From arctic climes to the tropics, Argentina offers staggering vistas, culture and a World Cup winning soccer team

Story by Jeffrey Willis • Photos by Juan Iucciolino

Argentina didn’t need a World Cup victory to put it back on the international radar, but it sure didn’t hurt.

While the country’s pride and passion were on full display for the world to see, this was just the tip of the iceberg (literally, but we will get to that a bit later) for this culture-rich, panoramic nation.

And let’s just get something out of the way up front. Argentina is big; it’s the eighth largest country in the world. Being able to travel from tropical to Arctic climates all within the same country is amazing but takes planning, especially if you are packing it all into two weeks.

Travel Girl Tip: Assuming you are planning to visit multiple locations, use an Argentine-based travel agent to arrange your full itinerary and for better rates.

Something in the “Good Airs”
There is definitely something in the air of Buenos Aires. The capital city is the starting point for any trip in Argentina. While often called the Paris of the South, it has a style that is very much its own.

Buenos Aires is divided into 48 different neighborhoods or barrios with each offering something unique. Recoleta is one of our favorite neighborhoods to stay. Upscale and with many of the top attractions, it is also easy to navigate to other sections of the city.

If there is one attraction you must visit in Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery would be it. While mesmerizing, eerie and important (you can cry for Evita here), you also might spot some neighborhood kids playing hide and seek.

A few other areas to make sure you explore are:
• San Telmo: This historic neighborhood feels as if it is the cultural heartbeat of the city.
• Palermo: Hip and trendy, you will not run out of options to explore.
• La Boca: Keep to the touristy area, which is instantly recognizable with the colorful painted houses.
• San Nicolas: The world’s widest avenue is lined with can’t miss shops, theaters, Argentine-style pizzerias and the famous Obelisco or obelisk.

Travel Girl Tip: With Buenos Aires as your main travel hub, find a hotel that will hold a bag for you between stays. Also check carry-on bag size restrictions for domestic flights within Argentina. Sizes are typically smaller than that allowed in the U.S.

The Sheer Magnitude
As we flew north from Buenos Aires, nothing could prepare us for the experience of Iguazu Falls. To be honest, when we were told we would need two days to take in the falls, we weren’t convinced. Wrong!

Iguazu Falls is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and is the largest waterfall system in the world. Straddling the Argentina-Brazil boarder, Iguazu Falls is made up of roughly 275 different falls.

There are several ways to experience the falls with each capturing more of its full wonder. Hiking the different paths and bridges around the falls offered access to all the breathtaking vistas. Next, we got a bird’s eye view from a helicopter ride over the falls. This was truly the only way to take in the full expanse. And finally, after a short 4×4 ride through the jungle, we hopped aboard a speed boat to the center of it all.

Wine-ing Down
After the adventure of Iguazu Falls, we needed a counterbalance. Our next stop was Mendoza, home of the Malbec, a red intense wine.

Mendoza itself is a lively city with celebrated plazas marking different neighborhoods. It’s easy to enjoy al fresco dining alongside historic architecture and renowned Argentine leather shops.

But the biggest draw for most tourists is the abundant wineries. Located at the foothills of the Andes, the highaltitude region produces world-class wines alongside worldclass views.

Panoramic Patagonia
After leaving Mendoza, we were back in Buenos Aires to change out bags for the second part of our Argentina adventure and an Arctic blast. And a blast it was!

From Buenos Aires we flew into El Calafate, a charming city dotting the steppe-like plains of Patagonia. Located along the southern border of Lake Argentino, even landing at the airport we were gobsmacked by the beauty outside our window.

Calafate itself often felt more like a quaint artisan village than the self-sufficient city it is. While here, make sure to pick up some homemade jelly made from the berry for which the city got its name. The berry, by the way, looks like a blueberry but tastes more like a black currant. And while Argentina is known for its beef, once in the south, lamb becomes the focus for both the fiber arts (such as weaving and knitting) and restaurants.

The most important attraction in this area is Los Glaciares National Park and the Perito Moreno Glacier. Located about 50 miles from Calafate, this is one of the largest and most accessible glaciers in the world — as well as one of only a few glaciers not shrinking. After viewing it from the surrounding platforms, make sure to take a boat ride to get a closer look at the vivid blue hues.

End of the World
From El Calafate, we headed further south, and based on the name of every tourist attraction, we arrived at the “end of the world.” As one of five internationally recognized Antarctic gateway cities, Ushuia is a hub for tourists and adventure seekers.

Tierra del Fuego National Park is just outside of Ushuia and can be reached by vehicle or (of course) by the “Train of the End of the World”. The stunning subantarctic landscape is also where the Pan-American Highway originates. An excursion to Isla Martillo for an encounter with Magellanic, Gentoo, and even King penguins was a true highlight. As a working nature reserve, make a reservation for this guided tour because the number of visitors allowed on the island is limited.

A Natural Wonder
From the end of the world back to the real world, we flew from Ushuia to Buenos Aires for one final weekend and one final toast of Malbec to a country that truly seems to have it all.

And what’s nice is that the Argentines recognize this. From the city to the tropics to the Arctic, the common thread that you will encounter in Argentina is that they want you to love it as much as they do. That pride, that passion, that welcoming spirit, it can often get lost in our world today. Not in Argentina.

But then again you already saw that on full display after the World Cup win. Yet, we can vouch that it is even better in person.; Viajemos Turismo

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