Mendoza is one of the best cities to visit in Argentina. There are so many fun things to do in Mendoza. You’ll find opportunities for refined cultural experiences and rugged adventures in nature.
Although wine is a big part of your Mendoza experience, Mendoza is not all about the wine. There are plenty of other exciting things to do year-round! Check out the best 10 Mendoza activities for the whole family.
This is a guest post by Valentina from Valentina’s Destinations. Learn more about Valentina by reading her bio here.
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10 Incredible Things To Do In Mendoza – Argentina
Why you must visit Mendoza in Argentina
Mendoza is the capital of the region of Mendoza in Argentina. The city is located at roughly the same latitude as Buenos Aires but it is located on the other side of the country. Located at the opposite side of the Andes mountain range, Santiago, the capital of Chile is closer than Buenos Aires.
Mendoza is a great stop-over when you’re roadtrippin’ from Buenos Aires along Ruta 7 to Santiago in Chile. Especially when you love wine. Or adventure. Or all of the above combined. Mendoza has a lot of things to do and fun activities to offer for the whole family. What are Mendoza’s top things to do? Keep reading to find out!
What Mendoza is famous for…?
Mendoza is one of the esteemed wine regions of the world, and it’s one of the most important viticultural regions in Argentina. Many tourists flock from all over the world to taste locally grown Malbec wines.
Within Mendoza, there are actually several wine regions. The most famous of which include Lujan de Cuyo, the Uco Valley, and Meipu. You can find wineries around Mendoza as close to 20-minutes driving from downtown. Or you’ll need to drive anywhere as far as 2 hours from downtown. Find your perfect place to stay in Mendoza.
It’s important to note that the Mendoza province is a large area that is not well connected with public transit. For the most seamless experience, renting a car is recommended. Find the best car rental rates from Mendoza airport here.
Besides wine tourism, Mendoza is an excellent destination for thrill-seekers, nature-lovers, and budget travelers. With the backdrop of the majestic Andes Mountain range and a dry desert climate, Mendoza is an awesome place to visit year-round.
The Andes Mountains offer plenty of opportunities for hiking and horseback riding. Regional lakes, hot springs, and rivers allow for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and relaxing.
10 Best things to do in Mendoza
Here are my favorite experiences during our time in Mendoza Argentina. Within this list, you’ll find the most thrilling adventures, the most delicious bites, and the best culturally significant relevant experiences. This way, you won’t be bored when visiting Mendoza and get an idea of possible things to do in Mendoza.
1. Must-do in Mendoza: Go wine tasting!
Wine tasting is at the top of our list! That’s because Mendoza is most famous for its world-renowned Malbec wines. Mendoza is an excellent place to grow grapes for wine, and a great majority of all Argentinian wine comes from the Mendoza-region.
Mendoza is a pristine wine region because of its high elevation, dry climate, and mineral rich soil. As you embark on tours and tastings, you’ll be swept away by the glorious panoramic views of the Andes Mountains.
Explore the different Mendoza wine-regions
If you don’t have as much time to explore the whole province, check out Maipu. Maipu is conveniently located close to downtown. It has a small-town vibe with rustic, family-owned, small-scale wineries. The best thing to do in Maipu is to rent a bike and ride from one winery to the next.
Another awesome wine region is Lujan de Cuyo. This is where you’ll find glamorous boutique hotels and modern, large-scale, wine producers. There are also many award-winning restaurants in this area. Consider visiting Melipal Winery, Andes Terraces, or Bodega Vistalba.
The Uco Valley is Mendoza’s most esteemed wine region. It’s the most remote location, but it’s also the most beautiful. These are high altitude wines of exceptional quality. It’s also where you’ll find the luxurious Vines Hotel and Resort. If you visit, be sure to check out Salentein Winery, and La Azul Winery.
