What You Need To Know
Mendoza is the capital of the province of Mendoza in Argentina. It is located in the northern-central part of the province, in a region of foothills and high plains, on the eastern side of the Andes. Ruta Nacional 7, the major road running between Buenos Aires and Santiago, runs through Mendoza. The city is a frequent stopover for climbers on their way to Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Western and Southern Hemispheres) and for adventure travelers interested in mountaineering, hiking, horse riding, rafting, and other sports. In the winter, skiers come to the city for easy access to the Andes.
Two of the main industries of the Mendoza area are olive oil production and Argentine wine. The region around Greater Mendoza is the largest wine producing area in Latin America. As such, Mendoza is one of the nine Great Wine Capitals, and the city is an emerging enotourism destination and base for exploring the region’s hundreds of wineries located along the Argentina Wine Route.
Population: 115,041 (2010)
Area: 54 km²
The peso is the currency of Argentina, identified by the symbol $ preceding the amount in the same way as many countries using dollar currencies. It is subdivided into 100 centavos. Its ISO 4217 code is ARS.
One United States Dollar is approximately 4 pesos, one British Pound approximately 6 pesos and one euro approximately 5 pesos.
Mendoza’s climate is characterized as an arid (Köppen climate classification BWh or BWk depending on the isotherm used); with continental characteristics. Most precipitation in Mendoza falls in the summer months (November–March). Summers are hot and humid where mean temperatures can exceed 25 °C (77 °F). Average temperatures for January (summer) are 32 °C (90 °F) during daytime, and 18.4 °C (65.1 °F) at night. Winters are cold and dry with mean temperatures below 8 °C (46.4 °F). Night time temperatures can occasionally fall below freezing during the winter. Because winters are dry with little precipitation, snowfall is uncommon, occurring once per year. July (winter) the average temperatures are 14.7 °C (58.5 °F) and 2.4 °C (36 °F), day and night respectively. Mendoza’s annual rainfall is only 223.2 mm (8.8 in), so extensive farming is made possible by irrigation from major rivers. The highest temperature recorded was 44.4 °C (111.9 °F) on January 30, 2003 while the lowest temperature recorded was −7.8 °C (18.0 °F) on July 10, 1976.
Spanish is Argentina’s official language and therefore is spoken in Mendoza.
Beware of muggers, especially in the bus terminal and the city blocks surrounding it. 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.
As in many countries, be careful of the vehicles. Many drivers still not honor the right-of-way-for-pedestrian or stop-sign laws (only “transit police” are allowed to enforce these laws, not the mostly-visible standard police officers). Intersections are potential death traps, this cannot be emphasized too much, the vehicles are often 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 (a crime not enforced enough here yet) in the middle of the block to avoid endangering their lives and limbs at intersections!
Mendoza has a number of universities, including the major Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, as well as University of Mendoza, a branch of Universidad Congreso, Aconcagua University, UTN (Universidad Tecnologica Nacional) and Champagnat University.
Mendoza is a popular place to learn Spanish, and there are a number of Spanish language schools, including Intercultural, Green Fields and SIMA.
Mendoza has several museums, including the Museo Cornelio Moyano, a natural history museum, and the Museo del Área Fundacional (Historical Regional Foundation Museum) on Pedro del Castillo Square. The Museo Nacional del Vino (National Wine Museum), focusing on the history of winemaking in the area, is 17 kilometres (11 miles) southeast of Mendoza in Maipú. The Casa de Fader, a historic house museum, is an 1890 mansion once home to artist Fernando Fader in nearby Mayor Drummond, 14 kilometres (9 miles) south of Mendoza. The mansion is home to many of the artist’s paintings.
The Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (The National Grape Harvest Festival) occurs in early March each year. Part of the festivities include a beauty pageant, where 17 beauty queens from each department of Mendoza Province compete, and one winner is selected by a panel of about 50 judges. The queen of Mendoza city’s department does not compete and acts as host for the other queens.
Argentina’s highly rated Malbec wines originate from Mendoza’s high-altitude wine regions of Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. These Districts are located in the foothills of the Andes mountains between 2,800 and 5,000 feet elevation. Vintner Nicolas Catena Zapata is considered the pioneer of high-altitude growing and was the first, in 1994, to plant a malbec vineyard at 5,000 feet above sea level in the Mendoza region. His family is also credited with making world-class wines and giving status to the wines of Argentina.
Central Mendoza is relatively compact and walkable – for example it is a 20-30 minute walk from Plaza Independencia to Parque San Martin, however to get to the bodegas to the south walking isn’t recommended as it they are at least 10km away.
A ticket bought in bus or trolley is valid in the other means of communal transportation.
Buses are cheap and plentiful, but a little confusing at first. Buses have two numbers, a group (Grupo) 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 or 114-115) and is on a small sign behind the windscreen. Buses on the same line (eg Grupo 3) all go to roughly the same place (eg 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 (Ar$4.00 (2015 MAR) , and it is necessary to purchase a Red Bus card (a prepaid proximity card) that you touch-in when boarding a bus. You can buy a Red Bus card from some kioskos near a bus stop for Ar$5, and charge them up at the same place.
There are 5 trolleys, which are part of the same transport system and have the same price, use the same coin machines and RedBus card. A popular run is the Parque circuit, which takes you to the gates of the large (3.2 sq.km) 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.
There is also a light train, Metrotranvia, running from the old Mendoza railway station at the corner of Belgrano and Juan B. Justo/Av. Las Heras to the suburb General Gutiérrez, some 15 km southeast of city center. It too uses the general ticket system, and you also you must have a Red Bus card.
Taxis are plentiful, metered and fairly cheap, costing about the same as in Buenos Aires.