We loved travelling in Mendoza. Whilst it's not known for being a party city, there is a small gay scene in the city centre worth checking out and an awesome gay wine festival in early March.
Most people visit Mendoza for the wine. This is no surprise given that Mendoza is famous for its Malbec and responsible for producing nearly 80% of the country's grapes. There are many “bodegas” (wineries) spread around the region, which you can visit for wine tasting tours. This is a must, especially if (like us), you aren't impartial to a few glasses of vino…!
Argentina is fifth-largest wine producer in the world and Mendoza is its undisputed capital.
This is our comprehensive gay travel guide to Mendoza, which includes details about the gay scene, the gay wine festival, best places to stay, things to do and more.
Gay tour of Buenos Aires and Mendoza this November!
Limited spaces available. November is Springtime in Argentina and one of the best months of the year to visit. We've teamed up with the excellent gay travel company Ursula Hosting to offer our readers an exclusive 5% discount off their hosted experience in Buenos Aires with an “add-on” to include Mendoza. The tour will take place between 26 November to 3 December 2019.
What we cover in this guide
Is Mendoza safe for gay travellers?
We found Mendoza to be extremely safe. The people were very welcoming and really friendly. At no stage did we ever feel like we had to justify why we wanted to book a double bed and we never felt uncomfortable about our sexuality.
Argentina generally is a very gay friendly country, with some of the most progressive LGBTQ laws in the world. For example, it was the first country in South America to legalise gay marriage in July 2010, it introduced the right to change legal gender in 2012, and has a strong set of anti-discrimination laws in place.
Before going, we were warned about the “machismo” chauvinistic culture in Argentinian society as well as the conservative influence of the Catholic Church. Whilst this is certainly prominent in Argentina (and throughout Latin America), in the big cities and touristy areas we visited, we were fortunate never to encounter any homophobia. But if you venture into rural areas outside of Mendoza, do be cautious of this.
The final point to add about gay travel to Mendoza is that this is a destination you'd come to more for the (wine) culture and nature. This is not a “party” destination as much as gay Buenos Aires is. Having said that, there is a small gay scene in downtown Mendoza with a handful of places to check out. In addition, if you're heading here in early March, be sure to check the “Vendimia” grape harvesting festival, which includes a LGBTQ segment.
When to visit Mendoza
Mendoza is a destination you can visit any time of the year, with over 300 days of sunshine and very little rain.
The best time of year to visit Mendoza is in early March when the “Vendimia” grape harvesting festival takes place, which includes a LGBTQ segment called “Vendimia Para Todos“.
Gay hotels in Mendoza
To get the most out of the vineyards and the bodegas, we recommend to stay outside of the city, in one of the small villages such as Lujan de Cuyo or Chacras de Coria. Although you're away from all the action, it's only a 15 minute drive away to the gay bars of Mendoza.
If you prefer a quieter holiday, surrounded by nature, we suggest heading to the Uco Valley, which is around 2 hours drive away from Mendoza city.
The hotels we recommend below all welcomed us as a gay couple and were clearly used to receiving LGBT tourists. For more choices, be sure to check our guide to the best gay hotels in Mendoza.
The Vines Resort & Spa
Why we love it
- Very romantic luxury villas
- You can blend your own wine
- Pool-side restaurant terrace
- Lots of fun activities available
Located in the Uco Valley at the foothills of the Andes, an hour drive away from Mendoza, The Vines is our favourite luxury gay friendly retreat. It's remoteness is what makes The Vines so special.
The 22 villas at The Vines are huge, with plenty of indoor and outdoor space. They have cosy fireplaces, outdoor Jacuzzis and offer impressive views of the Andes mountain range.
If you just want to relax you can dine on the poolside terrace or swim in the heated outdoor pool. We adored their ‘floating' gym concept with views over the vineyards; and you can also go horseback-riding with authentic Argentine gauchos.
