Argentina is a huge country filled with incredible things to see. When planning my three months in South America, I knew that I wasn’t going to have time to fit in all of the wanders that Mendoza has to offer, so three days in Mendoza would have to suffice. With sprawling vineyards and some incredible experiences on offer, I certainly wasn’t going to complain with this compromise!
Despite the Andes mountains creating a barrier between Argentina and Chile, Mendoza is surprisingly easy to reach from Chile’s capital (Santiago).
Flights between the two cities take 55 minutes and are generally reasonably priced. Both SKY and LATAM provide daily flights between the two airports. when searching for flights, be sure to compare airlines and availability using SkyScanner. As you’ll be flying directly over the Andes Mountains, make sure you book a window seat and have your camera at the ready!
I opted for an even more scenic route – an 8 hours bus journey through the Andes! I paid £35 for a return ticket, booked on the morning that I was leaving – you can check prices and timings using BudBud (every South American traveller’s best friend)!
I opted to do the journey from Santiago to Mendoza in daylight to make the most of the views which was definitely worth it! Be sure to pay attention when you get to the crazy zig zag road!
For the return journey, I decided to catch an overnight bus which I wouldn’t recommend at all! Chile is a protected area and therefore the border crossings are very strict to ensure that no plant or animal based items are transported into the country.
I don’t mind long border crossings…. until they’re completed at 3am at the top of a freezing cold mountain! The border guards had very little interest in keeping travellers up to date with what was happening/causing delays, so who knows if I had a particularly bad experience or if all crossings from Argentina into Chile are this arduous!
RELATED: Wondering what you can get up to in Santiago? Read my itinerary here!
Likewise to Santiago, Buenos Aires has both bus and flight connections to Mendoza.
The bus journey takes circa 18 hours, so you may prefer to hop on one of the regular 2 hour flights between the cities. A number of airlines including LATAM and Norwegian operate on this route.
If you’re opting to take a flight, you should be aware that domestic flights tend to operate from Jorge Newbery Airfield (abbrieviated to AEP) and international flights from Ministro Pistarini International Airport (usually called Ezeiza and abbreviated to EZE). The journey between the two airports can exceed an hour, even with good traffic conditions, so be careful if you’re hoping to take connecting flights from your home to Mendoza.
RELATED: Mendoza is a great stop-off as part of a larger trip, see my full three month South American itinerary here!
I had booked a shoddy-looking hostel at the last minute before boarding my bus which I knew wasn’t going to end well. After bumping into a lovely Irish couple on the bus, I decided to jump into a taxi with them and hope that their hostel would let me in!
I ended up at Hostel Lagares where the staff were absolutely brilliant and the atmosphere was nice and chilled. The common area has a TV with comfy sofas and hundreds of DVDs and the kitchen is fully stocked ready for you to cook – all round, a great place to meet other travellers!
They managed to accommodate the fact that I didn’t have a booking and allowed me into the basement room which appeared to not usually be available. This was great as I had a super clean room for 4 people all to myself!
My only issue with the hostel it’s proximity to the city center – I’m sure you can find hostels and hotels closer than this one.
On arrival in the hostel, I was overwhelmed by the booklet of things to do in the local area and local tour agencies. It turns out that Mendoza has far more to offer than just vineyards and I struggled to pick which 3 activities I could fit into my short trip!
I decided to treat Mendoza as a mini holiday within a backpacking adventure, so decided to splash out on a few organised day-trips with tour agencies!
You can’t come to Mendoza without visiting a vineyard (or two… or three)! One of the most popular ways to visit the vineyards (especially within he backpacking community) is to hire bikes and do a DIY tour of your own.
We rounded up a group of people in our hostel who were interested in cycling through the vineyards one night and decided what time to leave the next morning.
We hopped on a bus to reach Maipu Bikes, who were highly recommended by our hostel as the best bike rental business in the area.
Bike rentals cost 500 ARS (approximately £7) for a full day (10am to 6pm). They provided us with a map of the Maipu region, gave us some information about each winery/vineyard and waved us off on our merry way!
Maipu Bikes also offer a happy hour from 6pm to 7pm with free-flowing wine…. just in case you hadn’t sampled enough during the day already!
If you would prefer to take part in an organised vineyard tour, check out these options:
I booked a tour to explore the Andes Mountains on horseback and it was one of the most relaxing days of my entire three month trip through South America.
There were three options when booking the trip (I booked through Hostel Lagares) – a morning ride, an afternoon ride or a full day excursion. Given the small difference in price, I opted for the full day tour. I paid 2,200 ARS for the day (approximately £30).
I’m glad that I opted for the full day tour as the routes taken on the morning and afternoon rides were varied and the landscape was absolutely beautiful. Also, you begin to catch the sunset on the afternoon ride. While other tourists joined in for the individual rides, I was the only person booked on to the full day excursion, meaning I got to enjoy the area in absolute peace and serenity in between rides.
The full day tour offered a ‘BBQ lunch’ which consisted of a steak, salad, bread and an entire bottle of wine (which was probably somewhat excessive given I was the only person there)!
If you do opt for the full day tour, be warned that your backside will be sore the next day (especially if you were riding bikes the day before too)!
Unfortunately, I don’t have the exact name of the company that my hostel booked for me – however, this tour looks very similar!
If you are looking for other ways to explore the Andes Mountains, check out these options:
What with all the physical activity over the last few days, relaxation was on the cards for day three of my time in Mendoza.
Aside from vineyards, the area is known for it’s natural hot springs; knowing this, I promptly booked a tour through Hostel Lagares to Termas De Cachueta.
There are two options when taking a trip to Termas De Cachueta – firstly, there is a thermal water-park which has great reviews. Secondly, there is a more traditional thermal pool complex – this is the option that I went for. If you are looking for ultimate relaxation, you could also book an overnight stay at the spa.
A full day at the spa plus transfers from your hotel costs 3,100 ARS (approximately £43). While this is one of the more expensive day trips that I took while in South America, you could tell why – this place was luxurious! You can book admission (without hotel transfers) online here.
Lunch is included in the price and consists of the largest and most extravagant buffet you have ever seen in your life!
Of course, you don’t need to go on extravagant day trips all the time, Mendoza’s main town should also be explored. Unfortunately, I got over-excited booking trips and
Have you ever been to Mendoza? What activities did you do?
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