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Mendoza is one of those places that you just can’t help but think about from time to time after visiting. It is absolutely beautiful and the most popular wine region in all of Argentina, which says a lot for a country that loves its wine!
Around 70% of Argentina’s wine comes from around here, and trust me, a wine tour in Mendoza is easily one of the best things to do in Argentina! But this isn’t just a city for wine lovers, it’s also the capital of the Mendoza province and jam-packed with things to see and do.
Not only is Mendoza one of the stunning places to visit in Argentina and a hub for wine lovers, but it’s also a frequent stopover for adventure travelers. Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, is close by and makes a stunning backdrop for the area.
Whether you’re here for the wine (yes please!), the views, looking for a fun activity to try, or want to know where the best brunch in the city is, you’re in the right place.
With so many activities to do in Mendoza, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. That’s where I come in!
To help you narrow down what you’d like to experience while you’re here, these are the 20 best things to do in Mendoza. Trying even just a few things on this list will help you get a taste of what this city has to offer.
- About Mendoza, Argentina
- The BEST Things to do in Mendoza
- 1. Go on a wine tour
- 2. Enjoy lunch and a private wine tasting
- 3. Cacheuta Hot Springs
- 4. Visit the Museo Nacional del Vino
- 5. Drink craft beer
- 6. Wander Parque General San Martín
- 7. Visit Aconcagua Provincial Park
- 8. Horseback riding
- 9. Visit Plaza Independencia
- 10. Whitewater rafting
- 11. Check out the views from Cerro de la Gloria
- 12. Visit the Puente del Inca
- 13. Cooking class
- 14. Eat Argentinian steak at Restaurante Abrasado
- 15. Summit Lomas Blancas in the Cordon de la Plata
- 16. Go paragliding
- 17. Visit an olive grove
- 18. Have brunch at Unión 777 Cafetería Comedor
- 19. Go skiing at Penitentes Ski Resort
- 20. Enjoy a scenic bike tour
- Where to Stay in Mendoza, Argentina
- Thanks for reading!
About Mendoza, Argentina
Mendoza is a small city on the western border of Argentina, and this is a destination worth traveling for!
Settled by Spaniards from Chile in 1561, the area began as a part of Chile’s territory, though it has been connected to modern-day Argentina since the mid-1800s. It is no wonder, then, that the name Mendoza is actually Basque, meaning ‘cold mountain,’ as it was given by the Spaniards that settled it.
Now, it is easily best known for its wine. Mendoza is the top producer and exporter of wine in the entire country. In fact, there are 800 wineries around here!
Malbec is the most popular variety as it’s well-suited to the climate, but there are many different reds and whites to try and we haven’t found one we’ve disliked yet.
The city is located on Ruta Nacional 7, which is the major road that takes you all the way from Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile. This makes Mendoza quite accessible to travelers, something that I was grateful for as we looked for the best ways to get to this pillar of wine country.
If you’re headed here by rental car, Mendoza itself is about a 12-hour drive from Buenos Aires and a 6-hour drive from Santiago. Mendoza also has an airport, so you can catch direct flights on a trip from Buenos Aires or Santiago, which will really cut down on your travel time. Make sure to check out our guide on renting a car in Argentina before you leave!
There are so many great ways to get to know Mendoza, and I am grateful to have experienced the hospitality here. You’ll meet people from all over the world and hopefully get to share a drink and trade travel stories!
The BEST Things to do in Mendoza
1. Go on a wine tour
If I haven’t sold you on the wine yet, this might do it. A wine tour in Mendoza is basically mandatory while you’re here and honestly, it’s no chore to go on!
You’re in the heart of wine country after all and a wine tour is a great introduction to the city. It lets you try a few different kinds to find what you like (aka everything!) and enjoy some scenery along the way.
This all-day luxury wine tour takes you on guided wine tastings at local wineries and includes a gourmet lunch. I loved this tour because I didn’t feel like I was being herded around but more like I was hitting some wineries with new friends. Oh, and getting lots of great food, on top of that!