They take the wine experience to another level at The Vines; offering a wine camp for adults, which includes a hayride out to the vines, grape picking, grape squeezing and a picnic barbecue. You can also choose to blend your own wine to take home with you!
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
Entre Cielos Luxury Wine Hotel & Spa
Lujan de Cuyo
Why we love it
- Jacuzzi and pool with Andes views
- Luxurious Turkish hammam
- Delicious cuisine and wine
- Quirky vineyard loft on stilts!
Entre Cielos is a luxury gay friendly boutique hotel set in a vineyard with a dramatic backdrop of the snowcapped Andes mountains.
The hotel also has a highly rated restaurant and produces its own Malbec wine, the Gran Marantal, which we couldn't get enough during our stay there. Their wine was voted one of the top 20 best Malbecs in 2013. Wine tastings at the restaurant are therefore a must!
The authentic Turkish hammam was definitely the highlight of our stay; a six-stage circuit complete with grape seed exfoliation, grape extract wine bath and relaxing massages. The outdoor pool with hot tub is also a delightful place to relax, swim and enjoy the views.
With only 16 rooms, staying at Entre Cielos is quite a privilege. We highly recommend staying in their (in italics:)Limited Edition room called the “Vineyard Loft”. This is so romantic and an experience you'll never forget: it's literally a room on wooden sticks right in the middle of their vineyard, with nothing around you, except grapes!
Taste the wines of Mendoza
There is nothing better than going from bodega to bodega in the countryside of Mendoza, sampling the delicious wines of the Luján de Cuyo area and learning about the winemaking process.
Villa Mansa Wine Hotel
Lujan de Cuyo
Why we love it
- Stay in a suite that looks like a giant wine barrel!
- Lovely pool and leafy garden
- Small but relaxing spa
- Bike rental available for exploring vineyards nearby
Villa Mansa is an affordable gay friendly wine hotel, set in a large vineyard in the Lujan de Cuyo countryside. It's peaceful, romantic and the ideal base for exploring some of the best bodegas of Mendoza.
They also offer bike rentals, which we highly recommend… there is nothing better than cycling through the pretty countryside of Mendoza, going from bodega to bodega, trying out lots of different Malbecs.
Rooms are bright and spacious with balconies overlooking the large surrounding vineyard. There are even Cavée suites which look like giant wine barrels and feature private Jacuzzis, perfect for Seby's favourite activity: sipping wine in a Jacuzzi!
Staff at Villa Mansa are really friendly, they will help you arrange dinner reservations at the restaurants, taxis and visits to local vineyards. We absolutely loved the pool area which is the place you want to hang out after a day cycling around the nearby bodegas. There's also a small spa for relaxing with a massage, sauna or Scottish shower.
Explore the Andes on horseback
Feel like a real gaucho by riding horses through some of the stunning countryside surrounding Mendoza (we certainly did!). You'll enjoy incredible views and spot some cool wildlife!
Chill Inn Hostel
Why we love it
- Budget hostel with private rooms
- Great location in the heart of the city
- Breakfast is included in the rate
- Swimming pool and games room
The Chill Inn Hostel is a great budget gay accommodation in the heart of Mendoza city. Here you are in walking distance to the best bars and restaurants as well as the most popular sights of Mendoza.
There's a shared kitchen and a fun games room to meet new people. You can also socialise or just relax by the pool and perhaps have a barbecue. This is an excellent location if you want to be in the heart of the action.
Do not expect luxury, but the rooms are clean, comfortable and you will have plenty of opportunities to make friends. There are dorm rooms with shared bathrooms or private rooms with private bathroom if you don't want to share your sleeping space.
Pamper yourself at a natural spa
Whenever we travel, we always try to spend some time relaxing in a spa. Just outside of Mendoza is the Cacheuta Thermal Spa, a beautiful spot to relax in the naturally heated springs while overlooking some gorgeous scenery.
