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There are so many things to do in Mendoza, despite being a bit overshadowed by Buenos Aires.
Of course, Mendoza tends to take a backseat to its big brother, Buenos Aires, who always gets the fame and notoriety. But Mendoza has a lot to offer a traveler, especially a traveler looking to escape the chaos and noise of the capital city. Here I will offer you the top 20 things to do in Mendoza—both in city center, and the outskirts.
Mendoza is a very easily walkable city and every activity can be done on foot (except getting to Cacheuta and Maipu). If you want to use the public transport, however, it’s super easy. They use the same SUBE card as Buenos Aires for both the bus and the train.
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MENDOZA CITY CENTER
The city of Mendoza was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1861. When the city was ready to rebuild, they moved the city center further south and created a grid system. The main city center now revolves around the a grouping of 5 plazas; there is one main, larger plaza in the center, and a smaller plaza one city block from each corner.
This plaza is the larger of the 5 plazas, set right in the center of town. On the weekends, you can find the park lined with market tents selling jewelry, knives, clothing, etc. Right in the middle of the plaza is a fountain. On most evenings around 8pm, there is a dancing fountain show synced to lights and music.
This plaza will transport you to Sevilla, with its blue tile work and Spanish benches. This park has fountains and statues, and it’s a great place to relax and read a book. On weekends there are market tents, and it’s also a space for evening events.
Of all the plazas, this seems to be the most forgotten about. There is a fountain in the center with no water. The grass around it seems to be dying. I did see several people walking their dogs through here or reading the newspaper on a shady bench. There are statues honoring the relationship between Chile and Argentina.
Plaza Italia has a recently renovated fountain dedicated to Dante Aleghiari and Beatrice, which really livens up the space. There are a lot of trees and shady spots if you want to relax in a less populated space. In addition to the fountain, there are statues dedicated to Italy.
Plaza San Martin
This park is very calm and relaxing. There are people walking their dogs and sitting in the shade. It feels clean and safe. The contemporary art space is just across the street.
This “Central Park” is not so central to the new city of Mendoza, it was more central pre-earthquake, when the city center was further up north. It is a large grassy park with exercise equipment, several jungle gyms and playgrounds, and a rectangular lake in the center with alternating fountains. The park is a little out of the way, but it’s worth the trip if you want to take a relaxing stroll. Several buses go there from more central areas.
Parque San Martin
This is a massive park on the west side of the city. Near the east end you can find an oblong shaped lake. There are several paths throughout the park, as well as a rose garden, and large green spaces for relaxing.
Cerro de la Gloria
Technically, this park is inside the Parque San Martin, though it does not feel that way when you’re there. If you look at Google Maps, it will appear as if you can climb this small peak right from the park. This is not the case. To reach the summit, you must enter the parking lot near the Ecoparque. That means you’ll need to spend a lot of time walking along the main avenues to get there. It’s not as much ‘nature’ as I had hoped on the way up. Don’t want to walk? That’s okay, you can take a taxi from the city center, and it is also a stop on the Mendoza City Bus Tour.
When you reach the peak, you’ll climb several steps that lead you to a massive statue of General San Martin and his Andean army. Luckily there is a fresh fruit juice stand at the bottom of the hill which is perfect to energize you for the walk back to town.
Museo del Área Fundacional
This museum is found in the old center, pre-earthquake. It’s about a 30-minute walk from Plaza Independencia and is also a stop on the Mendoza City Bus Tour. All information in this museum is in Spanish. It tells the history of the city, and you can see the foundation of the old Cabildo which was destroyed in the earthquake.
Espacio Contemporáneo de Arte “Eliana Molinelli”
This contemporary art space is on the corner just across the street from Plaza San Martin. It is closed on Sundays. Unfortunately it was closed every time I attempted to go, as they were switching the exhibits. However, the reviews on Google speak very highly of this museum.
