In Argentina, there is arguably everything — mountains of all shapes, colors and sizes, ocean, sand dunes, glaciers, pine and eucalyptus forests, jungles, volcanoes, lakes, salt flats, sea elephants and seals, whales, waterfalls, llamas, guanacos, penguins, Martian landscapes, architecture and art, stunning steaks and wines, some of the best in the world. We talk about everything in a large guide.
Argentina, a land that stretches from the roaring waterfalls of Iguazu in the north to the icy wilderness of Tierra del Fuego in the south, is a country that both fascinates and captivates. Renowned as the birthplace of the sultry tango and the home of mouth-watering steaks, Argentina is a fascinating mix of vibrant culture, awe-inspiring landscapes, and a deep and rich history that echoes throughout its cobblestone streets and grand architecture.
Sitting on the southeastern tip of South America, Argentina boasts a geographical diversity that few countries can rival. From the towering Andean peaks to the expansive Pampas grasslands, from the rustic charm of its gaucho (cowboy) culture to the cosmopolitan flair of Buenos Aires, Argentina presents a stunning tapestry of unique experiences.
Argentina is located in the western hemisphere, south of the equator, which means everything here is upside down. Summer starts in the second half of December, and winter starts in mid-June. For walks around Buenos Aires, it’s better to choose the summer months as many locals go away during the school holidays. However, expect temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius. The ski resorts in Bariloche start to come alive in June. Watching whales on the eastern coast is possible from July to mid-December. Western Patagonia is particularly beautiful in the fall—April and May seemed perfect to us.
Top Destinations in Argentina
Argentina’s diverse landscapes and cultural offerings make it a captivating destination for travelers. Here are some top locations that you simply cannot miss when visiting this stunning country.
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and the largest and most densely populated city. Here lives just over three million people. Many consider Buenos Aires to be the most unusual city in Latin America. Therefore, to describe all the interesting places in the capital, a separate article is needed. Here we will only talk about the main attractions.
What to see
If only a couple of days are allocated for touring Buenos Aires during the trip, then firstly, one should explore the historical center. For instance, start with the embankment of the old port, or more precisely, from the Woman’s Bridge. For ships to pass, the middle part turns on a special mechanism. Bright yellow cranes have been left here as monuments, and now restaurants and cafes operate in the old port infrastructure buildings.
Next to the embankment is the main square of the country – Plaza de Mayo. It was here that the city was founded for the second time in 1580 (in 1541 it was burned down by the indigenous people). Surrounding the square are the city administration buildings, various ministries, the building of the National Bank, a uniquely designed cathedral with columns, and the main government building of Argentina – Casa Rosada. You can visit the Pink House for free on weekends and holidays by registering on the site at least two weeks in advance. The square traditionally serves as a venue for various rallies and pickets, and a structure made of cellophane, sticks, and banners, inside which protesters live, has been here since 2009.
From the square, along the street, which locals call Diagonal Norte (official name – Avenida Presidente Roque Sáens Peña), it’s not far to the main symbol of the city – the Obelisk – a four-sided stele with a height of 67 meters. The Obelisk itself often becomes the main character of various performances: it was dressed in a huge pink condom, covered with trash bags, even the top was “abducted” (in fact, simply covered with shields of the same color, and a copy of the top was displayed in the museum of contemporary art).
Avenida 9 de Julio, where the stele is located, is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the widest street in the world (140 meters). Just a couple of blocks away is the famous establishment Tango Porteño. The Argentine tango shows held here are considered among the best in the country.
The Recoleta Cemetery was founded 200 years ago, and it’s where presidents, scientists, and artists have been buried. Over 90 mausoleums and vaults have been declared historical monuments. Although there are hundreds of beautiful tombs here. At the entrance to the cemetery, a map is handed out marking the most beautiful burials. From Tuesday to Friday at 11:00 and 14:00, and on weekends at 11:00 and 15:00, free tours are conducted in Spanish. The entrance fee for foreigners is four dollars.
Statue of Liberty. Hidden among the trees in the Barrancas de Belgrano park is the “older sister” of the famous Statue of Liberty in New York. Although it’s much smaller, it was created earlier.
English Tower. A gift from the British for the centenary of Argentina’s first national government. The observation deck offers a splendid view of the city, the Retiro railway station, and the adjacent Villa 31 slums.
Water Museum. The building itself is as interesting as the exhibition inside. Built in the late 19th century, it played a crucial role in providing the city with drinking water. Inside, there were 12 water tanks with a total capacity of 72 million liters. From Monday to Friday, from 9:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00, independent visits are free of charge.
Where to Stay
Recoleta. An upscale district with historic architecture. Here, you can rent a room in a hotel or an apartment in a century-old building, and all the main attractions will be within walking distance. When choosing accommodation, don’t forget about the Villa 31 slums.
Palermo. The main nightlife district in the center, brimming with numerous bars, restaurants, and clubs. It is home to the majority of parks and has retained many historic buildings. If you choose an apartment on a quiet street, you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep.
Belgrano. A more peaceful district abundant in greenery. Life mostly bustles around the Libertador and Cabildo highways, as well as in Barrio Chino, the Chinatown. The northern part of Buenos Aires is considered to be more tranquil and safe.
Public transport consists of buses, subways, and trains. You can pay the fare with a Sube card, not just for yourself but also for several people. The Sube card is valid in most cities in Argentina. Points of sale and top-up locations can be found on the official website.
