Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina, is situated in the scenic foothills of the Andes. In 2009, National Geographic named Mendoza one of the top 50 places to visit in the world. Even for non-oenophiles, it’s a convenient base for exploring the province’s rugged countryside.
1. Experience Life Off-Road. Mendoza has been the heart of Argentina’s Dakar Raid road race for the past two years and is the perfect place for off-road 4×4 lovers. Rent a truck or quad to cross the desert valleys to feel an been the heart of Argentina’s Dakar Raid road race for the past two years and is the perfect place for off-road 4×4 lovers. Rent a truck or quad to cross the desert valleys to feel an intense adrenaline rush.
2. Visit the Vendimia Harvest Festival. The festival, which takes place the first week of March, is the country’s premier wine-tasting event. Once you’ve satisfied your thirst, be sure to take in the parades and shows—and fireworks on the first night.
3. Walk the City. Mendoza’s plazas and parks will reward even the casual stroller. Founded in 1561 in an arid desert setting, the city now has stunning centennial trees best observed in Parque General San Martín. Also noteworthy: the traditional acequias—canals that carry Andean spring water throughout the city.
4. Tour the Valle de Uco. Taste Argentina’s grape varietals while visiting the nearby vineyards and sample the local favorite, Malbec. Stop by the Tunuyan-based Salentein Bodegas winery’s museum and restaurant, an hour’s drive from the city.
5. Hike the Andes. Drive one hour west of the city to Potrerillos or Uspallata, and take a day-long hike up the mountains. Rent a kayak and descend via the Mendoza River. On the way down, stop in Cacheuta for a soak in the natural thermal springs.
6. Conquer Aconcagua. Climb the highest mountain in the Americas, Aconcagua (from Quechua, Ackon Cahuak, or “stone sentinel”). Thousands of climbers from around the world strive to reach its 6,959-meter (22,830-foot) peak.
7. Ski Las Leñas. Take the four-hour drive to Malargue and visit the Las Leñas valley ski resort—one of the most important resorts in South America.
8. Go Birdwatching. Southern Mendoza province has unique fauna and flora. Don’t miss the chance to visit lagoons like Laguna de Llancanelo – a birdwatcher’s paradise.
9. Dine at Azafrán. With an imaginative and eclectic menu of locally sourced cheeses and smoked meats and a well-stocked wine cellar, Azafran, located at Sarmiento 765, provides one of Mendoza’s most delightful and charming culinary experiences.
10. Enjoy the nightlife. Spend a night at the bars and clubs on Avenida Aristides Villanueva. Make new friends over sandwiches at Palenque (Aristides Villanuieva 287).