20 of the best places to visit in September

September is one of our favourite months to travel. The school holiday rush is over, so sunny destination flight prices start to come down. Temperatures in Europe dip enough to make heat more comfortable and undiscovered Europe is in its element. The ‘stans come to life. Safari season is in full swing, if drawing to a close.

Whether you’re after a getaway with a difference, a life-changing wildlife experience or a long-term adventure to tick off the wish list, September’s an ideal month to get on the road.

Skip ahead to your chosen travel type by clicking on one of the below, or keep scrolling for the full list of recommendations:

Here are the 20 best places to visit in September…

The best September destinations for nature and ideal weather

1. Sicily, Italy

Sicily’s Valle dei Templ (Shutterstock)

Like many popular European hot spots, Sicily is still warm in September, yet less oppressively hot, cooler in the evenings and less busy thanks to the summer holidays drawing to a close. However, you might notice an influx of visitors this year, thanks to the hit series White Lotus introducing the Mediterranean gem to the set-jetting travellers of the world.

In the capital, Palermo, opera season begins again this month. It’s also typically an ideal temperature to take on the hike up Mount Etna, or to explore the volcanic Aoelian Islands.

Ensure time to explore the towns of Taormina and Castelmola. The former is where you can find the must-visit Greek-Roman theatre: the view here is one of the most striking with Mount Etna on the horizon. For more Greek ruins, the Valle dei Templ (Valley of Temples) in Agrigento is one of world’s finest archaeological examples of ancient art and architecture.

It doesn’t matter where you end up on the island: you’ll be able to end each day by parking yourself outside a classic Sicilian eatery to enjoy the hazy late summer evening.

2. Hokkaido, Japan

Jozankei is a picturesque onsen town near Sapporo (Shutterstock)

Just as the pale-pink cherry blossoms of spring draw locals outside to marvel at Japan’s natural beauty, its autumnal colours are just as prized.

But while the rest of the country waits to get its first glimpse of red and golden maple leaves, Hokkaido is ahead of the game. Japan’s chilly northern tip starts to turn towards the middle of September, making for a colourful road trip before the ice and bad weather sets in.

Pay a visit first to the pretty onsen town of Jozankei, just south of Sapporo, which has plenty of walkable forest trails and hot springs to relax in. Then make for the Blue Pond at the centre of the island, where impossibly teal waters reflect the reddening canopies of the surrounding larch and birch trees magnificently, making for a painterly setting.

But you don’t even need to leave the city to spy nature at its autumnal best. Sapporo’s Hiraoka Jugei Center is famous for its ‘red tunnel’, created by the rows of Japanese maples (Nomura momiji) that flank its walkways.

3. Corsica, France

The citadel of Calvi, Corsica (Sylvain Oliveira/Alamy)

Corsica’s Rencontres Polyphoniques de Calvi is one of those tiny cultural pearls that makes a trip to the old citadel of Calvi in mid-September utterly unique, as choristers and soloists from around the world join the A Filetta polyphonic choir in making the most of their cathedral setting.

By day, take the opportunity to explore the rest of the citadel, whose Genoese construction helped Calvi resist French control up until the 18th century. The former governor’s palace is particularly impressive and has a fine museum on the city.

It’s also a great time to visit if you want to take on any part of the GR20 – one of Europe’s toughest but most rewarding trails. The cooler weather of autumn makes this the perfect season to wander Corsica’s glacial lakes and imposing peaks before winter seals off many of the higher passes.

4. Maine, USA

Boats docked in pretty harbour town of Camden in Maine (Shutterstock)

September sees New England’s lobster shacks readying to close up shop for winter, so it’s the perfect time to go on a last-minute coastal food crawl. Hoover up Maine’s famed lobster rolls – overflowing, buttery sandwiches – in villages along the coast, and be sure to stop in Portland, where tours explore both its seafood scene and maritime history.

Further north, Camden takes the plaudits as one of the prettiest harbour towns in Maine, but is known for its fleet of windjammers (merchant-style sail boats). This stretch of Penobscot Bay is particularly sheltered, so it makes a great setting for the annual Labor Day Windjammer Festival, one of the largest meetings of sail ships in north-east USA.

Finish at Acadia National Park’s Mount Desert Island, the highest rocky headlands on this stretch of the Atlantic coast. As well as trails and adventures, it is home to the annual Night Sky Festival in late September, when the Milky Way glimmers bright in the naturally dark skies overhead.

5. Portugal

Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal (Shutterstock)

Portugal lands on our long-term list for the sheer volume of places to visit, because typically, it’s a classic short break destination. We admit: it’s far too easy to fly to Lisbon or Porto for a few days, or enjoy a wine tasting tour of Douro Valley, and then fly back home.

If you’ve weeks maybe even a month or two to spare, it’s well worth slowing down and soaking up Portugal. Spend time seeking out Lisbon and Porto’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods.

Go off-the-beaten-track to the majestic historical city of Coimbra, and explore the underrated Tavira and more of the eastern Algarve‘s quieter coast. Finally, give the fairytale town of Sintra what it deserves: a few days more than a day trip.

You can take your time enjoying the fruits of Portugal’s vineyards, too, and don’t forget the island of Madeira. It has more than just wine to enjoy, but you’ll still soak up Funchal’s world-class wineries at a slower pace.

Portugal may still be a tad too warm in September for travellers better equipped to dealing with cooler temps. However, it’s good to know that things tend to simmer down in the evenings, making strolls to local bars for drinks and petiscos (the snackier version of Spanish tapas) extremely pleasant.

The best longer-term travel experiences for September

6. Georgia

The Old Town of Tbilisi, Georgia (Shutterstock)

The capital, Tbilisi, may make an excellent long weekend destination, but there’s far more of the country to explore.

Batumi and Mtskheta cities are also well worth your time, both offering historical landmarks, monasteries and sensational views. The botanical garden in Batumi is a natural spectacle, too, especially as autumn’s oranges and yellows begin to take over the country.

Head to western Georgia and experience Kutaisi, or delve into Prometheus Cave. Experience local life in the Svaneti region among the Caucasus Mountains, and end your trip with all the Georgian food and drink you can manage, with a relaxing few days by the Black Sea.

7. Argentina

El Caminito neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Shutterstock)

Argentina’s winter draws to a close in August and early September, so mid to late September brings with it spring temperatures. They do vary, but you can hope for easygoing temperatures.

Spring blooms bring lush greenery to Argentina’s national parks, and overall, this vast South American country is certainly less crowded than in summer. Northern Argentina in particular is best visited during this season, where you can discover the little-visited Salinas Grandes salt plains, the multi-hued rock formations of Quebrada de Humahuaca, and swing by the mountain city of Salta.

Alternatively, take your time in the capital, Buenos Aires, enjoy the wineries of Mendoza, or head to youthful Córdoba: the gateway to Jesuit monasteries and mountain ranges.