Buses (Colectivos). The most common mode of transport with the most extensive coverage network. Buses run quickly, are rarely overcrowded, and often have air conditioning inside. The cost depends on the distance, so when boarding, you should tell the driver where you are going or how many stops. The typical bus stops we’re used to are few here. A stop often looks like a pole with a sign listing route numbers. To get the bus to stop, you need to raise your hand; otherwise, it will pass by.
Subway (Subte). Six lines, intuitive navigation, signs everywhere, and maps
Suburban trains. Traveling on them is very cheap. Rides are often accompanied by musical performances and offers to buy various items, from socks to freshly baked rolls.
Taxis. Sometimes it’s faster to hail a cab by hand than through an app. Often, there’s a gas tank in the trunk, leaving insufficient space for suitcases. Ordering apps include Didi, Cabify, and Uber.
Buenos Aires is located on the shore of the La Plata estuary – a bay formed by the Paraná and Uruguay rivers. The water here is muddy, opaque, and of a completely unattractive brown color. Proper beaches only start 400 kilometers from the capital, after Cape Punta Rasa. Due to cold currents coming from the south, the water temperature on the coast rarely warms up above 22 degrees Celsius. Accordingly, the further south you go, the colder the water will be.
Pinamar and Cariló
These places are considered the best beach resorts in Argentina. A very wide coastline, clean sand, dunes planted with pines and eucalyptus – the aroma is simply incredible. There are affordable surf and windsurf schools, golf courses, you can rent a quad bike and drive along the beach and sand dunes, go fishing, play tennis, football, and even rugby. In the evening, settle down with a glass of Malbec in one of the cozy restaurants on the promenade.
How to get there
The nearest airport is in Mar del Plata, 130 kilometers away. From there, you’ll have to take a taxi or arrange a transfer. A bus from Buenos Aires takes about five hours. Tickets range from 15 to 20 dollars. You can also travel by train with a transfer in General Guido. The journey takes 6.5 hours, with a total one-way ticket cost of three dollars. However, tickets sell out quickly, especially during the peak season.
Mar del Plata
Mar del Plata is the main popular resort in Argentina. If solitude is not a priority, this is a great option. There is a wide choice of hotels and restaurants, nightclubs, and bars. Due to competition, it’s cheap to learn to surf or kite-surf here. You can rent a bike or kayak, there are shopping centers, a theater, and a casino.
There are so many beaches in Mar del Plata that they have created an entire reference system. Typically, the beach service closer to the city center is of better quality, but it’s less crowded on the outskirts. A sight to behold is the massive Barrio Alfar complex, divided into 24 sectors. A kind of facility for beach pleasure. The neat rows of tents set up on the sandy beach resemble a clearly marked parking lot on the other side.
Closer to the evening, bright fishing boats gather in the seaport. Seals and sea lions rest on the shore. For seafood lovers, there are several fish restaurants nearby. You can watch the sunset at the Torre Tanque water tower, built in 1943. An elevator leading to the viewpoint passes inside the circular reservoir with 500,000 liters of water.
Along the entire coastline from Mar del Plata to Miramar, there are numerous scattered beaches – both with organized services and completely wild ones. In some places, the coast is rugged and rocky. Bus 511CH goes to Chapadmalal, and the Plusmar company bus goes to the town of Miramar. They depart from the bus station.
70 kilometers from Mar del Plata is a small town called Balcarce, home to the museum of Juan Manuel Fangio — the famous Argentine Formula 1 driver and five-time world champion. The museum displays racing cars from various generations and personal items of Juan Manuel. Buses to Balcarce depart almost every hour from the Mar del Plata bus station.
How to get there. From Buenos Aires, the flight takes just over an hour, operated by Aerolineas Argentinas, with tickets starting from 22 dollar. The bus from the capital takes about five hours, with ticket prices ranging from 17–22 dollars. Trains from Buenos Aires operate twice a day; there’s an additional service on Fridays, but getting tickets is almost impossible. Due to the low cost of 4–4.5 dollars, almost all seats are bought out, even in the off-season.
Patagonia is a vast region in the southern part of Argentina, covering approximately a third of the country. Most of it is the Pampa steppe, divided into two: humid with developed agriculture and dry with sparse vegetation. All points of interest are either along the ocean’s coastline in the east or along the Andes in the west.
Primarily known as the longest road (5194 kilometers) in South America. It starts in the east of Patagonia, in the southernmost part of mainland Argentina (incidentally, there’s a nearby penguin colony). From the Atlantic coast, the road heads west, then north, parallel to the Andes. Much of Ruta 40 is somewhat monotonous, but there are very scenic stretches. The first of these starts just north of the town of Esquel, passes through Bariloche, San Martin de Los Andes, and ends after Junin de Los Andes. The next picturesque section starts in the Salta province, from Cafayate, but the further north you go, the worse the gravel surface becomes. The highest point (4895 meters) of the road is also located in Salta.
San Carlos de Bariloche
Located in the northwestern part of Patagonia, in the foothills of the Andes, surrounded by numerous lakes. In the first half of the 20th century, many immigrants from Austria and Switzerland arrived in this region, influencing the architectural style of many buildings.
In winter, Cerro Catedral is the largest ski resort in all of Latin America. The high season here is considered to be from mid-June to the second half of August. Over 100 kilometers of tracks of varying difficulty for all types of skiing, equipment rental, and instructor services.
In summer: from December to March, the surroundings of Bariloche are perfect for trekking. Numerous hiking trails have been laid out, from very easy to multi-day ones for experienced trekkers. School holidays begin in mid-December – during this period, it’s most crowded here.