The 8-hour tour includes hotel pick-up and drop-off and is guaranteed to be a small group with a maximum of only 8 people. Plus with all your wine, transportation, and food taken care of, it’s a great deal at $170 USD.
Depending on the day, you might head into Lujan de Cuyo or Uco Valley, both an hour south of the city. The tour goes to different wineries on different days. The day we went, we visited the Uco Valley and had a blast.
During the drive, you also pass through a little village called Chacras de Coria and get to see the Spanish-style church and the cute plaza that sits nearby.
This was such a fun way to start our trip and I definitely recommend trying a wine tour near the beginning of your stay in Mendoza. Book your Mendoza wine tour online here.
2. Enjoy lunch and a private wine tasting
Speaking of wine and food, this Lunch and Wine Tasting was calling our name as we were dying to enjoy a fancy lunch out (our own little date in Mendoza!).
At around 10 am, the tour picks you up to head to the historic Trapiche winery where you will be guided by a sommelier. Next, you will visit the El Enemigo winery, which is owned by the prestigious winemaker Alejandro Vigil.
Casa Vigil, the house located at the winery, is an exquisite space where your gourmet lunch will take place, paired with wines chosen by Alejandro, himself.
Overall, the tour lasts for 6 hours or so and is all-inclusive for the $200 USD price.
This can be a wonderful, romantic tour, or just a good way to spend some quality time with your travel companions.
3. Cacheuta Hot Springs
If you are looking for a way to relax, it doesn’t get much better than hitting up some hot springs for the day.
Picture this – you’re sitting in the water, which feels like a hot tub surrounded by scenery that looks like it’s right out of a travel magazine. This is the Cacheuta Hot Springs or Thermas de Cacheuta as it’s known here.
While the hot springs are the main draw, there’s also a wave pool, kids’ water park, lazy river, and tons of indoor and outdoor pools to enjoy.
Admission is 1,700-1,900 ARS ($10-12 USD) depending on the date you go (weekends are more expensive) and you can book tickets that include transportation from Mendoza for an additional 1,800 ARS ($11 USD).
This a great family activity, just outside of town – about 40 minutes or so. You’ll be surrounded by families on the weekends, and weekdays tend to be a bit more laid back.
When I visited Cacheuta, I chose to do this spa day experience which included transportation from Mendoza and gave me a much more private, tranquil experience. You’ll be picked up from your hotel or a meeting point in downtown Mendoza, around 8:30 am. Then once you arrive at the hot springs, the relaxation begins! You’ll be able to take a dip in the indoor and outdoor pools, have a mud bath (great for the skin!), and soak up the views from a plush lounge chair.
The spa is home to the only grotto sauna in Argentina, where you can let the mud and heat of the water help to soften and detoxify your skin. After you’ve soaked, shower off and head for a buffet lunch nearby with salads, barbeque pork and chicken, lamb, sausages, grilled vegetables, and more.
Locally-sourced mountain spring water is included and you can book a massage at any additional expense if you’d like. The entire tour is around 10 hours long and is $141 USD per person. This tour left me feeling so relaxed and rejuvenated!
4. Visit the Museo Nacional del Vino
You’re probably not going to be surprised to hear this… there is a National Museum of Wine in Mendoza. If it’s going to be anywhere in Argentina, it certainly makes sense that it is located here, close to where the country’s best wines are made.
On top of being an architectural wonder, this is also in a great location. You can hit this museum and easily do a nearby tour of the Bodega Lopez winery, in one afternoon.
The space at the national museum building isn’t huge, and you can do with about an hour inside, but it’s incredibly cool to learn a little more about the viniculture in this region. A wander around here takes you through the historical background of how Mendoza and the surrounding area became one of the world’s wine capitals.
Depending on the day, you can take a guided tour or even participate in a tasting. Sometimes, though, you’ll have free rein to walk around and explore the museum at your own pace.
5. Drink craft beer
If you’re all wined out, or if it isn’t your drink of choice to begin with, not to worry! There are plenty of other ways to kick back and grab a drink in Mendoza, and I have a few favorite breweries that I can recommend.
