Some tourists think of Argentina as only Buenos Aires, the massive and legendary capital, with its tango and street cafes, but they are missing out, because there is much more to this huge country. Many visitors also come for the vast and beautiful expanses of Patagonia or the green tropical majesty of Iguazu falls, but Argentina has even more than that. Here are five metropolises in Argentina besides Buenos Aires, each distinct, beautiful, and only a short flight or long bus ride away from Buenos Aires:
If you buy a bottle of wine in Argentina, and hopefully you will buy many, it will likely say Mendoza somewhere on the label. This city of nearly a million inhabitants has grown along with the famous Malbec grape vines that surround it. Though at the edge of the Andes, near Mt. Aconcagua, the tallest peak outside of the Himalayas, Mendoza is only about 2000 feet above sea level. At a similar latitude to Buenos Aires, the climate is temperate, though snow capped mountains tower overhead.
The city dates to 1561 and played an important role in the Argentine Revolution, which is commemorated in elaborate monuments such as the Monument to the Army of the Andes, a series of statues of cavalry and winged warriors in the Park of General San Martin. Day trips can take you on horseback jaunts across ranches or into the mountains. At night you can enjoy wine tasting until your lips are purple. Buses from B.A. take about 13 hours and flights are two hours or less.
Cordoba is the second largest city in Argentina, with over 1.3 million residents. Founded in 1573, the history of the city is rich, a fact reflected in architecture ranging from colonial style to art deco and modern high-rises. The Jesuit Block, or La Manzana Jesuitica, is one of the most important historical attractions. The buildings there date back to the late 1500s, built by Jesuits who were later expelled. The oldest university in Argentina, the University of Cordoba, was built on these grounds. Other old Jesuit residences, the Estancias of Cordoba, can be found throughout the city.
The winters in Cordoba are mild and dry, the summers are warm and humid during the day, but cool at night, and the rest of the year is nearly perfect, with temperatures hovering around 70 degrees. The city is spread over a huge tract of land, bigger in area than the much more populated Buenos Aires, leaving abundant room for greens spaces, including more than one hundred parks and plazas. It’s a ten-hour bus ride from B.A., or about an hour by plane.
Rosario is midway between Buenos Aires and Cordoba. It has more than one million people, but the main attractions can easily be seen by walking. The city is built along the wide Parana River. The river is so wide it seems almost like a lake, the opposite shore distant and covered with trees. There are small beaches along the river, seafood restaurants, fish stands with an array of filets straight from the water, and of course there are endless steak houses, because that’s one thing that never changes in Argentina.
The center of town, which is just off the river, also has museums, theaters, dining, plazas, parks, statues and cathedrals such as the Our Lady of Rosario Basilica. If you have any revolutionary leanings, you can visit the house that Che Guevara was born in. If looking for foreign romance, rosarinos are rumored to be among the most beautiful people in the country.
Mar de Plata
Mar de Plata, Spanish for ‘sea of silver,’ is a city on the Atlantic coast, just a few hours by bus or train from Buenos Aires. It’s flooded with porteños (the people from the capital) during the summer, especially January. With Riviera style hotels along the water and a wild night life, it’s the most popular getaway for locals in Argentina, but Mar de Plata is more than just a beach town, as the city has more than half a million residents, with a thriving art and music scene. Visit in November or March if you want space to throw a frisbee, but still be warm enough to lie in the sun.
Salta is in northern Argentina, in a province that borders Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile. The people have more indigenous heritage than many of the other more European populations of Argentina. Located just east of the Andes, this city has an altitude of about 3500 feet above sea level. The terrain is dry and rocky, similar to the southwest of the U.S. Summer days are hot and winter nights are cold, otherwise the weather is ideal.
With a population of more than 500,000, Salta is the biggest city in the region. Many Argentines who don’t want to go to the more expensive and touristic sites in the country come here for vacations to enjoy the gorgeous hiking spots that surround the city, as well as the dancing, painting, soccer stadiums and cinemas in town. The empanadas are among the best in the world, and you can also experiment with local dishes such as locro, a squash-based stew flavored with various cuts of beef, tripe and other animal parts you may not want to think about. Salta is the starting point of the Train to the Clouds, which reaches elevations of almost 13,000 feet. Flights from B.A. to Salta take less than two hours.
Plan Your Trip
Even if you have only a short vacation and want to see Buenos Aires, there is still time to visit at least one of these other great Argentine metropolises.