Golden autumn is the best time for road trips and short hiking tours. Usually, in April and May, it’s not too cold and rainy, and strong winds are rare.
Cerro Campanario is a viewpoint with magnificent views of Bariloche, Lake Nahuel Huapi, Perito Moreno, and the surrounding mountains. You can ascend both on foot and by cable car.
San Martin de Los Andes is a tourist town 200 kilometers from Bariloche. The town itself is quite charming with many restaurants, and there’s a Che Guevara museum, but the main attraction is the beautiful road to it. It’s called the Road of Seven Lakes. Along the way, there are many viewpoints with great views of the mountains and lakes.
Lake Ventisquero Negro is located at the foot of Cerro Tronador. It’s 80 kilometers from Bariloche, 45 of which are winding gravel. From the viewpoint near the lake, you can see the tongue of the glacier (only it’s covered with soil and rock, which is why it’s called black), and chunks of muddy ice float on the lake. In one day, you can visit two attractions – Los Alerces waterfall and Lake Ventisquero Negro. The roads leading to each of them are reversible. The direction of traffic on them changes according to a schedule. You must enter the road to Los Alerces (27 kilometers of scenic gravel) by 9:30 am. From 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, you return. By 1:30 pm, you should start your way to Cerro Tronador, and you can return after 4:00 pm.
A UNESCO World Heritage site. It is considered the best place in the world for whale watching. The most opportune time for this is October and November. The best spot for shore observation is considered to be Doradillo beach. It’s free, and during high tide, whales come close enough.
Puerto Pirámides is the only town on the peninsula. This is where boat tours to see the whales depart from. Here are some tour companies that organize these tours: Peke Sosa, Tito Bottazzi Sightings, Hydrosport, Whales Argentina, Southern Spirit. Prices are the same for all. Low season (June – August): from 12 years old – 35 dollars, from three to 12 years – 17 dollars. High season (other months): from 12 years – 53 dollars, from three to 12 years – 26 dollars. The tour usually lasts an hour and a half, and it’s better to book in advance. Morning tours are considered more favorable — the water is calmer at this time, so there will be less motion sickness.
But besides whales, there are many animals on Valdés. Hares jump around in groups, armadillos regularly cross the road, timid ostriches run away upon seeing people, and you can frequently see guanacos, sheep, and maras. On the coast of Valdés, there is a colony of Magellanic penguins, and a bit further south, there is also a haul-out site for sea elephants. In the village of Estancia Punta Norte, there is also a colony of sea elephants. From October to April, you can see orcas here. During high tides, they hunt sea elephants in a unique way — they beach themselves to catch their prey.
Entrance to the Valdés Peninsula is charged. For foreign tourists: adults – nine dollars, children from six to 11 years old – four dollars, up to six years old – free. If you couldn’t see everything in one day, you need to stamp the ticket upon leaving, and the visit will be free the next day.
Accommodation. There are not many hotels in Puerto Pirámides, and they are expensive. During the season, it’s very hard to find a vacancy. It’s easier to stay in Puerto Madryn and get to the peninsula by rented car or hitchhiking. If you book tours, they usually offer a transfer.
How to get there. The nearest airport is in the regional capital, Puerto Madryn. The flight from Buenos Aires takes two hours; there are few flights, so during the season and on holidays, it’s necessary to buy tickets in advance. A one-way ticket costs between 50-100 dollars. The bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn takes 20 hours. Tickets cost between 39 and 55 dollars. There’s no public transport from Puerto Madryn to Valdés.
Buses from Mar y Valle company depart daily from the Puerto Madryn bus station to Puerto Pirámides at 9:20 and 17:00, and return at 11:30 and 19:00. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays there’s an additional departure at 6:30. Tickets should be bought at the counter; there’s no website.
The town was founded in 1985 and does not have any historical or cultural significance. Instead, it serves as a starting point for mountain treks. El Chaltén is located away from civilization, at the foot of the mountains, practically on the border with Chile. Prices for all goods and services here are higher than even in Buenos Aires and the neighboring (no less touristic) El Calafate. There are no major chain supermarkets here, but you can buy the necessary minimum of products by visiting a couple of local shops. There’s only one gas station.
From El Chaltén, many treks begin, and it’s the starting point for ascents to the peaks of Fitz Roy (3405 meters) and Cerro Torre (3128 meters). It’s especially crowded here in the summer when most ascents are made. There are routes of different levels: from simple day trips to serious routes with ropes, crampons, and ice axes. The website Elchalten.com has descriptions of all treks in the vicinity. In the town, you can rent any tourist equipment, so there’s no need to bring everything with you.
At the end of the season, in the first half of April, it becomes a bit easier to find accommodation at a reasonable price. For instance, in early April 2023, the cheapest hotel rooms were priced from 40 dollars. And a couple of months before that, there were no options even for 60 dollars. Moreover, vegetation begins to show vibrant colors, and the chances of encountering wildlife increase.
How to get there. You can only reach this destination by land. Tourists typically fly to El Calafate and then take a bus to El Chaltén. Buses run regularly, including large double-deckers and minibuses, so there’s no issue with tickets.
The city is located on the shores of Lake Argentino, 80 kilometers away from Los Glaciares National Park. Numerous excursions and treks start from here. Thus, the infrastructure is well-developed: many cafes, restaurants, travel agencies, tourist equipment stores, and car rental offices.
