Argentina

Leading Hotels of the World Argentina Map

10 Days in Buenos Aires, Bariloche & Mendoza

The eighth-largest country in the world, Argentina comprises incredibly varied terrain, from the lunar landscapes of Patagonia to the soaring Andes. Most travelers kick off in vibrant capital Buenos Aires, full of great hotels, restaurants and charming neighborhoods, before venturing on to the great outdoors, including Bariloche and Mendoza.

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Day 1-4: Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Not unlike its vast interior, Argentina’s capital is a sprawling mosaic. On day one of a visit, a driving tour will help to distinguish its characteristic barrios, highlighting colorful La Boca, nostalgic San Telmo (whose Sunday flea market brings a weekly flurry of antiques and souvenirs to picturesque cobblestone squares), and the glossy new Puerto Madero waterfront, its sleek statement culminating in Santiago Calatrava’s Bridge of the Woman.

Patrician Recoleta and trendy Palermo deserve to be explored on foot. After winding through the Recoleta Cemetery, enjoy a good walk across the Avenidas del Libertador and Figueroa Alcorta, stopping to admire the Floralis Genérica, the monument given to the city by architect Eduardo Catalano in 2002. (Its massive steel petals open every morning at dawn and close again at sunset.) Continue northeast through leafy Palermo Chico to glimpse some of the city’s loveliest mansions; though many have now been converted into foreign embassies, at the turn of the 20th century they were home to Argentine society’s most prominent families. Doma, at the epicenter of Palermo Soho, is filled with shops showing a rainbow of beautifully constructed leather jackets and Humawaca creates unique handbags and briefcases that make wonderful gifts.

If Buenos Aires' ubiquitous heladerías (ice cream parlors) are any indication, ice cream figures as prominently in porteño gastronomy as steak. Any long walk through the city is an excuse to treat oneself to an helado, and given the frequency with which Volta, Freddo, and Persicco present themselves, resisting is nearly impossible. The essential flavor to sample - in all its many variations - is of course, dulce de leche.

Contemporary art aficionados should plan to visit both the MALBA (Buenos Aires Museum of Latin American Art) and the Colección Amalia Fortabat. The latter houses the private collection of an Argentine cement heiress, juxtaposing works by Turner, Klimt, Rodin, an assortment of Argentine masters, and family portraits by Andy Warhol and Antonio Berní.

Opera buffs should attend a performance at the legendary Teatro Colón, whose acoustics are considered to be among the best in the world. The Faena Hotel Buenos Aires is home to Rojo Tango, the most polished and professional of the city’s innumerable tango shows; it books up quickly, so tickets should be purchased well in advance. After admiring the dancers’ moves and taking a lesson or getting some practice at a local milonga, women will want to don the appropriate footwear; exquisite tango-worthy stilettos can be custom ordered at Recoleta-based outfitter Comme Il Faut.

Visitors eager to cover a little extra ground can take a ferry to visit the historic town of Colonia del Sacramento, which lies directly across the Río de la Plata in Uruguay, or spend a few hours learning to play polo at an estancia outside of the city. Of course, anyone favoring a more leisurely afternoon of pastries and idle conversation will be in excellent company in Buenos Aires; afternoon tea is a longstanding Recoleta tradition and a welcome antidote to the standard 10:30 pm dinner reservation.

Though the steaks they serve may appear to be identical, Argentine parrillas tend to have very different personalities. Cabaña Las Lilas is a corporate classic, ideal for an al fresco power lunch (in Buenos Aires, even executives make time for lavish midday meals), while the youthful and vibrant Miranda is perfect for a Friday night. Few parties have influenced the city's culture so profoundly as its Italian immigrant population, so when you've tried every imaginable cut of meat, you'll do well to substitute homemade pasta from Sottovoce. Post-dinner migrations lead to Milión or Thames 878 for artisanal cocktails around midnight, but visitors won’t even begin to feel Argentine until they have seen the sunrise on their walk home.

Day 4-7: Bariloche

Bariloche

San Carlos de Bariloche is an easy two-hour flight from Buenos Aires, but northern Patagonia, with its glassy lakes and reflected peaks offering a panorama of soothing blues and greens, couldn’t feel further away from urban clamor. Mild summers and fairytale winters have made the Argentine Lake District a year-round alpine retreat, beloved by skiers, nature enthusiasts and weary city-dwellers seeking serenity and repose. While there are no obligatory sights to see, there is plenty to do; hiking, fishing, kayaking, mountain biking and horseback riding are just some of the ways visitors can take in the sublime mountainscapes.

An ideal conclusion to any active day outdoors might involve a relaxing massage at the Llao Llao’s spa, renowned for its fabulous treatments, and a lovingly prepared meal at Cassis, a family-owned kitchen serving outstanding Patagonian fare and featuring produce from its own orchard.

Day 7-9: Mendoza

Mendoza

Since the 16th century, the province of Mendoza in western Argentina has been one of the richest wine producing regions in the country, offering ideal conditions of temperature range, soil and altitude to produce high quality wines. Over the years, the area has evolved and expanded, and is today one of the world’s most important producers of fine vintages. With ancient and rich traditions of wine making still present, and the traces of the pioneers who build irrigation systems that turned the barren desert at the foot of the Andes Mountains into premium wine-producing “terroirs”, Mendoza is well worth experiencing.

Among the numerous regions along Mendoza’s Wine Route, the Uco Valley is one of the most celebrated for the quality of its production. Several world-renowned wineries welcome visitors from all over the world, showing the art of wine making and offering extraordinary culinary experiences in the scenic areas at the base of the Silver Cord, as the locals call the snow capped Andes, where the highest peaks in the American continent dominate the landscape.

While February marks the culmination of the wine season, celebrating the harvest with colorful festivals, the rich culture and traditions of the region can be experienced all year round. The rugged beauty of the pristine Andean landscape also attracts nature-loving travelers with abundant opportunities for hiking, trekking, rafting and other outdoor activities.

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