Argentina travel guide 2020: explore the 8th largest country in the world
Get ready to explore into a whole new level through Argentina this travel guide!
Argentina, also known as the “land of silver”, is home to roughly 38 million people. The visitors are welcomed with a variety of things to do, from summer to winter and backpacking or a short holiday. Urban lovers will have a great time in the buzzing capital, Buenos Aires where the cafes, tango, and football is a must. On the other hand, nature seekers will be treated to a real adventure in the Andes and of course the new wonder of the world, the Iguazu Waterfalls. Argentina has always been the western hemisphere’s melting pot of European culture since the 19th century.
Why I love Argentina
Argentina was a dream for me. I didn’t want to go there to see the sights. I came there to see culture at its finest and of course, to have a tangible and legitimate experience with Argentine food. Food in Argentina is one of the best in the world! It was so easy for me to feel at home because of the people.
Argentina Travel Guide Quick Info
Currency, money, etc
The currency in Argentina is called Argentine peso (AR$). $1 USD = 41 AR$. With this price, you can buy 1 liter of whole fat milk, a dozen eggs, 1 kg of potatoes, 1 kg of tomatoes, and a loaf of bread. I am giving you the most basic things you can buy for a dollar in Argentina so that you will have an idea of how much the cost of living is.
Euros and dollars can be exchanged at the airport or at any currency converter kiosks in the city. ATMs are also available all over Argentina but make sure to always bring cash with you. Not all establishments accept credit cards for payment, especially those towns outside the big cities. Argentina has a black market for exchanging your US dollars for a higher price. If you want to know about it, read this article.
Language in Argentina
The official language in Argentina is Spanish. The whole of Latin America speaks Spanish so if you travel to the neighboring countries like Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador, all these countries speak Spanish. In Argentina, not everyone can speak English so in order to survive, you might need to learn some basic phrases.
Culture in Argentina
Largely influenced by Spanish, Italian, and other European backgrounds, Argentina is the Europe of South America. You will find a lot of European influence in this country. For example, there are some Italian words that Argentines adapt as “Spanish.” They like to say “guarda” (look out), the same way the Italians use it. Argentinians are very direct and blunt. This is the reason why most countries in Latin America are intimidated by them. In general, Argentines are very nice people and will accommodate you the best way they know how.
Electricity socket in Argentina
In Argentina, the power plugs and sockets are of type C and I. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Safety in Argentina
Argentina is generally a safe country to travel to, it is actually among the safest ones in entire Latin America. Most crimes in Argentina are in the form of petty theft, pickpocketing and bag snatching. Unsuspecting tourists are targeted in restaurants or crowded places such as Buenos Aires bus station, Retiro.
Transportation in Argentina
Argentina is a large country but transportation is quite efficient. Trains, tramways, first-class long-distance buses, taxis, commuter trains, subways (Subte in Buenos Aires), ferries (Boquebus & others), Remises (private taxi service) and airports (with airplanes); there are many ways to get around while visiting or living in Argentina. You can travel long-haul with a sleeper bus that normally costs less than $100 USD.
Wifi/sim cards in Argentina
Claro, Movistar, and Personal are the three main telecommunications provider in Argentina. They three all have about the same market share. Plans are pretty much alike for the three of them and the coverages are similar.
When to visit Argentina
High Season (Nov–Feb & Jul). Patagonia and in the south as prices are higher. Peak season in the south is from December to February. There will also be big crowds on the beach as this is Argentina’s summer season. From June to August, skiing is pretty popular because of the snowfall.
Shoulder Season (Sep–Nov & Mar–May). This is the best time to visit Buenos Aires because it’s not too cold or not too hot. Leaves fall spectacularly in March and April. The Mendoza region has its grape harvests and wine festival.
Low Season (Jun–Aug). Prices are generally lower than usual with small crowds throughout the country.
Things to do in Argentina
#1: Wine Tasting in Mendoza
Wines are pretty much a staple for every Argentine home. The Mendoza Province is one of the most important wine regions in Argentina with two-thirds of its production done there. They produce the finest Argentinian wine known around the world. A trip to a winery is a must for fans of vino (like me). There are arranged tours that can take you to a couple of wineries that shows the whole wine production, even gives you free samples.