The Perito Moreno Glacier is the main attraction in the El Calafate area. If you have limited time, you can just visit this site, but it’s definitely not one to miss. A unique feature of the glacier is its constant movement: it slides down the mountain at a rate of two meters per day and crashes into the water from a height of 60–80 meters. It’s a mesmerizing sight.
It seems as though the ice mass floats on the water, but that’s not the case. It moves along the lake’s bottom and sometimes reaches the opposite shore. At that point, the ice wall divides the lake into two parts, and the water level in one of the parts starts to rise. The water pressure on the ice bridge intensifies, and at some point, it collapses. The spectacle is impressive, but it happens rarely, once every three to five years.
Opposite the glacier tongue, there are two parking lots, with free buses running between them. The main viewing platforms are closer to the upper parking, but there’s also a pedestrian path from the lower one. The walk takes about 40 minutes. All paths are very comfortable for walking, and there’s special access to the viewing platforms from the upper parking for strollers and people with limited mobility.
The glacier walk takes about five hours. It begins at the pier within the park, from where everyone is transported by boat to the opposite shore. Then, in organized groups, tourists head to the glacier itself and spend about one and a half hours there. Upon returning, there’s a break (meals are not provided), followed by a boat ride alongside the icy wall. Options with transfers from El Calafate and visits to pedestrian paths opposite the glacier are available. For instance, you can book with Hielo & Aventura. The tour costs 117 dollars, and if you need a transfer, it’s an additional 17 dollars.
With Patagoniadreams, you can kayak on Lake Argentino with views of the glacier. The guides will explain, show, teach, and provide the necessary equipment. After the swim, they’ll even hand out beautiful photos. One downside is that you can’t get too close to the glacier for safety reasons. The activity costs 108 dollars without a transfer.
The Upsala and Spegazzini Glaciers. First, during a boat tour on a yacht through the winding arms of Lake Argentino, the Upsala Glacier is observed. Then, tourists head to the Spegazzini Glacier, near which they disembark. The tour takes six hours. Yachts depart from Punta Bandera port.
How to get there. Flights to El Calafate from Córdoba cost 100-200 dollars, from Buenos Aires 70-120 dollars, and from Ushuaia 40-130 dollars.
A tourist town on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Until 2019, it was considered the southernmost city in the world, but when the Chilean Puerto Williams gained city status, the title passed to it. The primary interest is its natural attractions in the surrounding areas. For instance, in the Tierra del Fuego National Park, over 40 kilometers of trekking routes of varying difficulty have been laid out, there are picnic areas, viewpoints, everything is very detailed on the map. Entrance to the national park costs from 14 dollars, with a 50% discount on the second day.
Tourists are transported by a train pulled by a steam locomotive on the historic narrow-gauge railway. Originally, this train was used to transport prisoners for logging. There are plenty of attractions here: you can either fly in a helicopter or sail through the Beagle Channel to a penguin colony. From November to March, you can observe not only the Magellanic penguin but also another species — the Gentoo.
By the way, Ushuaia often serves as a starting point for expeditions to Antarctica, as it’s the closest departure point.
How to get there. A flight from Buenos Aires takes almost four hours. Tickets cost between 65 to 110 dollars.
The northwest part of Argentina, which includes the provinces of Salta, Jujuy, and Catamarca, is an unjustly little-known region of the country. In this part of the Andes lies a truly unique place – the Argentine Puna – a high-altitude plateau (with an average height of 3900 meters) with incredibly stark landscapes.
Salta and Jujuy are the capitals of their respective provinces, and it’s not difficult to get there – both have airports and buses run from major cities. However, it’s more convenient to travel between locations by renting a car or hiring a car with a driver.
Salinas Grandes is a salt flat located 130 kilometers from the city of Jujuy. The road to the salt flat is an attraction in itself – a stunning serpentine road with a pass at an altitude of 4170 meters. For a small fee, you can drive on the salty surface accompanied by a guide’s vehicle. The tour includes a couple of stops where they talk about the salt flat and methods of salt extraction.
The multicolored mountains are located at an altitude of 4200 meters, 25 kilometers from the town of Humahuaca. The amazing striped mountains are especially brightly illuminated in the second half of the day. If you have the energy, you can walk to the lookout point just below the parking area, and then to the next one – it offers the best view of the gorge. However, be cautious: the return path isn’t easy, as the climb is quite steep and there’s less oxygen at an altitude of 4200 meters.
Cafayate is a town located 200 kilometers from Salta. The road passes through the Las Conchas river valley amid breathtaking cliffs and canyons. Many vineyards surround the town, and wineries offer tastings and tours, but in most cases, by appointment. The town has a grape and wine museum. Here, you can learn about the unique features of local winemaking – the vineyards are located at altitudes ranging from 1000 to 3000 meters, and due to the significant temperature difference between day and night, the wine becomes particularly rich and tasty. All information next to the exhibits is also available in English, and the entrance fee is two dollars. Besides the two halls, there’s also a wine bar. You can have a delicious meal with an excellent view without prior reservation at Milla7.
A trip to Cafayate can be combined with a visit to Quebrada de las Flechas. These are sharp rock formations, sometimes forming impressive gorges with walls up to 20 meters high.
Puna is a harsh and remote region. You can get there either as part of an off-road vehicle tour or by independently renting a suitable car. Below are a few places that can be visited within one trip over several days:
Desierto del Diablo – a high-altitude, lifeless red surface, flat as a table, surrounded by wrinkled hills completely devoid of vegetation. The Las Siete Curvas serpentine offers a breathtaking view of this valley.
