Argentina is a large country in South America with a long coastline on the Atlantic. The country's warmer weather comes in the months from November to March when the beaches come to life and attract a large number of tourists from around the world. There are great places all along the coast where one can relax, cool off in the ocean and enjoy local Argentine holiday life. You will find everything from action-packed holiday beach resorts with urban centers and a well-developed tourist infrastructure to quiet, family-friendly getaways that are more popular with locals and perfect for a relaxing escape.
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Carilo is a high-end beach resort town located in a man-made forest on the Atlantic coast. For years, access to the beach town was strictly controlled by the government; however, nowadays it is accessible to all, even though the upscale nature of the resorts mean that it only draws the well-heeled. The town has many activities for visitors of all ages. Many hit the sand dunes in four-wheelers for hours of fun, and most of the hotels and resorts in the area have loaner quads and ATVs. Visitors to Carilo will enjoy their days playing on the beach, swimming, and enjoying beach sports and four-wheeling while spending their nights relaxing in peaceful, luxury cabins in the forest or at high-end resort suites.
Vacation Idea: Rent a romantic beachfront bungalow in Tunquen, on the coast of Chile.
2. Las Grutas
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Las Grutas is a beach resort town located in the Rio Negro province in Argentina. Tourists flock to the resort town every summer as the beaches are known for being warm despite their Patagonian location. The town's name means "the caves," named after the cliffs that flank the beach. The notably clear waters are warm enough for swimming late into the year. Originally, it was only a camping and picnicking spot popular among locals, however, in the 1980s it was discovered by developers, who came to build apartments and a casino. Still, there are plenty of quiet beaches even in the peak season.
3. Mar de Ajo
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Mar de Ajo is a city on Argentina's coast known as a family vacation spot with a stunning coastline and many beach camping spots. In addition to enjoying the stunning coastline and relaxing seaside, visitors can tour the Lo de Maria Lucrecia, an organic farm that offers educational experiences and is especially popular with children. The Museum and Historic Archive of Mar de Ajo is another popular attraction, where you can see historical photos of the sleepy town and learn about the various ships that ran aground nearby. Those who want to try their luck can visit the Mar de Ajo Casino, which offers 80 slot machines as well as black jack and roulette tables.
Vacation Idea: Rent a beachfront getaway on the coast of Chile in Tunquen.
4. Argentina Beaches: Mar del Pampas
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Mar del Pampas is a city on the Atlantic coast characterized by wide, sandy beaches and forests. Located in the Buenos Aires Province near Villa Gesell, Mar del Pampas is a quiet retreat with photo-perfect chalets, cottages, and apartments. The climate is temperate with cold winters and hot summers, and visitors will find a variety of activities at their fingertips, including horseback riding, cycling, hiking, watersports, sandboarding, and more. The city is perfect for those who want to relax and enjoy a peaceful retreat near nature, making this one vacation destination that you are sure to return from actually feeling rested.
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5. Argentina Beaches: Mar del Plata
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Mar del Plata is a city on the Atlantic coast that has the distinction of being the largest seaside beach resort in Argentina. It is also one of the country's largest fishing ports, although its main industry is tourism, with swarms of tourists visiting each year. As such, the city has an impressive tourist infrastructure with restaurants, casinos, hotels, and entertainment attractions. There are a number of cultural attractions, including a large number of museums such as the Juan Carlos Castagnino Municipal Museum of Art. Add to all of this plenty of interesting architecture and you have the perfect seaside resort town.
Vacation Idea: Rent a beachfront bungalow on the coast of Chile.
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Miramar is another popular resort city that is someone smaller and more laid back than its bigger cousin, Mar del Plata. The small city is only a short drive from Mar del Plata but it seems many worlds away with its quiet and laid-back atmosphere. You won't find world-class shopping or a wild night club scene here, just simple, quiet living with a big focus on family life. There are a number of restaurants along the seaside as well as popular swimming spots. Towards the end of December, the water warms up and the town becomes a popular place for surfing and local families vacationing from other parts of the country. Other activities include visiting the Energetic Forest nearby, trying your luck at the Miramar Casino, and checking out a show at the Cine Astral.
7. Argentina Beaches: Monte Hermoso
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Monte Hermosa is a coastal city east of Bahia Blanca in the southern part of Buenos Aires province. The city is known for being a family-friendly resort getaway. There are more than 32 kilometers of side, sweeping beaches. Sunrise and sunset are both notable here as it is the only beach in the country where you can experience the sun both rising and setting over the sea. Due to currents, the beaches here also benefit from somewhat warmer water than the other resort cities along the coast. There are basic services for tourists and a variety of attractions including sports facilities, water sports, tours, museums, and a modern casino.