8. Trekking in Nepal

Nepal (Shutterstock)

We’ve covered Nepal’s life-affirming treks in some detail on Wanderlust, and have to say that there’s few better times than September to take on a challenge.

This is because the weather is prime for easy trekking conditions. Rainy season has petered out, the skies are clear and temperatures are on the cooler side.. Time to get walking…

While most head to Nepal for its mountain trails, its also a brilliant country for culture-seekers. Head to Pokhara, the gateway to the popular Annapurna Circuit, but also somewhere you can learn more about Buddhism. Don’t forget to visit the city’s International Mountain Museum for exhibits on historic climbers and the people of the Himalayas.

Teej Festival also often falls in September. During this three-day Hindu festival and national holiday, women will fast and also dress in their beautiful red saris, creating a crimson spectacle on the streets.

9. China

China (Shutterstock)

Both September and October are popular times to visit China. Not least because the spectacular Mid-Autumn Festival takes place during this period, celebrating the end of the harvest. Dates vary, but the special day usually occurs between mid-September and the beginning of October.

Weather-wise, the northern regions are particularly fine to visit anytime in September, though humidity in the south can remain high until later on in the month.

Use this weather pattern to help guide your trip. Begin in Beijing, the electrifying 3,000-year-old capital. The Great Wall, a travel classic, is about an hour and 30 minutes by car. You’ll want several days to walk and explore this sheer wonder.

Then make your way south, stopping by all the must-sees: Chengdu (for giant pandas), Xi’an (one of China’s eldest cities, home to the Terracotta Army) and the Three Gorges mountain range on the Yangtze River.

10. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan

Monument in Rudaki Park, Dushanbe, Tajikistan (Dreamstime)

Geographically (and sensibly), it would be impossible and near-criminal to see the ‘stans and sack off the blue-tiled marvels of Uzbekistan. But since we’ve featured Uzbekistan as a highlight for several different months, why not use September to dig deeper into neighbouring Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, too?

Tajikistan, a landlocked country surrounded by mountains, is a hiker’s untouched dream. The capital, Dushanbe, is absolutely fascinating. Admire its unique architecture and monuments in Rudaki Park, then spend time acquainting yourself with the nation’s Soviet history in Tajikistan National Museum.

Turkmenistan’s jewel is its marble-dense capital, Ashgabat, reportedly one of the most expensive cities in the world for foreigners to live. Fortunately, you’re just visiting, so spend your time marvelling at its tombs, towers and mosques, or shopping in the city’s unusual bazaars.

It’s easy to go beyond the city, though. The white-sand coast spreads out before the Caspian Sea, and the Gates To Hell (the perpetually-burning Darvaza Gas Crater) lies in wait in the middle of the desert.

11. Malawi

The start of the Ruo Path in the Lujeri Tea Estate leading up to the plateau of Mount Mulanje (Shutterstock)

There are few bigger music festivals in Africa than Lake of Stars, which lights up the pale sands at the southern end of Lake Malawi in September.

It was created in 2003 to promote local Malawian artists, though it has since expanded its repertoire to take in acts across the continent. After the pandemic broke in 2020, the festival went on hiatus for a number of years, but its return in 2024 marks a new chapter in the life of ‘Africa’s Glastonbury’.

Combine a visit with trips to the surrounding wilderness and mountain areas. September marks the start of the hot season in Malawi, but driving up to see and stay in the family-run tea plantations of Mulanje Mountains offers a cool escape and glimpse of another world entirely.

Meanwhile, down in the bush of Liwonde National Park, the hotter weather soon rids the land of its wet-season greenery, making sightings of its Big Five far easier to sniff out as you drift the Shire River in search of large herds of elephant and sun-worshipping crocodiles roasting on the riverbanks.

Where to go in September for arts and cultural experiences

12. Munich, Germany

Traditional costumes at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany (Shutterstock)

Oktoberfest has October right there in the title, but Bavaria’s beer-based merriment actually begins around the third week of September. So, why not get there early, before others may be aware?

Over the two-week festival, you can expect endless opportunities for eating German pretzels, wurstl (sausage) and knodel (potato pancakes), hop from tent to tent tasting the best in German beer, dress up in traditional dirndl dresses or lederhose, enjoy a carnival ride, toast your new-found drunken friends (it’s a friendly festival) and simply dance the night away.

13. Bohinj, Slovenia

The Cow’s Ball in Bohinj, Slovenia (Dreamstime)

A little more niche than Oktoberfest, Slovenia’s Bohinj region offers more than scenic beauty in September. It also offers the chance to witness the long-running, traditional ‘cow festival’, known as the ‘Cow Ball’.

It’s exactly as it sounds. Through a cloud of folk music, locals watch a parade of garland-wearing cows pass the gloriously blue Lake Bohinj. The event signifies the return of the cows from the hills in summer, where they’ve been munching and filling their four stomachs with green, green grass.

14. Villamartin, Andalucía, Spain

The beautifully landscaped plaza of Villamartin (Shutterstock)

There’s always a good reason to visit Andalucía, but the annual return of the region’s oldest agricultural fair in September is as good an excuse as any to head for southern Spain. Trust us – it’s more lively than it sounds.

The Feast of St Matthew (Feria de Ganado y Fiestas de San Mateo) serves up Andalucían culture at its purest: cattle browsing before noon; horse displays, carriage races and folklore performances come nightfall. It’s a heady combination, with plenty of food and goodwill found on the streets.

The town lies on the cusp of Sierra De Grazalema, a lush natural park veined with walking trails, rugged limestone peaks and pretty mountain villages such as Benaocaz and Benamahoma. Be sure to strike out into the countryside before heading to the historic streets of nearby Cadiz and Seville for a culture fix.

15. Diriyah & Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage site illuminated at night (Shutterstock)

The end of the month (23 Sep) marks the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Celebrations gather around Riyadh’s huge Masmak Fort, where a 21-year-old Abdulaziz Ibn Saud – exiled at the age of eight – led an against-all-odds attack against Ottoman forces in 1902 to take back the fort and proclaim himself the ruler of Riyadh.

If you want to delve into the origins of the Kingdom, take a trip to the ‘original’ capital in Diriyah, on the western fringes of Riyadh, where the ancestors of today’s Saudi royal family first arrived in the 15th century – although the first inklings of the state didn’t emerge until hundreds of years later.

You can explore this history in the restored 18th-century mud-brick walls of the UNESCO-listed At-Turaif citadel and its elegant Salwa Palace, where evening light shows depict the moment in 1818 when the Ottomans rode in and put a violent end to the First Saudi State.

The best places to visit for wildlife watching in September

16. KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

A giraffe roams Hluhluwe-IMfolozi Game Reserve (Shutterstock)

September is traditionally the end of game viewing season inKwaZulu-Natal, making it the ideal month to visit if you want to avoid the mass safari crowds, but still see the Big Five and more.

