Official language: Spanish
Currency: The Argentinian Peso (ARS)
Welcome to Argentina! The romantic strains of tango, unparalleled natural beauty and vibrant cities make Argentina one of the world’s top travel destinations.There are certain facts that most people know about Argentina, and once you arrive here you will soon discover that they are true after all. It is true that the beef here is incredible, that the people are exuberant and outgoing, that they love their sports and that few people can resist the lure of an evening of tango. The massive size of Argentina means that it is the kind of country that you could only hope to explore fully if you had a few years of free time. However, an efficient transport system means that it is possible to get a taste of the place in a much shorter time. Most tourists start their trip in the captivating, intoxicating city of Buenos Aires. The Argentine capital has been called the Paris of South America but the food and the local accents prove how strongly the Italian influence has affected this city. It is a wonderful destination for anyone who wants to stroll around parks, watch street entertainers, make some shopping streets and generally enjoy life. This is the city where Eva Peron is buried and a trip to cemetery is one of the most popular activities for visitors. The temptation to remain in Buenos Aires may be strong, but some time exploring other parts of this amazing country is well rewarded. For instance, the awe inspiring waterfalls at Iguazú are a sight few tourists forget quickly, while the most southerly city in the world is Ushuaia and is probably unlike anything you have ever seen. The other cities and provinces in Argentina all offer a variety of attractions but what shines out more than anything else is the fact that this is a place where living life to the full is not only possible; it’s almost obligatory.
Must see places in Argentina
The stunning capital of Argentina is without doubt one of the world’s finest cities. From the classy hotels to the fantastic restaurants, there is a tourist infrastructure that is among the best in the continent. Top attractions include the artistic Boca region, the massive 9 de Julio Avenue, the theatres on Corrientes Street and the government house called Casa Rosada. Once you have seen the balcony at the Casa Rosada from which Eva Peron addressed the nation you can visit her grave at Recoleta Cemetery. With soccer being such a passion here, taking in a tour of Boca Juniors stadium or seeing a game is highly recommended.
Monte Fitz Roy
Explore Monte Fitz Roy - one of the most scenic and breathtaking places in Argentina. Monte Fitz Roy is a mountain located near El Chaltén village, in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in Patagonia, on the border between Argentina and Chile which offer plenty of world-class hiking and camping along with some of the most stunning mountain scenery you'll ever see
The north of the country is undergoing a tourist boom in recent years, with beautiful Salta leading the way. This historic city has a lovely plaza and friendly, relaxed feel that is hard to resist. A trip up in the cable car to the top of the hill overlooking Salta affords a glorious view of the city and beyond. The local empanadas are rightly famous and something that any visitor should be sure to try.
With a country the size of Argentina it is to be expected that you come across a rich variety of cities. However, you will probably still be surprised to find that Bariloche looks and feels more like an upmarket Alpine town than an Argentine one. The stunning scenery around here makes it one of the top destinations for wealthy Argentines as well as for international tourists. Rent a car and drive the 40 route, a road with a dreamy scenery of green mountains and turquoise lakes.
There are few attractions on the planet as breathtaking as the waterfalls at Iguazú. They are located on the triple border shared by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. While seeing the falls from the Brazilian side is recommended, it is the Argentine side that offers the chance to get up close and even ride under the falls in a boat. This town is in the Misiones province, which is a long way from Buenos Aires. This means that many visitors on a short trip choose to take a quick flight up to this unmissable natural wonder.
San Miguel de Tucumán
The wonderful climate of Tucumán isn’t the only reason for visiting this city. It is also home to the historic building where the country’s independence was declared and where you can enjoy a lights and audio show. The giant central park is a fine place for a stroll and picnic, with the miniature train going round it offering a good way to get your bearings.
Usuahia: situated on the Beagle Channel, this small city is more commonly known as “the end of the world” will offer you a chance to cross the Drake passage and head to the Antardida or simply be your cozy base to all kind of day tours. You will feel as though you have really reached the end of the world when you arrive to the most southerly city on the planet. In truth, it isn’t as far south as many people think, meaning that it isn’t as cold as you might expect. This is a fine base for exploring the treasures of the Tierra del Fuego. There is a pleasant train journey, some glaciers to check out and a number of museums. It might be remote from Buenos Aires but it has enough modern tourist facilities to make it a nice place to stay for those who make the effort.
Glaciar Perito Moreno
Los Glaciares or Graciers National Park is home to some of the world’s most recorgnised natural wonders. It is located in the Santa Cruz Province of the vast Patagonia region, the national park offers amazing views of the largest ice cap that can be found outside of Greenland and Antarctica where ice crashes into the lakes with enormous splashes. Come see this huge mass of ice that keeps growing, and if you are lucky you might presence the loud and spectacular ruptures.
