The picturesque Mendoza, Argentina is both a city and a province, known for being the largest wine region in South America. Greater Mendoza is home to countless vineyards and grows about 75% of Argentina’s signature Malbec grape.
Although most tourists come for the amazing wine, there are other things to see and do around the city as well. Located at the foothills of the Andes mountain range, the landscape of Mendoza allows for a ton of fun and adventurous outdoor activities.
Eager to discover what makes this place so charming? Here are 12 things to do in Mendoza, Argentina.
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The heart of Mendoza is Plaza Independencia, an open outdoor space and a beloved hangout spot during the day. This plaza was created after an earthquake in 1861 destroyed the majority of the city. The landscaped square is full of shady trees, green lawns, benches and paved walking paths. In the centre is a stunning, spacious fountain.
It’s a superb spot to chill out at in the afternoons or to take a quick break from sightseeing around the city. While you’re relaxing under the shade, you can listen to the street buskers and watch the fountain show.
If you can, stop by on Sunday before 5 p.m. when the weekly artisan market takes over the east side of the plaza. Peruse the artwork, pottery, knitwear, jewellery, and woodwork creations made by locals in the Cuyo region. Gorgeous locally-mined gems and stones are commonly used in these pieces, including Argentina’s national stone, the rose-coloured rhodochrosite.
Wine Tasting Tours
The best wineries (aka bodegas) in Mendoza are located in Maipu, a village not too far from the main city, and Luján de Cuyo, just above the Mendoza River. Ensure your visit is as smooth as possible by booking any of the incredible Mendoza wine tours on offer. Your main two options for your wine tasting adventure are a private experience or a small group tour. The latter can be a perfect opportunity to make some travel friends if you’re up for it! What’s better than socialising over a few glasses of the finest red and white wines available?
A guided wine tour typically lasts an eight-hour day and includes a gourmet lunch. In addition to the famous Malbec, you’ll taste the local Mendoza clone of Chardonnay as well as Sauvignon Blanc.
Tours may take you to different wineries on different days, meaning you might not be sure ahead of time where you’ll end up. Here are some of the top bodegas in Mendoza you may want to look out for when finding the right tour for you:
Bodega Tempus Alba: While this newly-built boutique winery in Maipu is noticeably modern, the staff have extensive knowledge of the vineyard and the wines they produce. Self-guided tours around the property are free, so you can come here for lunch and take a look around afterwards. Be aware that they may be closed on weekends, depending on the time of year.
Bodega Catena Zapata: This winery in Luján de Cuyo is worth a visit for the architecture alone. The main building follows Mayan architecture and resembles a typical layered pyramid. The Andes provide an incredible backdrop, particularly during the winter when they are covered with snow. Catena Zapata was founded in 1902 by an Italian immigrant and has remained a family-run business.
With a century’s worth of experience, any high expectations will certainly be met. Make sure you check out the huge oak barrel cellar where you can sample wines directly.
Museo del Área Fundacional
Want to gain a solid understanding of Mendoza’s origins and earliest history? Museo del Área Fundacional is the place to go. This small museum outside of the city centre features the ruins of the previous town council building that was constructed in 1561. If you’re interested in archaeology, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Through a series of fascinating murals, dioramas, photographs and sculptures, learn how the city rebuilt and progressed after the 1861 earthquake. The museum is open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, and between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Termas de Cacheuta
Did you know there are some incredible hot springs in Mendoza? The Cacheuta Thermal Baths are inside Parque de Agua, which you can reach via bus or a rented car. If you’re with a small group, you can even book a private transfer on Viator.
Entrance for the entire day costs 280 Argentine pesos, and you’ll receive a wristband so you can come and go as you please. Renting a locker for 50 pesos is recommended so that you can completely unwind without worry.
There are thermal baths of different sizes and temperatures, some of which are covered by a canopy to protect you from the sun. The pools outside, however, have breathtaking views of the nearby Andes mountain range, so it’s worth moving around and hopping in as many as possible.
If you want a more secluded soak, the nearby Hotel and Spa Termas Cacheuta offers private relaxation packages. Book a half or full-day spa experience and indulge in a mud bath, relax in the thermal water stone pools, and steam your stress away in the dry sauna.
Cerro de la Gloria
If you’re feeling active, embark on a hike to Cerro de la Gloria within General San Martin Park. The steep trek will take you about 45 minutes. Once you reach the top, you’ll not only be rewarded with panoramic views across the region, but you’ll also be greeted with the impressive bronze Army of the Andes monument commemorating the 1910 Argentina Centennial.
If you’re too tired to walk back down the hill, there is a public bus you can catch, so pack some spare change just in case. Be sure to leave early in the day before the sun gets too hot and bring plenty of water.
