Argentina


Overview

Argentina travel overview, including essential Argentina holiday info, map of Argentina, articles on travel an adventure in Argentina

Vast and inscrutable, Argentina's magnificent landscapes stretch from spectacular waterfalls in the north across expansive drum-flat pampas, fringed by the Andes on one side and the Atlantic on the other, to the glaciers, lakes and mountains of the deep south. The biggest problem you’ll have when travelling Argentina is fitting everything in.

City slickers love the pace of Buenos Aires, where handsome locals jostle for your attention with the Parisian-style architecture. An airy and open cafe culture co-exists with a lively art scene. Head down to the port area of La Boca, where tango started. The colourfully painted local buildings have been newly gentrified but the area still maintains an edge: when asked if you're British, 'New Zealand' is a good answer.

In Mendoza you can ski down the foothills of Aconcagua (South America’s highest peak) before dropping in to a local winery and perfecting a giant steak with a glass of fine red.

In the Austral winter (June to October) the Lake District town of Bariloche is a ski resort: at other times of year it is the place to go hiking through ancient rainforest around lakes of peppermint green. Go east to Ushuaia and the Atlantic coast: penguin and seal abound.

For the ultimate wilderness experience, head south to Patagonia. The Tierra del Fuego National Park adjoins Chile's Torres del Paine, a dramatic barrier of jagged, glaciated mountains that stand guard at the bottom of the world.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Deal with the Dead. In La Recoleta is a cemetary like no other: the mausoleums of Buenos Aires' great and good are larger than many inner-city dwellings, with tree-lined avenues and stray cats galore. Pay a small child and they'll show you Evita's grave too.
  2. Find your Inner Gaucho. Become part of cattle country by staying at an estancia, where you can saddle up for games of polo or run cattle drives across huge estates.
  3. Pampa Yourself. The Argentine Pampas are stunning, stretching flat as a lake to a curving horizon of clouds, or the faint outline of the snow-capped Andes. Drive or ride, don't fly, across this unique landscape.
  4. Wine is Fine. Drive around the colonial towns and rolling vineyards of Argentina’s unexpectedly civilised north-west. Tasting opportunities abound
  5. Sunbathe on Ice. The Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park is one of the world's greatest sights, an 18-mile river of ice that calves and fractures into the water nearby. Go in summer and you might be able to sunbathe - but not for long
  6. Learn to Tango. This sultry, moody dance was born in Buenos Aires and there are plenty of places you can learn. Or strut your stuff in the informal clubs in Recoleta or Palermo districts
  7. Wow at Water. Head north to the Brazilian border to see the churning torrents of rainbowed water that is the Iguacu Falls. Butterflies feast on the mist in the surrounding National Park

Wanderlust tips

For an authentic day out, take your own meat to the countryside: public barbecues are dotted around beauty spots where you will be joining an army of happy Argentinians grilling meat in the great outdoors. Bookworm or music fan? Allow a day for some aimless pottering around the many book and record stores in Buenos Aires.

Further Reading

Travel in Argentina: vital statistics

  • Capital of Argentina: Buenos Aires
  • Population of Argentina: 42.6 million
  • Languages in Argentina: Spanish; also Mapudungun, Welsh
  • Time in Argentina: GMT-3
  • International dialing code in Argentina: +54
  • Voltage in Argentina: 220/240V, 50Hz AC
  • Visas for Argentina: Not required by UK nationals. Find out more: Argentina visas
  • Money in Argentina: Argentinean peso (AR$). Take dollars and buy pesos in Buenos Aires or Bariloche. If using an unofficial casa de cambio (exchange house), ask your hotelier for a recommendation as counterfeit bills are in circulation. ATMs are pretty widespread, with the exception of rural Patagonia.
  • Travel advice for Argentina: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Argentinian Tourist Board: Sectur Official Argentine state tourist board

When to go to Argentina

Argentina is long, full of complex topography and subject to a range of weather systems. Broadly speaking, the centre – including Buenos Aires – is most pleasant in the Austral spring (September-November) and early autumn (March-April).

The south, including Patagonia, is windiest in summer (December-February) and coldest in winter (June-August); heavy snowfalls can cut off towns in the Andean regions of Patagonia. At this time of year ski resorts come to life in Mendoza province, the Lake District near Bariloche and Tierra del Fuego.

The north-west is pleasant during the day year round, but receives heavy rainfall in summer, while the north-east has a lowland subtropical climate – hot, humid and generally sunny.

International airport

Ministro Pistarini International (EZE) is 22km from Buenos Aires.

Getting around in Argentina

Buses in Argentina are excellent. There are long-distance services from Buenos Aires to all the provincial capitals, though some journeys are extremely long (Buenos Aires to Río Gallegos: 38 hours).

Buenos Aires’ domestic airport, Jorge Newbery, is a ten-minute taxi ride from downtown or Palermo, and has frequent connections to all points of the country; some domestic flights depart from Ezeiza, so double check when booking – you’ll need to allow an hour to get from the city centre to the international airport.

For Uruguay, fast, frequent jetfoils serve Colonia del Sacramento (one hour) and Montevideo (2.5 hours) from Buenos Aires. 

Argentina accommodation

Accommodation is plentiful in Argentina with everything from 5-star opulence to tiny hospedajes in family houses. In Buenos Aires, you’ll be spoilt for choice with boutique hotels, chic townhouses converted into B&Bs and some excellent hostels.

Camping is popular in Argentina. For a dash of elegance, quaff your red wine from the porch of an estancia (ranch) in the pampas.

Argentina food & drink

Beef, beef and more beef is the order of the day in Argentina: great news for steak lovers if not for cows or vegetarians. Nothing is more Argentinean than a leisurely asado (barbecue) or a visit to the local parrillada (grilled meat restaurant) with family or friends.

Aside from the meat, the Italian influence is strong here, which means plenty of fresh pasta, gigantic pizzas and heavenly ice-cream. Take home some alfajores, a biscuity treat filled with a moreish caramel goo known as dulce de leche.

Vegetarians shouldn’t struggle too much in the cities but you’re likely to be laughed at elsewhere. Look for empanadas (pastries) or stuffed pasta with vegetarian fillings. 

Health & safety in Argentina

Argentina has no malaria and minimal yellow-fever issues; consult your GP for suggested vaccinations. Medical insurance is essential – private health services can be very expensive for those without cover. Visitors to remote regions of the north-west should be alert for Chagas disease. You should be up-to-date with routinely recommended vaccinations.

While guns and knives are not as common as in some neighbouring countries, use ATMs only during the day and keep a close eye on belongings in public places. Most crime is of the opportunistic kind.