On the way to Tolar Grande – a small village with a population of about 300 people – one must not miss the Ojos de Mar. These are three small lagoons formed as a result of volcanic activity, filled with water four times saltier than the ocean. Living stromatolites – the oldest microorganisms that contributed to the formation of the Earth’s atmosphere – were discovered in the waters of these lagoons. Visiting is free, and a very friendly caretaker ensures order. He will suggest the best angle for photos and even provide a brush for shoes so that the car mats are not stained with salt.
Cono de Arita – a natural formation in the shape of an almost perfect cone, 200 meters high, located in the southern part of the salt flat, Salar de Arisaro. According to scientists, the cone is not an erupted volcano. The road here is challenging, and during the rainy season, it becomes impassable; thus, the best seasons for visiting are considered to be spring and fall.
Campo de Piedra Pomez – a pumice field formed as a result of volcanic eruptions, and the wind, always blowing in one direction, shaped an incredible relief. Nearby, one can admire flamingos in the Carachi lagoon and the volcano of the same name. The area is sparsely populated, with fuel stations available only in San Antonio de los Cobres and Antofagasta de la Sierra; accommodations and shops are also located there. In Tolar Grande, one can find a simple homestay hotel, but there’s no place to refuel a car.
The falls are located on the border between Argentina and Brazil. Which side offers a more beautiful view is a matter of debate. Therefore, it’s essential to see them from both sides.
From the Argentine side in Puerto Iguazu, many buses go to the Brazilian side in Foz do Iguaçu. At the border, there’s a separate line for them, so you don’t have to wait long. At the Brazilian checkpoint, to get a stamp in your passport, you need to ask the driver to stop; otherwise, he might drive past. Often, drivers don’t wait for the passengers who get out, so you may need to board another bus from the same company. To avoid paying for the ride again, it’s advisable to keep your ticket.
On the Brazilian side, you can also visit the Bird Park. It’s a fantastic place where they take care of birds, and there’s even a rehabilitation center for injured ones, which were taken from poachers. The area is vast, and it will take about two hours to explore, and the ticket costs 80 reais (16.39 dollars).
On the Argentine side, several fantastic viewing routes have been laid out in close proximity to the waterfalls. The most popular spot is the viewpoint near the Devil’s Throat. You can reach the beginning of the path to this viewpoint by a free small train.
Also, you can always encounter coatis here — adorable but dangerous animals. They might bite if you try to pet them, or they might try to snatch food if they see something tasty in your hands. You can book a boat tour called Gran Aventura, which takes you right under the waterfall streams.
Usually, visitors set aside two days to visit the park. The entrance fee is 14 dollars, and on the second day, there’s a 50% discount. So, it’s essential to keep the ticket from the first day.
Mendoza: The Wine Capital
The sunny and dry climate of Mendoza makes it perfect for viticulture. As the center of Argentina’s wine country, Mendoza is a must-visit for wine lovers. Embark on wine tours, enjoy tastings, and learn about the production of Argentina’s famous Malbec.
Surely many have heard about Argentine wine or the excellent Argentine beef, but there are also less popular yet equally delicious dishes.
Maté is the most popular drink (yes, it’s not wine) in Argentina, although its homeland is considered to be Paraguay. It is made from dried and ground leaves of the Paraguayan holly, which are brewed in a special vessel called a calabash and drunk through a special straw with a filter at the end called a bombilla. Every Argentine has a thermos with hot water in their bag to brew maté. And calabashes can be found on the tables of bank clerks as well as in the cup holders of bus drivers. Sharing maté is a kind of ritual, where one calabash is passed around the circle.
Locro is a rich, hearty soup made from pork, beef, beans, corn, pumpkin, and potatoes. Generally, soups are not common in Argentina, but locro is an exception. In late autumn and winter, it appears on the menus of cafes and restaurants. It is most popular in the northwestern part of the country, closer to the mountainous areas.
Asado is meat cooked over coals. It can be pork, lamb, but traditionally it is the preparation of beef ribs on a spit, set at a slight angle, and sometimes almost vertically. The coals are made from the dense local wood called quebracho. An interesting observation is that in Argentina, they like to name different things the same way. For example, there’s a lake, glacier, and city all named Perito Moreno. In the case of asado, it refers to the traditional dish cooked on a spit, any grilled meat in general, and also the beef ribs in a butcher shop.
Milanesa is a beef fillet, baked in a batter coating. This dish is believed to originate from Italy, but it became widely popular in Argentina following the large wave of Italian immigration in the late 19th century.
Tamales are made from a dough based on cornmeal, often with a meat filling, wrapped in a corn husk and steamed. The filling can also include fruits or vegetables, and the outer husk is not eaten.
Malbec is a grape variety used to make red and rosé wine. The wine from the Mendoza province is the most common. A bottle of good Malbec in the supermarket costs from three dollars, and there are so many offerings from different wineries that sometimes it’s hard to choose.
Dulce de leche is a dessert similar to boiled condensed milk. Argentinians love this dish very much; they hold exhibitions, fairs dedicated to it, and even manufacturer competitions, and October 11th is declared the World Dulce de Leche Day.
Where to Stay
It’s complicated here. The prices for hotels and daily rented apartments are relatively high, while the quality is just so-so. For instance, you might book a small apartment in Buenos Aires with central heating for 50 dollars per night, only to arrive and find just a small electric heater and a non-functioning air conditioner. Also, photos in listings are often heavily photoshopped. In Brazil, rooms of the same quality would cost half the price, although in other respects, Brazil is more expensive than Argentina.
