Get to know the main tourist destinations and the wonderful landscapes of Cuyo through this road trip through Mendoza and San Juan.
Doing an itinerary through Mendoza and San Juan by car is one of the best trips to get to know one of the most beautiful areas of Argentina. The Andes mountain range with its high peaks, trekking, wineries, good wine and national parks will dazzle you.
We have designed these itineraries by car through Mendoza and San Juan with map included, based on 7 or 14 days to travel.
🔝 Check out all the articles we have published about visiting Cuyo in Argentina.
How many days are needed to visit Mendoza and San Juan?
If you want to visit the two Cuyo provinces, you should spend at least 7 days, although the ideal is to extend it up to 10 or even 14 days.
Below we show you an ideal itinerary for a 7 or 14 day route through Mendoza and San Juan.
Route through Mendoza and San Juan in 7 days
Although you will see the main attractions of Mendoza and San Juan, you must keep in mind that it is an itinerary to do everything quickly and by car.
- Day 1 Talampaya and Ischigualasto: two of the most important national parks in the country. You can do Talampaya in the province of La Rioja in the morning to see the canyon with its reddish colors, and the Moon Valley in the afternoon with its curious rock formations. Overnight in San Agustín del Valle Fértil or near Ischigualasto.
📷 If you don’t have a car, check here the excursion to Ischigualasto from San Juan capital and make a reservation. Includes: transfers and guide.
Check out these recommendations before visiting Talampaya.
- Day 2 Scenic Route 150 and Reservoirs: On the way out of Ischigualasto heading west there is a winding road between ravines known as scenic route 150 that crosses several tunnels and bridges between semi-desert landscapes. When arriving to San Juan Capital you can take the opportunity to visit the areas of Los Caracoles, Punta Negra and Ullum reservoirs. Night in San Juan Capital.
🔝 Check out these recommendations on things to do in San Juan Capital.
- Day 3 San Juan Capital and Calingasta: you start the day visiting Sarmiento’s birthplace, the cathedral and its square, the main attractions to see in San Juan Capital. In the afternoon you drive along Route 40 to Talacasto and then Route 149 through the mountains until you reach the valley and the town of Calingasta. Night in Barreal.
- Day 4 Barreal: it is time to tour the small and beautiful town of Barreal with the high snow-capped peaks of the Ansilta Mountain Range as a backdrop. On the way to Uspallata along Route 149, stop at El Leoncito National Park and the Astronomical Observatory. Night in Uspallata.
📷 If you don’t have a car, take an tour through the Calingasta Valley from San Juan capital, to visit El Leoncito Park, Barreal and the Astronomical Observatory. Includes: transfers and guide.
- Day 5 Aconcagua Park and Potrerillos: from Uspallata we drive along Route 7 towards Puente del Inca and Potrerillos. Aconcagua Provincial Park to have a close look at one of the faces of the highest mountain in America. On the way to Mendoza City, a stop at the Potrerillos reservoir is worthwhile. Night in Mendoza City.
- Day 6 Mendoza Capital + Villavicencio: in the morning visit to the Natural Reserve of Villavicencio to see its gardens and one of the emblems of the province of Mendoza. In the afternoon, we will tour downtown Mendoza, its squares and San Martin Park. Night in Mendoza City.
🔝 Check out these recommendations on things to do in Mendoza Capital.
- Day 7 Wineries: head to Lujan de Cuyo to visit one or two wineries, see the winemaking process, visit the vineyards and taste a glass of wine. If there is any time left for shopping in the city of Mendoza.
📷 Check here for a tour of two wineries in Mendoza and reserve. You will taste Mendoza wine with an expert sommelier.
– Map for 7 days
Road trip Mendoza and San Juan in 14 days
This route through Mendoza and San Juan by car will take you to a few more destinations than the previous itinerary, enjoying the south of the province of Mendoza and the landscapes with more tranquility.
- Day 1 Talampaya: travel through the Talampaya Canyon in La Rioja with more time. You can even do the combined excursion of Talampaya Canyon and Shimpa Canyon by all-terrain vehicle to reach the top of the rock walls. Overnight in Villa Unión or San Agustín del Valle Fertil.
