Introduction to Tucumán
San Miguel de Tucumán, or just Tucumán as it is more commonly known, is the largest city in the north of Argentina, and the capital of the province with the same name. Located at the base of the foothills of the Andes, the nearby mountains provide a welcome retreat from high summer temperatures. The flora found in these jumgas is beautiful and it is a wonder that Tucumán has not been expoited for tourism like nearby Salta and Cordóba have. But the lack of tourist traps along with the friendly people and good nightlife make it a place where you could stay for a while.
Where to stay in Tucumán
How to get to Tucumán
The Benj Matienzo airport (TUC) is located 9 kms to the east of the center. Daily flights to Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Salta. For more information on Benj Matienzo airport and flights to Tucumán, click here.
The Tucumán bus terminal serves as a hub for the north of the country. Buses from Buenos Aires to Salta and points north pass through Tucumán and at times it is necessary to transfer buses here. Located just outside the center on the exceptionally unatractive Avenue Brígido Terán, the terminal has its own shopping center, casino, resturants, super market and very helpful tourist information (in front of platform 12). If you have a few hours to kill there, you can watch tv on the coin operated televisions located throughout the terminal. During the day a trip to the huge and shady 9 de Julio park is recommmended.
Tucumán is the end of the line for the train line that runs to the north of the country. services to BA run twice weekly via La Banda (Santiago Del Estero) and Rosario. Trains are slow (currently the trip to Buenos Aires takes 25 hours) but are comfortable and cheap. There are four classes of seats are available, ranging from hard seat tourist class without airconditioning to a Tickets must be reserved in advance (up to 3 months in advance during high season), but can only be so in person at one of the stations. The Mitre train station in Tucumán is located on Corrientes 1045 just to the north east of the center and is open M-F from 7am to 7pm and on Saturdays from 8am to 7:45pm (Tel.: (0381)-4309220).
ATMs in Tucumán
Most banks and bank machines are located on Ave. San Martín in the center, but also in the bus terminal, airport and of course, the casino.
Things to do in Tucumán
Tucumán is the birthplace of Argentine independence and you can still visit the site where the the declaration was made in the year 1816. The Casa Historica is a replica of the original which was torn down in 1903. You can visit it on calle Congreso in the center from 10am to 6pm daily. The tours are in Spanish, but if your Spanish isn’t that good you can usually find somebody to help translate. At night there is a light show that tells the history of the independence.
Note that the casa historica is generally more interesting for Argentines or history buffs than for the average traveler. The light show isn’t by any means “spectacular” but tells an interesting story neverless.
A trip to the sub tropical forests or jungas to the west of the city is a must. If you arrive to Tucumán from Tafi del Valle, you will get to see them on the spectacular (although quite curvy) descent into the valley. The change of vegetation zones is impressive.
San Javier Park
The sierra de San Javier is located some 20kms to the east of the center on the edge of the municipality of Yerba Buena. From the center head west on ave 24 de Noviembre through Yerba Buena and up the mountain to the village of San Javier and the Cristo Redentor statue. Bus number 118 makes the trip 4 times daily, leaving from the terminal at 8am, 12 noon, 4pm and 8pm. A taxi one way woudl run about 65 pesos from the center. Alternatively walk up the trail Puerta Del Cielo from near the Horco Molle wildlife reserve.
In San Javier the view from the patio at the San Javier hotel is well worth the price of a coffee or beer. This hotel has a swimming pool and tennis courts and if you have the money, is worth a nights stay.
If you have your own transport the village of Villa Nougués, 10 kms further down the road is absolutely charming. This small town built on a mountainside looks more like Switzerland than the north of Argentina.