Chachingo Craft Beer is near the Universidad de Mendoza, so it draws a younger crowd and is a very busy place. Their happy hours are also a great way to get the biggest bang for your buck, and you have to try the calamari paired with the honey beer here – it is delicious! It’s open every day from noon to 2 am.
Divaricata Brewery is another favorite of mine, though it is only open on Friday and Saturday nights. The spot is cozy, and there’s live music that really adds to the atmosphere. You can sometimes get personalized tours around the brewery, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll like every single beer that you try here.
6. Wander Parque General San Martín
When exploring a new place, I love to head to one of the local parks to wander around and people-watch. Parque General San Martín is perfect for this.
Now, if you’re picturing a tiny little neighborhood park, I have news for you! Parque General San Martín is HUGE. It’s even a bit bigger than Central Park in New York City.
Walking through the incredible entrance gates originally made for Turkish Sultan Hamid II and gifted to Mendoza from England sets the scene for this amazing park. Make sure you grab a map at the little tourist office and start exploring!
Wandering around here can definitely be an all-day activity, especially if you take some of the park’s attractions. There’s a lake, fountains, rose gardens, a national science museum, and hiking or biking trails. You can even hang glide in the park from the top of Cerro Arco!
One of the best hikes in the park is to the top of Cerro de la Gloria. You’ll get panoramic views of the Mendoza and see an impressive monument at the top (more on this later!).
7. Visit Aconcagua Provincial Park
Speaking of parks, let’s take it up a notch. Aconcagua Provincial Park is home to the tallest mountain in the Americas and the views of Aconcagua are spectacular.
While brave (and experienced) climbers may choose to summit Aconcagua – take note that you’ll need a permit (which can be up to $1,000 USD). It’s also a super challenging climb.
If climbing one of the highest mountains in the world isn’t in the cards for you, Aconcagua Provincial Park is still worth a visit! There are short trails you can walk showcasing valleys, mountains, and wide open spaces. A pro tip though – this park is at a high altitude and gets SUPER windy. So dress warm!
You can drive the 3 hours to the park in a rental car, as it’s along the main, paved Ruta 7. However, I found a tour really worthwhile to see all the amazing views, but leave the navigating to someone else.
This small group tour of Aconcagua park is a fantastic way to spend a whole day enjoying the landscapes around and in the park. You’ll get amazing views of the surrounding area on the drive down including a stop at Lago Potrerillos and in Uspallata for coffee.
This is one of the few tours that actually lets you go in the park and not just drive by! Once you arrive, there’s a one-hour guided hike where you’ll be treated to views of Horcones pond, Puente del Inca bridge, and of course, the peak of Aconcagua itself.
Finish off the day with an afternoon lunch of Argentine asado and some wine before heading back to Mendoza. The entire trip including all your transportation and food is $140 USD.
Related read: If snowy expeditions are more your style, don’t miss out on one of the best tours to see Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina!
8. Horseback riding
Getting to experience the Andes on horseback is an experience that I never knew I wanted but was so happy to have stumbled upon. The views are something else!
Try out this full-day horseback riding tour that takes place at a ranch right in the foothills of the Andes. You’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken on a 2-hour scenic drive to the ranch. Once you arrive, you’re treated to a classic Argentinian breakfast featuring yummy homemade bread.
Once you’re fueled up, you’ll meet your horse for the adventure! They match horses based on the rider’s experience, so not to worry if you’re a beginner.
The rides tend to last for 3.5-4 hours, but you get a nice break in the middle when you stop for an Argentinian barbeque (including Mendoza wine!) by the river.
This is an all-day tour and includes all your transportation and food for under $180 USD per person if you book for 2 people.
9. Visit Plaza Independencia
Mendoza is like many other cities in Latin America in that it has a central plaza that holds events, hosts vendors, and is a great place to sit and people-watch.
The highlight here is the dancing water fountains! If you can, come here in the evenings during the summer – there’s an incredible show around 8 pm where the fountains light up in time with the music.
