Argentina covers much of the southern tip of South America. Its landscape is wild and vast and is filled with roaring waterfalls, hidden relics of ancient civilisations, and the end of the world. Famous for Lionel Messi, the tango and gaucho culture, there are plenty of cultural, historic and natural landmarks in Argentina to explore.
The cities are packed with life, from bustling street food markets to creative corners filled with bookstores and cafes. Its natural wonders combine multiple, wild landscapes from misty jungles to high-altitude glaciers. Here are 20 famous landmarks in Argentina not to be missed when visiting this incredible, end of the world country.
- 20 Landmarks in Argentina
- Famous Landmarks in Argentina
- Natural Landmarks in Argentina
- Historical Landmarks in Argentina
20 Landmarks in Argentina
Famous Landmarks in Argentina
1- Tren a las Nubes
Argentina’s most famous train trip is the Tren a las Nubes, or Train to the Clouds.
The journey departs from Salta and takes passengers through some of the most beautiful landscapes Argentina has to offer.
The train heads through the Lerma Valley, past the multicoloured Quebrada del Toro and even across a breath-taking viaduct where views over the desert canyon of La Polvorilla can be seen from a staggering altitude of 4200 m above sea level.
The train is the fourth highest in the world, and reaches the peak of its journey at the end of the railway line, at 4200 meters high.
The journey to the Clouds is a long one, with trips lasting around 15 hours.
2- Museo Arquelogia de Alta Montana
The Museo Arquelogia de Alta Montana or MAAM as it is locally referred to is one of Argentina’s premier museums.
The museum is home to one of the largest exhibitions in the world focusing on Incan culture and heritage.
The most famous collection in the Incan exhibition is of the child sacrifices that were left on some of the most formidable peaks in the Andes.
Make sure to find one of three mummified children.
The bodies are on a rotation lasting 6 months each.
The bodies were discovered at the peak of Llullaillaco in 1999, and are a stark reminder of the sacrifices made by the Incan peoples centuries ago.
3- Recoleta Cemetery
Sometimes referred to as the “worlds best cemetery”, Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires is a landmark not to be missed.
The graves here are not underground, but in grand and ornate mausoleums above ground, making for an interesting site to explore.
The cemetery is unique in its design as each mausoleum features intricate scrolls, Romanesque pillars and carvings.
The mausoleums are unusually small in height with many resting at around shoulder height.
Buried at the cemetery are some of Argentina’s most important figures including Evita. Maps are available and are a must when visiting, as the site is filled with more than 6400 graves.
4- Buenos Aires Obelisk
Erected in 1936 to commemorate the fourth centenary of the foundation of Buenos Aires in 1536 by Pedro de Mendoza, the monument is one of the most famous landmarks in Argentina.
The obelisk is 67.5 meters tall and was designed by Argentinian architect Alberto Prebisch.
Shortly after being built, there was much upset within the community about the obelisk, with a city authorised demolition planned only three years after its completion.
Thankfully it was vetoed by the mayor at the time and has since become an important location in the city.
5- Shrine of Llullaillaco Summit
The Shrine of Llullaillaco Summit is the highest ceremonial site in the world.
The site marks the location where the Llullaillaco mummies were found between 1983 and 1985 in northwest Argentina.
Three of the best-preserved child mummies are displayed at the Museo Arquelogia de Alta Montana.
The mummies found at the shrine were buried with more than 100 objects including fabrics, gold, silver and pottery.
One of the girls was found adorned with an elaborate ceremonial headdress.
Due to the climate at the summit of Llullaillaco, the extreme cold, hypoxic and arid environment, the mummies were extraordinarily well preserved, and are amongst the best-preserved mummies in the world.
Today, on reaching the summit, a small shrine has been erected to remember those who were killed in sacrifice as part of Incan ceremonies.
6- Floralis Generica
A city landmark in Buenos Aires since 2002, the Floralis Generica is a giant silver flower designed by Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano.
