Mendoza is probably my favorite place, apart from Buenos Aires, to visit in Argentina. This is partly because I enjoy a nice glass of wine and partly because the scenery is absolutely beautiful.
Overview: The city of Mendoza is located in the Cuyo region of Argentina, nestled in the foothills of the Andes mountains. The region is known for its vineyards, excellent-quality wine, and adventure sports. The province of Mendoza is also where you will find Mount Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the western hemisphere.
When to Go: Any time of the year is recommendable. The summer time is great for outdoor sports such as river rafting and horseback riding and the winter is ski season. Fall and spring have milder temperatures and are ideal for visiting wineries and strolling around town.
How to Get there: If you are on a budget, it’s a no-brainer to take an overnight bus (micro or omnibus in Argentine Spanish). You can buy your bus tickets at the Retiro station in Buenos Aires or online (I’ll recommend a site at the end). An overnight bus ride will take about 14 hours from Buenos Aires. That might sound like a lot but they’ll show a movie or two, feed you dinner and breakfast and before you know it you awake at your destination. Otherwise, you can fly into the Fransisco Gabrielli – El Plumero, airport.
Recommended Trip Duration: If you’ve got 4 days, you can get a lot done in Mendoza. If you are studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, then escaping for a long weekend would also work. You should plan on saving a whole day to go on a winery tour and at least a half day to dedicate to wandering around the city of Mendoza. Excursions such as river rafting and to the Aconcagua are also highly recommended.
What to See and Do
Wine Tour: An absolute must. Even if you aren’t a big wine drinker, you should still make it out to see some vineyards. They provide a great combination of beautiful scenery and insight into the wine-making process. If you like life on the edge, then go for the wine tour on a bike option. It’s easy to set up a tour once you are in town, directly from your hostel or hotel.
River Rafting and Horseback Riding: These can both be done as half-day excursions, leaving the late afternoon and evening to explore the city of Mendoza. As with the wine tours, you can arrange and reserve your rafting or riding expedition directly from your hostel or hotel.
Mountain Excursion: There are a few different providers that offer day excursions into the Andes. I really like this option because you can arrange a fun day excursion without much thought or effort. In most cases, the van will pick you up at your hotel or hostel and drive you and a group out into the Andes. The excursion includes a view of Aconcagua and a walk through the Puente del Inca (a naturally-formed land bridge over hot springs).
Skiing: For beginner and intermediate skiers or for those without much time, I recommend Penitentes, a ski resort located 180 km from the city of Mendoza. This is accessible on a day trip from Mendoza city or for a couple-night stay. For more serious skiers or for those willing to invest some serious cash, Las Leñas is a must. Las Leñas is located 450 km from the city of Mendoza and is considered one of the most exclusive ski resorts in Argentina.
Hostel Lagares – Good location and friendly staff.
Bikes and Wines – Winery tours on bikes.
Photos by Nick Hadsel-Mares and Katie Dunlop