Argentina is a country of contradictions and contrasts, home to both Patagonian glaciers and tropical rainforests. A country of vineyards and waterfalls as well as deserts.
To help you define your priorities when you’re planning your trip, here’s a quick list of my five favorite Argentina tourist attractions:
1. Buenos Aires. Number one because it can’t be missed. Which is convenient for most visitors since, as the center for transportation in the country, the city would be hard to miss if you tried. Even if you only have a short time, plan on staying here for at least a few days: flexible travelers with lots of time on their hands often find that after several months they still haven’t moved on! Things to see and do: Go to a “milonga” (a tango dance hall), the city is, after all, the place where tango began. Have a steak, the best beef in the world. Spend an evening or two in the neighborhood of Palermo with its restaurants, bars and clubs. And if your language skills are rusty, B.A. is one of the best places in Latin America to learn Spanish.
2. The Glaciers National Park. You may have seen photos in National Geographic of these glaciers calving off icebergs and thought that this was one of those exotic places in the world you’d never be able to see. Well, think again: Argentina’s glaciers, though in the far south of the country, are these days easily accessible by air and land transportation and the Perito Moreno glacier, the park’s star performer, is so awe-inspiring that even the most jaded world traveler could scarcely fail to be impressed. Mount Fitzroy in the north of the Park is only a short drive away, too. With its sheer rock cliff face, it is one of the Andes’ most emblematic peaks.
3. The Iguazú Waterfalls. This enormous waterfall in Argentina’s tropical north, by many accounts the world’s largest, is formed by a confluence of swollen rainforest rivers dropping hundreds of feet off volcanic rock cliffs. Since the falls form part of the Argentina-Brazil border, try to see the falls from the National Parks in both countries. On the Argentine side, walkways take you to the very edge, letting you peer down into the misty void. On the Brazilian side, you’re able to take in the whole panorama of the falls from below.
4. Salta and Jujuy. Argentina’s Andean northwest, with its high planes, green valleys, llamas herds, spicy food and indigenous people sporting ponchos. The region is home to some of Argentina’s most varied and rugged landscapes.
5. Puerto Madryn and Peninsula Valdéz. No visit to Argentina should be considered complete without a visit to coastal Patagonia, one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. In the winter and spring months the Southern Right Whale mates, gives birth and raises its young in the sheltered harbor of the Peninsula. At other times of the year, there are sea lions, seals, penguins, dolphins and even orcas on view.