Gay bars in Mendoza
Whilst there are no official exclusively gay bars in Mendoza, these are the main gay friendly bars of Mendoza, which attract a mixed crowd:
- Bar Spazio 348: gay friendly bar and restaurant with regular live music events. They also host regular 2 for 1 beer specials and nights with 50% pizzas. Located at San Lorenzo 348 and open 8am til 3 or 4am, Monday to Saturday.
- La Reserva: a fun gay friendly place to have a drink, which also hosts theatre plays, music concerts and drag shows on weekends. La Reserva is only open Thursday to Saturday evenings from 11:30pm till 6am and is located at Rivadavia 32.
- Cachita's: this is a cool hipster bar that serves great cocktails plus the best burgers in town! They also have regular raffles, karaoke nights and do big birthday bashes if you book at least three days in advance. Located at Avenida Sarmiento 784 Cachita's is open Tuesday to Sunday from 7pm until 3am.
Start your night with a gourmet dinner
Before you head out to partake in Mendoza's nightlife, make sure you have a delicious dinner beforehand. Most vineyards only offer lunch but at Espacio Trapiche you can learn about their wines and then enjoy an evening meal.
Gay clubs in Mendoza
These are the main gay clubs of Mendoza. Remember in Argentina, the guys party late. So don't think about heading to these places until at least after midnight or 1am otherwise you'll be the only person there!
- Queen Disco: this is the most popular gay hangout in Mendoza and the place to be at weekends. Queen is Mendoza's oldest gay club playing the latest latino pop songs and techno music. It's a taxi ride away from the centre at 25 de Mayo 318 and it is open on Friday and Saturday evenings from 11pm till late. On Saturday nights entry is free if you get there before 1am.
- Estacion MIRO: this is an alternative place with a mix of gay men, women and transsexuals all happily getting along and dancing the night away. It's only open on Friday nights from 11.30pm till 6am and is located at San Martin Sur 860 .
Sick of wine? Try some Argentine beer!
Mendoza isn't just known for its wine but also for artisanal beer, with many craft breweries throughout the city. Visit a brewery or join a wine, spirits and beer tour to taste a few of the region's best beer varieties.
Gay events and festivals in Mendoza
The main gay event in Mendoza is the LGBT segment of the famous “Vendimia” grape harvesting festival in early March called “Vendimia para todos” (meaning “Vendimia for everyone”). It is an entire week of festivities, activities, parties and events, which climax with a large parade and concert on the final day. This is Argentina's largest gay event after the Buenos Aires Pride in November.
Sadly, there is very little up-to-date information online confirming the official dates for the next “Vendimia para todos” as it is not advertised until very last minute. We were told the main gay event usually takes place one week after the main Vendimia festival.
You can get an idea of what the gay Vendimia festival is like in this funny Chilean YouTube video:
Other events in Mendoza to look out for which are not exclusively gay, but worth checking out include:
- Wine's Pedestrian Street (April): this week-long event takes place to celebrate the World's Malbec Day on April 17th. Every evening for a week you can wander among wine stands from the area's local wineries on the street of the Virgen del Carmen de Cuyo and sample their wares. There are exhibitions of art, sculptures and local handicrafts to see and purchase. You can also see live bands and DJs playing in various locations throughout the city, so it's definitely a fun time to visit if you can't make it for the Vendimia festival.
- Wine Rock Tour (May): Fans of rock music (gay or not) and wine will love this rather unique festival which takes place at the winery Bodega Monteviejo every May. It started as a one-day event featuring live rock music along with wine stands and a food court serving up regional dishes by local chefs. Recently this event has also spread into the city of Mendoza itself, with more events taking place at the Park Hyatt as well, so now the festival is a week-long event.
- Argentine Wine Day (November): November 24th is the national holiday of Argentine Wine Day, ever since wine was declared the national drink of Argentina. Mendoza produces 60% of the country's wines so this is the perfect spot to celebrate a national holiday to wine by drinking lots of it!