The Floralis Generica has moving petals, which at 13 meters long take around 20 minutes to open.
The flower opens each morning at 8 am and closes at sunset.
Catalano designed the sculpture in this way to reflect the real daily movements of petals.
Floralis Generica is made from aluminium, giving it a reflective surface.
During the day, the city is reflected on the surface, and at night the petals glow red.
7- National Monument to the Flag
In the city of Rosario is the National Monument to the Flag.
The monument was built to commemorate the historic raising of the Argentine National Flag, created by Manuel Belgrano, in 1872 on the cliffs of the Parana River.
The monument is located in that same spot. Part of the monument features an eternal flame, burning permanently to honour those who have died for Argentina.
The monument was built from marble and in a renaissance style and occupies a staggering 10,000 square meter area.
Argentina’s flag is so important to the country, and the history it represents, that the whole monument was designed to represent the motherland; as a ship sailing into eternity.
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Natural Landmarks in Argentina
8- Iguazu Falls
On the border of Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls is a spectacular natural landmark in Argentina.
Iguazu Falls is made up of 275 waterfalls and spans a width of 2.7 kilometres.
The tallest waterfall in the system is the Devil’s Throat and features a drop of 80 meters into a misty pool below.
The falls is nearly twice the size of Niagara Falls in the USA and Canada.
After becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the falls went on to be named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011.
In the immediate area supported by the falls are more than 2000 species of plants, 80 types of mammals and numerous species of birds.
9- Salinas Grandes
A spectacular natural landscape in Argentina is Salinas Grandes, which is a salt pan that sits at 3350 m above sea level and was once a lake.
The salt pan is now a 525 square kilometre area with a thick crust of salt which in some areas is up to half a meter thick.
On particularly clear days, the contrast between the blue skies and crisp, white of the salt pans makes for spectacular photographs.
10- Perito Moreno Glacier
Towering above the waters of Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia is the Perito Moreno Glacier.
The glacier was named after a 19th Century explorer.
Stretching for 19 miles, the glacier is one of the most incredible natural landmarks to visit in Argentina.
The glacier is part of an ice field located in both Argentina and Chile and is the third-largest freshwater reserve on earth.
Views over the glacier from a safe distance come from numerous viewing platforms around Lake Argentino, which still allow visitors to get close to the glacier.
11- Valle de la Luna
Valle de la Luna, or Valley of the Moon is in the Provincial Park in San Juan Province.
The park is an incredibly beautiful natural landmark, particularly as the sunsets.
The park is often referred to as the place “where the moon sets”, and given its barren and rocky landscape, it certainly does project an otherworldly feel.
Within the valley, numerous fossils of dinosaurs have been found, and replicas are on display at a small museum at the gates to the park.
It is possible to camp within the park to really immerse yourself in its awe and beauty.
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12- Peninsula Valdes
Another of Patagonia’s spectacular natural landmarks is Peninsula Valdes, an incredibly important location for the conservation of marine mammals.
The peninsula is home to a breeding population of the southern right whale, an endangered species, as well as elephant seals and southern sea lions.
A vast stretch of land and sea, the Peninsula Valdes covers approximately 360,000 hectares of land stretching 100 kilometres into the South Atlantic Ocean.
The area became a formal conservation area in the 1960s, and following this, the southern right whales who live within its waters were declared a natural monument by the National Congress of Argentina in 1985, which protects them from commercial whaling on an international level.
13- Loma del Pterodaustro
Lomo del Pterodaustro is a fossil site from the early Cretaceous period. Within the site are numerous fossilised remains in the laminated claystones.
From the site, palaeontologists have uncovered fossilised plants, fish, invertebrates from various animals and, of course, dinosaurs.
One of the most significant finds in the area is a fossilised pterosaur egg, with the embryo still inside.
Alongside this incredible find, hundreds of hatchlings and parts of fossilised adult pterosaurs have also been uncovered.