Mendoza Wine Tours
PLANNING TIPS: Wineries are usually open mid-morning to late afternoon. Typically, there’s a tasting at 10-ish, 12-ish, and 1-ish. You’ll be able to see 3 wineries in a day if you’d like. However, be sure to make reservations in advance. If you are having trouble contacting the winery, ask your local hotel to help.
Of course, if you don’t feel like planning, or driving, or biking while drinking and enjoying Mendoza wine-country, a tour of several wineries is an excellent option for you. As the top thing to do in Mendoza is wine tasting, wine-tours are abundant. Find the best wine tour for your budget and needs here. Or check out a few of the options below:
Mendoza Adventure Activities
Besides wine, Mendoza is a great place if you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie and love adventure. Being so close to the Andes Mountains, it offers a whole range of activities that gets the adrenaline pumping. Don’t drink and drive or set out on any major epic adventures in nature when drunk!
2. Visit Mount Aconcagua
Mount Aconcagua is a popular hiking and climbing destination in Argentina, and it’s the tallest peak in South America. You can get to Mount Aconcagua in about 3-hours driving from Mendoza. The road is narrow, winding through the Andes, but it’s easy enough to follow.
Mount Aconcagua is considered one of the ‘Seven Summits,’ the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. Climbing the Seven Summits is a legendary mountaineering challenge. Although, you don’t need to be an expert to visit Mount Aconcagua. There are short and easy walking trails that are just as beautiful.
Hiking to Confluencia- Mount Aconcagua’s Base Camp
Confluencia is Mount Aconcagua’s Base Camp. Hiking there is one of the most popular adventures. It is possible to hike to Confluencia and back in one day. The trek is approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles) and takes most people about 4-6 hours to complete. Along the route, you’ll gain 1,440 feet (440 meters) in elevation.
In order to do the hike, you’ll need to remember to bring your passports as well as enough water and plenty of sunscreens. For most of the trail, you will be at the mercy of the sun. Although hiking to Confluencia is grueling, it’s also a very rewarding experience. It’s one of the largest base camps on earth.
You can hike to Confluencia independently, but if you’re backpacking around Argentina solo, or just want some company, you can book a group tour with transport included. Check out rates and options here.
3. Go Whitewater Rafting near Mendoza
The Mendoza River is formed by meltwater from the surrounding mountains, including Mount Aconcagua. The river serves as an important irrigation source for Maipu and Lujan de Cuyo vineyards (almost 20% of the vineyards in Mendoza).
The Mendoza River is an awesome place to experience whitewater rafting. Along the river, there are level III-IV rapids. One of the most popular tours is named after the Potrerillos Valley which the river flows through.
During the experience, you’ll get to see the Portrerillos Dam and Reservoir. Summertime is the most exciting time to experience the rapids as snowmelt leads to high flow, and sedimentary changes contribute to holes and waves.
Potrerillos Explorer is located about 45minutes from Lujan de Cuyo. You can drive there yourself, or book a tour that includes transportation. You can also choose from whitewater rafting alone, or a combo adventure tour. Other activities offered on the property include kayaking, ziplining, fly fishing, or horseback riding.
4. Go horseback riding
Another fun adventure to have in Mendoza is horseback riding. Horseback riding is a culturally relevant experience that gives you a taste of the gaucho lifestyle. Gaucho means cowboy or skilled horseman.
Gauchos were icons in folklore and literature. During the 18th and 19th centuries, these cowboys roamed the great plains of Argentina and made their living raising horses and cattle.
There are many wineries in Argentina that offer horseback riding excursions. Usually, horseback riding is combined with a wine tasting experience. In Lujan de Cuyo, you can horseback ride at Bodega Norton, Cavas Wine Lodge, or Nieto Senetiner. In the Uco Valley, you can enjoy horseback riding at Giiminez Riili or Diam Andes.
For the best tour where you can go horseback riding, and get a good taste of the gaucho lifestyle, check out this tour.
