Mendoza, Argentina: Top 20 Activities

Reading Time: 10 minutes

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.

Try using WayAway on your trip to Mendoza! They provide cheap flights with cash back. This is not a loyalty program: you get your money on your credit card or in your PayPal account. Travel smart.

MENDOZA CITY CENTER

Plazas

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.

Plaza Independencia

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.

Plaza España

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.

Plaza Chile

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

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.

Nature

Parque Central

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.

Museums

Museo del Area Fudacional

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.

MMAMM

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

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.

Mercado Central

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.

Sarmiento Street

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 hote/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.

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


Leave a Reply