Plaza Independencia is unique from other city plazas we’ve been to because it is not the original city plaza. The original was destroyed, along with most of Mendoza, back in an 1861 earthquake.
This ‘new’ plaza is surrounded by 4 smaller plazas, known as Plaza San Martín (like the park), Plaza Chile, Plaza Italia, and Plaza España. Each of the 5 plazas are just a few blocks away, and you could make a day of visiting each one, eating good food, and soaking in the feel of the city.
During your visit, you’ll find food vendors, artisan markets, tourists, and locals all enjoying the plazas 24 hours a day, with Plaza Independencia at the very heart of it all. Visiting this plaza is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Mendoza.
10. Whitewater rafting
Argentina is said to have some of the best whitewater rafting locations in the world, thanks to its strong rivers and the stunning runs that they provide. Known as the best place in Mendoza to whitewater raft, Cacheuta is a worthwhile stop!
The full-day rafting excursion takes you through a 12 km (7.5 mile) section of the river to navigate some exciting rapids. Your guide lets you switch who is in the front of the raft throughout the trip, so everyone has some time in the “splash zone”. Luckily wetsuits are provided because you’re definitely not staying dry!
The tour also includes ziplining and a more relaxing stop at the nearby hot springs. The entire tour lasts for about 10 hours from pickup to drop-off. It’s a busy day!
This $110 USD tour is such a fun way to experience some of the exciting activities around Mendoza.
11. Check out the views from Cerro de la Gloria
After a few days of wine tours, exciting activities, and running around the city, Cerro de la Gloria might be just the evening wind-down that you need.
Meaning, ‘the hill of glory,’ this iconic peak in Parque General San Martín is worth climbing for the views you’ll get of Mendoza and the surrounding mountains.
In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of the view from Cerro San Cristóbal in Santiago, Chile, though the walk up this hill is considerably shorter. While enjoying the city from below with some wine is great, the views give you a whole new perspective and you’ll witness Mendoza in all its glory.
You can take a walk up, though many people prefer taking a taxi on the way up and walking on the way down after grabbing a coffee and enjoying the views. I didn’t mind the walk up much, and the switchback trail takes just about 15 to 20 minutes to get up.
There is another path that takes about 45 minutes and is a bit steep, but if you come prepared with water and do the hike in the early morning or in the evening as it cools down, it’s a nice trek, too.
On top of the view, you can also check out the Army of the Andes Monument. This huge bronze monument paying tribute to those who liberated Argentina, Chile, and Peru is really impressive and incredibly detailed!
12. Visit the Puente del Inca
Up in the Andes, a little higher than Mendoza, sits this natural, colorful bridge that passes over the Las Cuevas River. Puente del Inca which means “Inca Bridge” wasn’t actually built by the Incas at all, but was naturally carved out by glacial melt.
Puente del Inca gets its color from the minerals that coat it, which came from the nearby hot springs and the river. While you used to be able to walk across this bridge, it’s no longer safe for foot traffic. However, you can still admire this natural wonder from afar.
If you’re already heading to Aconcagua National Park, you’re in luck because the bridge is located in the same area, about 190 km (120 miles) from Mendoza. It’s easy enough to visit on your own by taking a rental car or joining a tour to get to this semi-remote area.
I recommend jumping on this day trip to the mountains from Mendoza. It’s a really affordable tour (only $39 USD) and will take you through the dramatic landscapes of the Andes.
The itinerary changes depending on the season you visit. All trips take the journey from Mendoza to Puente del Inca, before stopping at Aconcagua Provincial Park. In the summer, you’ll be able to explore the park a bit, and in the winter, you’ll stop at the main viewpoint of Mirador del Aconcagua with its spectacular views of the main peak.
If you’re on a summer tour, you’ll also be able to see the famous Christ the Redeemer of the Andes statue – which can only be reached in the summer months of January, February, and March. (Remember, the Southern Hemisphere’s seasons are opposite from the Northern Hemisphere!).
A tour gives you so much more of the rich history of this area and you don’t have to worry about directions.
