What can you do in Mendoza, Argentina – a city of 1.2 million people? Plenty as it turns out especially with its premiere location in an area of plains and foothills east of Aconcagua – the highest mountain in South America.
With the Andes as a backdrop and a sunny climate with low rainfall, it’s no wonder Mendoza draws visitors from around the world. They come for the wine and the food but there’s loads of things to do in Mendoza other than drinking spectacular Malbec’s – the signature grape of the area.
Getting to Mendoza, Argentina
Mendoza is accessible by plane, with lots of flights on Aerolínas Argentinas and LATAM airlines. You can also get there via a beautiful and very scenic eight hour bus ride from Santiago, Chile. I highly recommend that experience. In Argentina it’s easy to get around comfortably by bus between cities.
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Go on a wine tour in Mendoza
Mendoza is home to an incredible 1,500 plus wineries accounting for about two thirds of Argentinian wine. If you haven’t researched which winery to visit ahead of time, then have your hotel make recommendations. Or book a GetYourGuide half or full day wine tour.
Don’t try to fit in more than three or four wineries in a day. You’ll start to forget the finer points and they’ll all blend together, just like it does when you’re looking to buy a house.
Wineries run the gamut from small, family run operations where you can see the cement holding tanks they used in the past to sleek modern, all stainless affairs like Bodega Norton. Meals at wineries are notoriously excellent as well but be sure to book in advance.
There’s nothing like having a few exceptional bottles of wine in your Mendoza hotel room over your visit – reason enough to start your stay with a wine tour.
Enjoy a bike ride in Mendoza Argentina
What better way to visit wineries – at least in my opinion than on a bike. You can rent one on your own in some of the mini regions like Maipú or Chacras de Coria or go with a local tour. Maipú is the most popular area for it also offers a wine museum and olive oil tours – another one of the fun ways to explore the area.
Mendoza is surrounded by dry hills and many of them make a perfect hiking destination. Terrain though can be rough underfoot and temperatures can soar. This is country where it’s worth hiring a guide for the local knowledge. Carry lots of water, wherever you go.
Exceptional hiking can be found a few hours’ drive away from Mendoza in the Andes. One option is to head to the beautiful Laguna del Diamanete, located in a moonlike landscape at 10,500 feet.
Not far from downtown Mendoza, you’ll find Chacras de Coria, a leafy, green suburb with slightly cooler temperatures. It’s fast becoming a gastronomic destination. It’s also close to many of the bodegas so it’s a good spot to stay overnight. (See below for my recommendation.)
On foot, it’s an easy and colourful area to explore but watch the broken down sidewalks that will trip you up if you don’t pay attention. When it comes to dinner, don’t do what we did and show up at 8:30 PM. Nothing happens until 9 PM but the food in this area is worth the wait.
Go horseback riding
There are lots of choices when it comes to horseback riding in Mendoza. Tour a winery on horseback, ride for a half day to a day in the nearby hills or head off into the Andes for an overnight adventure.
Hotels are great at helping you set up any of these tours. If you head for the nearby hills, you’ll get a scenic overview of the area, but it gets hot on a horse.
Visit Puente del Inca
The Puente del Inca is a natural bridge that crosses the Vacas River. It can be visited as part of a day trip to see Aconcagua though be prepared. It’s at an altitude of 2720 m (8924 feet) above sea level so some people may feel some shortness of breath.
We spent four nights in total in Mendoza. In hindsight, I wish I’d had another day to take the tour to Aconcagua and stop in to see Puente del Inca. I think the rest of my group would have been fine hanging out by the pool but I get restless.
From personal experience I’d recommend Casa Glebiniaswith its beautiful pool and lovely grounds shown below. The owners were very helpful in making recommendations and organizing things to do in Mendoza for us.