Avoid Mendoza?! Isn’t that where all the malbec is grown that Argentina is famous for? Doesn’t it sit at the base of the beautiful Andes mountains? Are they crazy?
Well, yes, we are pretty crazy. But that’s beside the point. There are almost no blogs out there bashing Mendoza and everyone seems to go there. Heck, we even considered staying there for three weeks before actually getting there. But after spending a week in Mendoza and two months in other parts of Argentina we absolutely recommend that you should avoid Mendoza and spend that time in other parts of Argentina. Here are the top five reasons why:
#5 The wine tours aren’t that great
We are pretty far from the wine snob type, but we have been on some nice wine tours in parts of the US, New Zealand, and Europe. If you are expecting a Napa or Sonoma experience in Mendoza, think again. It’s not that the wineries have bad wine or aren’t “nice”, it’s just not quite the same experience. And yes we did go to the Lujan area, which is certainly better than poverty-stricken Maipu, but it was still just meh. We have no problem going to rough areas (in fact, we embrace those experiences) but we just prefer to avoid them while on wine tours.
Our favorite Mendoza wine experience was actually when we randomly met a local couple at a restaurant who just starting making their own wine. They invited us to their winery, called Mairena (highly recommend), and gave us a private tour. But aside from this experience, the Mendoza wine experience just didn’t do it for us.
#4 There are much better places to explore the Andes
We did a horsebacking riding and gaucho/ asado tour in the foothills of the Andes, which was a neat experience. But it didn’t hold a candle to the hiking and trekking in and around Bariloche, El Chalten, or Torres del Paine.
#3 The city itself is dirty and not that interesting.
Mendoza is kind of a dirty place and we can’t really think of any one aspect of the city that sticks out as being really cool and noteworthy. Maybe we just missed something. But nothing really comes to mind.
#2 Yes, the meat and wine is awesome, but you can get great meat and wine everywhere else in Argentina, too!
There are definitely some great places to eat and drink in Mendoza, there is no denying that. But the steaks we ate there were no better or worse than those we had in Buenos Aires, Bahia Blanca, Trelew/ Puerto Madryn, or Patagonia. And since you are definitely going to get some great steak in Buenos Aires, why not spend more time in Patagonia and indulge on some amazing lamb as well? As for the wine – yes they have great wine in Mendoza. But they also ship it all over the country. So you can drink the same wines everywhere else, too.
#1 There are so many better places to see in Argentina – Buenos Aires, Iguacu Falls, the Pampas, Valdes Peninsula, Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego to name a few!
Want a healthy dose of Porteňo culture? Buenos Aires has it. Jungles and waterfalls? Iguacu Falls puts Niagara to shame and will take your breath away. Crystal clear lakes and rivers? Bariloche and surrounds has a never-ending chain of them. Some of the best and most accessible mountain beauty on earth? Head to southern Patagonia and you’ll never want to leave. Never seen a glacier up close? Perito Moreno outside Calafate will blow your mind. Want to go to the “end of the world”? Ushuaia is the southernmost city on earth. Great food and wine? It’s everywhere.
It’s not so much that Mendoza sucks. It doesn’t. There are just so many other incredible (and better) places in Argentina to go see. And every day spent in a mediocre place is an opportunity lost somewhere else.
If you disagree, we’re totally fine with that. And we welcome any thoughts. It’s just our opinion.