It’s very noisy in the cities. Double-glazed windows are not that common, and double panes are rare. Building walls are thin, so everything happening on the street is perfectly audible. Therefore, it’s better to choose accommodations not on busy streets whenever possible. By the way, locals are quite tolerant to noise, so it’s a good idea to pay more attention to reviews from foreigners.
A less-known fact about Buenos Aires is that it’s serviced by two different power companies. In the summer, the southern part of the city often experiences power outages. This happens less frequently in the northern part.
In winter, heating usually comes from wall-mounted gas heaters and air conditioners, which don’t always heat the space effectively. Central heating or heated floors are available, but they are rare. Thus, it’s crucial to read reviews carefully or ask additional questions before booking.
Due to the difference between the official exchange rate and the actual rate, it’s better to pay in cash pesos on booking websites. But on Airbnb, this option isn’t available, and you’ll have to pay with dollars from a card. A local alternative to Airbnb is 4rentargentina.com. The prices there are lower, and the apartments seem to be of better quality.
One of the main topics of debate in expat chat rooms. According to official statistics, in Argentina in 2021, there were 363,000 robberies without causing injury or death to the victim, and 5,400 people were injured or killed as a result of a robbery. Also, according to data for 2022, there were 4.6 intentional homicides per 100,000 people.
|Robberies per 100,000 people||Homicides, per 100,000 people|
Locals are wary of self-defense and believe it’s better to give the armed robber what he demands. Traumatic weapons are unpopular, and pepper spray is occasionally found for sale.
In our opinion, one shouldn’t be paranoid, but it’s better to follow some rules:
- Don’t wander around the slums (shantytowns with illegal constructions, poor population, and high crime rate. For example, Villa 31 or Villa 1-11-14).
- Don’t carry your phone in your hand. Looked at the map, locked it, put it away.
- It’s better to leave eye-catching jewelry in your room. There are instances when chains are ripped from the neck, causing injuries. At one time in Buenos Aires, there was a group targeting only watches.
- Don’t carry a lot of cash while strolling.
- Don’t leave a laptop or smartphone on a cafe table.
You are unlikely to be attacked out of hooligan motivations. Most incidents involve a phone being snatched from the hand or a bag torn from the shoulder by a passing motorcyclist. They say thefts occur under the threat of a weapon, but it’s not used. If something like this happens, it’s advisable to report to the police, even if the chances of retrieving valuable items are slim.
Getting to Argentina
By land. Argentina shares borders with five countries: Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay. Bus connections across these borders are available. At border crossings, they might not stamp your passport due to electronic documentation, but it’s essential to check locally. For instance, when crossing the border from Puerto Iguazú, you need to ask the bus driver to stop at the Brazilian checkpoint; otherwise, he might just drive past.
By ferry. From Montevideo (the capital of Uruguay), a ferry travels to Buenos Aires. The journey takes three hours. Tickets start from 65 dollars.
By plane. Buenos Aires has two international airports: Ministro Pistarini (EZE, Ezeiza) and Jorge Newbery (AEP, located in the city). For travelers departing from Europe, several reputable airlines operate routes to Buenos Aires’ primary international airport, Ezeiza International Airport (EZE). Air France offers direct flights from Paris-Charles de Gaulle, while Iberia has routes from Madrid. KLM provides services from Amsterdam, and Lufthansa from Frankfurt. British Airways connects Buenos Aires with London Heathrow directly. Alitalia also offers flights from Rome to Buenos Aires. Apart from direct connections, various other European carriers have one-stop routes, usually with layovers in their respective hub cities.
From Ezeiza, you can reach the city by:
- Official taxi. The blue-and-white kiosk labeled Taxiezeiza. They accept dollars, and you pay the fare upfront. It will cost around 20 dollars.
- Catching a taxi outside on the street is more expensive, and there’s no guarantee they’ll give change at the black market rate—agree on everything beforehand.
- Order through the Didi, Cabify, or Uber apps. An active card is required for registration.
- Bus (Colectivo) No. 8. A special transport card, SUBE, is required. It can be purchased at the Open 25 HS store. You can top it up there or via the blue terminal. There are five variations of Bus No. 8; all the information is gathered on this page. The bus stop is located here.
From Jorge Newbery:
- Taxi drivers will be waiting right outside the arrivals zone. Negotiate and settle all terms in advance.
- You can also order via the mentioned apps.
- The airport is located in the city, so you can also use regular buses. Google Maps efficiently plots routes using public transportation. It’s customary here, once you board the bus, to greet and specify your destination or the number of stops—this determines the fare.
Visa regulations for Argentina depend on the visitor’s nationality. Tourists from many nations, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and European Union countries, do not require a visa for tourist visits up to 90 days.
It’s imperative to have a valid passport with at least six months’ validity from the date of entry. Vaccinations and PCR tests are not required, nor is insurance that covers Covid-19. Upon arrival, they usually ask for the purpose of your visit (in any case, you should say tourism, as visas are required for other purposes) and the address where you plan to stay. A booking on Booking.com or Airbnb is sufficient. They might not stamp your passport — they enter the details into a database, and that’s enough. You can legally stay as a tourist for 90 days every six months. The countdown begins on the date of entry.