Expect the opportunity to see lions, elephants, rhinos and giraffes, as well as rare bird species. Hluhluwe-IMfolozi Game Reserve is a must for any wildlife fan, said to be the oldest reserve in Africa. Elephant lovers must head to the north-east to see the creatures roaming Tembe Elephant Park, which is close by to Ndumo Game Reserve.

Birders rejoice at uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, which is protected for its significant population of endangered or rare species, including the wattled crane, vultures (bearded and cape) and the yellow breasted pipit. Over 164 birds have been spotted in the region. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it’s the home of San Rock Art, a large collection of rock paintings dating back to the 1800s.

17. Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks

Elephants in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania (Shutterstock)

East Africa also offers ample wildlife opportunities in September. Of course, the earlier you visit in September, the better, so you’ve missed the August rush, but you’re also not risking early rains washing the animals out of the park and into the outskirts of the reserves.

Tanzania has two national parks you simply must visit, if you love animals. Tarangire National Park provides wildlife watchers with an excellent chance of enjoying an elephant sighting in the wild, as they group together around the Tarangire River. The Serengeti can still be busy in September and you won’t have much luck with the wildebeest migration (June to July) across the Grumeti River, but you will have better luck with the overall wildlife population. Leopards, lions and more of the Big Five await.

18. Atlantic provinces and British Columbia, Canada

Puffins shotting in Newfoundland, Canada (Shutterstock)

Chances are you’ll want to take a warm jacket with you on a wildlife excursion in the eastern provinces of Canada.

Here, you’ll say goodbye to safari-style wildlife watching and instead admire whales by boat. Take your birding binoculars too as it’s prime time for puffin sightings along the coast.

You can see native black bears in Newfoundland, too. The season lasts until November, so you’ll be there at the right time. There are approximately 6,000 to 10,000 in the region – which is a pretty high concentration.

On the opposite side of the country in British Columbia, it’s prime time to see wild grizzlies in their natural habitat. September and October also offer a great chance to catch the salmon run, where millions of salmon swim and leap upstream to spawn in the places they were born. It’s arguably one of nature’s most fascinating spectacles.

19. Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique

A desert warthog in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique (Shutterstock)

For something a bit different, embrace the beautiful spring season in Mozambique’s premier national park, the so-called ‘Serengeti of the south’.

In spring (September and October), the park’s diverse array of flora and fauna blossom into a lovely shade of green. This month is also peak season for seeing the elephants, wildebeest, warthogs, hippos, lions and buffalo that call the park home as they all flock to watering holes to quench their thirst.

Birders won’t be disappointed either, and you may spot a Nile crocodile or two around Lake Urema and its varying lagoons. Fourteen African wild dogs were also re-introduced to Gorongosa in 2018, so keep your eyes peeled. One creature you may not spot? A zebra. They’re rare – apparently, there are just a few roaming the park.

20. Falsterbo, Sweden

500 million migratory birds pass by the Skanor-Falsterbo peninsula (Shutterstock)

Sweden’s south coast isn’t especially known for its wildlife. The exception is the Skanor-Falsterbo peninsula (aka Naset), home to a pair of small towns on the south-western tip of Skåne that are wrapped by pencil-thin shores. In September, it also becomes the perfect viewing spot to see 500 million migratory birds pass by, including a huge number of raptors.

The rooftop of the bird observatory is a great place to bag a spot. And when you’re done, a short walk away lies the Måkläppen reserve, where a year-round colony of harbor and grey seals hang out on a hook-shaped isthmus. SUP and kayak tours can take you near, but these creatures are so curious that they often swim up close to inspect paddlers.

If you have the time, combine the above with a cycling trip along the Sydkustleden (260km), which runs the flat coastal paths of Skåne and takes in standing stones, medieval cobbled villages, pirate castles, the canals of Malmo and plenty of fikas (afternoon tea).

International Colour Day: 15 of the world’s most stunning rainbow-coloured places

1. Kampung Warna, Jodipan, Indonesia

Colourful Rainbow Village in Jodipan, Malang (Shutterstock)

Just south of Malang, a city in East Java, Kampung is an explosion of colour in what was once a drab corner of Indonesia.

Management students from a nearby university came up with the idea of painting the houses. A local paint company donated the paint. And a previously unremarkable village was turned into a happy place of rainbow colours, suddenly receiving an influx of money from selfie-seeking visitors.

It also inspired locals to clean up their rubbish-strewn river, so there has been a positive environmental impact, too.

2. Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, USA

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park (Shutterstock)

Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the USA and the third largest thermal spring on the planet.

But it’s the rainbow-coloured bands of heat-loving bacteria that make it truly memorable. The sulphur fumes may burn your eyes, but it’s certainly photo-worthy.

3. The Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa

Kids sitting on steps in the Bo-Kaap quarter (Shutterstock)

Sitting at the foot of Signal Hill on the fringes of central Cape Town, Bo-Kaap was once known as the Malay Quarter, home to workers brought in from Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of Africa to work.

Built in the 1760s and rented to the workers, the houses had to be white as per the terms of the lease. When the workers were eventually allowed to buy the properties, they painted them in bright colours to express their freedom and individuality.

4. Red Sea, Egypt

Coral and tropical fish in the Red Sea (Shutterstock)

The Red Sea boasts one of the richest and most diverse underwater ecosyems in the world, with over 1,200 species of fish, 10% of which can’t be found anywhere else.

This is largely due to the 2,000 kilometres of coral reef along its coast. Some of the coral is 5,000 – 7,000 years old. It’s lost none of its vibrancy, and coupled with the neon fish that call it home, remains one of the most colourful places on earth.

5. Rainbow Village, Taichung, Taiwan

Colourful graffiti painted on the wall in Taichung (Shutterstock)

What began as an attempt to save houses in the Nantun District of Taichung has turned into one of Taiwan’s most popular and colourful tourist attractions. Former soldier, Huang Yung-Fu, started painting houses in the settlement to stop them from being demolished.

Over the years he has added colourful artwork, including birds, animals and people, to most of the remaining houses in the village, gaining it the moniker ofRainbow Village.

6. Vinicunca, Peru

Tourists walking on the Rainbow Mountain (Shutterstock)

A two-hour drive from Cusco, Vinicunca, Peru’s Rainbow Mountain, has become one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Formed millions of years ago, the ridges of sediment are made up of a variety of minerals, each providing its own vibrant hue of either pink, yellow, turquoise and burgundy.

Sitting at 5,200 metres, you’ll need to take time to acclimatise to the altitude – and the mix of colours.

7. Guatapé, Colombia

Colourful colonial houses in Guatape (Shutterstock)

A bumpy three hour bus ride from Medellin, the tiny traditional pueblo of Guatepé is full of brightly coloured colonial-era homes, embellished with delicate painting ofllamas, sunflowers, parrots and guitars.

The Plaza de Zocalos is rainbow-coloured, too, and the perfect place to have a drink and people watch.

