Colonial Cordoba, Argentina, the nation's second-largest city, lies 400 mi/645 km northwest of Buenos Aires in the center of a many-rivered region. Although it receives few tourists, the area will appeal to anyone attracted to a relaxed, natural lifestyle amid rolling hills and valleys (the land is semiarid, despite the river's presence).
Don't miss the cathedral in the center of town, the university (Argentina's oldest and most prestigious, founded in 1613) and the Museum of Regional History. The city's 17th- and 18th-century Jesuit Block and estancias are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Three popular resort towns are located nearby: Villa Carlos Paz, a scenic half-day trip from Cordoba, and Mina Clavero, a bit farther afield and boasting many natural swimming pools. Villa General Belgrano, meanwhile–which is named for the general who created Argentina's flag—is also worth a visit for its German culture and architecture. It's at its busiest in spring, when the German-founded town celebrates Oktoberfest. Located in the rolling green hills about two hours south of Cordoba, revelers visit from all around the country, keen to sample craft beer from the area and celebrate as if they were in Munich.
Most people enjoy one night in Cordoba, although if you're a fan of colonial architecture, you'll want at least another day. The laid-back nature of the city and its small satellite towns in the province make it a refreshing alternative to busy Buenos Aires for those looking to be in the great outdoors.
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