The aptly named land of sun and wine, you can’t really go wrong with Argentina’s wine capital. Producing the large majority of Argentina’s wine, Mendoza is a region characterized by its vineyards. There are vines as far as the eye can see and one of the best pastimes here is taking it slow and enjoying a big glass of wine, or three.
The city centre has a very small town feel to it with just 8 blocks by 8 blocks that really count as the ‘centre’, however what makes Mendoza the fourth biggest city in Argentina is the wide spread of suburbia all around the city. As a tourist though you aren’t very likely to wander more than a few blocks out of the centre, unless you are heading out to the vineyards or mountains.
Mendoza is known as the greenest city of Argentina and the logic behind that reputation is simple – it has a lot of trees. What you might not realize on first glance though is that almost none of them are native. Mendoza was flattened in the 1861 earthquake and when French architect, Carlos Thays (who also designed most of BA’s parks) redesigned the city, he built into it wide, tree-lined avenues and a massive park (Parque San Martin) that makes Mendoza the emerald city of Argentina.
In the city there isn’t a huge amount to do, it is the sort of place that you will most enjoy by taking in the sunshine (no less than 330 days a year), indulging in some day time drinking and letting the world slowly pass by…
What to do & Activities in Mendoza
Giddy up cowboy!
As a seriously agricultural spot, you’ll find your fair share of gauchos in Mendoza and where there are gauchos, there are horses. Head down to the Uco Valley to get on some trusty criollo steads and set out into the stunning Andes mountains.
Recommended: Visit the breathtaking Estancia La Alejandra with Cordon del Plata (261) 423 7423.
White water baby
Mendoza may be a desert but there is a bit of water to keep the adrenaline flowing, and the water is so cold that it will take your breath away if for some reason the class IV and V rapids don’t. The rapids for rafting, kayaking or riverboarding (basically bodyboarding though the rapids) are located in Potrerillos about 1.5 hours from the city.
Get high on Aconcagua
One of the coolest attractions in Mendoza by far is Mount Aconcagua at a stomach turning 6.960 meters above sea level. We are coming to the end of the season for attempting to summit, but you can still do some awesome climbs and struts around the park where, on a good day, you can see the peak from the park entrance on the side of the road.
Recommended: If you are planning to get in shape for a summit attempt next year, contact Inka Expedciones. But if you want a good hike, climb or walk any time of the year and in any of the surrounding mountain ranges try Andes Vertical. You can also venture up into the Andes without doing any leg work with a chauffeured day tour from Mendoza and a decent wine lunch involved with Trout and Wine.
Relax to the max
Some of us have the philosophy that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it; and if it is sore, soak it. To ease any aching bones, the most therapeutic way to unwind and enjoy the gorgeous scenery is by taking a long soak in the natural springs in Cacheuta. Cleverly designed stone pools channel the different temperature waters of the springs ranging from the rather damn hot, to the pretty darn cold. Take your pick, but make sure to slather yourself with mud and dry off in the sun a couple times in between.
Recommended: For the full termas experience book into the Hotel and Spa for the day, for a more economic choice – and child friendly – try the water park Termas Cacheuta. Or if nature isn’t your thing but spas are, go for full-on modern spa glory with Entre Cielos Hammam & Spa which is all inside and based closer to the city in Vistalba.
Fly like a bird
Like the condor swoops Mendoza’s skies, so do some paragliders. A large hill a couple kms from Mendoza – Cerro Arco – is the perfect launch spot to do paragliding over the city and swooping over the foothills of the Andes. Everyday (weather permitting) there are a few companies of professional instructors that will happily launch you off the hillside and into the clear blue skies for beautiful bird’s view experience.
Recommended: Acro Fly have trained flyers and include a pretty cool 4×4 journey up the hillside.
Mendoza is just over 1000kms west of Buenos Aires and you can reach it by bus (from Retiro, 12 hours, $600pesos) or by plane (daily flights from Aeroparque, 1hr, starting at $150USD return). The bus station is about a 25 minute walk from the city centre through some less desirable streets however it is generally safe, a taxi would only cost the equivalent of $5USD though. The airport is a 20 minute taxi ride from the city centre, equivalent to $10USD, and is located in the world’s only airport vineyard!