8. Seven Coloured Earths, Chamarel, Mauritius

The seven coloured lands of Chamarel (Shutterstock)

A series of colourful dunes in the middle of tropical rainforest, the Seven Coloured Earths near Charamel in Mauritius is believed to have formed from the decomposition of volcanic rocks. It has settle into stripes of colour ranging from violet and red through to yellow and blue and is best viewed at sunrise, when the colours are at their most vibrant.

9. Cinque Terre, Italy

View of Vernazza from trail (Shutterstock)

Hugging the rugged coastline and tumbling down towards the Ligurian Sea, the five tiny villages that make up Cinque Terre are a riot of colour.

Walking the jagged coast path between them is one of Italy’s most treasured treks, rewarding hikers with fresh sea air and spectacular views, especially when you round a headland and catch your first sight of villages like Vernazza and Manarola.

10. La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

El Caminito quarter in La Boca (Shutterstock)

La Boca is a working-class suburb in Buenos Aires that is famous for two things – La Bombonera, the home ground of Boca Juniors football team and Caminito, a narrow alley flanked by bright, zinc shacks.

The colours are a reminder of the district’s early immigrant days, when a splash of paint was the only way to show pride in the humble dwellings. Now the area is bursting with steakhouses, bars and cafes and the modern art museum, Fundación Proa.

11. Tulip fields, Keukenhof, The Netherlands

Keukenhof tulip fields (Shutterstock)

Between March and May every year, the fields around Keukenhof in the Netherlands are transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour as the country’s world famous tulips bloom.

They’re not just for show. These tulips will be picked and sent all around the world, an important source of revenue for this tiny country. That doesn’t make it any less spectacular, especially when framed with one of the Netherlands’ famous windmills.

12. Rainbow Row, Charleston, USA

A colourful row of historic Georgian row houses in Charleston (Shutterstock)

This row of historic houses in Charleston, South Carolina, is the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States.

With their bright colours and mature trees, they are also amongst the most beautiful. You’ll find them on East Bay Street, north of Tradd Street, and south of Elliott Street.

13. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai, India

Meenakshi Amman Hindu temple in Madurai (Shutterstock)

This ancient city on the Vaigai River in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu is dominated by the 14 colourful gopurams (gateway towers) of Meenakshi Amman Temple.

It’s festooned with thousands of rainbow coloured carvings of Hindu gods. It is also home to colourful celebrations, like the Chithirai Festival, held every April to celebrate Meenakshi and Lord Vishnu.

14. Santa Marta, Rio, Brazil

Colourfully painted buildings in Rio’s Santa Marta favela (Shutterstock)

Set on the the slopes of Morro Dona Marta, the rainbow coloured favela of Santa Marta is one of the steepest in Rio. It has over 8,000 residents crammed into its makeshift wooden and brick houses, each painted in an assortment of cheerful hues.

A popular location for both TV series and film, it most famously hosted one of the most spectacular chase scenes in Fast Five, the fifth instalment of The Fast and The Furious franchise.

15. Burano, Venice Lagoon, Italy

Colourful houses in Burano, Venice (Shutterstock)

Burano is an island in Venetian Lagoon, famous for its multi-coloured homes, beguilingly reflected in the waters of the canals.

There are plenty of bars and restaurants for visitors, but it’s very much a working town, with fishermen selling their catch straight from their boats, and old nonnas sitting on their verandas, making the island’s needle lace.

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The 19 best places to visit in March

No matter where you travel, March is a time of change. In the Northern Hemisphere the first signs of spring arrive; in the south, it means the end of sweltering summer heats and the arrival of cooler days.

For travellers, however, March will always be shoulder season, a month that means fewer crowds, better weather or affordable deals. It’s a time of adventure and hurling yourself off on new adventures.

So, whether you’re searching for wildflower explosions, mass migrations or the wildest cultural festivals on the planet, we’ve put together some of the top destinations to visit this March.

Here are the best places to visit in March…

1. Michoacán, Mexico

Michoacán’s monarch butterflies ascend in their millions for mating season (Shutterstock)

Early March is the last chance to see monarch butterflies gathering en masse in Mexico. By then, the branches of Michoacán’s oyamel fir trees droop with the weight of some 200 million sets of orange wings, readying for the journey north to the Californian coast.

It’s the world’s longest insect migration, spanning a 7,000km round trip. The first arrivals flutter into Mexico by November only to hibernate in cocoons over winter. They then emerge in February and March, a period marked by elaborate courtship dances that fill the air.

The best place to witness this is among the forested mountains of Michoacán, within the vast UNESCO-listed Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The main sanctuaries here are Rosario, Sierra Chincua and Senguio, with short, steep hikes usually required for sightings. Bear in mind, though, that silence is required – butterflies are easily disturbed.

2. North Island, New Zealand

Te Urewera in New Zealand (Shutterstock)

As the shoulder month between summer and autumn, March in New Zealand is dry and warm but not blisteringly hot. It makes the perfect time for escaping to the islands’ incredible wildernesses. But with its Great Walks often heavily oversubscribed, it’s worth opting for a different style of ‘tramping’ – accompanied by a Māori guide.

Up in the North Island’s Bay of Plenty, the Te Urewera rainforest was de-listed as a national park and granted personhood back in 2014. It was the first ecosystem in the world to be granted the rights of a human, and is now managed by a Maori council. With many Tūhoe Nation communities still residing within the area, multi-day treks (Oct–Apr) with an Indigenous guide let you explore not only sacred waters and beautiful rainforest, but spare time to visit the communities still living here.

Over a few days, these treks reveal a land as storied as it is wild, as you share traditional campfire tales, look for birds and visit the communities still living in the rainforest. Afterwards, combine with a visit to Auckland to catch the annual Arts Festival, which lights up the city across March.

3. Ontario, Canada

Muskoka has its own Maple Trail (Shutterstock)

March is the sweetest month in Canada for one simple reason: maple syrup. Between February and April, the country’s farmers extract this sugary sap from maples (and birch trees in late April) by drilling a hole in the trunk and attaching a spout and a bucket. It’s that easy. Some farms have as many as 60,000 taps, but it’s what is done with it afterwards that catches the eye.

Lanark County, on the fringes of Ottawa, dubs itself Ontario’s syrup capital for good reason. Seasonal ‘sugar bushes’ (groves) and camps open to visitors across the region. There’s even a maple heritage museum (and pancake house), run between March and April, that holds the Guinness world record for the largest number of maple syrup artefacts – it’s worth a visit for that alone.

Festivals continue across the province and well into late spring, with some areas – including Muskoka, north of Toronto – producing their own self-guided Maple Trail to take you to the more rural culinary hot spots. It’s a great way to escape the big cities and spend your money in the local communities.

4. Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica

Crabeater seal on ice floes in Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica (Shutterstock)

March sees the final few departures in the West Antarctic summer cruise season. After this, the pack ice begins to harden as winter sets it, creating impenetrable waters up to 1,000km around the continent.