Landing in Mendoza soon?
Arriving in a new country can be stressful, especially if you're trying to figure out public transport with a pile of luggage. Book a private transfer from the airport to your accommodation in Mendoza to take all the hassle out of your arrival.
Things to do in Mendoza
Mendoza is the place to come to get wine-ed out! Here's how gay travellers can maximise their wine adventures in the area, as well as some other fun activities we really enjoyed. Even if you're not really a wine drinker you will find plenty of interesting things to do here.
Bodega wine tour
We took a wonderful wineries tour and found it to be the perfect way to get familiar with Argentinian wine and the many bodegas. We were picked up by Fabio, a very charismatic English speaking guide, who took us to three different wineries in the area. Each visit included a tour and wine tasting. We also had an outstanding lunch at the award-winning Ruca Malen bodega, famous for its food and wine pairing experience.
Cycling in the countryside
A more simple way to visit the bodegas is to rent a bicycle from your hotel and visit them independently. We recommend calling the bodegas in advance to tell them you're coming as they have different opening/closing times. You could also join an organised cycling tour of the wineries. We found having a group and a guide is a great way to avoid getting lost or riding off the road after having tastings at a few different vineyards!
Visit an olive oil plantation
After visiting quite a few bodegas, we wanted to explore a different side of Mendoza, so we decided to visit an olive oil plantation and we absolutely loved it! Everyone gets so into grapes that it's easy to neglect another popular fruit grown in abundance here: olives! Olive oil production is also famous in Mendoza. Touring an olive oil plantation and factory is a fun way to learn about Mendoza's olive industry. We really enjoyed visiting the Olivicola Laur olive oil factory and seeing the trees as well as learning about how they produce their products, with lots of tasting samples!
Trekking and a BBQ in the Andes
Don't think that there's nothing to do but tour vineyards during your time in Mendoza. Since you're so close to the beautiful Andes mountains you can also go trekking to take in the breathtaking surrounds. This full-day trekking tour from Mendoza will take you along the La Angostura ravine with views of the Potreillos Dam and some of the highest peaks of the range. After your trek, you'll be able to enjoy a traditional Argentinian asado barbecue with local wines.
Horse-back riding in the Andes
Another fun and unique activity we recommend in Mendoza is horse riding through the Andes mountains. We did this as a day trip, starting from an authentic Argentinian ranch, and spending the day enjoying the stunning scenery of the Andes mountains. This incredible gaucho experience includes a traditional Argentinian asado lunch before returning back to your accommodation. Speaking with fellow gay travellers in the region we definitely agreed this was one of the highlights of our trip in Argentina if only just for the views: simply breathtaking!
Visit the Atuel Canyon
If you want to explore a bit of the area surrounding Mendoza then a day tour to the Atuel Canyon and San Rafael is a must-do. You'll be able to admire the stunning views of the Uco Valley before arriving at the colonial town of Villa 25 de mayo. Afterwards, you'll be taken to the incredible gorge of Atuel Canyon, which features unique rock formations with names like “The Hanging Gardens” and “The Wax Museum. You'll also get to explore San Rafael before heading back to Mendoza.
Relax at the Cacheuta Thermal Spa
After all that trekking and/or bike riding to vineyards you might be feeling a bit tired and sore, so why not relax at a thermal spa? This natural thermal grotto has been expanded on to become a very unique location for rejuvenation, relaxation and a variety of treatments. There are outdoor thermal pools as well as indoor relaxation pools, mineral mud therapy, massage services, Finnish and Scottish style showers. The Cacheuta Thermal Spa is about a 40-minute drive out of the city so if you don't have your own car you can join this tour which takes you to the spa to relax for an entire day.