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Pinamar is a seaside town on the Atlantic coast known for its unique style of architecture. The homes are set amidst lush open gardens and the entire area is surrounded by pine forests. There are beaches along the entire length of the waterfront which are popular among vacationers in the summer. To the north of town there is a large area of sand dunes called La Frontera. Popular attractions include the Church of Our Lady of La Paz, the Balneario Marbella and the Casino Hotel del Boque. There is a small family-friendly amusement park called Bupe Park which is a fun and quiet place with modern games for kids who need fun break from playing in the sand.
9. Puerto Madryn
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Puerto Madryn is a city on the northern coast of Patagonia. It is know for its sandy beachfront and promenade which faces Golfo Nuevo bay. The city is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in all of Patagonia. One of the largest highlights of visiting Puerto Madryn is a visit to the Peninsula de Valdes which is located 50 kilometers away. The peninsula is a natural sanctuary for marine wildlife and a great place to see whales which breed off of the coast. You can also see penguins and learn about their habitat at the nearby Punta Tombo penguin rookery.
10. Argentina Beaches: Villa Gesell
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Villa Gesell is a seaside resort city in Buenos Aires Province. The main tourist attraction is the beach which is approximately 10 kilometers long. The beach has a soft slope and has a number of spas and other facilities built along it. During the warm months, the city has appointed lifeguards to be on duty. Other attractions include a lighthouse to the south and adventure visits to the forest nearby which is a natural reserve. The city also has a zoo, a golf course, a craft market and a number of discos so you will never run out of things to do and places to explore.
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More Ideas: Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the few active glaciers still left on Earth, meaning it is still growing. Guests will enjoy visiting and even possibly hiking the actual glacier, as well as exploring the attached national park, Los Glaciares. The glacier was first spotting in the mid-1800s by a captain from the Chilean Navy.
It was named for an explorer, Francisco Moreno, who was quintessential in studied the area during the 19th Century as well as helping to defend the Argentinian border during a dispute with the country of Chile. It is one of the rarest glaciers in the world, as the vast majority of them are receding and Perito Moreno is advancing (or getting larger). It is currently one of the most popular tourist attractions in the southern part of Patagonia.
Exploring the glacier can be done a variety of different ways, depending on the adventure and skill level of the guest visiting. There is also a visitor center to help guests make the best choice for them.
One of the more unique ways to tour the glacier without having to walk too much (perfect for those adventurous people that may have physical disabilities as well as both the young and the elderly) is to take a boat tour. The boat tours are led by a knowledgeable tour guide who is educated in both the history and the geography of the glacier and the tours last just about 45 minutes. The boat will stop a few times to allow guests to take photographs at some of the best sightseeing areas surrounding the glacier.
For visitors who want a full day experience of the glacier, multiple tour groups offer guided treks of the glacier that last an entire day. They are held at an incredibly relaxed pace to allow people to fully appreciate the scale and beauty of the glacier and the surrounding area. Tours start with a guided bus tour that leaves from a local hotel, where guests will learn all about the national park.
More adventurous guests can set off on the Adventure Tour (El Calafate), which is a guided hike across the actual face of the glacier. All of the required safety equipment for this trek is included in the cost, so guests will not have to worry about bringing or having their own. Guests are encouraged to dress as warmly as possible and will hike most of the day (including a stop for a picnic lunch). Some hiking experience is strongly recommended as this hike can be physically challenging as well as subjecting hikers to potentially extreme weather conditions (including temperature and winds).
For guests that want to explore the glacier by foot, there are a variety of different walking trails that let walkers see both the glacier and the surrounding water. There are also multiple viewing platforms available, all located close enough to the glacier that it is possible to feel the cold air emanating from it.
While visiting the glacier, guests are encouraged to also tour the attached Los Glaciares National Park. This UNESCO, federally protected World Heritage Site is a major tourist attraction for guests from all across the world. The park is full of natural beauty, hiking trails, and local wildlife (like buzzard eagles and condors).
One of the more fun special events offered at Perito Moreno glacier/Los Glaciares National Park is the annual festival surrounding the baptism of the lake. For two weeks, locals and tourists will come together to celebrate Lake Argentino’s storied history with greyhound racing, horseback events like dressage, folklore, an arts fest, and sporting events. The festival culminates by crowning the Queen of the Lake. This festival is held the week prior to the actual anniversary on February 15th and is locally known as the Festival del Lago Argentino.
The other local festival that people enjoy checking out is the Fiesta Nacional de Trekking, held during the end of February. This festival features a wide variety of different outdoor sporting events, including competitions and races. Guests will enjoy either just being a spectator or actually participating in many of the different sports, including rock climbing, woodcutting competitions, bouldering, and mountain biking.
Dining and Shopping
While the glacier and national park don’t have dining options, there are many in the local area that surrounds them both. The closest restaurant for those hiking the glacier is Nativos de la Patagonia, which is only open for breakfast and lunch. The nearby town (about two hours by bus) of El Calafate has a few shops, as well, mostly selling hiking gear and other souvenirs. There are few options for more commercial shopping experiences.