March is also the best time to go whale watching here. Some six species of baleen whales, from blue to southern right, swim the Antarctic waters, but humpbacks in particular are dominant. Around this time, they also gather in pods in preparation for their migration north, making spotting them far easier.

Specialist wildlife-themed trips are your best bet for sightings, but plenty of peninsula cruises pass through hot spots, such as the Lemaire Channel, a feature on most ‘classic’ itineraries. Look especially for routes that include detours to Wilhelmina Bay, which has a high concentration of krill and sees huge numbers of humpbacks gather to feast there.

5. Central Valley, Chile

March marks the beginning of harvest season in Chile (Shutterstock)

March and April are a special time in Chile’s Central Valley. This is wine country after all, and the beginning of autumn in the southern hemisphere fires the starter’s pistol for grape harvest season.

Over the border in Argentina, Mendoza hosts one of the biggest wine festivals (vendimia) in Latin America, but Chile’s tend to be far smaller, more intimate affairs, as a deluge of towns and farming communities see their streets turned into vast dining areas, bands take to the stage, and feet stained malbec-red.

The Colchagua Valley city of Santa Cruz is home to one of Chile’s largest vendimia. Vineyards surround it as far as the eye can see, and some 150 producers ride into town to show off their dazzlings carménères and cabernet sauvignons each March, making this a great starting point.

It’s a similar story in Curicó, though its four-day festival also brings some of the country’s more famous musicians to town, along with producers from the surrounding wine route. Indeed, most of the major wine valleys (Maipo, Maul, Casablanca, Aconcagua) have their own driving routes that thread the vineyards, so once you’re done with the festivities, hit the road for a serene escape.

6. Swedish Lapland

Lynx on patrol in Swedish Lapland (Shutterstock)

The lynx is not an easy feline to spot, especially in the snowbound terrain of north-west Sweden. But if you’re ever going to see one in the wild, March is the ideal time. This is breeding season, a time when these usually circumspect cats can be heard calling out to potential mates.

Tours to spot them are increasingly common, too, though it can be tough going. Visitors will likely find themselves snowmobiling out to a remote cabin in Jokkmokk, then Nordic skiing into the wilderness to lie in wait. But the chance to see one of Europe’s least-sighted felines is fair reward.

Even if you don’t get lucky, this is an exciting time to year to visit Sweden’s wild Arctic north. Vast populations of reindeer and moose can be seen plodding the snows, while at night this month affords the last chance to clearly see the cosmic contortions of the Northern Lights.

7. Annecy, France

Traditional carnival mask at Annecy Carnival, France (Shutterstock)

Embrace the alternative at France’s answer to the Venice Carnival in March (3 to 5 March 2023). Where its Italian counterpart is literally crumbling under the weight of visitors, this canal city offers glamour aplenty but without the guilt of adding to overtourism.

Annecy itself is a quaint slice of medievalism. Veined in arterial canals and fringed by mountains, it lies a stone’s throw from France’s Swiss border. But in early March, it erupts into Alpine masquerade.

It’s actually a modern festival, started in 1995, but what began as a handful of masked party-goers now sees hundreds of participants silently parading the streets of Annecy’s canal-lined Old Town.

Wander the cobbles beneath windowboxes spilling with geraniums, as the scent of tartiflette (cheese, potato and bacon) wafts from windows. Be sure to also drop by its tiny medieval castle-turned-museum, then finish drifting villages and Alpine peaks on Lake Annecy.

8. Argentinean Patagonia

Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia, Argentina (Shutterstock)

The months of March and April see the orca of Peninsula Valdés do something rather spectacular. As pups emerge in the local sea lion colony, the orca here have taken to performing smash-and-grab raids during high tide on the beaches, opportunistically snatching those playing in the shallows.

It’s an unforgettable sight, and it doesn’t even require a boat to see. The Punta Norte beach, within the Peninsula Valdés Fauna Reserve, is the best spot to see this. Places are tricky to get, however, and tours are the most reliable way to bag good views of the main striking areas.

For prime seats, see if you can bag a room at the Estancia La Ernestina. The hotel-restaurant overlooks the beach (and its very own penguin colony of some 140,000). Unsurprisingly, rooms fill up fast, so you’ll need to book early.

9. Pelješac Peninsula, Croatia

Ston in Croatia is renowed for its oysters (Shutterstock)

Mid-March is oyster season in Croatia’s Pelješac peninsula, a slip of medieval villages and vineyards north of Dubrovnik. By then, the bay’s oysters are at their plumpest, signalling the moment that two neighbouring villages, Ston and Mali Ston, erupt in a food festival that typically coincides with the Feast of St Joseph (19 March) and draws in a few of its neighbours.

Boat-fresh oysters are prepared in every way imaginable, with the peninsula’s wineries also out in force, offering ample opportunity to sample local postup and dingač wines (among the finest in Croatia).

March is a great time to visit the peninsula, as the weather is kind and the summer masses have yet to descend. The cooler weather also makes it ideal for walking what remains of the medieval walls that wrap the two villages, circling the hillsides in between for nearly 5km. These vast defences were first constructed in 1333 AD, and 20 of the intervening towers are still standing.

Across the wider peninsula, there are ancients saltworks and family-run wineries (many offer tours and tastings) to explore. Ferries also open up the Dalmatian islands beyond, where the Byzantine and Roman ruins of Korcula and Hvar await. If you have time, head for the tiny, forest-covered national park island of Mjlet (ferries start in mid-March), just off the peninsula, which sees far fewer visitors than it deserves.

10. India

Colours are thrown into the air for India’s Holi Festival (Shutterstock)

Holi festival blazes a colourful trail across India on the last full-moon day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar, which is typically in March. The night before (Holika Dahan) sees bonfires lit across the country, often accompanied by dancing; this is followed the next day by chaos, as the streets erupt in a fog of gulal (coloured dye) and kids packing water pistols. There’s nothing quite like it.

You’ll find festivities in most towns, though they differ hugely. In the far north-east (Assam), Holi continues for five days in the town of Barpeta, where it is known as Doul. Here locals decorate their houses with flowers and begin their celebrations with the burning of clay huts, followed by days of fireworks and food.

In the West Bengal university town of Shantiniketan, Holi is known as Basanta Utsav and takes on an altogether more refined approach. Women dress in yellow saris and adorn their hair with flowers, while the poems and songs of Rabindranath Tagore are recited. It has an almost carnivalesque feel to it, with plenty of live music accompanying the hurling of dyes.

Lastly, the Uttar Pradesh twin cities of Mathura and Vrindavan are considered the birthplace of Lord Krishna, whose divine love Holi festival celebrates. Events gear up a week in advance here (starting in nearby Barsana), with events shifting between temples in the cities. In Vrindavan, there is even a day set aside for widows (traditionally banned from celebrating), who converge on Gopinath temple to shower each other in colours.