Explore the City
Don't forget, what with all that wine-tasting, to spend some time exploring the beautiful and historic city of Mendoza itself. Spots you should not miss include the Plaza Independencia, La Alameda and Cerro de la Gloria. There are a variety of interesting museums including the Casa de Fader, a historic house museum full of art and the Museo Nacional del Vino – National Wine Museum! You could also join a tour to learn about the history and culture of the city, like this one which includes a visit to the gorgeous San Martin Park (pictured here).
Visit the Uco Valley
The Uco Valley is another area near to Mendoza that is renowned for its delicious local wines and beautiful scenery. This area makes for another lovely day trip where you can enjoy stunning views of Lake Potrerillos and Tupungato mountain while visiting vineyards. You could also explore the wine trails at the foot of the Andes mountains on a tour which includes a visit to three different off-the-beaten-path wineries and a gourmet lunch at a 5-star resort.
Get your adrenaline pumping
As well as being a great location for visiting the Andes mountains and wine tasting, Mendoza also offers a whole host of exciting activities to get your adrenaline pumping. If cycling through vineyards is too tame for you then you could go mountain-biking in the Potrerillos Valley instead; and if trekking isn't exciting enough you could try white water river rafting on the Mendoza river. This is definitely a place for thrill-seekers as well as wine-lovers to visit!
Gay friendly restaurants
Along with all the excellent wine, we found Mendoza to have an equally excellent foodie scene. In the city, we absolutely loved eating at El Retortuño and Azafrán restaurants, while outside of the city lunch at Bodega Ruca Malen is a must; the food is an experience in itself! Here are our favourite gay friendly restaurants in and around Mendoza.
El Retortuño is a restaurant/cultural hall that puts on live performances to showcase music and dance of the region. Sure, we found El Retortuño to be a little bit on the touristy side, but it is a great way to get introduced to the singing and traditional folkloric dances of the region while sampling some delicious typical Argentinian cuisine. Visitors are free to join in with the dancing and the small space feels very intimate and homey. El Retortuño is only open on Friday and Saturday nights but it's definitely worth a visit.
Azafrán is one of our favourite restaurants in Mendoza. They offer traditional Argentinian cuisine with a modern twist and the meals are absolutely to die for. Try one of their six-course degustation menus to sample dishes such as beef tartar, octopus with seaweed, rabbit escabeche and a variety of sorbets. The sommeliers are on-hand to help you pick the perfect wine pairings for every course. Azafrán is open 7 days from midday until midnight.
Bodega Ruca Malen
Ruca Malen is a beautiful winery with views of the Andes that has also become known for having one of the best winery restaurants in the country. You can visit for a tour of the vineyards with a picnic but we would definitely recommend that you try their amazing five-step tasting menu matched with their best wines which was as you can imagine an unforgettable experience for the Nomadic Boys. Ruca Malen endeavours to only use ingredients produced in Mendoza in their delicious dishes, with many grown onsite. The restaurant is only open for lunch but what a lunch it will be!
If you're worried about all the Argentinian meat on offer in Mendoza don't, because the lovely Caléndula cafe and restaurant serves the most fantastic vegetarian food in the city! The meals are exquisite with many vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free options as well. There are also regular live music shows and local art exhibitions in this colourful space. Caléndula is open Monday-Saturday from 9am until 10 or 11 pm.
1884 Restaurante Francis Mallmann
Often described as the best restaurant in the city and housed in a winery dating from 1884 (hence the name) is 1884 Restaurante Francis Mallmann (or just Mallmann's to locals). The food, wine and cocktails are all exceptional here; as is the courtyard/garden area with fires that is lovely for lounging around after your meal. This is probably also one of the most expensive restaurants in Mendoza, but perfect for splurging on a special occasion!
Before you go
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Mendoza. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
How to get there: Mendoza has an international airport about 8km away from the city centre which is serviced by flights from Buenos Aires and Santiago, Chile. If you are travelling by plane from somewhere else you will have to connect or transfer in one of those cities. If you don't have a car, you can also arrange a private transfer from Mendoza airport to get to your accommodation with ease. You can also get to Mendoza via buses from Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Santiago and other cities in the region.
