Argentina Travel Guide
Home of the tango, the gaucho and lots of men called ‘Che’, Argentina is a vast and intoxicating South American mix of beautiful scenery, passionate people and effervescent cities. It is a country of geographical extremes, with scorching hot metropolises and dense rainforests rubbing shoulders with serene glaciers, snow-capped peaks and dusty plains.
The capital Buenos Aires is a modern city, full of European-style buildings that reflect the country’s rich colonial history. The trekking and skiing opportunities in here are magnificent, and the natural beauty of the country is simply breathtaking. The potential for enjoyment in Argentina is huge.
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: Strolling around the lively and colorful streets of Buenos Aries, marvelling at the unbridled ferocity of the Iguazu Falls, looking misty-eyed at the majestic natural beauty of Patagonia, standing and watching several thousand people go completely berserk at a football match, sampling the wine and admiring the impressive mountains around Mendoza, meandering through the rich colonial history of charming Cordoba, paying very little for things and receiving a lot in return.
What’s Not: Gagging on exhaust fumes on the 20-lane motorized monstrosity that is Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aries, realizing that the smiling gentleman who bumped into you half an hour ago has stealthily relieved you of your wallet, stepping in a steaming pile of something you wish you hadn’t in one of the dog-friendly cities, boiling to death in the summer.
When to Go
The climate varies greatly in Argentina due to its enormous size, but it is possible to make a few generalizations. The north is sub-tropical, the center is humid and gets very hot, and the south can get pretty chilly.
During summer (December to February), things can get exceptionally and uncomfortably hot and humid. In winter (July to August), the dry season takes hold, and in some parts of the country, it can get very cold indeed.
The best times to go are spring (September to November) and autumn (March to June) when things are not at either of the occasionally unpleasant extremes. Argentina is not really a hot country, with temperatures regularly dipping below 68°F (20°C) across the country.
Getting There & Away
Most people will fly into Buenos Aries’ Ezeiza International Airport as flights arrive here daily from all over the world. To take an onward flight within Argentina, you will have to cross the city to the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery Airport. You can also enter the country by road from any of the neighboring countries, and the bus services between Argentina and its neighbors are pretty good. Once you are safely ensconced within the country, buses are the best way to travel as the services are frequent and inexpensive. Internal flights are pricey and train services are very limited. Hiring a car is a good option, but be ready for a lot of driving time.
Health & Safety
On the whole, Argentina is very safe, but getting robbed is not uncommon. It is however avoidable. Not showing anything of value and being sensible with money are good starting points. Most robberies are not violent (you will not realize you have been robbed for some time), but occasionally taxis contain a couple of thugs who are after your particulars. Some neighborhoods in the cities are complete no-go areas so make sure you read up on where you are going and double-check with your hotel before heading out into the unknown. The tap water is fine to drink, but in some rural areas, you may want to go for the bottled option. Be careful of altitude sickness in the more elevated regions.
Food & Hospitality
The culinary way of life in Argentina is very reminiscent of Spain and Italy, the two countries where the majority of its city-dwelling population originate from. Very little breakfast (sometimes just a slug of coffee) is supplemented with a massive late lunch and finally, a very late evening meal. Pizzas and pasta are everywhere, but it is the succulent and world-famous beef that makes up the bulk of the Argentinean diet. Barbecues are big news here, so grab a freshly seared steak and wash it down with some of the fabulous wine from Mendoza. Bakeries are also popular, and meats and cheeses are widely enjoyed. Drinking is a very sociable pastime in Argentina, particularly Yerba, a stimulating tea-style drink which you will frequently see being passed around a table. The local beers are nice and the wine is of course, top quality.
Argentina is so vast (it’s the eighth largest country in the world) that it is impossible to see everything in one trip. However, you can see a great deal in two weeks.
- Three days in Buenos Aries, an incredibly exciting and vibrant city. The European architecture, swish restaurants, huge roads and flamboyant locals make for a wonderfully memorable experience.
- Feel the exquisite power and grandeur of Mother Nature on a two-day trip to the spectacular Iguazu Falls, one of the great natural wonders of the world.
- Three days in Patagonia, a huge and beautiful area in the south. Majestic lakes, towering mountains, shimmering glaciers and stunning cities provide the backdrop for a multitude of outdoor activities.
- Sample some of the delicious food and wine on an overnight trip to the city of Mendoza.
- Indulge in the fervently supported national obsession – football - by going to a live match. Visit Boca Junior’s infamous Bombonera (chocolate box) stadium for the most exciting and visceral experience.
- Sit for hours and marvel at the peaceful wonder of the Andes within the visually spectacular Aconcagua National Park on a four-day visit.
- Two days in Salta City, the capital of the Salta province, full of narrow streets to explore and delightful plazas to hang out in.
- Four days in Cordoba, Argentina’s second-largest city and cultural center, full of interesting colonial architecture.
: vibrant, dynamic, interesting and fun, Buenos Aries is a truly modern city to be celebrated.
: the devastating power of the natural world is breathtakingly on show at this amazing site.
: explore Patagonia and see wonderful views of the Andes in this hugely impressive park.
: explore the sultry beauty of this historic town.
Mendoza: the wine and food are fantastic in this mountain-ringed city.
Dancing: you’ll probably be rubbish at first, but a visit to the birthplace of the world’s sexiest dance wouldn’t be complete without having a try at the tango yourself.
Trekking: Patagonia offers some of the most rewarding trekking anywhere in the world.
Skiing: the majestic Andes are the perfect place to power or glide down the pristine slopes.
Strolling: the cities of Buenos Aries, Mendoza and Cordoba are fantastic for getting lost in the multitude of interesting streets.
Watching football: Argentineans are unbelievably passionate about their national sport and a visit to watch one of the top professional teams is a mind-blowing experience.
Festivals & Events
Partying is high on the agenda in Argentina, particularly in the summer when everything pretty much shuts down.
January: the annual National Folklore Festival of Cosquín sees some of the most popular musicians and dancers perform.
February: the greatest dancers in the country perform at the Tango Festival in the capital Buenos Aires and there are plenty of opportunities for you to learn some moves yourself.
March: Wine Harvest Festival in Mendoza involves festive celebrations, ceremonies to bless the grapes and lots opportunities to quaff wine.
September: Fiesta del Immigrante takes place annually in the city of Oberà, and the rich diversity of the origins of Argentineans is celebrated.
November: Tradition Week is celebrated throughout the country, with gaucho shows, rodeos and plenty of merriment.