11. Bhutan

Paro tshechu is one of the largest celebrations of the year (Shutterstock)

You would expect a country with a ‘Gross National Happiness’ index to throw a good a festival. Certainly, Bhutan’s tshechus (held on the tenth day of the lunar calendar month) are incredible sights, with visitors’ attentions typically focused on the masked Cham dancers, whose intricate costumes and performances are part meditation, part drama, retelling the story of Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century.

One of the biggest tshechus takes place in Paro in March, when the town’s dzong (fortified monastery) becomes the setting for a four-day celebration of music, dance and spiritual contemplation, which culminates in the unravelling at dawn on the final day of a thangka – a sacred silk painting said to cleanse one’s sins with just the sight of it. As things wind down, finish with a hike to the magnificent Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest monastery), which clings to the side of a cliff at 3,000m.

March also brings the Dromache to Punakha, home to arguably the most beautiful of Bhutan’s fortified monasteries. This five-day celebration is devoted to deep meditation, followed by the town’s tshechu. During this time, monks will hold a reenactment of the Tibetan invasion of Bhutan in the early 17th century, when the army attempted to steal the monastery’s most precious relic but were fooled by a monk pretending to throw it in the river.

12. Valencia, Spain

The traditional burning of stone dollspaper during Falles Festival, Valencia (Shutterstock)

March sees Valencia literally light up thanks to the Falles Festival, running from 15 to 19 March. The Spanish feast of San José culminates in five days of fireworks, firecrackers and… well, fire. Groups of workers spend months creating giant papier mâché ninots (satirical statues of well-known figures), with the sole purpose of setting them alight.

Firework displays begin about two weeks before the first night of the festival, when the statues are erected and the party begins in earnest. Parades celebrating the patron saint mark the days in between. You can’t miss them: the brass bands start at 8am, then at 2pm the Plaza Ayuntamiento erupts in a cacophony of daytime firework displays.

The final two nights see the statues (some up to 20m high) burned while fireworks erupt overhead. Each neighbourhood even has its own celebrations, so no matter where you go in the city, you’ll encounter glorious, all-consuming chaos.

13. Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin, Ireland (Shutterstock)

March celebrates the return of one of the world’s top holidays: St Patrick’s Day (17 March). And there’s no better place to embrace the ‘craic’ and all things green than in Ireland itself.

In Dublin, the day means more than just beer-fuelled mayhem and leprechaun hats – though you’ll see plenty. Bars will be humming and the parade route between Parnell Square and St Patrick’s Cathedral will be mob-deep, but there’s more on offer than just one day of revelry. A five-day cultural festival takes over in the run up to the big day, ensuring plenty of music, art, poetry and comedy shows. First, grab a traditional dish of corned beef and cabbage at nearby Gallaghers Boxty House, to line your stomach. Then, head to Temple Bar District, where live music is everywhere, and enjoy the packed, eponymous bar, where Dublin’s literary greats once drank.

But outside of the capital, the celebrations are just as lively. Co. Cork always expects grand parades in Ireland’s second-largest city, while the small town of Dripsey is known for the shortest St Patricks Day parade at just over 90 metres. Head to Waterford to party in the city which first declared St Patrick’s Day as a national holiday in 1903, or perhaps head to Dingle for the earliest parade in Ireland, starting just after the crack of dawn at 6am.

14. Lisse, The Netherlands

Tulips and windmills in Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse, The Netherlands (Shutterstock)

Tulip season in the Netherlands typically runs from the end of March until mid-May. It’s then that field after field of the bollenstreek (bulb region) fills with the most incredible colours. For most visitors, the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse are an easy way in. This landscaped botanical garden is home to some seven million bulbs, and if you don’t mind the crowds, it’s a blissful day out.

For the more adventurous, take to two wheels. The Lowlands make for easy pedalling, and cycling trips from Leiden are a simple way to quickly find yourself among fields and windmills. Maps with pre-planned routes are easy to find at tourist information and bike rental shops are plentiful.

15. Southern California, USA

The super bloom in the Mojave Desert, California (Shutterstock)

Early March is the time to catch a natural phenomenon that has been occurring more frequently in California in recent years: the super bloom. This rare floral event only occurs when seeds that have lain dormant for years in the desert soil suddenly erupt all at once.

It requires very specific conditions, but what was a once-in-a-decade event is happening more frequently, with super blooms sighted in both 2017 and 2019. Regardless of the year, there are always wildflower walks to be found here, particularly in Southern California. Here, the poppies of Antelope Valley turn the grasslands of the Mojave Desert into a sea of orange in late March, with strictly marked trails throughout the reserve.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is likewise ‘super bloom’ territory, but on any given year its canyons and mines see dramatic splashes of primrose, milkweed and poppies in mid-March. Visit Borrego Palm Canyon in particular, where trails to its palms and wild gardens are guarded by watchful bighorn sheep.

16. Japan

Cherry blossoms without the crowds? Try Himeji Castle, Hyōgo, Japan (Shutterstock)

Nothing gets Japan’s islands of Kyushu and Honshu quite as excited the arrival of cherry blossom season in March. The sakura begin flowering in the former by the middle of the month, with the cities of Honshu (Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka) usually following suit before the start of April. By which point, parks are already full with hanami (blossom-watching parties) gathered beneath the pale-pink blooms.

There are thousands of scenic spots to soak up the blossoms. Some are more crowded than others, but it’s best to combine with other sights. Tokyo’s Ueno Park is home to thousands of trees but also has plenty of museums and shrines to wander. Likewise, Kyoto’s Maruyama Park boasts aged teahouses, ornate temples and dazzling canal paths lined with blossoms and is a wonderful microcosm of this historic city.

17. Namibia

An aerial view of the green Okavango Delta (Shutterstock)

March signals the last flourish of ‘green season’ in Africa’s southern region (November to March). It’s a period that divides travellers, as the rains and sudden burst of lush foliage make both travel and spotting wildlife tougher. But, with the notable exception of South Africa, it’s far less busy and a more affordable period to travel.

The perfect time to visit Namibia. Etosha National Park in particular sees less rain during this period than, say, the far busier safari parks of South Africa. The afternoon storms diminish as the month goes on, while the legacy of calving season sees its antelope herds increase dramatically, to the delight of predators.

The park also offers excellent birdwatching, as the salt pans fill with water and the wildflowers bloom. March and April are your last chance to catch the spring/summer birding season (September to April), when the intra-African and Eurasian migratory settle in to breed.

18. Jordan

Walking the Jordan Trail, Jordan (Shutterstock)

If you’re looking for a challenge, the conditions for walking the Jordan Trail are perfect in March. This is one of the great long-distance trails to emerge in recent years, and a fine way to explore a remarkable land.

Such is the trail’s length (650km), the southern section tends to be better in late winter (February to March) while the north is better come springtime (March to April), as the winter cool starts to give way to the desert heat.

Of course, you don’thave to walk it all. If you’d prefer to chop up the trail into something more manageable, make sure to include the dark skies of Dana Biosphere Reserve, home to the Nubian ibex and abundant flora, as well as the ancient rock-cut Nabataean capital of Petra.

