Interesting Cities to Visit in Argentina
Buenos Aires has a varied LGBTQ+ scene to discover, particularly around the Palermo and Recoleta neighborhoods. The capital is also home to the tango and several queer milongas (tango halls). San Telmo is the cool, tango-inspired neighborhood with many boutique shops and an excellent Sunday market, a must for all visitors. Buenos Aires is also famous for its parillas (steak houses), which are some of the best in the country. One of the best months to visit is in November because this is when the LGBTQ+ pride parade takes place.
Mendoza is where some of the top wines in the world are produced, in particular the Malbec. The most famous bodegas (wineries) are located here, which you can visit for wine tastings. Some of the best boutique hotels in Mendoza are located within or next to a bodega and make the perfect base to explore the area by bike or guided tour. The ideal time to visit is toward the end of the Argentinian summer in February or early March, which is also the time when the vendimia (wine harvesting) festivals take place. Look out for the LGBTQ+ Vendimia festival during this time as well.
Córdoba is located right in the heart of the country. It is famous for being a young city, with students making up 20% of its 1.4 million residents. As well as having a small LGBTQ+ scene in its Güemes neighborhood, it is surrounded by picturesque valleys and the Sierras de Córdoba mountains, which are best explored as a road trip. Highlights include trekking in Los Terrones National Park and spotting condors at the Quebrada del Condorito National Park. Cordoba can be visited throughout the year, with July the coldest, driest month and January and February the warmest and wettest.
The small town of Esquel in the Chubut region of Argentina is the base for hiking trips to the UNESCO Los Alerces National Park. Here you can visit the second-oldest living species on Earth: the Alerces tree. At 2,600 years old, this ancient species is only outlived by the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine in the western United States, which are almost 5,000 years old. Other highlights of Esquel include the fun La Tronchita railway train ride, visiting wineries like the gay-owned Viñas de Nant y Fall and learning about the large Welsh Argentinian community at one of the Welsh tea houses.
Rosario is renowned as an LGBTQ+ paradise and one of Argentina's largest cities that includes sexual orientation in its civil rights and anti-discrimination laws. Despite not being the province's capital city, it serves as the center of Santa Fe with a huge student population. It offers homebrewed beer, excellent football, gourmet food, infinite open spaces along the shore, and vibrant nightlife. Take a boat from "La Fluvial" Station to some magnificent beaches and sandbanks or go for a walk through "Ciudad Jóven," a restored port warehouse connected to a promenade. There is also a rainbow crossing close to the Bandero Area, as well as a "Paseo de Diversidad" square recognizing the LGBTQ+ community in Plaza Roberto Arlt.
Interesting Attractions to Visit in Argentina
Iguazu Falls is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Argentina. It is located in Argentina’s northeastern Misiones province, on the border with Paraguay and Brazil. It is hot and humid here for most of the year. It rains the most in December, January and February, so some of the trails may be closed during these months, but the upside of this is the falls will have a greater volume of water and will be more impressive. April to June is the dry season, so the best chance for clear, blue skies.
PERITO MORENO GLACIER
The Perito Moreno Glacier is another popular tourist highlight. This huge ice formation is 35km (22 miles) in length—the size of Buenos Aires city—with a depth of up to 180m (590ft). You can hike across Perito Moreno as part of a tour. Peak time for visiting is during the summer months, from December to February.
ESTEROS DEL IBERA
The Esteros del Iberá is the second largest wetland in the world after the Pantanal in Brazil. It is located in the province of Corrientes in Northeast Argentina, covering over 13,700 square km (5,200 square miles). This large, biologically diverse wilderness is comprised of lakes, marshland, lagoons and islands based largely around the Parana River. The area is also rich with wildlife with over 350 species of birds, plus monkeys, capybara (the world’s largest rodent) and caiman.
PLAYING POLO AT A TRADITIONAL ESTANCIA
Estancias is where the Argentinian cowboys (called gauchos) used to herd their cattle. Today in the Argentinian countryside most estancias have been converted into beautiful hotels, restaurants and polo retreats. In Argentina, polo is a very popular sport—just as much as football. Visiting one of the many excellent estancias in the Argentinian countryside as a day trip from Buenos Aires is a great way to get a feel of rural life and try out polo. Most estancias will also offer a bountiful asado meal (Argentinian barbecue party), which will include plenty of locally made Malbec.
