Argentina, with more than one million square miles of diverse terrain—the most of any Spanish-speaking nation—boasts a rich mix of cultures, vast landscapes, and a diversity of iconic offerings, from spectacular architecture to awe-inspiring waterfalls. Snow-capped mountains, crashing coastlines, grand deserts, lush rainforests, bustling city centers, and rural countryside means there’s a spectacular, emblematic setting for every traveler.
As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, including 30 National Parks (many of them World Heritage Sites), you have your pick of outdoor adventures in the South American country. Also, as the birthplace of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, some of the best players in the history of soccer, and the first Latin American soccer club in 1867, Argentina’s brand of fútbol culture makes it fascinatingly distinct to explore. And while Malbec put the nation’s wine country on the map, there’s much more for oenophiles to discover (on horseback no less) and plenty of delicious food pairings along the way. The only challenge when traveling here for the first time, or even as a repeat visitor, is nailing down what to see and do. To help travelers enjoy Argentina’s expansive array of experiences, we rounded up these six iconic Argentine must-dos for a deeper travel journey.
1. Hike to a glacier in Los Glaciares National Park
Located in Patagonia and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Los Glaciares National Park is a wonderland of glacial landscapes, including the stunning Perito Moreno, viewable via ferry boat or even a guided hiking trek.
2. Horseback ride through a Mendoza winery
The Mendoza region, most well-known for its Malbec, produces nearly 70 percent of all the wine made in Argentina. Travelers can enjoy the country’s mountain landscape while on a horseback tour at one of the huge varieties of wineries, all more or less an hour from the city of Mendoza. A few areas include Luján de Cuyo , Maipú, and the Uco Valley.
3. Watch whales at Valdés Peninsula
As one of South America’s finest wildlife reserves, the Valdés Peninsula offers hundreds of miles of coastline that orca whales, sea lions, elephant seals, Magellanic penguins, and other wildlife call home. Visitors should try to catch a glimpse of the orca beaching phenomenon that happens biannually from March through May in Punta Norte and from September through December in Caleta Valdés.
4. Cheer at a fútbol match in Buenos Aires
Boasting the most professional soccer teams in the world, Buenos Aires is one of the sport’s global capitals. Cheering loudly from the fan stands at a local soccer match is a highlight of any trip here. Sports fanatics can head to the Boca Juniors Museum and Bombonera stadium, or Estadio Alberto J. Armando as it’s officially called, home to Maradona’s Boca Juniors, or to Núñez to visit the River Plate Stadium home of Boca’s arch rivals, River Plate.
5. Witness the rushing water of Iguazú Falls
Argentina’s famed Iguazú Falls, spanning nearly twice the width and height of Niagara Falls, are often considered one of the natural wonders of the world for good reason. On the Argentina side of the falls, Devil’s Throat or “Garganta del Diabo,” accessible via a walkway across Río Iguazú, makes for a thrilling perch right over the water from which to take in the wonder.
6. Trek to the Salinas Grandes (or Salt Flats)
Discover Argentina’s vastly contrasting landscapes at the otherworldly salt flats or Salinas Grandes, a striking white desert located in the far northwest of Argentina. There are a few tours across one of the provinces it spans, Salta, and the surrounding regions, and travelers shouldn’t miss taking the Train in the Clouds or “Tren a las Nubes” for incredible views some 14,000 feet above sea level.