Argentina’s wine capital
Mendoza is a modern Argentine city with a colonial charm, most of which is laid out around a set of five plazas, each with its own personality. The quiet daytime streets belie the certainty that you’ll eat dinner past your normal bedtime, but not to worry, a few hours in the afternoon are reserved for a long lunch or snack. Sandwiched between the Andes (including mighty Mount Aconcagua, the tallest mountain on the continent at 6962 meters), and the wide open pampa, Mendoza is also an access point to two main wine valleys, Valle de Uco and Lujan de Cuyo. Some of the nation’s best restaurants are close by as well, so you’ll be eating some of the world’s finest steak paired with just the right Malbec in no time.
STROLLING WALKS AND STUNNING VISTAS
Mendoza’s on central and four smaller plazas give locals and visitors plenty of places to sit in the shade and drink yerba mate, if you’re so inclined. The vast Parque General San Martín is great for a bike ride, a long walk or a picnic. It’s also the site of much of the city’s vendimia (wine harvest) celebrations, if you’re here in February or March. And won’t forgive yourself if you don’t try some of the local gelato-style ice cream, which Argentines eat in any weather.
Luckily for visitors, the climate and terroir conditions close to Mendoza make it fabulous for not only grapes, but also olives. These are two elements integral to nearly every meal, with antipasti-style appetizers, and olive oil gracing many menus. One of the most notable restaurants near Mendoza is 1884, where Argentine chef Francis Mallman (of Chef’s Table fame) cooks his rustic Argentine food with a nod to both gaucho (Argentine cowboy) and European influences that have made it what it is today.
Mendoza attracts visitors from all over the world for this “Argentine Napa” (or is Napa the Californian Mendoza?). Two wine valleys close by are the Valle de Uco and Lujan de Cuyo, with some 400,000 acres of vineyards making some of the world’s best wine. The standout has traditionally been wine from Argentina’s signature grape, Malbec, but you’ll have to choose your favorite (maybe relative newcomer Bonarda?). Argentine wine tourism spans from garage-style to world famous labels you’ll know from home.
When to Go
October through April are considered the best months for visiting Mendoza. Spring (October/November) and our particular favorite, fall (March/April) are warm (around 70° F) and bursting with fall colors.
How to Arrive
Flight time from Buenos Aires: 1 hr 55 mins
Flight time from Santiago: 1 hr
Driving from Santiago: 5 hrs 20 mins*
*Border crossing and winter road conditions often make this drive much longer.
Good to know
Language: Spanish Currency: Argentine Peso (ARS) Visas/fees: Travel to Argentina does not require a visa for US/US/EU/CAN/AUS travelers. AUS citizens must pay a reciprocity fee.
What to do in Mendoza
Ready to go? Here’s what to pack
If you’re looking for a dose of sunshine, Mendoza is your answer. For the most part, be prepared to slow down and relax in the scenic vineyards and stroll the city streets. You can also pack more active gear if hiking or climbing are of interest to you.
- Closed-toed, comfortable walking shoes
- Small backpacks or cross-bodied bags
- Heavier coat and boots for winter travel
- Sunblock and sun protection (summer sun is strong)
- Camera equipment
- Apropriate clothes for hiking, cycling or climbing
Travel tunes: Playlists for Argentina
Where to stay: Overnight Recommendations
Cavas Wine Lodge
Casa de Uco
Tips from our Team
Travel through vineyards by bike!
If you’re up for a more active trip, try including nearby Aconcagua in your travels.
Enjoying the Malbec is a given, but don’t forget to also dabble in the region’s olive oil!