To the south, the Mars-like red sands of Wadi Rum and the final stretch over the Aqaba mountains to the coast are just as satisfying, whether you’ve tackled the whole trial, or simply walked a few days.

19. Colombia

Hike to the lost city of Teyuna, Colombia (Shutterstock)

It’s not often you discover a lost city. March sees the tail-end of dry season (December to March) in northern Colombia, and if you’re going to make the five-day trek to the ruins of Teyuna (Ciudad Perdida), it’s the perfect time. After that, the mud and river crossings can become tricky.

Treks are always accompanied by a guide, but compared to, say, the more famous Inca trails of Peru, this route sees a fraction of their footfall. En route, you’ll pass through Kogi villages and forests draped in liana, before finally arriving at the foot of the 1,200 steps leading up to the ruins of Teyuna, a jungle city of great mystery.

Teyuna was built in 700AD, but other than that, no one knows much about it. The city fell around the time of Spanish Conquest and only ‘re-emerged’ in the wider consciousness in the 1970s. Since then, it’s kept a low profile because of troubles in the region. But it’s safe these days and worth the sweat, with most travellers making their base in the city of Santa Marta.

5 reasons to visit Buenos Aires, Argentina

1. The dancing

Couple dancing tango in the street in Buenos Aires (Dreamstime)

Buenos Aires is the undisputed tango capital of the world. When the sun sets it is almost as if the whole city is dancing. The tango shows in La Boca or the impromptu street dances are the gentlest introduction to this fierce and energetic dance. But to discover the real culture of the tango – the rules, the codes, the politics, the drama – you need to find a milonga. At a milonga, people come to drink and dance, to watch and be watched.

Milonga Parakultural at Salon Caning in Palermo Soho is a good general milonga with a broad mix of ages and dance abilities. Monday, Tuesday and Friday evenings are best. For a glimpse of tango at its most traditional, head to Cachirulo on Saturday nights. Men and women sit on different sides of the hall, with men asking women to dance using the cabeceo, a system of asking for and accepting dances using eye contact. Or you could join the bright young things at El Yeite. It opens as the other milongas close and is where all the up-and-coming dancers are found.

For something altogether more sedate, head for the bandstand in the hilly Barrancas de Belgrano park for the Sunday night ‘La Glorieta’ milonga. There are free tango lessons from 7pm – then watch the experts perform for a fee.

2. The beef

Typical parillada in a restaurant in La Boca (Dreamstime)

In Argentina, it’s all about the carne. Each Argentinian eats close to 70 kgs of beef each year and in Buenos Aires there seems to be a parrillas (steakhouses) on every corner. On building sites too. It’s not unusual to see builders and labourers firing up a makeshift BBQ to grill a slab of prime grass-fed pampas beef for lunch.

The commercial steakhouses are the best place to start for visitors. Order a parrillada (mixed grill) and you’ll be treated to a sizzling selection of chorizo (beef or pork sausage), pollo (chicken), costillas (ribs) and carne (beef). You can order a parrillada for as many people as you like. The chef simply adjusts the size of the serving to suit.

Argentinians like their steaks well done, so if you don’t, ask for yours punto (medium), jugoso (medium rare) or poco cocido (rare). If you’re eating from one of the BBQs at Mataderos’s traditional market, just give a simple nod when you think your steak is done.

Looking for the perfect drink to accompany your Argentinian meatfest? You can’t ignore the local Malbec. Robust, luscious and full of flavour, it’s the ideal companion, no matter the cut.

3. The colourful neighbourhoods

Street scene in Boca (Dreamstime)

Set at the mouth of the Riachuelo river, La Boca is a riot of colour and music, a buzzing barrio where people tango on the streets and houses are painted every colour of the rainbow. It’s also home to La Bombonera, where the world famous Boca Juniors play, and on match days the area is even livelier.

This fiercely working class neighbourhood was where Italian immigrants first settled. In 1960, local artist Benito Quinquela Martín painted the walls of an abandoned street, set up a makeshift stage and it quickly became a haven for artists. Now, painters, sculptors, and photographers fill the colourful pedestrian streets and the conventillos, shared homes made of wood and corrugated zinc, have been restored and painted. Locals will tut that it’s not the ‘real’ Buenos Aires, but it’s a lot of fun.

If street art is your thing, take a wander around the northern suburbs – especially the barrios of Palermo, Caballito and Colegiales. Here you’ll find some of Buenos Aires’s best street art, created by artists from all over the world.

4. The parks

Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur (Dreamstime)

Just a stone’s throw from Buenos Aires’ central business district, the Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur is a vast, riverside nature reserve that is ideal for strolling, cycling and birdwatching. 865 acres in size, it’s easy to feel like you’ve left the hustle of the city behind.

The reserve was expanded in the early 1970s, with the newly formed ponds and grasslands quickly becoming a haven for over 200 bird species as well river turtles and iguana.

The reserve boasts a large network of tracks and boardwalks and bikes can be hired at the main entrance. It is also a popular picnic spot, with plenty of bars and parrillas for your steak-and-malbec fix.

Another popular park is the Bosques de Palermo, the Palermo Woods. The Rosedal (Rose Garden) is spectacular and on Sundays the park is full of people out walking dogs, rollerblading or riding pedalos on the lake.

5. The markets

An antique stall in San Telmo feria (Dreamstime)

Buenos Aires is home to San Telmo feria, the largest street market in South America. Held every Sunday between 10am and 5pm, stallholders, tango dancers and musicians descend upon the cobbled streets here, with stalls stretching the entire length of Defensa.

You’ll be able to find your usual assortment of mate guords, leather belts and Patagonian knives, of course, but the real pleasure of San Telmo is trawling through the antiques. Argentinians are greater borders and a wander through these markets is akin to picking through their attics and basements. Expect to come away with a a beautiful glass soda dispenser or a set of matching cut glass tumblers.

For a taste of Argentina’s famed gaucho culture, head to the Mataderos traditional markets, held every Sunday too. Here the pampas comes to the city with gauchos on horseback, cattle traders adding to their herds, live folk bands, stalls for all your gaucho needs and the biggest barbecues you are ever likely to see.

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9 great things to do in Argentina

1. Learn to tango in Buenos Aires

Tango dancing at night in Argentina (Shutterstock)

Tango and Argentina are synonymous with each other. It’s a dance of passion and drama that locals believe reflects their soul. The capital, Buenos Aires, is the spiritual home of the dance. Here, subway stations are named after tango musicians, the streets are full of dance halls and cultural centres and attending a tango show is an essential experience for anyone visiting the city.

For a truly immersive experience, learn to tango in one of the many dance schools in Buenos Aires. La Viruta in Palermo offers classes split into six different levels of experience. And DNI Tango in Almagro offers classes in different languages – and a free introductory lesson – making it popular with travellers.