Return tickets. Any airline can demand this before boarding. Sometimes during check-in, and sometimes even at the gate. If you’re uncertain about the length of your stay in Argentina, the optimal choice would be to separately purchase a return ticket to your home country. A ticket to a third country often also satisfies the airline. If you want to take a risk and only have a reservation for the return journey, be prepared to purchase it quickly if required during boarding.
Purchasing comprehensive travel insurance is strongly advised for any international travel, including to Argentina. Make sure your insurance policy encompasses all the activities you plan to undertake, from hiking in the Andes to wine tasting in Mendoza, along with potential medical emergencies.
Transportation in the country
An important point! When paying for tickets for any type of transportation with a non-Argentinian bank card, the amount might be charged either according to the MEP rate or the official rate. It’s impossible to determine in advance how the transaction will proceed. To purchase tickets in advance while outside the country, it’s better to seek help from guides in Argentina. They offer such services. However, if you are already here, you can buy a ticket at the station’s ticket office or from the carrier. Some companies allow payments through Rapipago. This is a network of cash desks that accept payments for bills issued by organizations. For example, you can pay your utility bills or top up your mobile account there. They send you a receipt, and you pay in cash at the nearest branch.
Once the most extensive and branched railway network in all of Latin America, it’s now not in its best condition. The fare is cheap, so it’s necessary to buy tickets well in advance for popular routes, as there aren’t enough for all interested passengers. For instance:
Buenos Aires – Mar del Plata operates twice daily, with an additional trip on Fridays, taking six hours. Primera (seated, four in a row) costs $3.8. Pullman (seated, three in a row, more comfortable with more space between rows) costs $4.5.
Buenos Aires – Mendoza operates twice a month, taking 28 hours. Primera costs $8.8, Pullman is $10.5, and Camarote (a two-person compartment that must be purchased in full) is $31.5.
There’s an unofficial but very informative website with detailed schedules and prices.
Three airlines handle domestic flights:
Jet Smart. A low-cost airline, there are occasional cancellations and flight rescheduling. It does not service all destinations; for instance, it doesn’t fly to Mar del Plata. Prices for the Buenos Aires – Mendoza flight start at $11.4.
Flybondi. Another low-cost airline, which also isn’t known for strict adherence to its schedule and experiences overbookings. Just like the previous case, it doesn’t have flights to Mar del Plata. The Buenos Aires – Mendoza flight costs from $12.5.
Aerolíneas Argentinas. The most expensive and reliable carrier with the broadest flight network. Buenos Aires – Mar del Plata starts at $22. Buenos Aires – Mendoza starts at $30. Despite its cost, it’s the most popular, which means tickets should be purchased in advance.
The bus network is the most developed in the country. It has a broad coverage, comfortable conditions, and many international routes to Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay. There are numerous carriers, and it’s convenient to search for tickets using online platforms. Plataforma10 is a handy site with sales points in most cities in Argentina. Ticket Online is a major platform, but payment methods depend on the carrier.
Bus seats come in various comfort levels. While different carriers might offer different options for each class, it’s best to clarify before purchasing a ticket.
- Común – regular seating. The backrest reclines slightly.
- Semi-cama – the seat reclines to 120 degrees, with a footrest.
- Cama Ejecutivo – a wide seat of enhanced comfort that can recline to 150 degrees. Typically, three seats in a row.
- Suite or Primera Clase – the backrest fully reclines, often with partitions between the seats.
A bus ticket from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata will cost between 17 and 22 dollars depending on the comfort class, with a travel time of five hours. Buenos Aires to Mendoza ranges from 28 to 35 dollars, with a travel time of 15 hours.
The market includes both international companies and smaller local firms. Here, a car for three days will cost from $90. In Buenos Aires, our compatriots have set up their own rental service, and a credit card isn’t required for renting from them. However, their prices are higher than the locals’ – three days from $150.
Russian licenses are usually sufficient for renting. However, to drive a car, an international driver’s license is required. You can drive with a Russian driver’s license for the duration of the tourist stay (three months), after which an Argentine license is necessary.
Argentina has toll roads. Almost everywhere you can pay the toll in cash. However, in Buenos Aires, there’s one interchange where you can only pass with a Telepase transponder. If you go through an open barrier without this device, you’ll be fined $17, which is 100 times more than the cost of the toll.
Argentinian Culture and People
At the heart of Argentina’s allure lies its vibrant culture and warm, spirited people. Deeply influenced by European roots, Indigenous traditions, and a passion for celebration, Argentine culture is as diverse as it is captivating.
Spanish is the official language of Argentina, but the version spoken here, known as Rioplatense Spanish, is distinct. With an intonation that sounds more like Italian than Spanish, and a vocabulary peppered with local slang known as “lunfardo”, the language mirrors the country’s rich history of immigration.
The tango, a dance of love and passion, was born in the streets of Buenos Aires and has since become a symbol of Argentina. Intense and dramatic, tango is not just a dance, but a reflection of the Argentine spirit. Witnessing a tango show or even taking a lesson is a must-do experience.
Argentines are passionate about football. The sport is more than a pastime—it’s a way of life. From local matches to international tournaments, Argentine teams, including world-famous clubs like Boca Juniors and River Plate, play with fervor and skill that is nothing short of electrifying.
Argentines love to celebrate, and the country’s calendar is filled with festivals. From the colorful Carnival in the north to the National Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza, and the Gaucho Parade in San Antonio de Areco, each celebration is a vibrant display of Argentine culture and traditions.
