Is Mendoza Worth Visiting? 8 Great Reasons to Visit Mendoza
Mendoza is well worth a visit for several reasons:
- It’s Argentina’s top wine producing region and you’ll find some of the best vineyards in the world here
- It’s the closest city to Aconcagua National Park where you will find the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere
- It’s a lively city with great weather year round
1. The Wine Bike Route
Mendoza is Argentina’s number one wine producing region with over 1,200 wineries and vineyards in the surrounding area. Visitors can tour the wineries, taste wines, and learn about the wine-making process from some of the best winemakers in the world.
The region is particularly known for its Malbec wine, which is considered to be some of the best in the world. This isn’t just a place to visit for high end travel though and backpackers and Argentinians on summer holidays flock to the region too.
One of the best activities in Mendoza is the ‘wine bike route’. On the outskirts of Mendoza city centre, you will find several of the best wineries all along the same road. Here you can find bike rental shops offering to rent cheap bikes and provide a map to the best wineries.
Maipu Bikes is one of the best.
This is such an enjoyable day, riding in between the different vineyards surrounded by lush green fields and mountain views in the distance. All the wineries allow you to visit and enjoy a tasting from somewhere between 200-500 pesos. Sitting in the gardens or atop the balconies of each bodega and enjoy a selection of wine tastings in the sun is the perfect way to spend a day in Mendoza.
One of the best bodegas is Trapiche, where you can sit out on the balcony and look out over the vineyard whilst getting sloshed.
Once you done three or four tastings you can head back to Maipu bikes to drop off your bike. They have a small outside bar and everyone ends back here at the end of the day to drop off their bikes and enjoy some final drinks.
2. Trekking In Aconcagua Provincial Park
Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere. Visiting this national park is a must if you are a lover of epic scenery and hiking.
The mountain is a few hours drive outside of Mendoza in the Andes mountain range and its summit stands at 22,841 feet (6,959 meters) above sea level. It is a popular destination for hikers from around the world, and is often considered to be one of the Seven Summits (the highest peaks on each of the seven continents).
Most backpackers won’t be looking to summit the actual mountain though as it take up to 20 days, but trekking in the park is still a great experience that will provide beautiful views of the Andes.
How To Get To Aconcagua Provincial Park
You have a couple of options such as renting a car or taking a bus but I would personally recommended a full day tour due the long journey.
Many tour companies in Mendoza offer guided tours to the park, which includes transportation and a guide. This is a good option if you want to have a more comfortable and organized trip without too much trekking, and for $42 it’s a reasonable price.
- Get Your Guide: From Mendoza: High Andes Aconcagua Mountain Tour – $42
Or, if you would prefer to make the trek to Confluencia base camp (20km round trip and a 5-6 hour trek in the park), then try this:
- Get Your Guide: Mendoza: Mt. Aconcagua Confluencia Camp Trekking
Alternatively, you could stay overnight in a town closer to the mountain such as Uspallata. This town is an hour drive away so you could stay there for one or two nights and saves you having to make the long drive all the way back to Mendoza in one day.
3. Explore The City On A Free Walking Tour
Using a free walking tour is a great way to see the city. Mendoza is home to many parks and plazas that are perfect for relaxing in, enjoying the beautiful weather and people watching.
You always get the best insights from local on one of these tours too, and will leave with lots of great recommendations for bars and restaurants.
I used Vivimza. They offer tours Monday to Sunday at 11:00AM and Monday to Saturday 3:00PM. You can book through their website.
If you prefer to do your own thing then here are a couple of places to check out:
- Start at the Plaza Independencia, the main square of Mendoza City. This is a great spot to get your bearings and take in the sights and sounds of the city. The square is surrounded by historic buildings and monuments, including the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Mercedes and the Governor’s Palace.
- Next, head to the Parque San Martín, a beautiful park located just a short walk from the Plaza Independencia. The park is home to a number of statues and monuments, including a statue of General San Martín, the liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru.
- Other places to check out include the Mendoza Museum of Modern Art which offers a great collection of contemporary art from Argentina and other countries, the Mendoza Wine Museum to learn about the history of wine production in Mendoza.
4. Enjoy Steak, Wine And Empanadas
Mendoza is known for its excellent cuisine, with a variety of restaurants and cafes offering traditional Argentine dishes such as asado (barbecue) and empanadas.