Caminito: this colorful street museum houses more than 20 renamed pieces. Its rich history and beauty were the inspiration for the worldly known tango “caminito” by Juan de Dios Filiberto.
Valle de la Luna
Mendoza is famous as one of the homes of Argentine wine, with the wineries here classed among the highest in the world. This is also a suitable base for heading out to see the mighty Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas. As always in Argentina, the main plaza is a good place to start a tour of the relatively compact centre. The city is widely known for its festivals, such as the February harvest festival.
The third biggest city in Argentina is justly famous for its beautiful architecture. Among the best things to check out here is the house where Che Guevara was born and the Argentine Flag Memorial. The massive Parque Independencia is big enough for you to wander about in without even noticing how many locals are there enjoying the sun and relaxing with their families.
The province of Cordoba is fast becoming a travel hotspot in Argentina. The capital city of this region is a classy destination that is famous for its universities and institutes. The area around the main plaza (San Martín) has some fine colonial buildings, while much of the rest of Cordoba is a bustling, modern place. There are plenty of good trips available from here out to see the lovely countryside and popular towns such as Villa Carlos Paz and La Calera.
This relatively modern city lies just a couple of hours away from Buenos Aires and you might be surprised to discover that it is the capital of the Buenos Aires province. Undoubtedly the highlight of La Plata is the exquisite cathedral on Plaza Moreno. It is described as arguably the world’s first planned city and the clever layout makes it easy to get around on foot.
Things to do in Argentina
See the Natural Wonders
It is no surprise to find that such a vast country includes a range of some of the world’s most exciting wonders. The stunning waterfalls at Puerto Iguazú are really worth making the effort to go and marvel at. Down in the south of the country you will find glorious glaciers and beautiful lakes among other attractions. In terms of mountains, a trip out to Mendoza will take you close to the magnificent Aconcagua.
Try local dishes
One of the things Argentina is most famous for is the brilliant food on offer. The arrival of immigrants from Spain and Italy is seen as one of the reason why the local indigenous cuisine ended up turning into something so special. Carnivores will be especially delighted here, as Argentine beef is widely regarded as the best in the world. Dulce de leche is a tasty type of caramel that you are sure to come across a lot. When it comes to drinks the natural infusion called yerba mate is a favourite with most locals.
Visit wine vineyards
Enjoy Some Tango
Tango is, of course, the music most associated with Argentina. There are a few ways to enjoy this brilliant music but only the bravest travellers will take the plunge and sign up for some dance lessons. Something that is far easier to do is making a trip to a tango show and listen to the music while watching some dazzling dancing. You will also see and hear tango a lot on the streets of Buenos Aires, especially in touristy places like Boca.
Take in Some Sport
The Argentines love their soccer and this is one of the best places in the world to see a game. The traditional rivalry between Boca Juniors and River Plate always makes for a riveting spectacle but just any top class game is worth seeing. Other sports that are popular here include rugby, hockey, golf, polo and basketball. The national sport is the strangely riveting spectacle called pato.
Explore the Cities
When a country has a capital as big and exciting as Buenos Aires it is easy to stay there for the whole trip. However, in the case of Argentina it definitely makes sense to get out and see the rest of the cities. Cordoba, Mendoza, Salta and Rosario are just some of the top class destinations worth spending some time in, with each having its own particular charms.
Pick the time right
Tourists visit Argentina in summer
Basically, any time is a good time to visit Argentina, although there are some pieces of information to bear in mind when planning a trip. In the summer months (November to April) it can get very hot in cities such as Buenos Aires, Cordoba and San Miguel de Tucumán. If you plan to go to the south of the country then you will probably want to avoid the colder months of the year (June to August). If you want to see some partying then Carnaval in the week before lent is celebrated in a number of parts of the country.
The size of Argentina means that it covers a number of different climates. Most of the country has a temperate climate, with warm, wet summers and cool, dry winters. The north of the country is more tropical and can suffer from very dry spells as well as searing temperature in summer months. The flat, seemingly endless Pampas are famous for the wind that blows through them almost constantly.
Did you know?
Argentina is the eighth biggest county in the world but lies in 32nd place in terms of population.
It is a country of extremes. For example Mount Aconcagua is the tallest point outside of Asia, while Laguna del Carbon is one the lowest points on the planet. Near the Chilean border is the Nevada Ojos del Salado, which is the highest active volcano in the world and whose crater contains the world’s highest lake.
Argentinians love to be friendly; you will be greeted with a kiss in the cheek and dismissed with a hug, so learn how to be polite! Say hi! with an hola!; please with a porfavor and thank you with a gracias. When you head to Argentina, don’t be shy! One of the things that make this country special is its warm people. Ask for directions in the street and Argentinos will gather around to help you. Start a conversation in a bar and you'll make a new friend, and if you are lucky, you might get invited to a Sunday’s asado where you will feel at home among family and friends. Part of this loud and happy character comes from the melting pot that occurred during the immigration period of the country. Some people calls Argentinians Italians that speak Spanish, dramatic and passionate are the two words that summarise the personality of Argentinians.