13. Cooking class
A big part of experiencing a new place is trying some of the local food! I mean, you can’t just have wine … right?
Try out this local cooking class to get tips from a professional chef and learn how to make some of the best dishes. That way you can bring a little piece of Mendoza home with you or cook a fantastic meal for your family while sharing stories from your travels.
The menu can be adjusted depending on your tastes but includes dishes like Tortas Fritas, Picada, and a traditional Argentine BBQ with beef and pork. No matter the menu, the Malbec readily flows throughout the night to make sure you get your fill of wine.
Let’s not forget dessert – Cornstarch alfajores with dulce de leche. These are basically cookies and caramel sauce and so good!
The chef is really welcoming, so you’ll feel like you’re part of a big family supper! Make sure to come hungry. The class is $150 USD and includes all the food, instruction, and even your own hat and apron.
14. Eat Argentinian steak at Restaurante Abrasado
Restaurante Abrasado is a winery that does steak right! It opened in 2014 and was the first winery in Mendoza to specialize in matured meats. This means not only can you enjoy a steak cooked to perfection, but it will be paired with some pretty amazing wine.
In fact, Restaurante Abrasado was chosen as the BEST restaurant in the world for wine by Great Wine Capitals. Safe to say this is not a place to skip over on your visit to Mendoza.
The restaurant has found the perfect intersection of food and drink to reflect the Argentinian countryside, serving meat from its farms and oils, spices, vinegar, and wines from its vineyards. You can expect to pay around $40-50 USD (or more) for a steak here and the food is as good as the wine, which is saying something!
If you are looking for authentic, Argentinian food and drink, a reservation at Restaurante Abrasado should be on your list.
Related Read: Some of the best steak I’ve ever had was part of an incredible evening out known as The Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires!
15. Summit Lomas Blancas in the Cordon de la Plata
At about 3,500 meters (nearly 12,000 feet) above sea level, Lomas Blancas is located in an impressive area, filled with the snow-capped mountains of the Cordon de la Plata region.
If you are an experienced hiker and want to navigate getting to the base on your own, you can technically do this activity by yourself.
It is so much easier, though, to join a trekking experience like this one, which includes a professional bilingual, guide, round-trip private transportation to Mendoza, and hiking poles.
This is the perfect excursion if you don’t have time for a longer journey, are relatively new to hiking, or even if you just want to see the stunning views and say that you summited a mountain. That part is pretty cool in its own regard if you ask me.
The route is a low-to-moderate difficulty and should take about 5-6 hours. It’s $149 USD per person if you book for two people.
16. Go paragliding
Now that you’ve explored Mendoza from the ground, get a whole new perspective by taking to the sky! Paragliding is easily one of the best activities on offer in Mendoza for adventurers!
This paragliding tandem flight pairs you up with an instructor to get panoramic views of the Mendoza region. You’ll take off from a ramp on Cerro Arco as you literally run off a mountain and take flight. What a rush!
You can request pick up from your hotel in Mendoza and all the transportation and equipment are included for around $100 USD.
17. Visit an olive grove
Balance out all those visits to wineries with a stop at an olive grove!
Did you know that olives grow in most places that grapes do? Olives are quite popular in this region, thanks to the climate which supports both grapes and olives as companion plants.
Often, olive trees will be found near grape vines and can help shelter grapes against strong winds that might interfere with their self-pollination process. This doesn’t mean that olives will be found at every vineyard, though.
This is a family-owned business and the tours and tastings are really affordable at 400 ARS ($2.50 USD) per person. You’ll get to try both olives and olive oils and see what you like.
After the tastings, stop by their store full of products made from olive oil including sweets and cosmetics! The property is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.
18. Have brunch at Unión 777 Cafetería Comedor
Brunch is the perfect excuse to sleep in a bit, or maybe spend a little longer getting ready, on days that just feel a little slower.
Unión 777 Cafetería Comedor was my favorite place to spend a couple of hours in the late morning enjoying the food and the atmosphere of the restaurant.
