Diversity drives the core of Argentina from the natural landscapes to the cities and the people. With so much to see and explore, Argentina is the King of Wanderlust and rightfully fuels the travel daydreams of people all over the world.
With Patagonia, the Andes Mountains, Iguazú Falls, glaciers, beaches, deserts, and wetlands, nature’s beauty in this wild landscape is a major draw for tourists. But beyond the pretty pictures, cities like Buenos Aires and Córdoba are also big attractions where people can get a taste of the local cuisine, dance to the tango, and enjoy the thrill of soccer. The balance between Latin and European culture has given Argentina a unique personality, which makes this South American destination a shining star.
Bienvenidos – Welcome to Argentina
Buenos Aires is the dynamic capital of Argentina that is known for its gastronomy, art, architecture, and culture. The old colonial architecture from France and Italy are mixed with more modern designs and filled to the brim with street art. Often called the ‘Paris of the South’, the capital proudly displays its passion on the streets. Here, you can dance until you drop and smile in the sun. With a never-ending energy, Buenos Aires will excite your senses and draw you in for more.
Culture and Language
Argentina’s history is generally divided into four parts – early history, colonization, nation building, and modernity. Before Argentina was colonized, it was ruled by local tribes of indigenous people. These people include the Onas, Yámana, and Tehuelche people who are each from a different region.
These people were the major ethnic groups, who were then colonized beginning in 1502 by Portugal. However, it wasn’t until the Spanish explorer, Juan Díaz de Solís that the area began to establish real settlements. Buenos Aires was the first area settled, but it was later abandoned for Córdoba. However, Buenos Aires would be an important location in later years, when the war of independence sought to make Argentina an independent country.
The war ended in 1818 and secured independence, which led to the development of liberal and radical governments. Similar to many South American countries, Argentina had its ups and downs with oppressive leaders who sought only power and control. With numerous periods of instability, Argentina has struggled to find a balance between power and the people.
Current issues include corruption, human rights issues, and indigenous rights. But while Argentina is far from perfect, it is still is considered to be one of Latin America’s safest countries to visit. This is mostly because Argentina has avoided the chaos of neighboring countries like Brazil or Colombia.
But while Argentina’s history is complicated, the cumulation of different cultures throughout the year has shaped the country’s identity and made it extremely diverse. From the European settlers to the indigenous population, Latin and immigrants, the culture is a smorgasbord. Most travelers will experience the local culture through the food, architecture, festivals, music, art, and dance.
Argentine people are known for being friendly and welcoming to tourists. With a more direct approach, the people are known for being blunt, but that just makes genuine sentimentality all the more appreciated. The people will often greet with a smile, which will brighten your day.
Spanish is the official language in Argentina, but many people will comment that it is a rather distinct version of the dialect. With pronunciations that seem more Italian, Argentine Spanish is quite unique. But alongside Spanish, there are native language and a surprisingly large number of English speakers.
English has become an important language for Argentina, which is often taught as a second language in primary schools throughout the country. Argentina is known to be ranked as one of the “high aptitude” countries with the English language. With an increase in immigrants to Argentina, you may also encounter German, French, and Chinese in certain areas of the country too.
For US citizens who are interested in visiting Argentina, you do not need to obtain a tourist visa prior to your arrival to the country if you are staying for less than 90 days. However, you may seek a one-time visa extension at the immigration office in Buenos Aires for another 90 days in the country. If you wish to stay for longer than 90 days, you should seek guidance from the Argentine Embassy, which can assist you with completing the correct visa application.
Other requirements for entry into Argentina include having a US passport that must be valid at the time of entry. It is important to note that most airlines will now allow you to travel unless your passport has at least 6 months validity remaining. Your passport must also be in decent condition and have no damage or you could risk being denied entry into Argentina.
There are no vaccination requirements for entry into Argentina, but it is highly recommended that you are up to date on all vaccinations. You should also be aware that Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever, Dengue, Typhoid, and Rabies are all diseases that are prevalent in the country.
For entry into Argentina, there are also no currency restrictions. But for exit from the country, you must declare any amount over $10,000 US dollars if you are 16 years or older. Travelers who are less than 16 years old must declare any amount of money that is over $5,000 US dollars.
While the country is safe to visit and there are no current travel advisories that raise an alarm, you can stay up to date with current information if you sign up for the US Government’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which will give you all the latest alerts from the US Embassy.