Must-Do Mendoza: Eat & Drink!
If you’re not really an adrenaline junkie, you still have plenty of reasons to come to Mendoza. The city and the surrounding area not only offer the best wines. Where there is wine, there is also amazing food to accompany the wine too! Check out these Mendoza activities that involve food and wine.
5. Have a gastronomic experience
Mendoza is foodie heaven. The plentiful assortment of wineries has created a fine-dining culture unlike any other. In Mendoza, a lunch experience may take as long as 4 hours. You’ll be given several courses of food and wine with plenty of time for relaxed discussion.
Due to Argentina’s immigrant history, the Argentine diet has had many Spanish and Italian influences. One of the main cooking techniques is parilla or barbeque. This is one of the popular methods for cooking meats. Meat dishes are usually staples, although more and more establishments are starting to offer vegetarian and vegan options.
Dessert’s best friend is dulce de leche – you’ll see it in flan, pastries, cookies, and cakes. Caramel is the flavor of South America, especially Argentina.
One of the most popular places to have a traditional gastronomic experience is Ruca Malen. This is one of the most celebrated, award-winning, wineries in Lujan de Cuyo. Stop by for a winery tour first, then sit down for a tapas meal in the garden with a wine pairing.
Another wonderful place to have a gastronomic experience is Cavas Wine Lodge. This luxury hotel features an ultra-glamorous property, and they pride themselves on unparalleled service. Have dinner here and you’ll enjoy live piano music with your meal.
6. Take a cooking class
The best way to experience food is to learn how to make it yourself. This is an experience that you’ll never forget! Many wineries in Mendoza offer personal or group cooking classes.
One of the top-rated cooking classes is held at Andeluna Winery in the Uco Valley. Andeluna is a family-owned winery in a stunning location at the foothills of the Andes. The views from Andeluna will take your breath away!
During the cooking class at Andeluna, you’ll learn how to make focaccia, empanadas, and flan. Your cooking class experience includes lunch with wine pairing during which you’ll be able to taste the food you made. If you take the cooking class with a friend or partner, you’ll also get to enjoy some health competition — who can make the better empanadas?
Andeluna’s winery restaurant uses locally sourced, in-season, ingredients that bring Agentian’s flavors and history to life. You will enjoy a 6-course menu paired with the finest high-altitude wines. Curious? Check out the tours and options here.
If you don’t have time to visit the Uco Valley, Cavas Wine Lodge also offers an excellent cooking class experience. Cavas Wine Lodge is located in Lujan de Cuyo.
Around Mendoza: more things to do
If you had enough of all the drinking and eating, or just killing time until your next winery tour, then Mendoza has a lot more to offer. Dive into the cultural history of the region and explore more of Mendoza city.
7. Visit downtown Mendoza
If you stay in the countryside, you’ll miss all the culture and history of downtown Mendoza. Mendoza city has a fun care-free vibe. It’s refreshingly less intense than Buenos Aires. There are plenty of cute shops, restaurants, and activities to enjoy.
One way to experience downtown Mendoza is through a walking tour. There is a free walking tour run by Vivi MZA that runs daily at 11 AM from Plazoleta Pellegrini. Walking tours are great ways to meet locals, other travelers, and experience city life in an authentic way. This particular walking tour lasts 3 hours and includes two tour guides (one who speaks fluent English and one who speaks fluent Spanish).
Wander around on your own in Mendoza
If you aren’t seeking an organized tour, you may instead consider visiting some cool places on your own. One hotspot is the Terraza Jardin Mirador. The Terraza Jardin Mirador is a civic building with a phenomenal rooftop terrace. The rooftop offers breathtaking views of the urban sprawl and surrounding mountain-scape. Be sure to arrive during the afternoon, as this place closes at 6:00 PM. Also, it is not open during weekends.