Or head to the bandstand at the Barrancas de Belgrano park on a Sunday night for the casual milonga (high tempo song), La Glorieta. Dancing starts around 8pm, but free tango lessons are offered earlier, giving beginners the basic skills they need to join in.

2. Feel the spray (and more) from Iguazú Falls

Iguazú Falls as seen from a helicopter (Shutterstock)

Forming a natural border between Argentina and Brazil, the Iguazú Falls are one of the most awe-inspiring sights on the planet.

An interlocked chain ofhundreds of waterfalls, it extends for close to three kilometres. Whether you walk along the trails beside it, take a boat tour to the mouth of Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat, or get a humbling overview with a spectacular helicopter flight, you’ll be left awestruck – and very, very wet.

Most visitors come for a day, but for the those that linger, staying in one of the eco-lodges that have sprung up near the park offers the chance to explore what’s left of the great Atlantic Rainforest.

A haven for wildlife, and criss-crossed with trails, suspension bridges and natural pools for swimming, it is an incredible place to experience.

Just south of the park, the town of Wanda is home to the ruins of San Ignacio Miní, a Jesuit monastery founded in 1610, and the abandoned mines of Polish settlers.

3. Watch a glacier calve at Perito Moreno

Perito Moreno glacier in Glaciares National Park (Shutterstock)

There’s nothing quite like the crack, crash and roar of a glacier calving. It is elemental and invigorating.

At Glaciar Perito Moreno, in the south of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, it happens almost every 20 minutes. Part of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, the glacier is one of the most dynamic ice fields on the planet, moving up to two metres a day and shedding office block-sized icebergs with breathtaking regularity.

The glacier is 30km long, and 60m high and is clearly visible from a multitude of vantage points on the paths and boardwalks that run through the park.

There are also regular boat tours on the lake in front of the glacier, many taking you close to the face of the glacier, as well as treks where you can don crampons and walk across the top of the glacier itself.

4. Meet marine mammals on Península Valdés

An orca hunting seals on Península Valdés (Shutterstock)

If it’s marine mammals you want to see, then the Reserva Faunística Península Valdés, on Argentina’s barren Patagonian coast, is for you.

One of the world’s most important marine mammal breeding grounds, it was made an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is vital to the conservation of the endangered southern right whale as well as elephant seals and sea lions

With a total area of 3600km2 and more than 400km of coastline, the reserve is huge. But the wildlife viewing is equally epic. Along the peninsula you’ll witness sea lions, elephant seals, guanacos, rheas, Magellanic penguins and numerous seabirds.

The orcas here have developed a unique hunting strategy, adapted to local coastal conditions, beach themselves on shore to capture sea lions and elephant seals. A truly unforgettable sight.

5. Soak up Argentine culture in Córdoba

Puente del Bicentenario at night (Shutterstock)

Ever since it was awarded the title of Cultural Capital of the Americas in 2006, Córdoba has gone out of its way to continue to be the Cultural Capital of Argentina. The latest addition is the Centro Cultural Córdoba, an eye-catching, glass-and-concrete construction, but the city is already overflowing with museums, galleries, theatres and cultural offerings.

Start in the city’s compact and well-preserved historic centre, filled with beautiful colonial-era churches, monasteries and theatres and municipal buildings.

Then check out Evita Fine Arts Museum, the Emilio Caraffa Fine Arts Museum, Kosovo urban art gallery and the Cordoba Cultural Centre.

Home to the second oldest university in South America, the city has a large student population, evident in the quirky lanes of the Guemes district and the artistic offerings of the Paseo de Los Artes.

6. Enjoy a Malbec (or two) in Mendoza

Vineyards near Mendoza (Shutterstock)

Argentine Malbec is a deeply-coloured, spicily-rich red wine with with exuberant juiciness – a little like Mendoza, where it is produced.

The city is small and compact, with wide, leafy streets lined with art deco buildings and countless bodegas (wineries) offer tastings and tours. At night, the bars and restaurants along Av Arístides overflow onto the sidewalks.

This is where Argentina’s wine industry began. Malbec Luján de Cuyo was the first Denomination of Origin (DOC) of the Americas and today the town is surrounded by vast vineyards, where braised rows of vines stretch towards the Andes.

Here you’ll find a variety of wineries, olive oil farms and other gourmet businesses tempting you with tours and samples of their produce. Hire a bike or rent an electric scooter and make a day of it. Just remember to save the proper drinking until you’re back in town for the night.

7. Ride across the Andes like an Argentinian gaucho

Gauchos in Patagonia (Shutterstock)

Argentina is a nation with a strong link with horses. Horseback riding has played an important part in the history and folklore of this country. The strong, independent gaucho is as romantic an image in Argentina as the cowboy is in America. Riding here, even for a few days, is a great way to appreciate the country, its epic landscapes and its people.

There are estancias (ranches) across the country offering riding holidays and tuition. Estancia Los Potreros lies off the beaten track in the Córdoba hills. Estancia La Rosita in Corrientes offers riding holidays as well as the chance to help round up cattle.

For something truly memorable, you could ride across the the Andes from Argentina into Chile,taking in incredible mountain vistas and experiencing life on horseback, just like the gauchos of Argentina’s past.

8. Travel to the ends of the world in Tierra del Fuego

Beagle Channel near Ushuaia, Argentina (Shutterstock)

The last stop before Antarctica, this archipelago of barren, windswept islands is a land of glaciers, lakes, mountains and rivers that seem to have jumped straight from the pages of Lord of the Rings.

Ships have floundered on its rocky shores, mystics have searched for meaning and deep sense of otherworldliness prevails.

The landscapes are epic. The barren northern plains of Tierra del Fuego give way to peat bogs and moss-draped lenga forests that rise into ragged snowy mountains.

With very little light pollution, the nights skies are a blanket of stars, appearing close enough to touch. There’s an abundance of wildlife too, including a colony of Magellanic penguins on Martillo Island. The best time to visit them is between September and April.

9. Tuck into the world’s best steaks at a traditional parrilla

An asado at work in Mendoza (Shutterstock)

Vegans and vegetarians, turn away now. Argentina is unapologetically carnivorous, and tucking into an oversized steak is a point of national pride. Working your way through a slab of barbecued meat at a local parrilla (a restaurant selling barbecue meat) is a right of passage for visitors travelling through Argentina.

Parrillas are not hard to find. They are everywhere, if there’s not one within your eye line, just follow your nose. The beef is cooked slowly and steadily, over hot coals under a pile of burning wood rather than ready-made charcoal, under the watchful eye of the asador (grillmaster). Argentinians like their steaks well done and will assume you do to. Make sure you let the asador know if you’d like yours any different.

You’ll also be offered an overwhelming choice of cuts. You’ll recognise favourites like bife de chorizo (sirloin), cuadril (rump)and ojo de bife (rib eye), but tira de asado (thin strips of ribs and meat sliced crosswise), and vacío (flank steak that is textured and chewy), are worth checking out, too.

More of Argentina’s best bits? Read on: