Backpacking is one of the best ways to see and experience a new place, as it offers travelers a great opportunity to explore off-the-beaten-path gems and meet new people. While there are many reasons to go backpacking, those who choose to do so are often yearn to experience life like the locals. Whether you’re a novice or veteran backpacker, Argentina a fantastic country to tour. When organizing your backpacking travels, planning in advance is highly encouraged. So take note, as here are the best places for backpackers to visit in this beloved South American country!
Where to go Backpacking in Argentina:
1. Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and the gateway to any Argentine adventure. The city is known as ‘The Paris of South America’ and with good reason. The architecture is Buenos Aires is second-to-none in Latin America. The city feels European while at the same time, the people are open and friendly in the typical Latin manner. Buenos Aires is a transportation hub so from there you can get to any other part of Argentina. But don’t treat it as a bus station. Buenos Aires has plenty to see, but be sure to pay a visit to the Boca neighborhood.
2. Puerto Iguazu
The Iguazu falls are without a doubt the most beautiful natural wonder bestowed upon the people of Argentina. To give you an idea of how impressive the Iguazu Falls really are, Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have exclaimed “Poor Niagara!” upon seeing them. The town of Puerto Iguazu is just a few miles from the falls and is geared towards visitors to the falls. The falls are split between Argentina and Brazil so you might see them on a Brazilian list later on. If you do one thing on your Argentina vacation, it should be visiting Iguazu.
3. San Carlos de Bariloche
San Carlos de Bariloche (or just Bariloche for locals) is a top vacation spot for foreign and local tourism. The town is renowned for its outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, hiking and paragliding. Bariloche is most famous for its skiing and snowboarding. While Bariloche is fun throughout the year, I recommend going during the Argentinian winter from May to September. This spot is great for backpackers because they can spend the day outdoors, which is basically free and they can also get their adrenaline pumping which young people love to do.
Mendozinos are different from the rest of Argentinians in their manner of speaking and general lifestyle. The best way to enjoy Mendoza is with a wine glass. The city is known for its wines and offers vineyard tours and wine tastings. Since backpackers can’t always afford to be fancy wine drinkers, there are cheap options as well. Mendoza is a great place to do outdoor activities such as hiking and rafting. If you’re fit and you have courage, use Mendoza as the starting point for a climb up Mount Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. March is the best time to visit Mendoza as they are harvesting their grapes and celebrating with a festival on the first weekend of that month.
5. El Calafate
The next two places on our list are cold. The main attractions of El Calafate are the glaciers in the surrounding country. The most famous one is called Perito Moreno and it is constantly pushing forward. If you have never seen a glacier I heavily recommend it because it stimulates all five senses as once. The moving ice groans as it is pushed forward, watching ice break from the glacier is visually striking, the cold air on your skin and the unique smell that I cannot describe. I know what you’re thinking: I’m missing one of the senses, so make sure to bring an alfajor. I recommend going during the spring, but I would stay away from this cold place in the winter.
Ushuaia is the southernmost human settlement in this side of the world. The town is just a short distance from Antarctica and large boats make the trip from Ushuaia to the frozen continent. That being said, those trips are usually not within the budget of most backpackers. Much like El Calafate, in Ushuaia the main thing to do is enjoy the natural beauty of the region. This is the perfect place to go see wild penguins and sea mammals. Ushuaia is cool, but the main attraction that it offers is being able to say that you stood at the edge of the civilized world. I would avoid going to Ushuaia outside of summer. If it’s next to Antarctica, it’s cold. But hey, it’s still possible if winter is your preferred time to visit.
Nowadays Rosario is best known throughout the world as the hometown of Lionel Messi, and if you are extremely lucky, you might run into him since he visits the city during the summers. As the the third largest city in Argentina, Rosario offers more than soccer super-star sightings. There are many outdoor activities to enjoy in Rosario. This is a good place to learn to dance tango and immerse yourself in authentic Argentinian culture. I recommend sitting by the Parana River (which feeds the Iguazu Falls by the way) and grabbing a bite or a glass of Argentinian wine. Rosario is a great alternative to Buenos Aires, though you should visit both.
Just like my friend from Mendoza, the people from Cordoba have a unique accent and culture. Cordoba is Argentina’s second largest city and a trip there is a trip to the city. There are many churches and museums to see around the city and an energetic backpacker should find no trouble walking around the city from site to site. Cordoba is nice, but does not compare to Buenos Aires and it does not offer the plethora of outdoor activities that Rosario does, so I would personally limit my time there. It is definitely worth a visit though. Especially if you are in Argentina in the winter, since most of the places on this list get very cold during that time of the year.
Accommodation for Your Backpacking Adventure:
In case you’re wondering, backpackers traveling through urban areas don’t sleep in tents (at least not usually). Vacation rentals are a great accommodation option for backpackers since there are often budget-friendly properties scattered for rent in many different neighborhoods, not just in the city center where hotels are often concentrated.
*When planning a trip to Argentina please remember that the seasons are inverted (December is in the summer and July in the winter)
This article was written by Amid Bennaim.
Image credit: Aneta Ivanova