Another panoramic viewpoint in Mendoza is Cerro de la Gloria or ‘Glory Hill.’ It is a memorial to the Army of the Andes which were a military force that helped fight for Argentina’s independence from Spain in the early 19th Century. From Glory Hill, you can enjoy sweeping views of Mendoza. It’s a beautiful spot to have a picnic lunch.
If you are visiting Mendoza in the evening, but sure to have dinner at Azafran Restaurant. The food is delicious, service is impeccable, and the South American wine list will definitely impress.
8. Relax at the Termas Cacheuta
Mendoza is a great place to enjoy rugged adventures, but the city also offers opportunities for tranquility and relaxation. The best place to go for a unique spa experience is Termas Cacheuta. Located 30-45 minutes from Lujan de Cuyo, this hot springs spa & resort offers a wonderful experience.
You’ll find natural thermal pools ranging from 30-42 degrees Celsius (86- 107.6°F). There are a plentiful array of pools to explore, so you’ll be sure to find privacy if desired. At Termas Cacheuta, you can also enjoy a wet sauna or dry sauna. There are cold springs and a natural solarium.
Plus, there’s a thermal mud bath station where you can slather your body with warm and rejuvenating mud. Let it dry before washing it off for maximal benefits. Book your tickets and spa treatment in advance here.
9. Visit Villavicencio Natural Reserve (or Reserva Natural Villavicencio)
The Villavicencio Natural Reserve is an awesome place near Mendoza to experience eco-tourism. This is a privately owned nature reserve with the mission of nature conservation and the promotion of cultural heritage.
At the reserve, you must visit Hotel Villavicencio. It’s a National Historic Monument having first opened its doors in 1940. The other relevant historic site is the Cross of Paramillos. From here, you will enjoy (arguably) the best views of Mount Aconcagua. The cross has Jesuit connections and ties to the mining in this area.
There are also many awesome hiking trails at the reserve. The top-rated trail is Caracoles. El Balcon Viewpoint is another unique attraction at the Reserva Natural Villavicencio. It is a 100-meter deep geological depression made from hundreds of thousands of years of water and wind erosion.
Reserva Natural Villavicencio is an excellent place to bird watch, or you may sign up for a 4×4 off-roading adventure. For more tours and excursions at Villavicencio Natural Reserve, check out these options.
10. National Museum of Wine and Vintage
The National Museum of Wine and Vintage is located in the Maipu province. In Spanish it is called Museo Nacional Del Vino y la Vendimia (in case you need to ask for directions). It’s a great place to stop if you are already visiting Maipu for a winery tour.
The museum itself is housed in an architecturally magnificent building. It was the 19th-century home of one of Argentina’s earliest and most successful wine entrepreneurs. Within the museum, you’ll walk through the history of wine practices in Mendoza. And learn about some of Mendoza’s most famous wine dynasties. There are interesting and informative exhibits as well as wine-related art installations.
You may also take a tour of the museum in Spanish or English.
What to do in Mendoza?
As you can see, Mendoza has plenty of different options for activities and tours to explore this area of Argentina. Even if you don’t like wine, there are plenty of fun things to keep you busy in the area. To drink in all that Mendoza has to offer, I recommend at least 3 full days. But allocate more days if you like to take extended hikes. Or go on multi-day hiking or wine-tours.
Have you been to Mendoza? Or is it on your travel wish-list? Make sure to include Mendoza on your Argentina itinerary. Because the region is very diverse and offers a range of exciting activities. Which one would be on the top of your bucket list? Let me know in the comment section below!
This is a guest post by Valentina from Valentina’s Destinations
Valentina has always been obsessed with researching, organizing, and planning her vacations. She knows that many people don’t have the time and energy to do this. But they still want to get the most out of their travels. Valentina’s Destinations allows her to help other busy professionals maximize their experiences. Valentina is originally from Serbia, but she grew up in Chicago. She loves hunting down local restaurants, unique experiences, and hidden gems. Follow Valentina on Instagram and Facebook too!