Mendoza, Argentina is world-famous for its wine and it’s home to over 1,500 bodegas. People flock here from across the world to spend a few days visiting bodegas and enjoying the gourmet restaurants. The city is fairly relaxed and doesn’t have many points of interest, but it sits at the foot of the Andes and you can make a day trip to one of the world’s tallest mountains.
I was pleasantly surprised by how affordable Mendoza was. The bodega visits in Mendoza run about $10-15 each which includes a couple of glasses of wine. Dining and accommodation are slightly more expensive than in northern Argentina, but nothing too crazy.
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How to Get There
There are daily flights to Mendoza from Buenos Aires and Córdoba and occasional flights from Bariloche. For Argentinian standards, Mendoza is very centrally located and it can be reached by bus from all three cities listed above and Salta.
Bookaway is a great resource that allows you to compare the prices of both buses and flights, and secure your seat in advance!
Where to Change Money
On Avenida San Martín between Calle Catamarca and Garibaldi, you’ll find people buying dollars at the blue market rate. The rates here are slightly worse than what you’ll get in Buenos Aires.
*All prices are in USD due to high inflation in Argentina*
What to Do
Visit the bodegas of Mendoza’s wine districts – The bodegas are what attract so many people to Mendoza and drinking wine with other travelers is always a great time, especially in Argentina. The Malbec in Mendoza was far and away best wine I had in Argentina. The three main districts are Maipu, Lujan de Cuyo, and Uco Valley. Uco Valley is only accessible by car and the other two require a long bike ride.
There are three ways to visit the bodegas. An organized tour, hire a driver for the day, or bike 50+ km roundtrip. An organized tour that combines driving and biking is the best option because hiring a driver is expensive and biking 25 km after drinking bottomless wine is not fun.
I chose to bike and it was a horrible decision. I had seen pictures of the landscapes and thought it would be an enjoyable ride. On the way back, I would hop on the first bus I saw with my bike and it would be a perfect day.
This did not go to plan. Most of the bike ride was through the city and a couple of dodgy neighborhoods on the outskirts. Plus, the beautiful mountainous scenery was at my back the whole time. On the way back to Mendoza, I found out that bikes are not allowed on the buses. My drunken self did not enjoy the long bike ride back to the city.
The one downside to the group tour is you won’t have any say in what bodegas you visit, but I think you’ll have a good time at any bodega in Mendoza. If you want to spend a few days biking around and visiting bodegas without a tour company, look into accommodation in Maipu and Lujan de Cuyo. Here is some info on a couple of the bodegas I visited that stood out.
One bodega I recommend is Trapiche, which opened in the 1880s and still utilizes the original machinery. They offer tours in English and you get 4 wines to taste. The tour lasted 90 minutes and it only costs $11.
El Enemigo is another popular bodega in Maipu. They have a very well-known restaurant and this is where you do the tasting. El Enemigo offers a 3-course meal for $38 and a bottomless tasting for $20. They include the vineyard tour in the price of lunch and I can’t comment on the quality of the tour because in classic Argentinian style the lunch took two hours and I missed it. These days most bodegas require a reservation in advance.
Visit bodegas in the city – Of the 1,500 wineries in Mendoza, you’ll only find a couple near the city center. There are no vineyards at these bodegas, just production facilities. This is a good option if you arrive or depart midday and don’t have time to get to the wine districts.
I really enjoyed visiting Bodega Los Toneles where you can pour a glass out of the production tanks and see the artsy barrels that line the cellar walls. They actually clear out their storage room a few nights a year to throw electronic dance parties. Abrasado, the on-site restaurant, is the best bodega restaurant in Mendoza.
Aconcagua & Puente Del Inca – Mt. Aconcagua is the tallest mountain outside of Asia and you can hike to the base camp at 3,300 meters without a guide. The hike is about 2.5 hours out and 1.5 hours back. You do need to register online to get a permit to enter the park. You also need your passport to check in at Aconcagua Park.
3 km down the road is Puente Del Inca, a natural land bridge with an abandoned hotel built underneath. I had low expectations, but it was a pretty impressive sight.
The bus from Mendoza leaves 3 times a day and takes 3.5 hours (Andesmar is the company). I recommend visiting Puente Del Inca after Aconcagua because rain and strong winds are common in the afternoon and there are handicraft shops and restaurants to hide out in while you wait for the bus back to Mendoza.
Where to Eat
La Sala de Maridajes – The name translates to “the pairing room” and this is a wonderful place to spend a night. They have a beautiful terrace and patio to go along with delicious food and friendly staff.
Mascalzzone Pizzas Italianas – Due to the Italian influence, Argentina has fabulous pizza and this is one of the best I had in the country.
Where to Stay
Mora International Hostel – The friendly staff, spacious patio, and daily organized activities make this hostel a great stay.
Lagares Hostel – A relaxed, small hostel with welcoming staff that is excellent at helping to plan your stay in Mendoza.
How Long to Stay
Deciding how long to stay in Mendoza before heading elsewhere in Argentina comes down to one question, how much do you like wine? Some travelers are content to spend 2 days here and others love it so much they spend a week.
Where to Next
Córdoba (13 hours by bus) – An energetic student city that’s popular for a night out.
Buenos Aires (16 hours) – A food paradise with European influence and exciting cultural events including street parties, tango shows, and interactive dining experiences.
Bariloche (20 hours) – An incredibly scenic town in Patagonia’s Lake District known for its viewpoints, craft beer, and chocolate.
Salta (20 hours) – A beautiful colonial city with one of the best museums in South America and lively regional folk music events.