Argentina usually brings to mind tropical summers and tango milongas. But have you ever wondered about the coldest places in Argentina?
Though South America generally has a hot climate, its southern tip is just 1000 kilometers away from the Antarctic Peninsula. Argentina is one of the two countries that stretch all the way to the southern tip. So it’s not surprising that there are many chilly places in Argentina’s southern half.
To find out what the coldest of these cities are, we hunted through data from the Argentina National Weather Service. They provide climate statistics on cities around Argentina from 1981-2010 (the most recent collection of data). We compared this data to find the seven most shiver-inducing places in Argentina.
These temperatures can’t compare to the coldest places in Canada and the coldest places in Russia. But you would still be wise to pack a warm coat! Without any further ado, here are the absolute coldest places in Argentina, based on real data.
Maquinchao, the tiny sheep farming village
Topping the list of coldest places in Argentina is Maquinchao.
This is a small town of just over 2200 inhabitants in northern Patagonia. It is a relatively new city, having been established only in 1927. It became settled around 1912, when the local railway station opened. Maquinchao is most notable for its sheep farming. In fact, the province of Rio Negro officially declared it the Provincial Capital of Wool in 2004. Since then, a Provincial Wool Festival is held there every February.
The name Maquinchao has a noteworthy meaning in the Tehuelche language of the native peoples of Patagonia. It comes from “maguen”, meaning “winter”, and “chawe o kawe” which means “instead of”. Together, these words mean “place to spend the winter”. Interesting choice, as the town has recorded the lowest average winter temperature in all of Argentina!
The average temperature in the coldest month is 0.5 degrees Celsius, with an average high of 6.2 and an average low of -4.6. These cold temperatures may be due to its long distance away from the ocean. Snow is quite common, but doesn’t fall in large quantities. The frequent wind may make it feel a lot chillier than it is, particularly in the spring.
Quick climate data for Maquinchao, the coldest city in Argentina:
Average temperature in the coldest month: 0.5 degrees Celsius
Average high in the coldest month: 6.2 degrees Celsius
Average low in the coldest month: -4.6 degrees Celsius
Coming in second in the list of coldest places in Argentina is Río Gallegos.
This is the capital of Santa Cruz, the second most southern province of Argentina. Its population of 98,000 also makes it the largest settlement in the province. It’s named after the Gallegos River which passes right by it. Like Maquinchao, Rio Gallegos plays an important role in the sheep industry. Specifically, it’s the center of sheep trade in the Patagonia region and exports frozen mutton, sheepskins, and leather coats.
Río Gallegos recorded an average winter temperature of 1.2 degrees Celsius. The average winter high was 4.8, and the average low, -2.4. But temperatures can sink well below this, with a record of -20 degrees Celsius! Add to this the fact that it’s one of the windiest cities on Earth, and you’ve got yourself a real shiver-inducing location! Winds frequently go above 50 kilometers per hour, and even 100 kilometers per hour isn’t a rarity. Precipitation is not too heavy, but quite frequent. This means that there are very few sunny days — just 1441 hours, to be exact.
So if you’re headed to Río Gallegos around June-August, make sure to bring a quality windbreaker with you, and stock up on your Vitamin D!
Quick climate data for Río Gallegos, the second coldest city in Argentina:
Average temperature in the coldest month: 1.2 degrees Celsius
Average high in the coldest month: 4.8 degrees Celsius
Average low in the coldest month: -2.4 degrees Celsius
Esquel comes in third on our list of the coldest places in Argentina.
As we move down one item in our list, we’ve also moved up one province in Argentina. Esquel is located in the Chubut province, third from the bottom and right above Santa Cruz. It has a population of around 35,000. The town’s name comes from the Tehuelche words for “marsh” and the “land of burrs”.
The average winter temperature in Esquel is 1.5 degrees Celsius, with highs of 6.1 and lows of -2.8. This is relatively cold for its climate, owing to its higher altitude. The cold is further compounded by the frequent cloudy weather, keeping the sun from warming up the environment. Frost has even been recorded during all months.
If you can brave the cold, the mountainous terrain makes for excellent ski opportunities in the winter.
Quick climate data for Esquel, the third coldest city in Argentina
Average temperature in the coldest month: 1.5 degrees Celsius
Average high in the coldest month: 6.1 degrees Celsius
Average low in the coldest month: -2.8 degrees Celsius
Next up is Bariloche, fourth on the list of coldest places in Argentina.
Its full name is actually San Carlos de Bariloche. It’s located in the Rio Negro province, in the north part of Argentina’s southern half. It has an estimated population of 135,000 inhabitants. This is one city it’s worth braving the winter for! Its prime location inside Nahuel Huapi National Park make it an extremely popular tourism center. In the winter, it offers skiing, trekking, mountaineering, not to mention a fairytale-like winter scenery.
But make sure you bring lots of layers with you, as average winter temperatures are just 2.1 degrees Celsius. The average winter high is 6.7 and low -1.6. If you need a break from the frost nipping at your skin, have some delicious hot chocolate. You’ll be delighted to hear that Bariloche was declared the Argentine Capital of Chocolate! There are also plenty of restaurants and bars where you can explore Argentina’s rich food culture.