TREKKING IN EL CHALTÉN
El Chaltén is one of the top places in the country for trekking. El Chaltén itself is a small town in the Santa Cruz region of Argentina, close to the Chilean border. It is surrounded by many trails, which are easily accessible without a guide. One of the most popular treks is the full-day hike to Laguna de Los Tres, which has the most impressive views of the iconic Mount Fitz Roy. The peak time to visit El Chalten is December-February.
WHALE WATCHING IN PUERTO MADRYN
Puerto Madryn is one of the most famous places to go in Latin America for whale watching. Between June and December, these 40-ton mammals come here to give birth and look after their newly born calves for a few months before migrating to the colder waters of Antarctica for the rest of the year. Near Puerto Madryn in Peninsular Valdes you can also see orcas, particularly January to April, and October to December, when they come to feed on elephant seal pups.
VISTING PENGUINS AT PUNTA LOMA
Punta Tombo on the coast of the Chubut province in Argentina is home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in Latin America. The Magellanic penguins grow to around 61-76 cm (24-30 inches) and are extremely cute to watch, especially when they're clumsily waddling around on land. The best time to see them is between mid-September and April when there are over 1 million penguins. They come here to nest, mate, breed, molt and then in around March or April migrate to warmer climates in South Brazil.
Experiencing Argentine Food
Argentina is paradise for meat lovers. Argentinian steaks are world famous for good reason. The country is one of only five in the world where there are more cows than humans (the others are Uruguay, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand). Meat is a huge part of the diet and some of the best steak houses (called parillas) can be found in Buenos Aires and other big cities.
Argentina’s cuisine also has a strong Italian influence as a result of mass emigration between 1857 and 1940. Examples include helado (ice cream), milanesa a la Napolitana (breaded seasoned beef fillets) and an array of pastas, gnocchi dishes and pizzas.
Argentina also has many bodegas, particularly around Mendoza. Wine tasting is a very popular tourist activity here. Other culinary Argentinian highlights to look out for include empanadas, mate tea (pronounced mahte), choripan (the Argentinian hot dog) and the ubiquitous dulce de leche (caramelized milk), which is put on most anything that is sweet.
Safety Considerations for LGBTQ+ Visitors to Argentina
Argentina is generally considered an LGBTQ+-friendly destination. Although society is largely Catholic, attitudes are evolving, especially as the government has a strong appreciation of its LGBTQ+ community. For example, same-sex marriage was legalized in 2010 and in 2012 the Gender Identity Law was passed, which allows people to change their gender identities without barriers such as hormone therapy. In 2015, the World Health Organization cited Argentina as an exemplary country for transgender rights. LGBTQ+ travelers to Argentina are unlikely to face any major problems. Most hotels will have welcomed LGBTQ+ travelers at some stage, especially the large brands. However, as with any destination in the world, there will always exist an element of homophobia, particularly in rural communities, so caution is always advised, particularly with public displays of affection.
LGBTQ+ Travel Tips for Argentina
Buenos Aires is the country’s top LGBTQ+ destination. It has a large LGBTQ+ Orgullo (pride) parade in November, which attracts around 200,000 people. Alongside the city’s pride, the annual Asterico LGBTQ+ Film Festival takes place in November. In August, the city has a weeklong festival called BADiversa, which celebrates LGBTQ+ culture with different concerts, events and parties. The government-supported LGBTQ+ travel GNetwork360 business conference takes place during the same week.
In late February or early March, the Vendimia wine harvesting festivals take place around Mendoza. As part of this, there is a LGBTQ+ event called Vendimia Para Todos, (meaning “Vendimia for everyone”). It is a one-week festival of activities, parties and events, which climaxes with a large parade on the final day. This is Argentina’s largest LGBTQ+ event after November’s pride parade in Buenos Aires.
We are gay couple Stefan and Sebastien from London, who left our lives in London in 2014 to travel the world. We write about the different gay scenes in each destination we visit in our gay travel blog called Nomadic Boys. Featured image kindly provided by Nomadic Boys.