#2: Hike Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas
Get those hiking gears ready and trek to the Western Hemisphere’s highest mountain. The journey to the summit, 7,000 feet above the ground, is definitely exciting but requires a substantial amount of preparation. A guided hike is highly recommended.
#3: Cueva de las Manos Pintadas
Translated in English as the “cave of the painted hands”, this archeological wonder boasts 13,000 years old rock paintings made by its inhabitants in about 7300 BC. It is currently maintained and protected under the UNESCO World Heritage list.
#4: Dinosaur fossils in Neuquen
Yes, dinosaurs did exist some lifetime ago! Witness a true to life Jurassic Park, where you will encounter fossilized dinosaur eggs and remains of some of the largest creatures that ever walked in the earth’s surface! The excavation site 95 kilometers away from the city of Neuquen which is accessible by bus, train or plane from Argentina’s major cities.
#5: Eat the best meat: 'asado'
Don’t ever forget the barbeque parties or the asado! Having the finest beef in the world, this mouth-watering experience is a great way to get to know more the Argentines. Cows still outnumber the residents and they are well-fed in the flat pampas. Of course, it is best paired with the best quality wines in the region as well. Win-win!
#6: Visit the Iguazu Falls
I spent my birthday in Iguazu Falls in 2015 and it was one of the best experiences! A local legend suggests that an angry snake divided the river into two after a man rescued his lover from being the sacrificial lamb for the said snake. Nonetheless, wherever this spectacular display of nature came from, the Iguazu Falls has proven its might when it was declared one of the seven New Natural Wonders of World. It is shared between Argentina and Brazil which also marks their borders. The falls are higher and twice as wide as the Niagara (which astounded me having seen both, I still can’t believe how much water comes out of Iguazu), so the area has been nicknamed “Niagara on Viagra”.
#7: Watch a football game in Buenos Aires
If you haven’t realized it by now, football is a huge thing for Argentines. Definitely a home to some of the world’s finest football players. It is more than just a game but already a culture. Whether you are a football fan or not, get out with your friends and book the tickets as soon as possible.
#8: Perito Moreno Glacier
Probably the most notable site to see when in Patagonia, go here before the rest of the world melts this attraction. This ice field is the world’s third-largest reserve of freshwater.
#9: RUTA DE LOS SIETE LAGOS
This scenic route is the famous passageway to the seven lakes between San Martín de Los Andes and Villa La Angostura in the Neuquén Province. The lakes are Nahuel Huapi, Espejo, Correntoso, Escondido, Villarino, Falkner, and Machónico which also have several fishing spots.
#10: San Telmo
Time travel to the 17th century by visiting the oldest barrio in Buenos Aires. This area has some of the nicest museums, from historical to contemporary art. There are dozens of street markets and cafes where you can grab a choripan or spend a crazy night with tourists and expats. Learning the tango in this neighborhood is also one of the cheapest in the city.
#11: Trek the Andes Mountains
The Andes mountain range stretches 7,000km and is the longest continental mountain range in the world. The flora and fauna in the Andes are some of the world’s most unique. Outdoor enthusiasts will love this natural attraction, may it be from the base or a hike to the summit. There are locals in various stations who are willing to assist its visitors but never forget to respect their traditional way of life as well.
This is the largest city of Tierra Del Fuego where travelers come from around the world to begin their journey to Antarctica or end their South America trip. Don’t miss the “Train to the End of the World”, formerly built as a freight line to serve the prison of Ushuaia to transport timber. It is now a tourist attraction that leaves ‘End of the World’ station 8 km west of Ushuaia into the Tierra del Fuego National Park. It is also considered the southernmost functioning railway in the world. The snow-capped Andes is definitely a picturesque backdrop.