Food is exceptionally good value in Argentina. Meat lovers should look out for Tenedor Libre offers. These are all you can eat buffets with a huge range of cuts of beef to try.
- Asado: What you heard about Argentinian meat is true. There is something about the way the cattle is raised running free in the huge plains of “La Pampa” that makes Argentinian meat synnonimum of quality. You haven't had a barbecue until you've tasted the traditional asado. To achieve the perfect tenderness, the “asador” has to dedicate hours sweating in the heat. But it all pays off when he sees your face after you taste for the first time how meat is supposed to taste like. But an asado is not just the meat. A real asado experience should also include other parts of the anatomy of the cow, just make sure you eat first and ask later.
- Milanesas: You guessed! More meat! The Latin American equivalent of the German wiener schnitzel, it's a thin slice of beef dipped in eggs spiced with garlic and parsley, and later in bread crumbs to be fried in hot oil or baked in the oven. Wait... it gets better. The Argentinian way to eat this is “a la napolitana” meaning with a combo of tomato sauce, jam, muzzarella slices of tomato with fresh oregano on top. If this is not enough for you ask for it “a caballo”, meaning, with two fried eggs on top. Of course all of this comes with fries on the side. So make sure you ask for one plate to share the first time you order a milanesa.
- Empanadas: This small dough balls stuffed with all kind of tasty things are a very popular kind of street food, cooked fried or in the oven, they will burn your tongue but keep you wanting more. Most traditional flavors are beef, chicken, jam and cheese, caramelized onions and cheese and spinach and cream. They are sold by the dozen, you can get 12 for less than 10 dollars and feed 4 hungry people!
- Alfajores: It's a cookie sandwich dipped in chocolate, stuffed with all kind of fillings .This sweet ambrosias are the perfect snack to have after breakfast or before dinner. Buy them for a dime at any kiosk.
- Dulce de Leche: You cannot miss this Argentinian classic made from reduced milk with sugar. Who knew a culinary accident could be so delicious! Find it alone at the supermarket or inside almost every cake, alfajor or muffin you buy.
It doesn't matter the time of the year you come, there will be probably something going on, because Argentinians don't need excuses to celebrate.But take note of these dates so you don't miss them when you are around:
- Gualeguaychú carnival: this amazing show of sincronizad choreography has nothing to envy to those in Rio or Venice. Thousands of Argentinians come during the months of January, February and beginning of March to celebrate that summer is here.
- Buenos Aires Tango festival and world cup: if you are around August in Buenos Aires you can't miss the world’s largest tango festival, that attracts more than half a million visitors from all over the world. All the activities and shows at the Tango Festival are free, even the tickets for the Tango World Cup.
- BAFICI: one of the biggest indie film festivals in the world takes place in the first weeks of April. The tickets start selling in march and are less than 5 USD each, so buy them online in advance.
- Oktoberfest: takes place in the first two weeks of October in the little town of Villa General Belgrano, province of Cordoba. Book a typical chalet in advance and spend a weekend learning from the german history and culture of the city.
- Tango: Once dismissed as a vulgar activity for the working class, tango is now in the middle of a revival.For a full tango experience take a stroll in the emblematic neighbourhood of “Abasto” and you'll be transported to a nostalgic time, just sit at a cafe close your eyes and listen to the old tunes. You can even take a tour at Carlos Gardel former home, the Museo Casa Carlos Gardel. In this area you will find plenty of fancy shoe stores where you can splurge a little and take a brand new pair to your class tonight. Don't worry if you can't keep your step, you can look fabulous enjoying the great ambiance and people watching.
- Futbol: It won't take you long to figure out that in Argentina, futbol is not just a sport, it's a way of life. You will see old men yelling at giant screens inside department stores, kids carrying footballs everywhere, girls with little coats of arms on their chest, Messi's face in every product you buy. Before you know it you'll find yourself asking what the score was!
- Mate: Few things are as emblematic as Argentinian beloved mate. Made from dried “yerba mate” leaves brewed in a round bowl and served with a silver stick with little holes in the bottom to let the caffeined liquid in.Now this is an adequate taste, don't worry if you don't like it right away, just don't give up either! Try it out with some new friends in the park and somethig sweet to go with it like a dulce de leche croisant.
During the day the easiest and fastest way to get downtown is the subway, at night with the streets empty it's worth your money to take a taxi. And if you are not in a hurry it's always best to walk.
Bank ATMs are in short supply in most of the country, meaning that there are often large queues. There seems to be periodic shortages of small bank notes and coins too. It usually makes to withdraw a decent amount rather than go back every day for smaller amounts.