📷 If you don’t have a car, check here the Talampaya tour from San Juan Capital and make a reservation. Includes: transfers and guide.
- Day 2 Ischigualasto and scenic route 150: known as the Valley of the Moon, a tour through the curious formations in the middle of a landscape that is more like the moon than the planet Earth. On the way to Rodeo, you will travel the beautiful scenic route 150. Night in Rodeo.
🔝 Check out these recommendations before visiting Ischigualasto.
- Day 3 Rodeo: this small town has grown a lot in tourism. Here you can visit the Cuesta del Viento Dam, a favorite place for nautical activities, the Pismanta hot springs or the beautiful Achango Chapel. Night in San Juan Capital.
You can visit the towns of Rodeo, Jachal and Pismanta with an excursion from San Juan Capital. Includes: transfers and guide.
- Day 4 San Juan Capital: you can start by visiting the city center and the house where Sarmiento was born, and then tour the area of Los Caracoles, Punta Negra and Ullum reservoirs. Night in San Juan Capital
You can go on an excursion to Ullum, Los Caracoles and Punta Negra dams. Includes: transfers and guide.
- Day 5 Calingasta ValleyThe following route: along route 40 to Talacasto and then the detour through the mountains along route 149, you will reach the Calingasta Valley to visit this small town, the ruins of Hilario and the colorful Alcazar Hillalways bordering the Patos River and with the foothills as a backdrop. Night in Barreal.
- Day 6 Barreal: this small and picturesque town is located on the banks of the Patos River and in the Ansilta Mountain Range. Here you can see the great snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera and visit El Leoncito National Park and the Astronomical Observatory. Night in Barreal.
🔝 Check out these recommendations on things to do in Barreal and the Calingasta Valley.
- Day 7 Uspallata: already in the province of Mendoza, it is time to visit the city of Uspallata and reach the hill of the 7 Colors (yes, the same as the one found in Purmamarca) by gravel road. Night in Uspallata.
- Day 8 Aconcagua, Christ the Redeemer and Inca BridgeRoute 7 on the way to Chile will lead you to the famous Inca Bridgethe Aconcagua Provincial Park to see the largest mountain in America at close range and, finally, the ascent of the Christ the Redeemer in the middle of the Cordillera on the border between Argentina and Chile. Night in Uspallata.
🔝 Check out these recommendations on things to do in and around Uspallata.
📷 Check here the tour to Aconcagua Park and make a reservation. Includes: transfers, guide and a small picnic looking at the highest mountain in America.
- Day 9 Potrerillos and CacheutaOn the way from Uspallata to Mendoza city along route 7 and 82, and bordering the Mendoza river, it is worth stopping at the Potrerillos Damthrough the Cacheuta tunnel and, if you want, to relax in the Cacheuta hot springs to get to Mendoza City without haste. Night in Mendoza City.
- Day 10 Villavicencio: from Mendoza city, take route 52 towards the Villavicencio Natural Reserve, where one of the best known brands of mineral water in the country and an emblem of the province is produced. If you dare, you can then climb the gravel road of Los Caracoles, a winding route at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters. Night in Mendoza City.
📷 Check here the tour to the Villavivencio Reserve and make a reservation. A symbol of Mendoza, with its famous hotel and gardens.
- Day 11 Mendoza capital city: it is time to visit the city center and its squares, San Martin park and La Gloria hill with its fantastic monument. You can also go shopping in the city in one of the shopping malls. Night in Mendoza City.
- Day 12 Wineries and San RafaelOn the way to San Rafael on route 40, you must stop at at least one or two wineries in Luján de Cuyo or Tunuyanto visit the winery and see the winemaking process, visit the vineyards and taste a variety of wine. In San Rafael you can tour the downtown area. Night in San Rafael.
- Day 13 Atuel Canyon: the Atuel River flows between mountains. Here you can stop on the banks of the Valle Grande or Nihuil reservoirs, and if you dare, go rafting on one of the sections of the river and do all kinds of adventure tourism. Night in San Rafael.
