Argentina comes from the Latin argentum which means silver. The origin of the name goes back to the voyages made by the first Spanish conquistadores (conquerors) when shipwrecked survivors discovered Indians in the region who presented them with silver objects. The news about the legendary Sierra del Plata, a mountain rich in silver, reached Spain around 1524.
Just wait till you get to Argentina! Arriving in Buenos Aires is like jumping aboard a moving train. Outside a taxi window, a blurred mosaic of drab apartment blocks and haphazard architecture whizzes by as you shoot along the freeway toward the center of town. Then the real city appears, the cafés, the purple jacaranda flowers draped over the sidewalks, stylish porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) walking purposefully past the newspaper stands and candy kiosks and handsome early-20th-century stone facades.
Look deeper and it’s quickly apparent why the country has long held travelers in awe: tango, Patagonia, beef, soccer, Tierra del Fuego, passion, Mendoza wine country. From the soul-stirring Parque Nacional Iguazú in the country's subtropical north, to the thunderous, crackling advance of the Perito Moreno Glacier in the south, Argentina's natural attractions are the stuff travelers' dreams are made of.
The country beholds some of the Andes’ highest peaks, several of which top nearly 20000 feet (6000m) near Mendoza and San Juan. It’s home to wetlands that rival Brazil’s famous Pantanal, massive ice fields in Patagonia, a vast, sweltering, thorn-riddled wilderness known as the Impenetrable, cool lichen-clad Valdivian forests, glacial lakes, deserts, Andean salt flats, a spectacular Lake District, penguins, flamingos, caimans, capybaras and more.
But Argentina’s cosmopolitan and natural marvels are only part of the equation. Travelers who dig beneath the tourist-office version of Argentina will find a cultural climate electrified by discussion, argument and creative fervor. Argentines are, after all, some of the most amicable, seductive, engaging folks on the planet.
The best time to visit Buenos Aires is in spring (September through November), when the jacarandas are in bloom and temperatures are blissfully cool, and in fall (March through May). Mendoza, Córdoba and the Lake District are all spectacular in fall: the leaves put on an epic display. While summer is the best time to hit Patagonia.
Getting to know Buenos Aires keeps visitors from all over world awake, because not only is this the most cosmopolitan urban center in South America but it is also the most beautiful and coquettish. Known as ‘la Reina del Plata’ (the Queen of the Río de la Plata), the City of Buenos Aires is characterized by having multiple artistic and cultural expressions that amaze tourists on their tours.
The most visited destinations in the beautiful city include the San Telmo Market, La Boca neighborhood, Costanera Sur, the center of town with the obelisk’ and the Tigre delta a few kilometers away from the urban center.
The tours and excursions that denote the strong cosmopolitan spirit of Buenos Aires are Caminito, Recoleta, the Boca Stadium, the Mataderos Market, the Botanic Garden, the Zoo, the Japanese Garden and Holy Land, first religious theme park in the world.
Other sites of remarkable cultural and historical interest are the Cabildo, the Government House, the Cathedral, the Town Hall, the Obelisk, the Colón Theater, la Manzana de las Luces (Block of the Lights) and the Planetarium, an emblematic site in the memory of all children in Buenos Aires.
In the evenings, ‘the city that never sleeps’ is open to concerts, shows, theaters, cinemas, casinos, discos, coffee-shops and pubs that have visitors staying up until the small hours.
At the other end of the spectrum San Carlos de Bariloche, is a prime, all-season destination in Argentina's Patagonia. Situated in the foothills of the Andes, it is surrounded by lakes (Nahuel Huapi, Gutiérrez Lake, Moreno Lake and Mascardi Lake) and mountains (Tronador, Cerro Catedral, Cerro López). It is famous for skiing but also known for sight-seeing, water sports, trekking and climbing.
Lying on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi and surrounded by the mountains and forests, it is one of the most attractive cities in the world. In the summer, trout and salmonidae fly-fishing and sports recreation (especially hiking, river rafting and walks around ancient forests, as well as climbing most of the peaks surrounding the city) are some of the activities to be enjoyed.
During the winter, the first snowfalls announce the beginning of the ski season and the practice of winter sports at mythical Mount Catedral, considered one of the most important ski resorts in the country.
A land of great contrasts, Argentina offers almost everything to the visitor. From the cosmopolitan Buenos Aires (full of museums, night clubs and tons of activities) to the tranquility of Patagonia; from falls to mountains to endless flatlands, from snow in the south to dry sunny regions in the northwest and the jungle of the northeast, this country is more than enjoyable – it’s simply amazing.