Olive Oil Tour
Although Mendoza is mostly associated with wine, that’s not it’s only high-quality export. The region also has a strong heritage in olive oil production. The top producers in the Uco Valley are also in Maipu, along what is affectionately called the olive oil trail. You’ll see the word olivicola come up a lot, which translates to olive oil factory. While some wine tours may include a stop at an olivicola towards the end, it’s worth seeking one out if yours didn’t, or visiting one or two more if you have the time.
For the most informative visit, pop into Olivicola Laur. A guided tour here includes a stop at their on-site museum, made up of old tools and presses used to create the oil.
At Pasrai, you’ll notice an abundance of other fruit trees as well, like peach, cherry, apricot and lemon. Open since 1920, the folks here are certainly passionate about what they do. In addition to their uniquely-flavoured olive oil, you’ll get to sample some of their dried fruit and delicious sundried tomatoes.
There’s also Olivicola Simone, a quaint family-run business offering personalised tastings. After perusing their product range of jams and chutneys (and olive oil, of course), you won’t leave here empty handed.
Regardless of which olivicola or tour you end up on, you’ll learn some fascinating insights into olive oil production that you never would’ve thought about before.
White Water Rafting
Eager to get a little more adventurous during your time in Mendoza? Going white water rafting on the Mendoza River is one of the most memorable activities in the area. Book a half or full-day rafting trip and get outside of your comfort zone as you navigate the river and put your paddling skills to the test. You’ll be given a neoprene rubber wetsuit to change into and keep you comfortable, plus a helmet and vest. The rapids of the river usually fall into the novice to intermediate classes of difficulty.
No prior experience is required, as you’ll have an expert instructor with you to show you the ropes and keep you safe. With hotel pick-up and drop-off plus all equipment included, all you have to worry about is having fun.
Museo Nacional del Vino
In addition to touring the vineyards, you can learn even more about the region’s winemaking history at Museo Nacional del Vino. Understand the significance of wine to Argentina’s culture and economic growth, and hear about the immigrants who established the first ever winery in Mendoza. The museum is set inside an extravagant 19th-century mansion built using European materials.
The National Wine Museum is open daily, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sundays. Arrange a guided tour or wander around and take a look at the various tools and wine bottles at your own pace.
Another enjoyable activity to put on your list is horseback riding. On a full-day tour, you’ll ride through the vineyards and fields of the scenic Uco Valley. After meeting your friendly horse, you’ll begin your journey and trot through the ancient trails of the Andes.
You’ll also get to meet a group of Argentine cowboys known as gauchos and dig into a traditional Argentine asado barbecue for lunch or dinner. Depending on the tour you select, you might also stop at a few small villages along the way, such as El Manzano. Overall, it’s a relaxing way to admire the breathtaking scenery around you and appreciate the nature and culture of the region.
Espacio Contemporáneo de Arte
Set inside a stunning former bank opposite Plaza San Martin is a wonderful contemporary art space founded by artist Juan Castillo. The galleries showcase the work of local artists since the beginning of the 20th century, and regular cultural and musical events are held too. ECA is open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday and between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Conquer that fear of heights and try out tandem paragliding! On this excursion, you’ll be picked up from your accommodation and taken to the nearby Cerro Arco mountain. Once you’re fitted with the necessary equipment and are prepped with safety instructions, away you go! All of the instructors are accredited and have decades of experience between them, so you can feel safe and stay in the present moment as you soar across beautiful Mendoza.
Not sure what to do in Mendoza at night? You may not be expecting this, but the city actually has a pretty vibrant nightlife scene.
Arístides Villanueva street is the ultimate spot to go to in the evenings and perfect for hopping from place to place. Buzzing with both locals and tourists on the weekends, this street has a cluster of lively Irish pubs, restaurants with outdoor seating, and even some clubs to go dancing. Finding a taxi to take you back to your hotel after a couple of drinks won’t be a problem here either.
Take a break from all the wine and knock back a pint or two at William Brown, while Johnny B. Good is excellent for a burger and fries or plate of nachos at the end of an evening.
Recommended tours in Mendoza
- Maipú Wine-Tasting Tour from Mendoza Including Trapiche Winery
- The Real Gaucho Day Trip from Mendoza – Don Daniel Ranch
- Private Tour: Mendoza Wine with Driver and Guide
- Full Day High Mountain Small Group Tour from Mendoza
- Full-Day Aconcagua Experience
- 4×4 Photo Safari in the Andes – Villavicencio
- Winemaker – Led Exclusive Wine Tour With Gourmet Lunch
- Termas Cacheuta – Full Day of Thermal Spa with Mini-Bus Transfer
- Andes High Mountain full day Tour
- Zipline Adventure from Mendoza in Potrerillos Valley
- Full Day Cacheuta Hot Springs + Intermediate Rafting
- Premium Spa Day & Fango Therapy at Cacheuta Hot Springs with Lunch and Transfers
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