Argentina derives its name from the ancient Greek word ‘argentinos’, which basically means ‘silver’, because of the land’s rich silver resources, discovered by early explorers and settlers. Silver isn’t all that Argentina is famous for though. It’s also the place of its beloved historical 1st lady, Eva Peron, dancing the Tango, beef, wine, leather, the soccer player Diego Maradona, and war criminals on the run.

Argentina’s main native language is Spanish and its currency is the peso. It’s the southern-most country of South America, surrounded by Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Uraguay. Food, music, parties, dancing, art, sports, glorious mountains and majestic glaciers, hectic cities and colourful locals are all part of the ride when you hitch one to Argentina.

Places to see and things to do in Argentina

Buenos Aires

You’ll be setting foot into a frantic city with a fast-paced lifestyle from the moment you set down in Buenos Aires, and you’ll need to keep up to speed if you want to cram everything there is to do in this place on your stay here. The city has a permanently sunny and festival vibe to it, and this will put you in the mood for all the activity.Watch a famous Boca soccer match with the fanatical locals, jumping up and down and singing out catch-cries to the team. Warning:  It gets fiery, but don’t get too distracted or you might lose your wallet. Go to Tierra Santa, the world’s first religious theme park. It’s bizarre and quirky and kitsch and you can witness Christ rising from the dead every half hour, no joke! Take a tour of the dead in the Cementerio de la Recoleta, the burial ground of some of Argentina’s most famous and notorious personalities. For all you art-lovers, you must visit the Malba Colección Costantini, where you can view South America’s most distinguished artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

Keep up your energy for a night on the town here, where you’ll end up partying into the morning. Start out with tasting the best of South America’s food, wine and cocktails at the Gran Bar Danzón, followed by dancing the Tango at the Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso, or burning up on the dance floor with the best local DJs at the trendy Niceto Club. Recover the next day at the historical Café Tortoni with coffee and a traditional Argentinian crispy croissant, or ‘medialuna’.

Cordoba

As the second largest city of Argentina, Cordoba naturally has its own multitude of sites to visit, activities to pursue, and attractions to enjoy. This city is surrounded by deep valleys and rolling hills. It’s also overflowing with scientific institutes, universities, cathedrals, museums and art galleries, provincial and colonial architecture. For the young traveller, it’s also well-known for its wild nightlife.

It’s a good idea to join a Cordoba City Tour for a few dollars to see the best of the sights, as there are so many obscure places with weird names and it gets confusing finding them all and knowing the best ones to see. Once you’ve familiarised yourself with this great place, you can find your own way around in the evening to any one of the cafes or restaurants and mingle with the local university students, before hitting the clubs with them for the night.

Mendoza

Western Argentina’s Mendoza is located in the desert, but is considered the centre of the celebrated Argentinian wine industry. Backpackers from all over the globe who enjoy a tipple will love it here!  The colourful vineyards make for some spectacular scenery, and the best way to see it all is jump on a local winery or brewery tour and enjoy Argentina’s version of the pub crawl. You’ll end up back in town kicking on for the evening with your fellow travellers, so Mendoza is worth an overnight stay.

The Andes

The Andes is the biggest mountain range in the world, and there are plenty of fun activities for the energetic or sporting young traveller, or for those who just want to take relaxing walks, enjoy the scenery, sit in nature for a while and take a breather. Challenge yourself with trekking, mountaineering, fishing, alpine skiing, hiking through the wilderness and enjoying the flora and fauna, or hanging out by the rivers at the base of the ranges for some water sports. The Lake District in the south is the best place to go for all of this, if you want the most authentic and real experience.

Patagonia

This is the meeting place for travellers and backpackers in between all the cities they visit in this large country. It has a bohemian atmosphere, with lots of bars, cafes and restaurants, colourful and provincial architecture blended with modern and stylish buildings, and an eclectic mix of cultures, food, wine, arts, crafts and music. Have a bite to eat, a coffee, wine or beer, and lounge about in the hippy cafes. Shop for silver jewellery, leather, local handicrafts and artworks made by the locals. Make sure you haggle for a good price!

The Iguazu falls

The Iguazu falls were declared a “Natural Heritage to the Humanity” by UNESCO, so their definitely a must see to put on your bucket list. Located in Argentina’s northeast corner, 275 different waterfalls cascade through the Iguazu National Park. The park offers a number of different ways you can experience the falls, catch a forest train, go on jungle jeep safari or strap yourself in to a speed boat and zip through the falls. Many tourists have claimed that the Niagra falls got nothing on the beauty of the Iguazu falls!