📷 Check here the tour to the Atuel Canyon and make a reservation. You will walk along the Valle Grande reservoir and the imposing canyon. Includes: transfers and guide.
🔝 Discover all there is to do around the Atuel Canyon in this article about things to do in San Rafael Mendoza.
- Day 14 Caverna de las Brujas: a day trip from San Rafael to visit this impressive cavern full of stalactites and stalagmites. The subway tour is guided and there are places where the passage is a bit narrow. Recommended, except if you have children under 10 years old or a person with reduced mobility. Night in San Rafael.
– Map for 14 days
Practical travel data for a road trip through Mendoza and San Juan
– Traveling in Cuyo by car or public transportation
It is best to make the route through Mendoza and San Juan by car because you can go at your own pace and stop to take pictures as you like the scenery. The routes are almost entirely paved and in good condition, with the exception of 60 kilometers of gravel on Route 149 that connects Barreal with Uspallata and some kilometers of Route 13 if you go from Uspallata to the Villavicencio Natural Reserve along the Los Caracoles road.
By public transport connections are scarce and slow, from San Juan capital you can go to Barreal without problems and from Mendoza capital to Uspallata, but to access the national parks is complicated. It is best to pay for an excursion that includes transportation from the two major cities.
– Best time to visit Mendoza and San Juan
Although you can travel to Mendoza and San Juan all year round, due to its foothills climate there is a great variation in temperature between the summer and winter months.
The best time to travel to Mendoza and enjoy trekking and the national parks is during the early fall and spring, when temperatures are neither hot nor cold.
If you are going to travel to Mendoza and San Juan during the summer, it is advisable to wear light clothing because temperatures reach up to 30 degrees in the two capitals, although it is lower in the high mountains. During this time of the year you can enjoy the National Grape Harvest Festival that takes place at the end of February.
Winter is the ideal time for snow, where the landscape changes completely and temperatures are very low, especially at night. In Mendoza you can ski in the resorts of Cerro Penitentes and Las Leñas.
Keep an eye out for the Zonda wind, which occurs during the months of May to October. Generally it is a warm wind that raises a lot of dust in suspension, so be careful if you are going to drive or do any excursion.
Buy your travel insurance and travel safe!
🚑 Take a look at these tips to choose the best travel insurance (updated to 2022) according to the type of traveler you are and, in addition, it will help you clear up the most common doubts. Travel safe!
– Where to stay in Mendoza and San Juan
There are many lodging options if you make a route through Mendoza and San Juan. In the two provincial capitals, large hotels are located in the center of the city.
In smaller towns, it is best to rent cabins in resorts or sleep in resorts with mountain views.
🏨 Find here the best hotels in Mendoza and San Juan.
If you visit the Talampaya and Ischigualasto parks please note that you can only stay in the following hotels approved campgrounds but to sleep indoors you have to go to the city of Villa Unión in La Rioja or the area of San Agustín del Valle Fértil in San Juan. We got a very basic place in the village of Baldecitos, before the entrance to Ischigualasto, but only for one night.
🔝 Take a look at these recommendations about hotels in Mendoza that may be of interest to you.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
- Cheap flights with Skyscanner
- Rent a car with Auto Europe
- Interrail Pass
- Eurail Pass
- Train Tickets with OMIO
- Bus tickets with OMIO
- Ferry tickets with OMIO
- Asia tickets with 12Go
Activities and Tours
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For your travel blog
More articles about Cuyo
- 10 Things to Do in Uspallata, the Gateway to Aconcagua
- Mendoza travel itinerary in 5 Days, trekkings and nature
- The 6 Best Tours in Mendoza Argentina
- The Best Trekkings in Aconcagua Provincial Park
- Things to do in Calingasta Valley, San Juan Argentina
- Things to Do in Mendoza City and Surroundings
- Things to Do in San Juan Argentina, Sunny Destination
- Things to Do in San Rafael Mendoza, 14 Places to Enjoy
- Visit Ischigualasto, the Valley of the Moon in San Juan
- Where to Stay in Mendoza, the Best Hotels and Cabins