Traveling is always fun but a big part of heading off on an adventure is planning your budget. It is important that you pre-plan a budget so that you don’t come up short of funds while you are far from home. Argentina is a moderately expensive country to visit, but it can be traveled on an inexpensive budget if you plan accordingly. The most important parts of your budget will be the airfare, accommodation, food, drink, and transportation.
Airfare will certainly be the biggest portion of your budget and one of the first purchases you’ll be likely to make, along with your accommodation. Airline tickets to Argentina are expensive and you should expect to pay an average of $1,000 US dollars from the United States to Argentina. However, when you go to Argentina and how early you book your ticket could lower the cost to about $700-$800 US dollars.
The high tourist season in Argentina runs from November to February, as well as July. This is when you’ll experience the most expensive airline tickets and high prices within the country. However, October and April are just before and after the high tourist season and still have decent weather, which can be a great time to experience the country and lower your budget. You should also book your airline ticket as early as possible, as waiting will likely mean that you will pay more.
Once you’ve booked a ticket, you may also want to book your accommodation or at the very list, consider how much you’ll need in your budget for a safe place to stay. Hostels are the most affordable type of accommodation in the country and many will cost $5-$10 US dollars per night for a dorm room and shared amenities. Private rooms will likely be double the price and cost about $20-$25 US dollars per night.
Budget hotels are also an option for a more private space, and many will cost about $30 US dollars per night. However, you should expect the price to increase in high tourist areas like Patagonia and may cost up to $40 US dollars per night. Nicer hotels can easily cost upwards of $200 US dollars per night and would be considered a luxury vacation.
Less common types of accommodation include Airbnb and camping. Airbnb is now established throughout most of Argentina and can be an affordable way to stay in nice places on your vacation. Most apartments will cost about $60 US dollars per night. Camping is also popular in the national parks and is an affordable way to sleep. With most campgrounds costing $2-$10 US dollars per night, you can save money and sleep out under the stars.
The next portion of your budget will often be your favorite part – food! Food is always important for hungry travelers and it is a great way for you to connect to the local culture and lifestyle. Argentine cuisine is an eclectic range of dishes with influences from Europe and Latin America.
Empanadas Tucumanas are Argentina’s take on the famous Latin meat pies, which are a delicious pastry filled with vegetables, meat, and cheese. For a taste of Italy, Argentina also has a pizza a caballo dish, which is a flatbread pizza sandwich. Chimichurri sauce is also famous in the country and is used to flavor meat, fish, and poultry. Grilling is another tasty way to explore around Argentina and the tiro de asado are the country’s famous grilled ribs. Often lightly seasoned, the ribs are then topped with chimichurri sauce for a punch of flavor.
But good food comes with a price and Argentina is known for having higher prices for their meals than other South American countries. For most travelers, the prices are still affordable if you stick to local places. In a local restaurant, you should expect to pay $4-$8 US dollars for a meal. A nicer restaurant would cost about $12 US dollars for a meal and the top eateries in major cities like Buenos Aires would have prices that rival the United States. This means that a meal could easily cost $40 US dollars for two people.
The most affordable way to eat would be to visit the street stalls. Street food, like empanadas, is common throughout Argentina, delicious, and affordable. Many dishes can be purchased for less than $1 US dollar, but some specials may cost $2 US dollars for a full meal. You can save even more money if you book accommodations with a kitchen and cook yourself. Most people will spend about $20 US dollars per week for their groceries.
Since Argentina’s economy changed in 2018, the cost of drinks has lowered by almost 50%. Many beers throughout the country can now be purchased for less than $3 US dollars. However, Argentine wine is very popular, and you may be excited to try the local vineyards. As with any wine, you get what you pay for. So cheap wine won’t be as good as a more expensive bottle. But in general, the cost of wine in Argentina can range from $5-$30 US dollars for a bottle.
Overall, budget travelers should expect to spend $40-$60 US dollars per day in Argentina. By staying in hostels and eating locally, you can stretch your budget further and spend less per day. However, a more moderate budget would mean that you spend about $100 US dollars per day, which would make room for private accommodations and nice meals. A luxury vacation to Argentina would cost about $200 US dollars or more per day.
How to Get Around
In Argentina there are so many different places to explore, whether you spend a day in the city or go to a faraway destination. The cost of transportation is the final important part of your budget that you’ll have to consider so that you can see more of the country and explore new places.
For travelers who want to see as much as possible and have a limited amount of time, domestic air travel will be the way to go. But it will come at a higher price. A lot higher. Foreigners are often heavily taxed on domestic flights, so you should expect to pay $240-$500 US dollars per flight. While the price is high, for travelers who can afford it in their budget, it can help them eliminate having to take a long bus ride.