14- Monte de los Ombues
Monte de los Ombues is a natural phenomenon.
The ombu tree typically grows in solitude in the Pampean plain.
On Monte de los Ombues, the ombu tree grows in harmony in clusters, covering the landscape.
The trees are found on Matanza hill, the site of one of the last and bloodiest battles as the Spanish tried to eradicate the natives from the land.
It is believed that for every native who died during this battle, his relatives planted an ombu tree in their memory.
15- Quebrada de Cafayate
Another of Argentina’s otherworldly landscapes is Quebrada de Cafayate, a sandstone landscape filled with multiple colours and unusual rock formations.
The canyon is filled with high cliff faces, lone towers and a spectacular driving road.
Driving from Salta to Cafayate takes in some of the most spectacular rock formations, including one resembling a train, and a towering obelisk.
The sandstone here varies in colour from emerald greens to the deepest of reds. Visiting during the afternoon gives a spectacular hue to the landscape as the sun sets.
Historical Landmarks in Argentina
16- Pucara de la Alumbrera
Pucara de la Alumbrera is an ancient fort built from rocks and stones from eruptions of the Alumbrera and Antofagasta volcanoes surrounding it.
It is believed that the peoples who built the structure were pre-Inca, and it was only modified into a fort when the Inca arrived and took over.
Despite its age, several sections of the wall remain.
The structure is shaped like a horseshoe and would have surrounded homes, religious buildings and a civic centre.
Other similar fortresses have been found in the immediate area surrounding Pucara de la Alumbrera, leading archaeologists to believe they were all part of a wider fortification of the city.
17- Cueva de las Manos
An incredible example of ancient cave paintings and cave art, La Cueva de las Manos, or Cave of Hands is a must-visit historical landmark in Argentina.
The cave is in the valley of the Pinturas River in Patagonia and is very remote in its location.
Within the cave, however, for those brave enough to make the journey, are some of the earliest forms of cave art dating back approximately 10,000 years.
The cave gets its name from hundreds of stencilled hands layered over the walls in bright colours.
Most of the handprints are from left hands and have been sprayed using bone-pipes with purple iron oxide, kaolin white or black manganese oxide.
18- San Ignacio Mini
Hidden in the depths of the Argentine rainforest are the ruins of San Ignacio Mini.
The ruins were once part of a 17th-century Jesuit mission, whose aim was to convert the native population to Christianity.
The mission was built in 1666 and reflects a typical Spanish Baroque style, although unusually features some indigenous carvings and detailing.
The mission, whilst its core aim was to convert the natives, aimed to preserve as much local culture and language as possible.
It even acted as a shelter to protect natives from localised wars and slave traders.
19- Casa Curutchet
Pioneer of modern architecture, Le Corbusier, was commissioned to build a small house for an Argentinian surgeon.
Unusually, due to regulations in Argentina, Le Corbusier was considered non-registered architect, and so had to supervise the building and design of this incredible house from Paris, whilst instructing local architects through letters and telegrams.
The building is unusual in its shape, as it is sandwiched at an angle between two other buildings.
Due to clever design, the space was well used and features include a roof terrace, ribbon windows to allow for maximum light, and raising the entire building on columns allowed for more light and air to fill the home.
The house was declared a National Monument in 1987 and is now open to the public.
20- Palacio de Aguas Corrientes
The Palacio de Aguas Corrientes or Water Company Palace came into existence in 1894 following several outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and yellow fever in Buenos Aires.
The palace was designed by British engineer John Bateman, whose aim was to create a water purification plant to ensure that the cities residents had access to clean water.
Designed to be grand in appearance, and in the style of many pumping stations in Britain, the building façade is completed in 170,000 glazed tiles.
The first floor of the building is dedicated to the Museo del Agua y de la Historia Sanitaria and is filled with stunning ornate tile designs, beautiful faucets and old toilets.