Argentina Travel Budget
Accommodation costs in Argentina
From hostels to Airbnb, you’ll never run out of options throughout the country. The hostels offer dormitory beds ranging from $9 USD – $20 USD depending on where you are located while the private rooms for two start from $20 – $50USD. Airbnb properties have an average price of $60 USD per night. If you are lucky, the cheapest room is roughly $18 USD. Budget hotels offer an average of $80 USD per double room and three-star hotels can go up to $175 USD depending on the season. Homestays are a popular experience as well. For as low as $15 USD to $30 USD, you will be able to have an authentic stay with the locals and some even offer free meals
Food costs in Argentina
From empanadas to asado, there are several local dishes that shouldn’t be missed on your visit to Argentina. Meals in local restaurants start from $6 USD while fast-food restaurants start from $3 USD. Fine dining restaurants that offer high-quality steak meals offer at least $75 USD to $120 USD meals. A good quality bottle of red wine is $13 USD while the beer from the supermarket costs a dollar. A regular cup of coffee is less than a dollar and can cost a little bit more in some cafes in the city.
Transportation costs in Argentina
Options to short and long-distance travel around the country never run out, from flights to trains and buses. Since regional trains and flights can be a little bit costly, bus networks improved over the years. There is a transportation card called SUBE, which you can reload and buy in selected stores. A monthly ticket for public transport might cost around $28 USD. This can be used for buses, commuter trains, and the subway. A cab ride around the city starts at $4 USD every 5 miles.
Daily budget in Argentina (est)
Where to stay in Argentina
Below are my favorite hotels in Argentina with estimated prices per night:
Wakiki Hostel (Buenos Aires): a standard twin room with shared bathroom starts at $15.99 USD per night for 2 pax. Single Bed in female dormitory room costs $5 – $10 USD.
Libertador 774 Recoleta (Buenos Aires): a deluxe apartment with 1 double bed and 1 sofa bed starts at $67 USD per night for 2 pax.
La Covacha Hostel (Salta): a bed in a 4-bed dormitory room starts at $8.71 USD, breakfast included.
Hotel Almeria (Salta): a standard double or twin room for 2 pax starts at $73 USD per night, breakfast included.
Arakur Ushuaia Resort and Spa (Ushuaia): a standard double room for 2 pax starts at $165 USD per night, breakfast included
531 Hostel (Cordoba): a bed in a 6-bed standard dormitory room starts at $7 USD per night.
Posada Olivar (Mendoza): a standard double room for 2 pax starts at $100 USD per night, breakfast included. You can also avail wine tours in this hotel.
What to eat in Argentina
#1: ASADO CON CUERO
That’s the one tourists go for. Cow (or sheep) meat slowly grilled in their skin so the meat keeps its softness and its taste. This way of cooking meat comes directly from the “gauchos” and has now been developed in most restaurants, and even at a gastronomic level. Make sure you don’t leave the country without having tried it!
Delicious little calzoni filled with a variety of ingredients: meat, eggs, and raisins; ham and cheese; spinach; cheese and onion and so many more! Every single area of Argentina has a different recipe. In some regions the empanadas are baked, in others, they are fried, salty or sweet, it doesn’t matter because they’re all excellent! And this is one of the dishes likely to become the national traditional dish. Just to tell you that you really can NOT try it!
You cannot miss the mate when you go to Argentina. The “mate” is the name of the content and the herbs we put inside it are called “yerba”. We fill the “mate” with “yerba”, then we add hot water (but not boiling!), or cold water, coffee or orange juice depending on the province, drink and share! The Mate itself deserves a full article because there are certain ways to serve, drink and share it. But definitely try it (careful it’s very bitter in taste!) and never refuse if someone offers one to you.
Argentine gastronomy is also largely made of sweet things. If many deserts come from Europe and were brought by the colonizers, they have been changed and adapted. In the end, they are very different from what you can find in Europe or elsewhere. Mazamorra is a dessert made of white corn, water, sugar vanilla, roots and a bit of cinnamon.
#5: Dulce de leche
A traditional sweet paste that looks and tastes a lot like caramel but is thicker and sweeter. In Argentina it is used absolutely everywhere, and often replaces chocolate: you can eat it with bananas, bread, cookies, ice cream, cakes… basically anything you want!