Make sure to leave a bite on the plate before you leave, as that is considered polite table etiquette in Argentina. Though, if you can’t bear to leave any of your meal behind, your hosts won’t be offended. At least they’ll know how much you loved the food!
The restaurant is just a short walk from Parque General San Martín if you’re looking to keep the chill vibe going with a walk in the park.
19. Go skiing at Penitentes Ski Resort
I can tell you from personal experience that skiing in the Andes is like no other!
Los Penitentes is a small to mid-size ski resort just inside the Argentinian border, about 2.5 hours from Mendoza. There are over 25 km (15.5 miles) of slopes for skiing and snowboarding galore.
The general skiing season here lasts from late June to late September, and it’s always worth checking the conditions ahead of time. At Los Penitentes, you can expect to ski from about 9 am to 4 pm daily.
There are 7 lifts, ski lessons available, equipment for rent, and some food options at the resort. So, even for a relatively small area, Los Penitentes has much to offer.
You can also rent your equipment in Mendoza and bring it with you, which is often cheaper. Ask around in town for recommendations, locals and other skiers will point you toward the best quality equipment for rent.
Most visitors come from either Mendoza or Buenos Aires and there aren’t as many international visitors here. To me, this is what makes it so great. Instead of runs that are crowded with tourists, you get to ski among the locals!
Related read: Skiing is also one of the top things to do in the remote and beautiful Ushuaia, Argentina.
20. Enjoy a scenic bike tour
There is something so special about biking around a city. You get the feel of walking around and being a part of your environment, but you cover so much more ground.
We got to do this bike tour on one of our last days in Argentina, before heading back to fly out of Santiago, and I had the best day learning more about the wine of the region (who knew that was possible, after our wine tours?).
We were lucky to have a great group of people with us too! You start the day by visiting some wineries, before enjoying lunch, and then cycling through Lujan de Cuyo. You end up back at your starting point which is nice and convenient, too.
This 7-hour tour includes your bike, lunch, and wine tastings for $140 USD which makes the whole experience that much better.
Where to Stay in Mendoza, Argentina
With so many things to do (and glasses of wine to drink!), you’ll need a place to stay in Mendoza to experience it all. With so choices for accommodations, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Let me help you narrow it down to my top three pics for budget, mid-range, and luxury travelers!
Windmill Hostel – $
Walking distance to the five central plazas in Mendoza, Windmill Hostel puts you close to the heart of the city. It’s inside a bright, purple building so you can’t miss it and this hostel has the friendliest staff! It’s also been named “Best Hostel in Mendoza” several times, so you know it’s a good pick!
You can grab a bed in a dorm room for around $20 USD or a private room with a double bed for around $55 USD. Breakfast is included (and it’s known for being really good!) and there are even two super-friendly dogs. Make a reservation today on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.
Hotel Nutibara – $$
Mid-range travelers will love the convenience of the downtown location of Hotel Nutibara. Simply walk out the doors and start exploring or find a great restaurant. The rooms are simple, but have everything you need. A huge plus is the private outdoor swimming pool! Check availability and book a room here.
Park Hyatt Mendoza Hotel – $$$
The Park Hyatt Mendoza Hotel is a 5-star hotel right in front of Independencia Square in a really impressive building. It’s just as nice inside with stylish, elegant décor in all the bright and spacious rooms. There are also 3 restaurants, a casino, and a spa.
The “standard” room has a king-size bed, walk-in shower, large bathtub, and flat-screen TV. You can opt for city or mountain views – both are great options! There’s also a nice pool and gym facility to enjoy. Book a room here today!
Thanks for reading!
Even if you come to Mendoza for the wine (obviously!), you’ll stay for the hospitality and epic mountain views. It’s a little piece of Argentina we loved spending some time in and know you will too. Hopefully, our guide to Mendoza has given you lots of ideas for your upcoming trip!
If you’re heading to this part of the world soon, make sure to check out our other blogs about South America. We’ve traveled extensively in this part of the world and would love to help you find the hidden gems that will make your trip extra special.