Argentina

BARILOCHE

Where to Stay

Unquestionably, Hostel El Gaucho – warm, welcoming, clean, the hosts (the inimitable Hube and Ingrid) extremely helpful and very knowledgeable about the area, about Patagonia and about South America in general. Tell them I sent you!

http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/argentina/bariloche/16312/reviews/

If  El Gaucho is full, Hostel Gente del Sur is very cheap, friendly and is in a good location for catching local buses to the bus station.

http://www.gentedelsurhostel.com.ar/

Where to eat

Boliche de Alberto – a great local restaurant, specialising in steak, welcoming ambience, always crowded and buzzing. Several locations in town.

http://www.elbolichedealberto.com/

Dos Zapatos – good Mexican food

Cafe Cerro Campanario – the cafe at the top of the walk/lift combines the world’s best chocolate cake with some of the world’s best views. What’s not to like?

Where to drink and party

The most widely-cited place is Wilknenny’s Irish bar, which can be OK, and is open late, but much cooler is Dusk, with lush red velvet curtains as you enter, two bars running down either side of a capacious central area under a massive glitter ball, and DJs until late. San Martin 490

http://www.facebook.com/people/Dusk-Bariloche/100000128102673

Antares is a low-key bar-restaurant with locally-brewed beers. Definitely worth a visit.

http://www.glamout.com/Antares-la-cerveza-que-se-hizo-bar.html&txtBuscador=WINE

What to do

Walk and cycle. If you want to bike around the Circuito Chico (which despite being ‘small’, is actually quite tough if you’re not an experienced biker) rent bikes from Bikes Cordillera – get the bus there. There are lots of hikes in the area. I’d recommend the walk up to Refugio Frey. I wouldn’t bother with Cerro Otto (you can go there on a tourist cable car).

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUENOS AIRES

Places to stay:

Hotel Gurda Tango A small, chic boutique hotel in San Telmo

http://gurdahotel.com/

http://www.booking.com/hotel/ar/gurda.en.html

Hostel America del Sur A new, friendly hostel in San Telmo

http://www.americahostel.com.ar/home_bsas_english.html

Casa Barbara A B&B style private house in Palermo. Recommended. Great breakfasts and friendly, knowledgeable hosts.

Places to eat:

La Cabrera Popular restaurant (mainly steak but a wide-ish menu) in Palermo. Always a queue so make reservations or stand outside and be served fizz and canapes while you wait.

http://www.parrillalacabrera.com.ar/

Senor Telmo Defensa 756 Great pizza place in San Telmo – thin and crispy base in a city where pizza mainly=stodgy bread base

Chez Atmospheric bistrot in San Telmo, Defensa 1000

Cafe San Juan Definitely not a cafe: a good local restaurant that serves good fish and shellfish (as well as the usual steaks etc), Ave San Juan 450 in San Telmo

Places to drink (coffee or alcohol) and hang out

Bar Millon, Parana 1048 A cool bar in which to see and be seen. Bar and restaurant (though I haven´t tried the food).

Cafe Origen Humberto Primo 599 Laid back coffee shop away from the main drags of San Telmo.  Does organic food.

Cafe Poesia Chile 502 A cafe bar with a literary tradition. Old-fashioned and atmospheric (though the coffee is awful – stick to wine!)

Clasica y Moderna Callao 892. Old style cafe. Peaceful by day, live music at night.

Culture
La Catedral.  Sarmiento 4006. Described as án underground tango club´. My favourite place to hang out on a Tuesday night, from 11pm onwards.

Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso Authentic tango tunes with live bands and singers. Also does tango classes …

http://www.torquatotasso.com.ar/

Thelonius Club A very cool jazz bar in Palermo. Live music

http://www.thelonious.com.ar/
 Centro Cultural Jorge Borges Check website for events. A more grounded alternative to the tourist tango shows (which I can´t judge because I never saw one) http://www.ccborges.org.ar/

If you get chance to see La Bomba de Tiempo, go! I saw them at Cd Cultural Konex and they were great – uplifting beat, lots of drums, happy sounds.

http://exposebuenosaires.com/la-bomba-del-tiempo/

 

EL CALAFATE

What to do

Base camp for trips to the Glacier Perito Moreno – not to be missed. Do a boat trip to get up close to the glacier snout too if you can. There are trips that take in other glaciers as well; I didn’t see these but I don’t think you can beat Perito Moreno.

Where to stay

Hostel America del Sur – branch of the one in Buenos Aires. Lovely big communal spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows so you can appeciate the views. Lots of information on trips and transport, lively staff, good value bbq dinners including wine. Recommended, despite slightly far-out location on v dusty path.

http://www.americahostel.com.ar/home_calafate_english.html

Where to eat and drink

The Borges y Alvarez Libro Bar is cool – lots of books, good bar, live music when I was there. Good place to relax.

There’s a good late night bar on the hill above the bus station, but I can’t remember its name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EL CHALTEN

Where to stay

Albegue Patagonia is highly recommended. Book ahead if you can.

