Mendoza

For other places with the same name, see Mendoza (disambiguation).
Videla Castillo square

Mendoza is a city in western Argentina, in the desert Cuyo region. Mendoza is the center of the Argentinian wine industry, for which it is world renowned. It is also near the Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas. Mendoza is the capital of the province of Mendoza.

Understand

Although it is situated in an extremely dry desert region, Mendoza has an extensive artificial irrigation system, which allows for greenery throughout the city as well as the growth of grapes used to make its wines. Most streets have irrigation channels on either side, with bridges for pedestrian and vehicular traffic. These are periodically flooded with water diverted from the river. The trees and the wide avenues give the city a beautiful ambience, a change from much of the bare feel of many Argentine cities.

To the immediate west is the Pre-Cordillera of the Andes towering over the city, with peeks at some of the snow-covered (throughout the year) Andes peaks beyond.

A Siesta, or afternoon nap, is still taken in Mendoza. Most businesses close approximately 13:00-17:00, then re-open until about 20:30-21:30. Banks are only open in the mornings 09:00-13:00, Monday to Friday.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 32.2 30.6 27.3 23.5 19.4 15.6 15.3 18.5 21.2 25.5 29.0 31.5
Nightly lows (°C) 18.1 17.0 14.4 10.2 5.6 2.0 1.7 3.5 6.4 10.8 14.3 17.2
Precipitation (mm) 36.4 34.1 27.3 12.7 5.9 4.1 6.7 3.3 7.8 11.1 15.9 24.4
Sunshine (hrs/day) 9.6 9.2 7.6 7.3 6.3 5.6 5.9 7.4 7.5 9.1 9.8 9.2

Source: NOAA. See weather forecast at Servicio Meteorológico Nacional


Summers can be hot and dry in the city. January is particularly hot; temperatures of 40°C (104°F) are not uncommon. However, the lack of humidity makes both the heat and cool more bearable than, say, humid Buenos Aires. The nearby mountains are cool, though, even in the summer.

Winters are moderately cold in the city from late June to late August, and very cold in the mountains. Many ski centres are located near Mendoza (see #Do below).

The Zonda wind, a wind characterized by warm, dry air descending from the mountains frequently occurs in the winter, causing temperatures to raise as much as 20°C (36°F) in a few hours. These events can cause temperatures to be warm to hot, even in the middle of winter.

Get in

The large bus terminal is about two kilometres from the city centre. Taxis and remis (private taxis) are readily available (USD3-4 to the centre), or it's a 15 minute walk (not recommended at night, the area between it and the centre borders on the red light district).

There are daily bus connections to all major destinations including Bariloche and Santiago de Chile, a beautiful 7-hour bus ride crossing the Andes. Santiago de Chile is not always reachable by bus as the Andes pass closes after the first heavy snowfall in the winter months, normally around late May, but when it does snow heavily, the pass is usually only closed for a few days at most. The joint immigration/customs control for both Chile-out-stamps/Argentina-in-stamps (convenient) for entry into Argentina is located at Los Horcones near Puente del Inca, and the one for entry-into-Chile/exit-from-Argentina stamps is at Las Libertadores in Chile, 5 km past the tunnel (Check this Spanish language website for pass conditions).

Mendoza has a small airport, El Plumerillo IATA: MDZ, with flights to Buenos Aires (LAN and Aerolineas Argentina), and Santiago de Chile (LAN and Aerolineas Argentina), but tickets are very expensive as compared to bus fares (the fares to Chile and Peru are more reasonable, as you do not have to pay the foreigner premium for domestic flights). Flights to and from Salta, Iguazú and Bariloche started in 2010, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with Aerolineas Argentinas. From the airport, you can take a remis (a type of taxi) for fixed posted prices (as of 2014, it was 90 pesos to the centre). There is also a city bus (collectivo) that takes you downtown, but it comes only every 40 minutes and takes an hour to make it's way downtown (but you need to buy a buscard, not available at airport).

Mendoza is a travel hub of sorts for Argentina. It used to be the case that USA, Canada and Australian passport holders did not have to pay the Argentine reciprocity fee if entering Argentina at Mendoza (or any other entry points other than the two airports in Buenos Aires), making Mendoza a cheaper entry point for Argentina for some travellers. That's no longer the case, however; as of January 2013, the reciprocity fee must be paid before entering Argentina no matter how you're getting into the country. If you are flying through Santiago, book your bags through so you do not have to pay the Chile reciprocity fee for the same nationalities, payable only when leaving immigration at the Santiago airport,not for Chile land entry

Bus travel times to/from Mendoza:

Buses from Buenos Aires: Micros de Retiro.

In the winter, the mountain passes to Chile can be closed for several days if weather is bad, but this is only intermittent.

Get around

Central Mendoza is relatively compact and walkable - for example, it's a 20-30 minute walk from Plaza Independencia to Parque San Martin. However to get to the bodegas (vineyards) to the south, walking isn't recommended as it they are at least 10km away.

Buses are cheap and plentiful, but a little confusing at first. Buses have two numbers, a line (linea) number, which is the big number at the top of the front of every bus, and a route number, which is two or three digits (i.e. 33) and is on a small sign behind the windscreen. Buses on the same line (e.g. Linea 3) all go to roughly the same place (e.g. Godoy Cruz) but the route varies by route number - so be careful not to get on the wrong route! Now, you cannot pay cash for bus journeys (ARS3.50, card only), it is necessary to purchase a Red Bus card (a prepaid proximity card) that you touch-in when boarding a bus. A switch to card-only entry to the buses was in the works in late 2013. You can buy a Red Bus card from some kioskos near a bus stop for ARS5, and charge them up at the same place. An interactive map of the city bus routes can be found on this city website: city bus map.