Visa requirements: If you are visiting Argentina from most EU countries, USA, Canada or Australia then you don't need a visa to stay for up to 90 days as a tourist. Make sure you check your personal visa requirements here, and that you have a passport that's valid for at least six months after your arrival.
Getting around: The city centre of Mendoza is easily walkable but you will need to hire a car or taxi if you want to visit the nearby vineyards independently. Taxis are quite inexpensive and your hotel will be able to order one for you. If you decide to rent a car, the streets are easy to navigate and parking is also quite cheap in the city centre.
Power Plugs: In Argentina, two main types of power plugs are used; type C, which is common in Europe and type I, which is mainly used in Australia, New Zealand, China and the South Pacific. If you are travelling from the United States you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you.
Travel insurance: For your trip to Argentina, you should think of getting a good travel insurance so that you are protected in the case of injury, illness, theft or cancellations beyond your control. We love World Nomads travel insurance; we've been using them for years and cannot recommend them highly enough. They offer comprehensive coverage and it's very easy to make a claim online if you need to.
Safety and Security: Even when taking precautions you can get into trouble while travelling; from weather extremes to acts of violence. We've written a whole article about how to stay safe while travelling and one of our favourite ways is by using the CloseCircle virtual bodyguard app. They provide security alerts, support and even evacuation when needed.
Vaccinations: You should always be vigilant about using mosquito repellent when travelling in Argentina, as mosquitoes can be carriers of many diseases. The CDC also recommends that travellers to Argentina be vaccinated for Typhoid and Hepatitis A, especially if you will be travelling to rural areas. For more detailed information check the CDC website here.
Currency: In Mendoza, and throughout Argentina, the currency used is the Argentine Peso. It gets abbreviated to ARS and €1 converts to around 48.50 Argentine Pesos while $1 is about 43.25 pesos.
Tipping culture: Tipping isn't expected in Argentina, but is usually appreciated if you feel like rewarding good service. In places like hotels you may also receive slightly better service if you leave a few pesos out for the staff each day. At a restaurant you can tip about 10% of your total bill.
Internet access: More hotels and restaurants in Mendoza are offering free WiFi than before but not as much as you might find in bigger cities like Buenos Aires. If you know you will be needing to use a lot of bandwidth or want to make sure you have a reliable internet connection then consider getting a local SIM card with data.
Online privacy: Argentina is a very gay friendly destination with progressive laws so you will be able to use gay dating apps like Scruff or Grindr without any issues. If you do prefer to keep your internet usage private then we recommend using ExpressVPN; an affordable and reliable virtual private network.
Accommodation: If you'd like to see more accommodation options than the ones we've mentioned here make sure you check out our gay hotels in Mendoza article; or you can use the Booking.com website. We love to use Booking.com when searching for hotels because they have the best prices as well as excellent 24/7 customer support.
Sightseeing and adventure: If you're looking for more fun activities to do during your time in Mendoza then we recommend the GetYourGuide website for all the best choices. The website is easy to use to book activities and their 24/7 customer support service is always fantastic.
When to visit: As we've mentioned, Mendoza is a lovely sunny destination all year round so you can visit whenever it fits into your timetable. If you want to experience the “Vendimia” grape harvesting festival, which includes a LGBTQ segment called “Vendimia Para Todos“, then you will need to travel to Mendoza in early March.
Gay map of Mendoza
We've made a gay map of Mendoza for you to help you plan your own visit. Here we've included all of our favourite gay friendly places to stay, eat, party, sightsee and, of course, drink wine!
For more inspiration:
- If you're heading to Buenos Aires, use our gay travel guide to plan your trip and check out our best gay hotels to Buenos Aires.
- Read what growing up gay in Argentina is like in our interview with local boy Juan from Buenos Aires.
- Get inspired with our best foods to try in Argentina.