Argentinians are known for their warmth and hospitality. As you journey through the country, the interactions with locals—whether it’s sharing a mate (traditional caffeine-rich infused drink), watching a football game, or simply exchanging stories—will enrich your travel experience and provide a deeper understanding of Argentina’s fascinating culture.
Essential Experiences in Argentina
Argentina’s rich tapestry of experiences can make it difficult to decide what to do. However, some activities and encounters are quintessentially Argentine, offering a unique insight into the country’s soul. Here are a few must-have experiences for your Argentine adventure.
Witness the Tango in Buenos Aires. Tango is more than a dance in Argentina; it’s an integral part of the national identity. Take in a tango show in Buenos Aires, or better yet, sign up for a tango lesson. The passion, intensity, and drama of the dance reflect the spirit of the Argentine people.
Savor an Authentic Argentine Asado. A visit to Argentina would be incomplete without experiencing an Argentine asado (barbecue). Known for its quality beef, an asado is not just a meal, but a social event. Whether at a parrilla (steakhouse) or a local’s home, this culinary experience is a must.
Visit a Estancia. Spend a day or two at a traditional estancia (ranch) to experience the Gaucho culture. From horse riding and cattle herding to enjoying a traditional asado, visiting an estancia offers a glimpse into Argentina’s rural lifestyle.
Hike in Patagonia. The natural beauty of Patagonia is breathtaking. Glaciers, mountains, lakes, and a vast array of wildlife make it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether it’s hiking around Mount Fitz Roy or taking a boat trip to Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia’s stunning landscapes are unforgettable.
There are several different exchange rates in Argentina; let’s try to understand them. In short, this is due to strict currency controls by the government and various duties on foreign currency transactions. Exporters are required to surrender all their foreign currency earnings to the state at a specific rate.
Dólar Oficial – the official rate. As of October 2023, 1 dollar = 367 pesos.
Dólar Turista – foreign tourists can exchange money at this rate at airports (at Banco de la Nación Argentina) by presenting a passport and boarding pass. But there are nuances. You can exchange at this rate from 9:00 to 15:00. Sometimes they might refuse without a reason even during working hours, or only change a large amount – 500 or 1000 dollars. 1 dollar = 642 pesos.
Dólar MEP – at this rate, dollars will be debited from your international VISA card. If you have a Mastercard, they will debit at the Dólar Oficial rate, and then refund the difference to the Dólar MEP rate within 2-14 days. But sometimes, though rarely, they don’t refund. Keep this in mind. This happens because the terminal is not registered in Argentina. 1 dollar = 812 pesos.
Dólar Blue – also known as the “black rate”. This is the real rate, which all Argentinians live by. 1 dollar = 870 pesos.
The figures mentioned here may become outdated in just a month, as the economic situation in Argentina changes very rapidly. Therefore, it’s important to check the current rate before traveling.
The most commonly used debit cards are associated with global networks such as Visa and MasterCard. Local banks, including Banco de la Nación Argentina, Banco Santander, and BBVA, issue these cards to their account holders for domestic and international transactions. These debit cards are widely accepted in supermarkets, restaurants, and other retail establishments across the country. However, it’s impossible to withdraw cash dollars from an ATM using foreign cards. A strange thing: foreign debit cards are often read as credit cards. Therefore, they can be used to leave deposits for car rentals.
You can bring into the country up to $10,000 per person without declaring it. Here they prefer clean $100 bills without any inscriptions or stamps and with a “big head”. Bills older than 1996 might be accepted with a significant discount or not accepted at all. In Buenos Aires, you can exchange cash on the pedestrian streets of Lavalle and Florida. There are always many touts shouting “cambio-cambio”, and they lead interested people to exchange offices. Overall, there are no problems with exchanging cash, and there are many exchange offices in any part of the city. You have to be careful with street changers – in skilled hands, a couple of bills might disappear. Technically, exchanging money in such establishments is illegal, but everyone turns a blind eye.
USDT on the TRC20 network and others is quite popular. They’ll gladly exchange it on Florida too. There are also crypto ATMs, but they are not particularly in demand due to exorbitant commissions of ten percent or more.
Argentina’s currency is the Argentine Peso (ARS). Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash, especially in smaller towns and rural areas. ATMs are widely available, but they may have withdrawal limits.
Culture and Etiquette
Argentinians are warm and friendly people. A handshake is the usual form of greeting, and it’s common to kiss on the cheek when saying hello or goodbye in social settings. Punctuality is not as strict in Argentina, especially in social situations.
Respect the local culture and traditions. Always ask for permission before taking photos of people or certain sites, and be mindful of your environmental impact, especially in natural and protected areas.
- Visit Argentina: (The official tourism website of Argentina. It provides information about destinations, activities, and practical travel information.)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Argentina (Contains information about travel requirements, visa information, and other essential travel advisories.)
- Lonely Planet – Argentina (Offers extensive travel guides, advice, and tips about visiting Argentina.)
- Tripadvisor – Argentina (User reviews of hotels, attractions, and restaurants in Argentina.)
- Fodor’s Travel – Argentina (Features professional travel guides, itinerary suggestions, and tips for Argentina.)
Whether you’re drawn to its magnificent landscapes, enticing cultural heritage, or the allure of its vibrant cities and charming towns, Argentina promises an enriching journey that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Indeed, the magic of Argentina lies not just in the sights you’ll see, but in the heartfelt connections and diverse experiences that make you feel truly alive. That’s why Argentina should be your next destination. So, when are you packing your bags?