Mendoza is one of the world’s premier wine regions, and many visitors to Argentina will flock to this region at the foothills of the Andes to sample the famous Malbec that is produced here. From tiny boutique bodegas to large-scale wineries, Mendoza will knock your socks off in the wine department, at a fraction of the price you’d pay for a bottle of wine outside of this area.
Locals love a good road trip, and a popular route is from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. Driving across the country, you will see how the pampa stretches out to infinity, and you will get a taste of this as you drive from Mendoza city out towards the Uco Valley. Agricultural flatlands go on for miles, and then the Andes come into view to blow your mind.
One of the world’s most famous mountain ranges separates Argentina from Chile, and acts as a backdrop to the entire region of Mendoza. Locals use the Andes to orientate themselves, and for visitors, it is surely an impressive sight the first time you catch a glimpse of this imposing collection of peaks.
The highest peak in South America is located in Mendoza. Mount Aconcagua is one of the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each of the seven continents on earth. It is famous because of its easy slopes, making it the perfect place for novice climbers to learn the ropes. There are also some more challenging ascents, so if you are a thrill-seeker, Mount Aconcagua will surely satisfy your thirst for adventure.
Because of Mendoza’s location at the base of the Andes, there are plenty of hiking trails and longer treks to indulge in. In the Potrerillos district, you can find numerous marked paths so you can take yourself on an independent exploration of the area without the need for a guide. There are also lots of spots near El Challao, including Cerro Arco and Cerro Aspero.
A trip down the Mendoza river is a great way to spend a day in the region. It’s a perfect activity for families, friends or couples, and you will feel a great rush of adrenaline as you navigate the rapids on a white-water rafting tour in Mendoza. It is also the perfect way to work up an appetite before you treat yourself to a giant meal at the end of the day, Argentine-style.
One of the best activities to engage in in Mendoza is taking a day-long horseback ride through the Andes. There are lots of tour companies organising this outing, or you can ask in your hotel for a private tour if you don’t want to go with a group. You will be taken into the mountains where you will meet a local gaucho, who will lead you deeper into the Andes before cooking you a traditional asado (barbecue) while you watch the sunset.
If you are planning on going to Mendoza, plan to eat well. It is almost impossible to escape a food coma in the region, considering how long, languid and plentiful the meals are. Lunch, in particular, often takes the form of an indulgent tasting menu, and some of the most popular spots are El Enemigo and Bodega la Azul, small wineries and restaurants that will fill you to the brim with delicious food and wine.
No trip to Mendoza would be complete without touring the wineries, and one of the best ways to do this is on a bike. You can rent bikes in lots of places in Mendoza, whether you are in the city or out in the valley. Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu are the best circuits to bike around, as they are more contained, and if you want to explore the wineries in the Uco Valley, it is best to organise a driver for the afternoon to take you around the area.
Mendoza city is full of beautifully landscaped parks, and it is lovely to spend a sunny day wandering around them. Again, renting bikes is a great way to get around the city and see the parks, so why not buy some fiambres, or cold cuts, for a picnic in the park, and grab a tasty bottle of wine from one of the many wine shops in the city to wash it down with.
Mendoza, more than anything, is a lot of fun. Biking around the vineyards, getting tours around wineries and speaking to the owners of boutique bodegas and having them passionately explain their product to you before you taste it, feasting on a five-course lunch overlooking a vineyard with the Andes in the background – what’s not to love about that?