Buenos Aires is a fascinating, vibrant city, and there's certainly enough to do to keep first-time visitors busy for a week or more. But after you've hit the highlights (Casa Rosada, the executive mansion from which Eva Perón made her famous last speech; La Recoleta Cemetery, full of ornate mausoleums; explored trendy Palermo Soho; and taken in a first-class tango show, among other things), it's time to get a feel for the countryside. Here are two itineraries, one to Mendoza by plane and the other to the Pampas by car.
Day Trip to Mendoza
If you don’t mind hopping on a plane, catch a two-hour flight to Mendoza, the capital of one of the world’s most spectacular wine regions.
Day 1: Depart Buenos Aires
Modern wineries and resorts stand amid vineyards backdropped by snowcapped mountains, creating some of the most attractive wine country in the world. The weather is reliably fine, averaging 300-some sunny days per year, and the wines have reached new heights of quality.
After meeting your driver, transfer to one of Mr. Harper’s recommended resorts. Cavas Wine Lodge is popular with our members, and it’s easy to understand why. Mr. Harper sets the scene: “Composed of 14 Andalusian-style whitewashed adobe guest villas and a mansion-like main building, the resort rises from the middle of the vineyards. Lines of mature poplars and willow trees complete the idyllic landscape, which, with the Andes as a background, looks more like a painting than a real place.”
Days 2-3: Explore Mendoza
Take two full days to explore Mendoza. Start with a tasting at Viña Cobos, a short bike ride from Cavas Wine Lodge, where Mr. Harper “sampled some of the most beautifully crafted wines of [his] entire trip.” Have lunch just down the road at the excellent restaurant of Ruca Malén winery. In the afternoon, relax at Cavas Wine Lodge, where you can enjoy the spa or another wine tasting before dinner.
On your second day in Mendoza, book a driver to take you to a few wineries. You might visit famous bodegas such as Achaval-Ferrer, Terrazas de los Andes or Catena Zapata.
If you have more time and would like to experience another property, consider booking a night or two at the Harper-recommended Vines Resort & Spa located in the Uco Valley, a high-altitude region about an hour south of Mendoza. Set amid 1,500 acres of vineyards and gardens, The Vines has only 21 villas, arranged in an oval around a well-groomed meadow cooled by fountains. From there, some of the region’s top wineries such as Clos de los Siete and O. Fournier are within easy reach.
Day 4: Depart Mendoza
After breakfast, return to the airport and depart Mendoza.
Day Trip to the Pampas
If you prefer not to get on a plane, consider instead an excursion to an estancia in the Pampas:
Day 1: Depart Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires stands on the edge of the Pampas, a vast sweep of grasslands converted into estancias (ranches) and rich farmland. Fluffy tufts of pampas grass still punctuate the wilder patches. This is the home of the Argentine cowboy, the gaucho, and the area around San Antonio de Areco in particular maintains strong ties to its gaucho heritage.
Depart Buenos Aires with your driver and head 90 minutes northwest to La Bamba de Areco, a tranquil 370-acre estate with 11 rooms divided among an original 1830 manor house and other buildings constructed in a similar style. After settling in, join the other guests for a delicious, leisurely asado (barbecue) lunch at a beautifully set table on the lawn in front of the house. Meals at La Bamba are communal, giving the property a convivial house-party feel.
In the afternoon, relax by the outdoor pool, take a carriage ride or head out on a gaucho-led horseback ride around the property.
Day 2: San Antonio de Areco
Make an excursion into San Antonio de Areco, a colonial town about 20 minutes from La Bamba that is a center of gaucho culture. Extending away from the central plaza, Alsina and Arellano streets are lined with shops selling a wide array of local crafts, such as handwoven saddle blankets, leather belts and mate cups.
Spend the rest of your day relaxing at La Bamba.
Day 3: Return to Buenos Aires
Return to Buenos Aires and depart.