There are also Trolleys, which have the same price, coin machines and use the same RedBus card. There are two varieties on all lines: the new locally-made red jobbies and the more recycled Vancouver BC city discards only sold due to wheelchair accessibility rules there. A popular run is the Parque circuit, which takes you to the gates of the immense and green Parque San Martin gates every 10 minutes or so, which you can catch on 9 de Julio, Colon or Aristides Villanueva Streets downtown. At the gates, you could also return by catching the circuit at the same stop.

The Metrotranvía (MTM) is a modern electric tram-train system opened in 2012. The Green Line connects the city center with the south-eastern suburb of Gutiérrez in Maipú district and is currently being extended to Las Heras in the north of the metro area. It uses the same prepaid-card system than the buses, and combinations with buses can be made at no cost.

Taxis are plentiful, metered and fairly cheap, costing about the same as in Buenos Aires. A trip across town from the bus station to Parque San Martin will cost around ARS$ 35.

You can hire bicycles in town - most hostels can put you in touch with a bicycle hire outfit - prices are negotiable (i.e. they will charge you as much as they think you are willing to pay) but you shouldn't pay more than ARS80 - ARS100 per day. You will need some form of ID to leave as deposit. Ask to see the bike before handing over your money - many are old clunkers.

See

Do

Many companies organize trekking, expeditions, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting in the desert and the mountains. Mountain cabins in areas with spectacular scenery are easily rentable in the city. Check the classified ads in the newspaper.

If you want the natural hot springs, just go down to the river and find some rocks forming a pool. For free.

An upscale alternative is to go for the day to the Termas Hotel, about a km before", with swanky pools, masseuses, jacuzzis and an incredible buffet lunch, all for a hefty 180 pesos, but well worth the value - if you go, you had better book at the hotel a few days before for the package (do not bother staying at the hotel , the overpriced rooms are very cramped.

Learn

As with many cities in Argentina, there is a variety of Spanish courses and private lessons are available. There are two extablished language schools in Mendoza: Intercultural is the biggest, has a range of afternoon activities, and is slightly more expensive, Greenfields (aka COINED) is smaller and feels even less well organised, but many of the teachers work at both schools.

Another great option for individual or very small tailor-made quality group lessons with a highly trained instructor: Spanish in Mendoza, Argentina (SIMA) . This is a better option for those seriously interested in learning or improving their Spanish, although the classes are very enjoyable.

Another interesting way to learn Spanish is by sharing accommodation. For people planing to stay for a couple of months, renting a room in a shared place could be the best option. Prices are reasonable low compared to hostels and hotels ranging from $700 pesos in a student apartment to $1300 pesos for a homestay with no meals. The best website for finding this type of housing is MiHouse:. Here you will find previous roommates evaluations of houses, and the assistance of the website coordinator that will help you find roommates by providing all type of information: info@mihouse.com.ar.

Buy

Eat

Good restaurants abound. For a round-up of Mendoza's more expensive eateries ask for the Guía Mendoza Gourmet from the tourist office. The main restaurant strip is on Aristides Villanueva, which runs east-west from Ave Belgrano (where the defunct railway tracks are) to Parque San Martin. It is difficult to have a bad meal here, although as a general rule be wary of special offers from places near the hostels - they may be cheap, but this shows in the quality. There are also some excellent (and pricey) restaurants on Ave Sarmiento running west from Plaza Independencia. A cluster of cheaper restaurants are on Ave Juan B Justo

Try world-famous Argentinian beef asado (roasted) from a parrilla (grill) restaurant, with a bottle of Mendoza's excellent wine. Mendoza's most famous varieties are the Malbecs from Maipú and Luján de Cuyo. Other good options are Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots.

Even by Argentinian standards, Mendocinans eat late. On weekdays kitchens open around 9PM, but few diners arrive before 10PM. On Fridays and Saturdays things don't get going until 11PM.

Not always open in the off season though. mains around As$40.

Sleep

Although Mendoza is a very liveable city, and many choose to stay for a few weeks to take language courses and the like, there is not the same short term apartment rental infrastructure as in Buenos Aries. An internet search will bring up a few options but be wary of paying deposits before you arrive as the apartment may not live up to your expectations. Traffic noise can be a particular problem.

The most pleasant part of town is between Plaza Independencia and Park San Martin - with quiet street and well kept neighbourhoods, and the bars and restaurants of Aristes Villanueva within walking distance. East of the centre is the more low rent area, and contains the cheaper hostels.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Be wary of scams, especially around the bus terminal. Occasionally foreigners will pretend to have been robbed and use your sympathy to "borrow" money for a bus ride. Specifically, a guy claiming to be a Dutch/Belgian traveller (blond/brown hair, about 40 years old) who got 'mugged' at the station, having everything including his backpack taken. Do not help him out, he's a European that has lived here for ages and has been doing this for a while. It has been confirmed that this man is continuing to operate the same con as of late 2013. If he approaches you and there is a police officer nearby report him.

Be careful arriving early morning on overnight buses. If you put your bags down, someone may try to take them.

As everywhere in Argentina, be careful of the vehicles. They do not honour the right-of-way-for-pedestrian or stop-sign laws (the police just stand around and watch the "fun"). Intersections are death traps, this cannot be emphasized too much, the vehicles are usually driven erratically, fast, without attention, wandering and without signalling. Look everywhere, and make no assumptions. Especially be careful when there is a bus or taxi approaching from any direction. Many pedestrians choose to jaywalk (not a crime here) in the middle of the block to avoid endangering their lives and limbs at intersections!

Go next

Buy your bus tickets out at the terminal at least a few days before you leave, especially during the December to March high season, July mid-winter break, and holidays, when bus usage is especially high.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 20, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.