Is Mexico better than Argentina for your travels this year? That’s what this guide is here to find out, all by running through seven key aspects of each destination to see which one comes out on top.
Before we start, we’ll say this: It won’t be an easy choice. Mexico reigns as one of the most coveted vacation destinations in the Americas. It has golden beaches on the Pacific, roaring surf breaks, spicy food, and charming cities built more than 500 years ago. Argentina is a vast land of wild nature, with jagged Andean mountains, winelands, and tango halls aplenty.
Here, we’ll delve into each place to see where is easier to reach, which has the better beaches, the more amazing mountains, and the finest food, all so you can make an informed choice on where to go in the coming season.
Mexico or Argentina: Ease of travel
There’s simply no doubt that Mexico is the easier of these two countries to get to. Thanks to its rep as a bit of a spring break getaway, the country has loads of links to the USA. They jet all year round into popular resort regions and towns, from Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast to Cancun on the Caribbean. Most other long-haul traffic goes to Mexico City, from where you can usually catch long-distance buses or short-haul flights to pretty much anywhere else.
You’ll also need a long-haul flight to get to Argentina. The country is quite remote compared to Mexico, sitting on the southern end of South America. However, there’s a decent mix of long-haul links on premium airlines coming into the Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini Airport (EZE), offering direct hops over from Paris, Madrid, Toronto, Miami – you name it. Just expect to pay a touch more for flights here in the absence of those bargain vacation deals.
Mexico or Argentina: Cities
Mexico City (known locally as CDMX) leads the way in Mexico. Sat up on the highlands in the heart of the country, it’s an ancient mass of buildings that hits a zenith in the moody 50s neighborhood of Roma and at the grand El Zócalo square. The town bustles with life, has a fantastic café culture, and oodles of galleries and museums. Beyond that, Mexico offers up the salt-washed city of Cancun on the Caribbean, the foodie mecca of Pueblo, the happening party town of Puerto Vallarta, and the enthralling historic core of Oaxaca City. And that’s really just a taster.
Buenos Aires – the largest city and capital of Argentina – is also a serious beauty. Known as the Paris of South America, it’s got a long history dating back to the age of the conquistadors. The district of Recoleta often tops the bill for its affluent blocks and haunting cemetery, but you should also see the colorful workshops of San Telmo, the street-side coffee joints of Villa Crespo, and the modern nerve center of Puerto Madero.
Winner: Draw – both places have pretty cool cities.
Mexico or Argentina: Beaches
Is Mexico better than Argentina for beaches? 100%. You simply can’t offer up two separate coastlines – on the Pacific and on the Caribbean – without that being the case. Over in Cancun, there are wispy, white runs of sand that roll down the edge of a coral-filled sea of pure turquoise blue. Hop across to Sayulita or Cabo and that’s all replaced by rugged cliffs and golden beaches where whales and dolphins and frothing surf breaks are the norm. Mexico is a top, top beach-holiday choice, whichever side you travel to.
Argentina does have beaches. In fact, it’s got 2,900 miles of coastline, which wiggles all the way from the Brazilian border to the very ends of the continent in the Tierra del Fuego. Because it’s more oceanic and not so tropical, the whole thing is wild-blown and rugged. The best sands for lazing on are around the resort town of Mar del Plata. In other places, there are opportunities to meet penguin clans and see whale pods in the Atlantic.
Winner: Mexico wins – it’s beaches are some of the best in the Americas.
Mexico or Argentina: Mountains
Argentina has one trump card when it comes to mountains: The Andes. Some of the most striking and awesome parts of that vast chain carve through this country. You can go to see them by hiking the legendary W Trek, which whisks you under the Torres del Paine and the Los Cuernos, which are twisted peaks of granite that rise above the rolling pampas. You also get the stunning ski resort of Bariloche, which sits on the cusp of snow runs and alpine lakes, and huge glaciers like Perito Moreno.
For mountain lovers in Mexico, there’s nothing quite like the draw of the great volcanic domes of the Pico de Orizaba. Some 5,636 meters above sea level, it’s the third-highest summit in North America and a doozy for serious climbers. More accessible routes and quintessential Mexico-style canyon climbing can be had around the town of Guanajuato. And there’s more in the way of tropical mountain trekking in the Sierra Madre that run the length of the Pacific coast.
Winner: Argentina tops the bill here.
Mexico or Argentina: History
History buffs have oodles to get through in Mexico. Start at the UNESCO site of the Teotihuacan pyramids just outside of Mexico City, where you’ll wander the ruins of one of the oldest Mesoamerican towns that ever existed. Back that up by cruising across to Chichen Itza in the Yucatan. Also UNESCO, that’s arguably the zenith of Maya construction. Then you get charming and gorgeous colonial towns like Morelia and amazing Guanajuato.
The history in Argentina isn’t so ancient as in Mexico. Most of the main sites tell of the times of the Spanish conquistadors and European missions. The main one to know about is the Ruinas de San Ignacio Miní, a Christian outpost that was founded in 1610. There are also gorgeous remnants from the 19th century in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, or in the Recoleta Cemetery, where you can see the graves of many Argentine greats from times gone by.
Mexico or Argentina: Price
Mexico is a super bargain for travelers. Yes, it’s gotten a bit more expensive over the last 20 years or so, but this corner of North America is still very, very cheap compared to the USA. Budget Your Trip, an online price collator, estimates that a low-cost traveler will spend in the region of $31 a day in the home of mezcal and mariachi. We most recently went in 2019, and recall very good hotels for $40 a night, fantastic street food for $1 a pop, and long-distance buses for $10 per person. Not bad.
Budget Your Trip estimates that Argentina is just a touch cheaper than Mexico overall. They say a backpacker will spend in the region of $18 per day on everything, while a midrange traveler will need around $47 per day overall. There’s one caveat, though – Argentina is currently seeing VERY high levels of inflation, which means the economic situation is unstable and you’re likely to find that the money you have to begin with isn’t worth the same towards the end of your trip. On top of that, many of the main things to do in Argentina – like trekking in the Andes, for example – will always cost quite a lot.
Winner: Mexico. Argentina’s economic situation is unstable right now.
Mexico or Argentina: Food
Mexican food is famed around the planet. Spicy tacos are sold at street-side taqueria. They come filled with cactus leaves or ground meat, along with sides of zingy salsas made with mouth-burning habaneros. Then there are the rich mole sauces, packed with chili and chocolate. And there are chilaquiles for breakfast, along with the classic huevos rancheros eggs. And don’t forget the drinks – both tequila and mezcal hail from this corner of the world!
Argentina is mainly about meat. It’s not the country for veggie foodies! The tradition of cooking that comes first is that of the Gauchos. They’re ranchers who live on the vast pampa plains, and they make what many consider to be the finest steaks on the planet, usually simply cooked over open coals. Other Argentine dishes include hearty mountains stews and packed empanada pastries. Where Argentina will beat Mexico is when it comes to wine – some of the continent’s very best reds hail from Mendoza Province.
Winner: Mexico overall but Argentina for wine.
Is Mexico better than Argentina? Our conclusion
Is Mexico better than Argentina for your travels this year? Only you can be the judge of that. However, in this guide, we’ve run through seven key aspects of travel in both destinations and Mexico certainly trumps Argentina in a number of areas. Most notably, we’d say it offers the very best beaches (on both the Pacific and the Caribbean), the tastiest food, better value for money, and the most enthralling history.