can choose between lunching in one of the excellent local restaurants or enjoying a prepared picnic at an isolated beach or lookout point.
Wine tasting in Mendoza
In Argentina’s stunning wine country, the opportunities for wine tasting are endless. On a full day touring Mendoza’s wineries, travellers can visit the counties of Luján de Cuyo, Maipú, Guaymallén and Godoy Cruz. During the tour, you’ll visit a mix of smaller boutique establishments and larger wineries. Mendoza is the perfect territory for Malbec, and the tour can be entirely customised to your preferences. At the end of the day, indulge in a gourmet tasting lunch paired with wines from the region.