Places in Argentina

Deciding what regions, cities and attractions to visit whilst travelling in Argentina will be hard as it offers such diverse geography: snow, desert, lakes and an endless coastline. Whatever you do, allow more time than you think you'll need. Unless you have unlimited time and money, you probably have to accept from the start that you can't see it all. Distances are huge, and it's time consuming to get around. There are daily flights to all the major destinations but most go via Buenos Aires, so travelling between the north and the south, for example, will take a full day out of your itinerary. Although there are few trains in Argentina, there is an efficient and extensive network of long-distance buses, which even offer complimentary hot meals. So rather than just ticking places off your list on a relentless itinerary, allow at least couple of days free in each place if you can, and don't try to do too much. It's much more satisfying to explore one area in real depth than to dart about all over the country in one week.

Buenos Aires is a great first port of call, whether you want to see the football, try tango or shop till you drop. Chic Palermo Viejo is the place for cool restaurants and new design, San Telmo with its cobbled streets is one of the oldest neighbourhoods, and the delta river system just north of the city is a calm retreat of houses on stilts. From there you can head south to the wilds of Patagonia. Whether escaping like Butch and Sundance, or seeking freedom like the Welsh pioneers, you'll find a liberating expanse of nothing. Head east to Puerto Madryn for amazing marine life or travel the solitary Ruta 40 in Ernesto 'Che' Guevara's tyre tracks. From windy El Calafate, cross an iceberg-strewn lake for breathtaking views of the southern ice field, and later attempt an ice trek on Glacier Perito Moreno. Further south, Tierra del Fuego offers the ultimate wilderness and, as you take a boat trip along the Beagle Channel, you'll feel like a true explorer. From there you can follow the Argentine Andes northwards as they stretch along a wonderland of snow-capped mountains, dotted with lakes and lagoons of all shades of blue.

Start at picturesque Bariloche: chalet-style hotels, chocolate shops and a backdrop of peaks, where you could hike for a week without getting bored. A little way along the Seven Lakes Drive, is the upmarket San Martín de los Andes or smaller Villa La Angostura. Hide out in an
to ride the wild lands, or go whitewater rafting into Chile. Discover quiet Villa Pehuenia, set amidst forests of silent monkey puzzle trees, or fish for giant trout at Junín de los Andes. Head south to laid-back El Bolsón for superb hiking along crystalline rivers, catch the Old Patagonian Express into the hills, or hike into the pristine forests of Los Alerces. The northwest is another Argentina, of rich indigenous culture and ancient civilizations, with ruined cities at Quilmes, Las Pailas, El Shinkal and Tastil. Explore the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a vast red gorge dotted with quaint oasis villages near the border with Bolivia, or the timeless Valles Calchaquíes, where high-altitude wine is grown in dramatic rugged landscapes. Colourful Salta's colonial splendour contrasts perfectly with the culture of the
, where Pachamama festivities are a glimpse of another time. Admire the colonial churches and Jesuit missions of Córdoba or, for wine lovers, Mendoza has superb bodegas stretching out to a backdrop of the Andes,
and excellent hiking for serious mountaineers.
Finally the lush northwest, which boasts the country's star attraction: Iguazú Falls. Constant and stunning, the falls should not be missed. Heading south, explore the Jesuit mission ruins hidden by the thick jungle, or relax in a lodge in the Esteros del Iberá wetlands, a paradise for birds.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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