This is Mendoza’s modern art museum. The entry is totally free. It can easily be found in the center of the Plaza de Independencia. You just need to walk down the stairs to reach it, and there are entries on both sides. This was a really interesting and well-curated museum of contemporary works from paintings, drawings, sculptures, and multi media installations.
Museo del Pasado Cuyano
Unfortunately, this museum was closed when I tried to go (even though it was open according to Google). Foreigners pay 1000 pesos, while Argentinians pay 500 pesos. It was previously the home of Mendoza’s governors Francisco and Emilio Civit. The museum shows a look into Mendoza’s history.
Eating/Going Out in Mendoza
Avenida Arístides Villanueva
This street stretches from Parque San Martin to Avenida Belgrano. It is a street full of restaurants and cafes. A very happening place to go out at night, or find lunch or dinner. The street never seems to sleep. Even on Sunday mornings you can hear the sounds of Reggaeton. If you’re looking for a peaceful place, this is not it. If you like to sleep without interruptions, I highly advise against finding accommodation on this street. If you do, get yourself some good ear plugs.
Avenida Juan B. Justo
About 7 blocks to the north of Avenida Arístides you’ll find the Avenida Juan B. Justo. It’s known for its cheap food options and nightlife. Here you can find a ton of restaurants and cafes. It’s totally dead on Sundays though, don’t bother. There is a bar called El Container that hosts language meet-ups for foreigners every Tuesday night.
Paseo La Alameda
This is a tree lined road with restaurants, bars, and cafes. During the day, this area is quite dead. But at night, it really comes alive.
This is a standard central market in Argentina, but interesting to walk around in. It is full of fiambre options (cut meat and cheese), a ton of different hanging meats, and other treats. There are a few places to eat lunch in the back.
This is a peatonal (pedestrian only) street. It is just three blocks long, starting from the east side of Plaza Independencia until Avenida San Martin. There are a ton of restaurants and great cafes along this pedestrian street.
La Central Vermuteria
This corner restaurant/bar makes fantastic drinks. I highly recommend making a stop in for merienda hour. Get a drink and an appetizer and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere at the outside seating area. I ordered the stracciatella and a perfect vermouth cocktail with bitters, and highly recommend both!
OUTSIDE MENDOZA CITY CENTER
The Cacheuta Thermal Baths
There are two options: The hotel/spa (more exclusive) and the water park (public). The thermal baths are about one hour outside of the city. It’s very easy to get there, and is a very relaxing day. I highly recommend this day trip. Check out my entire blog post about it here.
Wineries in Maipu
It is incredibly easy to reach Maipu from the city center of Mendoza. You just need to take the red train south 30 minutes, and you can even use your same SUBE card from Buenos Aires. There are a ton of bodegas both inside the city center, as well as outside. You definitely cannot walk to all of them so I suggest either renting a bike (Wine & Ride), or doing a tour. Click here to read my review on Wine & Ride.
Where to Stay in Mendoza
This is one of the most popular hostels in Mendoza. It seemed that everyone I met was staying here. It’s a very social hostel in a hip part of town. A great place to meet other travelers.
This hostel is RIGHT on Aristides street, which is the most popular street for going out. If you’re into nightlife and like to be around all the action, this is the perfect place to stay.
This Boutique Hotel is right in the center of town, just one block from Plaza Independencia (where you can see the fountain show). There is a small outdoor pool and a free breakfast every morning.
This hotel is also just one block from Plaza Independencia, which is super central. Free parking is available, as well as free breakfast, a fitness center, and a swimming pool.
If you like the idea of sleeping where wine is made, this could be the place for you. A breakfast buffet is included. If you don’t have a car, transportation can be arranged for a small fee to reach this destination. On the property, you can find a garden, vineyard, and olive grove.
There is a reason everyone suggests a visit to Mendoza when you come to Argentina. Listen to their advice, and check out this beautiful, and relaxing city at the base of the Andes. If Mendoza sounds like the place for you, make sure to use Way Away for your next trip
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