When American Airlines introduced nonstop service from Los Angeles International Airport to Buenos Aires, traveling to Argentina became an even more enticing proposition for Southern Californians. The expansive, diverse country—renowned as the homeland of gauchos, tango, and Eva Perón—presents a compelling blend of cosmopolitan cities, natural wonderlands, and delicious wine country. It’s 100% Latin American in spirit, yet in the larger cities the strong European influence remains, particularly in the architecture and cuisine.
Our autumn is the ideal time to visit, on the cusp of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer season, when the weather is warm but mild. Following is a road map to a well-rounded Argentina experience in three Malbec-infused chapters. My 10-day trip was curated by virtuoso travel adviser Bastian World Travel (bastiandworldtravel.com), who worked with knowledgeable local partners on the ground to create a custom itinerary that ticked all of our must-do boxes. The inclusive package featured four-star accommodations, daily breakfast, private airport transfers, and a selection of guided tours in each location. We also benefited from the agency’s 24/7 local support as we hopped from one region to another.
The adventure began in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s vibrant capital city. We made our home in the up-and-coming Puerto Madero district at the boutique-style Hotel Madero (hotelmadero.com), located along the river near the dramatic Puente de la Mujer bridge. We wandered through the 19th-century Plaza de Mayo, home to Casa Rosada, the presidential palace where Perón made her famous declarations. The mural-filled La Boca neighborhood, where the colorful Caminito is lined with brightly painted historic homes, is a sight to behold. The sprawling Recoleta Cemetery in the upscale, leafy Beaux-Arts Recoleta neighborhood is another must-see.
The best shopping finds can be unearthed on the boutique-lined streets of the Palermo and San Telmo neighborhoods. Museo MALBA is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon taking in the Latin American art. The quintessential tango dinner shows are rather touristy, but fun nonetheless!
A highlight of our time in Buenos Aires was a day trip to La Bamba de Areco (labambadeareco.com), a refined yet rustic countryside Relais & Châteaux estancia outside of the city. Upon arrival, we were welcomed with a glass of wine and invited to relax by the swimming pool until lunchtime. The delectable barbecue meal was followed by a gaucho performance and a horseback ride around the ranch. Needless to say, we envied the resort guests staying in the luxurious lodgings when it came time to depart after such a lovely day.
A three-hour flight south transports travelers to an entirely different world. El Calafate, the gateway to Patagonia, is a charming, very walkable small town that serves as a base for visitors exploring the Perito Moreno Glacier and the region’s great outdoors. We checked in to our quaint lodgings, Hotel Posada Los Álamos (posadalosalamos.com), and organized packed lunches to take on the next day’s adventure. Our full-day tour of Perito Moreno included a boat ride across a glacial lake, where we disembarked to hike atop one of the world’s largest remaining glaciers. The guided mini-trek was followed by a visit to a viewpoint high above the glacier. The jaw-dropping scenery in the national park was absolutely breathtaking from every angle.
Back in El Calafate, we spent a day at the Cerro Frias estancia, where half of our party went ziplining and the other half went horseback riding—with views of Argentino Lake on one side and the snow-capped Chilean Andes on the other. For such a small town, El Calafate’s food scene was impressive. We enjoyed standout meals at vegetarian-friendly Pura Vida, classic steakhouse Parrilla Don Pichon, and neighborhood staple El Cucharón.
Mendoza wine country was the third and final destination of the trip, where the intimate Finca Adalgisa Hotel, Vineyard & Winery (fincaadalgisa.com) set the stage for a glorious grand finale. The small, boutique property outside of the city of Mendoza exudes welcoming hospitality in a laid-back, rural atmosphere. Residential-style rooms and an inviting swimming pool are surrounded by meticulously tended vineyards. A gourmet breakfast is served each morning and every evening guests are treated to a complimentary glass of Malbec at the winery, an exclusive amenity available only to hotel guests.
Our fabulous guide, Fabian of Bee Experience Designers, took us on a day-long Uco Valley wine tour that expanded our Argentine wine palates well beyond Malbec. The first two stops at Pulenta Estate and Andeluna Cellars included private, informative tasting tours. The final stop was the lively La Azul Resto, where we settled on the patio for a long multicourse lunch matched with very generous wine pairings. The trip certainly couldn’t have ended on a more satisfying note!