Where to eat

The tiny microbrewery Cerveceria Artesanal is cosy and super popular: the food looked good though I never managed to get a table to eat there.

La Fuegia restaurant is OK and does local specialities. La Senyera is plain and simple, nice. And check out the pancake house!

http://www.elchalten.com/cerveceria/indexen.php

http://www.elchalten.com/patagonia/indexen.php

What to do

Lots of great walking straight out of the village in the Fitzroy area; spectacular views if the weather is clear. Laguna Capri is very pretty. I also did an ice trekking day which was great fun – several agents in town. I was recommended Montagnes Patagonia but ended up with something like Patagonia Guides – in the wooden chalet next to Hostel Patagonia. We had the excellent Lorena as our guide. You get to trek across the actual glaciers wearing crampons, cross rivers upside down on ropes (can’t remember the technical term for this!) and even scale ice walls with ropes and ice axes. Challenging but immensely satisfying. if you’re even remotely tempted, go for it!

 

IGUAZU

Where to stay

Hostel Inn Iguazu has a lovely pool (very welcome in the sticky jungle heat) and pool bar and the staff are extremely helpful. Discounts with Hostelling Iternational cards. It does have some slightly tacky evening entertainments and is outside town so it´s hard to get away and do your own thing, for a quieter stay I´ve heard the Marco Polo Inn opposite the bus station in Iguazu recommended.

http://www.hostel-inn.com/

What to see

Obviously the fabulous Falls. If you want to see the Brazilian side, you’ll need almost a full day (the hostel runs a mini bus that leaves around 10am and returns around 4), or be prepared to pay for a private taxi (about 150 pesos). You can take cheap public transport but you’ll need more time for this: I tried to do it on the same day my late afternoon flight left and couldn’t, so plan ahead if you want to see both sides. Apparently the Brazilian side offers big picture panoramas, the Argentinian side lets you get more up close and personal. Speaking of which, it´s well worth taking the boat that gets you right up to/into the falls. I’ve heard the eco tour isn’t worth it. And by the same token, I didn’t rate the jungle walking trail either – at least not when it’s raining. I didn’t see any wildlife to speak of (much better on the standard trails) and I got bitten to pieces by insects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MENDOZA

Where to stay

Hostel Independencia. Several people raved about this place to me. It has a terrific location just off the main square and is cheap and cheerful but it´s a bit grubby round the edges. Decent breakfast.

http://www.hostelindependencia.com.ar/

Where to eat

Decimo Good food, lovely wines, superb views. 10th floor of an innocuous looking office building. Persevere, it is there!

http://www.mendoza.com/foods/decimo-resto-bar

La Quinta Norte On main square. Cheap breakfast deals, reasonably priced lunches and dinners, good people watching.

El Grido ice cream parlour. The residents of Mendoza seem to be as keen on ice cream as they are on wine: the city id packed with heladerias (ice cream parlours). Often big queues on the street outside this one – great ice cream, very cheap. The place on the corner opposite is more expensive but in my opinion better. Both places have great dulce de leche flavours.

Calle Sarmiento has loads of cafes with outdoor seating and good value set lunches. Eat your fill of steak and drink your fill of Malbec!

What to do

Drink wine! This is the main wine growing region of Argentina and lots of wineries do short tours and tastings. The fun way to do it (though it can be very hot in summer) is to hire a bike and cycle round a few. Mr Hugo´s is unanimously recommended: he is quite a character, but there are others as well. All close on Sundays and the bigger ones close at midday on Saturday (or earlier – I missed Trapiche because although the final tour is officially 12.30 they finished at 11.30). The small Familia Tommaso was my favourite. Also does food. The Museo del Vino in town is also worth a visit and there is a small olive oil/chocolate/liqueur place about 500m further on that is very nice. They ply you with flavoured dips, oils, spreads, chocolates and liqueurs, just to mix with the wine!

 

PUERTO MADRYN

Where to stay

Hostel Sentir Patagonia – a good, standard hostel, super friendly, free pick up from bus station on request.

http://www.sentir-patagonia.com.ar/

Hospedaje Verona – exceptionally good value, rooms with private bath around a courtyard for less than hostel prices. Good breakfast. Doesn’t have a typical hostel culture, but would recommend it.

http://www.patagonia.com.ar/hoteles/1798+Verona.html

Where to eat

Taska Beltza, 9 de Julio 461/5, Lovely Basque food, friendly service. Not cheap but good value.

Vernadino – beach restaurant. Good salads, but disappointingly no fish on the menu when I was there.

Mr Jones – a buzzy atmosphere with international style food.