Bariloche may be one of the coldest places in Argentina, but it has so much to offer. Investing in a warm winter coat is well worth the visit!
Quick climate data for Bariloche, the fourth coldest city in Argentina
Average temperature in the coldest month: 2.1 degrees Celsius
Average high in the coldest month: 6.7 degrees Celsius
Average low in the coldest month: -1.6 degrees Celsius
Fifth place on the list of coldest places in Argentina goes to Ushuaia.
This city is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost province in Argentina. In fact, it is considered the southernmost city in the world, and often nicknamed “the end of the world”. Its population is estimated at 57,000. The area was first inhabited more than 10,000 years ago, and grew in the 1890s when a prison was established there. Today, it is a popular spot for tourists visiting Tierra del Fuego National Park, which covers the entire province.
Many other noteworthy sights surround Ushuaia. Around it you’ll find the Martial Mountains and the Beagle Channel. You can also hop on a cruise to Antarctica, or catch a tour to the nearby “penguin island” Yécapasela. But remember you’re visiting one of the top 5 coldest places in Argentina!
The record low is -21 degrees Celsius — but don’t worry, winter temperatures average at 2.4. The summer isn’t a whole lot warmer, with an average of just 9.7 degrees Celsius. However, these temperatures still allow vegetation to grow, so the area is densely forested. Sounds like the perfect place to enjoy a winter stroll!
Quick climate data for Ushuaia, the fifth coldest city in Argentina
Average temperature in the coldest month: 2.4 degrees Celsius
Average high in the coldest month: 4.6
Average low in the coldest month: -1.1
San Julian is the sixth coldest place in Argentina.
It is also the second smallest city on this list, with just 7000 inhabitants. Historically, it was a port, and in fact it was known as the Port of St. Julian. Today, it continues to be a great place to unwind, relax, and enjoy the calm Atlantic coast. The Bay of San Julián, the rock art at Archaeological Site La María, and the Provincial Reserve San Julián Peninsula offer plenty of things to do.
But you might want to avoid the winter months, when temperatures average at 3.2 degrees Celsius. The highs are 7.3, and lows -0.4. Thankfully, these winters are quite short. September to May has temperatures above 6.2 degrees, with October to March above 10 degrees.
Quick climate data for San Julian, the sixth coldest city in Argentina:
Average temperature in the coldest month: 3.2 degrees Celsius
Average high in the coldest month: 7.3 degrees Celsius
Average low in the coldest month: -0.4 degrees Celsius
Our list of the coldest places in Argentina is coming to an end, and the last city to be mentioned is Malargüe.
This city is situated relatively high up north in the country, compared to the others on this list. It is very near the border with Chile. It has an estimated population of 27,000 inhabitants. Although one of the coldest places in Argentina, there are many great reasons to visit. For starters, Malargüe is surrounded by lagoons, rivers, and other natural resources. You can also take a day trip to the otherworldly volcanoes at La Payunia Natural Reserve. Or, sink into the hot thermal baths at Valle de los Molles. For a day of intrigue and mystery, pay a visit to the Witches’ Cavern.
As far as weather goes, Malargüe is dry and relatively cold. Usual winter temperatures are 3.6 degrees Celsius, with a high of 11.4 and a low of -2.4. Not too bad, compared to some of the other coldest places in Argentina! But be ready for some strong wind coming downslope from the Andes right to the west.
Quick climate data for Malargüe, the seventh coldest city in Argentina:
Average temperature in the coldest month: 3.6 degrees Celsius
Average high in the coldest month: 11.4 degrees Celsius
Average low in the coldest month: -2.4 degrees Celsius
Frequently asked questions
Does Argentina have snow?
Argentina does indeed have snow, but not always in very large quantities. Maquinchao, the coldest city in Argentina, records 11.5-28.1 mm of precipitation monthly in the winter. Bariloche records much higher precipitation with 101-170 mm monthly in the winter. On the other hand, the capital Buenos Aires has between 58 and 64. As you can see, the snowfall in Argentina varies depending on the region and landscape.
What is the coldest temperature in Argentina?
The coldest temperature in Argentina ever recorded was -32.8 degrees Celsius. It was recorded in 1907, in the city of Sarmiento. However, this is quite an extreme.
The coldest average temperatures in Argentina are around 0 degrees Celsius. Maquinchao, the coldest city in Argentina, records an average of 0.5. During the coldest month, daily highs average at 6.2, and lows at -4.6. Of course, temperatures can sink much lower than this. Rio de Gallegos and Ushuaia, the second and fifth coldest places in Argentina, have both recorded -20 degrees.
What is the coldest city in Argentina?
Data by the Argentina National Weather Service suggests that the coldest city in Argentina is Maquinchao. This is actually a village of about 2200 people, located about halfway from north to south. Its winters average at 0.5 degrees Celsius, with average highs of 6.2 and average lows of -4.6.