The university city of Córdoba is perfect for the young, and the young at heart. With a pumping nightlife and endless cultural offerings, the city does not disappoint with its dearth of activities. There are also lots of affordable hostels and Airbnbs, and once you’ve had your fill of the city, hop on a bus that will bring you out into the countryside where you can see the incredible natural landscapes that are just a short ride away. There are lots of campsites perfect for backpackers, and if you can manage to find people to split a car rental with, the territory is premium road-tripping terrain.
A haven for lovers of the outdoors, this tiny mountain town is built for backpackers. A wealth of hostels provide ample accommodation, and all have their own cooking facilities so you can save on the pennies instead of eating out at one of the more expensive restaurants. Be warned that wifi is not ubiquitous, but the staff in the hostels and tourist information center should be able to tell you everything you need to know. This small Patagonian enclave also has a few hopping bars to hit up at night and mingle with other travelers that are staying in the town.
Bariloche in the lake district is one of the best places to be a backpacker. Haunt of the young and adventurous, there is lots to explore around this Patagonian paradise, and you are sure to meet lots of other like-minded folk who want to hit the hiking trails and lie on the beaches that border the lakes. It is easy to get around and there are plenty of tours on offer if you don’t fancy going it alone, and they are a great way to meet people who you will no doubt bump into again on other legs of your trip.
Salta and Jujuy
The northern provinces of Salta and Jujuy may not have the happening nightlife of Córdoba or Buenos Aires, but what they lack in hedonism they make up for in amazing scenery and an indigenous culture that cannot be found in the rest of Argentina. Salta and Jujuy are great places to stop on the way north to Bolivia, and you will get a flavor of the diversity that pervades this area before you cross the border. Be sure to check out Cafayate and sample some of Argentina’s famous white wine, Torrontes.
This regional hub is the jumping off point for Glaciers National Park, home to the famous Perito Moreno glacier, as well as El Chalten and other lesser visited parts of southern Patagonia. There are plenty of cheap hostels to stay in and lots of bars where you can hang out with other travelers, and many backpackers hit the highway out of town in the morning to hitch a lift to the glacier and save on the bus fare. Get there early, as most of the workers enter the national park before 10am, and it takes about an hour to get there.
OK, so not in Argentina, but no list of the best backpacking spots would be complete without mentioning Argentina’s neighbour across the Rio de la Plata, Uruguay. Uruguay is the summer escape of many Argentines, and Punta del Este is the Miami of the Southern Cone. However, if you’re a backpacker, you might want to head up the coast a bit to Manantiales, a chill spot with great surf and a laid-back vibe, or further along towards the natural reserve of Cabo Polonio or Punta del Diablo, where there is a great, seasonal hostel culture and hoards of interesting travelers to get to know.
Mendoza might be known for its wine, but it’s also a great place to go backpacking. Apart from the vineyards, the city and region in the foothills of the Andes has plenty of adventure and extreme sports, from rock climbing to whitewater rafting and mountain biking, and there are cheaper ways to see the vineyards, like renting your own bike and doing sample tastings instead of paying for a tour of the bodegas.