But Mendoza is probably best known for its excellent beef and there are many great steak houses in the city. Some of the best can be found along Av. Sarmiento, close to Plaza Independencia. Most restaurants have outside seating, and you can sit on the pavement and enjoy your food in the sun.
Some of my favourites include:
- La Lucia: A classic steakhouse, this restaurant is known for its hearty portions of beef and friendly atmosphere.
- Estancia La Florencia: This steakhouse is known for its excellent cuts of beef and cozy atmosphere. They also offer a wide variety of traditional Argentine dishes and a great selection of Argentine wines.
Ask the waiters for their recommendations on the best cuts and wine pairings and you will also get another chance to sample some of the best wines from around Mendoza.
5. Start A Night Out With An Authentic Asado
Mendoza is a popular destination for international backpackers but also for Argentinians and many flock to Mendoza in the summer months to enjoy the laid-back vibe and escape the big cities.
The nightlife in Mendoza is lively and Calle Arístides Villanueva is the best place to start, a single long road with many bars and clubs offering live music and entertainment.
However, one of the best ways to have a great night out in my opinion is to stay at one of the many backpacker hostels and experience an authentic asado (Argentinian barbeque).
When I stayed in Mendoza, I spent a week at Gorilla Hostel. They host weekly a weekly asado (barbeque) and the whole hostel will be sat around the tables in the garden enjoying barbequed meat whilst they socialise.
Grilling is about community and sharing the evening with friends in the backyard, and a good drink is fundamental to loosen everyone up. Beer and cocktails are OK, but wine takes the grilling experience to another level. Wine isn’t considered a fancy drink in Argentina and the hostel staff will be getting involved and regularly bring round a jug of wine to refill your cup whilst you snack away on the freshly grilled meat.
Before long everyone will be nice and tipsy and eventually head out into town for a night out together.
Stay at Gorillas if you are looking to make new friends and enjoy an authentic Argentinian night out.
Gorilla Hostel is one of my favourite backpacker hostels in South America, one for the all round social vibe it creates, and two, because it is also a great party hostel. For a full list of the best backpacker hostels in South America, head to the post below:
6. Head To Lake Potrerillos For Watersports
Lake Potrerillos is a man-made lake on the outskirts of Mendoza and a popular spot for outdoor adventure activities.
Boating and water sports are the most popular, with options such as paddle boats, canoes, and jet skis available for rent. There are also boat tours available that take visitors around the lake to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
One of the best activities is white water rafting and there are options for Grade III and IV rapids. Check out this tour if you are interested:
- Get Your Guide: 12km Rafting Tour – $36
Whitewater rafting isn’t the only option though and you can also go fishing, hiking, horseback riding and ziplining. Check out Potrerillos Explorer for more tour options.
Also, it’s a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Andes. There are some accommodation options around the lake such as cabins and camping areas where you can stay and enjoy the lake if you want to stay a day or two.
7. Easy Access To Chile
One of the next logical stops after Mendoza is crossing the border into Chile. Santiago is a 5-hour drive away through the Andes mountains.
Firstly, this is a beautiful journey. You will wind your way through the Andes with high altitude lakes and snow-capped mountains all around.
Once in Santiago, you can take a quick detour to the coast to Vina del Mar or spend some time in the capital before heading south to Patagonia. Many backpackers cross the border here and then head down to Chilean Patagonia before crossing the border back into Argentina.
Check out this expertly planned itinerary to see how to combine Argentina and Chile into an extended South America trip:
8. Start An Epic Road Trip
Argentina is the perfect place to plan an epic road trip.
Route 40 is a legendary highway that runs through the heart of Argentina, stretching over 4,200 km from the northernmost point on the Bolivian border to the southernmost point of the country in Tierra del Fuego (the closest southerly point to Antarctica).
The route passes straight through Mendoza and will take you through some of the most spectacular landscapes in Argentina.
If you rent a car in Mendoza and start heading north along route 40 you will reach the middle of the country, you can follow the ‘wine route’ through towns like Cafayate and Salta to enjoy the more of the wine regions in the country.
Or if you decide to head south, you will eventually reach the lake district of Patagonia and you can visit the beautiful town of Bariloche before carrying on down to El Chatlen and El Calafate.
Whilst in Argentina I rented a car with Hertz for a week and used this to explore along Route 40.
If you are interested in the northern part of this road trip, head to the post below to see how to make your way north from Mendoza:
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