Things to do 

The  whale watching is phenomenal. Make sure it´s whale season before you go: after mid-December they migrate south to feed. If you have a car or have the time to wait for the infrequent bus services, the sunset trip (followed by wine tasting!) sounds great. I didn´t get to do it but really wanted to. For organized tours, including the sunset trip, I’d recommend Agencia Bottazzi, they have great guides and an office in the bus station, as well as one on the sea front. I did the penguin tour with them (it´s possible to do this in a half day from Trelew, but you need to be able to book it during the week ad if you want to stay in Trelew or Gaiman, I´d advise booking in advance, as when I was there all accommodation was fully booked and I had to go back to Puerto Madryn. To be honest, the Welsh teas in Gaiman were nothing special and there´s really nothing else to see except a very small museum. Perfectly skippable.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

SALTA

Where to stay

I’d warmly recommend Hostel Salta por Siempre at Tucuman 464. Friendly, nice outdoor patio, very reasonable price. If you arrive at the bus station without a booking and they approach you with a flier you even get a free taxi to the hostel. Downside is bathroom facilities are limited for shared rooms.

www.saltaporsiempre.com.ar/

Where to eat and drink

Pena Pachamama on Balcarce 935 is an excellent night out. Good quality food, very well priced and good live entertainment. The night we were there all the other tourists were from Argentina so it felt quite authentic.

http://www.facebook.com/…/Salta…/PenaPachamama/224772195429

La Posta is OK, not great.

El Grido ice cream parlour, as in Mendoza (see above), on main square.

The plaza has lots of good places, both modern and traditional. For modern, try New Time Cafe on the corner, with good people watching tables on the square (and thanks Lois for remembering the name!). Make sure you try the empanadas, which Saltenos are very proud of.

What to do

Lots of day trips to traditional villages and landscapes in the area. They can be very long and exhausting. I went to one that took in the villages of Purmamaca (great for buying artesanias) and Hurmamaca, as well as the Cerro de 7 Colores (7-coloured rock) and the impressive cactus and ruins-studded hillside of Tilcara. But it also included lesser villages and also a totally unnecessary ‘city tour’ of Jujuy (which is very dull: don´t bother with it). So I think a nicer way to see some of the region would be to hire a car.

Salta itself is beautiful. Lots of colonial buildings, illuminated at night (I didn´t actually manage to see the town in daylight!).

 

SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES

Where to stay

Hostel El Puma – very reasonably priced, dorms with private bathrooms, nice staff, croissants for breakfast.

http://www.pumahostel.com.ar/

Where to eat

Piscis was recommended to me by 2 Argentinian tourists. Try the trout ravioli – yummy!

http://www.patagoniapiscis.com.ar/

 

USHUAIA

Where to stay

Hostels Yakush and Antarctica are both popular, friendly and fine. I’d say Antarctica has the edge because it’s better run and the bathrooms are cleaner. The only thing is to get to the upstairs dorms you have to go along an outside corridor which could be pretty cold in the winter. Very friendly and helpful though, would definitely recommend it. Also does laundry at a reasonable (for Ushuaia, which is expensive for pretty much everything) price.

http://www.hostelyakush.com.ar/

http://www.antarcticahostel.com/

Where to eat and drink

Tante Sara (various locations) does great salads, lunches and cakes. For pasta, try 137 at 137 San Martin. And the Dublin is a reliable late night bar with decent and reasonably priced food. Lots of pricy restaurants, from all reports the quality is variable. King crab is expensive and may not be sustainably fished.

El Mustachio does decent Argentinian food. Old-style Ramos Generales in an old grocery store on the seasfront is nice. And don’t miss the chocolate cafes: Laguna Negra and Ushuaia Chocolate, both on the main drag, are good for a chocolatey treat.

http://www.tantesara.com/

http://www.dublinushuaia.com/

http://www.ramosgeneralesushuaia.com/

http://www.lagunanegra.com.ar/

What to do

Go to Antarctica! Summer only, season runs for I think around November to March. Without hesitation I´d recommend Ushuaia Turismo, a specialist agency with knowledgeable, professional and super friendly staff. Tell Daniel and Daniela I sent you! Gob. Paz 865 Tel: 43-6003 / 6005

Lots of agencies in town offer a range of excursions. I did a 4WD trip through Nunatak that was OK (interesting visit to beaver colonies, fun drive through forest and nice asado (BBQ) but the kayaking part, one of the main reasons I’d booked it, never materialized and I don’t think these trips are great value for money.

Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. Nice, worth seeing, but expensive mini buses to get there and you also have to pay a hefty park entry fee. I thought the coast walk was the best.

Glacier Martial is OK. Nice tea shops at the cable car base.

The most enjoyable walk I did was to Cerro del Medio. Great views, a lovely laguna and glacier and very quiet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VILLA ANGOSTURA

Don’t miss going to El Bosque de Chocolate. Delicious hand made chocolates at very reasonable prices (sold by weight – a bit like pick ‘n mix!) and they’re very generous with their free samples. Their ice cream looks delicious too. Ave Arrayanes 218

I’d give the Bosque de Arrayanes hike via the expensively-priced boat a miss, it wasn’t that exciting (especially with a hangover!).

 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “Argentina

  1. Thanks for writing this! We loved Buenos Aires. Iguazu is a truly amazing place. And we would love to go further South as you did!

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