If you don’t want to spend the money on flights and don’t mind traveling at a slower rate, buses are a great way to get around. Argentina is known for their bus network and there are many different rides for short and long-distance destinations. But the cost of the bus will depend on where you are going.
A 14.5-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Mendoza costs about $40 US dollars, but the shorter 10-hour ride from Bariloche to El Calafate costs about $105 US dollars due to the remoteness of the destination. For most travelers, the most expensive bus ticket would be about $235 US dollars and would take you from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. Shorter rides will usually cost less than $100 US dollars. You can also book overnight bus rides, which means that you save on the cost of accommodation.
If you are traveling between Buenos Aires, Córdoba, or Rosario, you can take a train instead of a bus. Trains will cost about $12-$35 US dollars for short trips. But the famous Train to the Clouds ticket prices cost about $104 US dollars.
When you aren’t traveling long distances, local transportation is the best way to get around a city. Buenos Aires is the only city with a subway, but most other cities in the country will have a bus transportation system. Rides are also affordable and cost less than $0.50 US cents each time. Taxis are also affordable, and you can take a 3-kilometer journey for less than $3 US dollars.
In most places, it is also safe to walk. However, whenever you walk you should be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close just to be cautious. But in most tourist areas, you can walk to your hearts delight. Just be mindful of sunset as certain areas can be unsafe after dark.
Top Places to Visit: Cities
While Buenos Aires is the main attraction, there are plenty of other cities to explore too. Here, we will give a brief overview of the top city destinations in Argentina.
Buenos Aires is the energetic capital of Argentina, which is known for its excellent cafes, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The city is a stunning mix of Europe and Latin culture with beauty around every corner. With museums, galleries, theater, and sports, the capital has a little taste of entertainment for everyone.
San Carlos de Bariloche
Often shortened to Bariloche, this area is famous for its numerous lakes. Here, the terrain is often described to be like Switzerland and even has incorporated the European country’s architecture into its buildings. The Cerro Catedral is a famous ski resort in the area, but the summer you can still explore by hiking or trekking.
Since the development of the Los Glaciares National Park, El Calafate has become a hotspot on the map. The town is located in a remote area of Patagonia and is often the place for tourists to stay before they visit the Perito Moreno Glacier. While the town is small, there quaint shops and restaurants to explore on the Main Street.
Mendoza is Argentina’s wine region and the home to world class vineyards. The city is filled to the brim with fine dining and spacious architecture. With some historic areas preserved, visitors will enjoy walking the streets to see the sights. The Andes Mountains are also nearby so that you can arrange a day tour to this world-famous set of peaks.
With a large student population, Córdoba has a youthful energy. There are plenty of bars to explore and you can indulge in the local art scene. The peaceful setting is also a great base camp to explore the nearby region.
Similar to the capital, Rosario is a downsized version of Buenos Aires. Here, there are beaches, bars, restaurants, and cafes that all provide a good time. The mix of architectural styles gives Rosario a unique appearance, but the wide streets and pathways are extremely pedestrian friendly.
You’ve hit the bottom of the world – almost. Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city and located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. With a dramatic mountain backdrop, this city mostly attracts people who want to explore the outdoors by kayaking, sailing, trekking, and skiing. It is also the go-to spot for Antarctic exploration as all ships depart from Ushuaia.
Points of Interest
While cities are always at the top of the list, you may also find that there are certain attractions that pique your interest. With an entire country to explore, here are the top points of interest in Argentina.
Between the border of Brazil and Argentina are the Iguazu Falls, which are a large set of cascades on the Iguazu River. Here, you can take a boat out onto the water to feel the mist or spend the day relaxing in the nearby spas. You may even catch a glimpse of the exotic wildlife peeking through the lush greenery.
Here is the land of glaciers and where you can hear the sounds of ice cracking. Los Glaciares is located in the Patagonia region and it has the largest icecap apart from Antarctica and Greenland. The mountain backdrop is also great for climbing to get a better view of the glaciers.
For the whale lovers, Puerto Madryn is the place to go. Here, the Southern Right Whale breeds every year and births their young. The whales come close to shore so that you can see them from the coast, but you can also take a boat out on to the water and book a day tour. But you should book early because during the summer months, which is whale season, the town’s population explodes.
Mar del Plata
Beach lovers will be enchanted by Mar del Plata, which is Argentina’s top resort area. Here, the buzzing nightlife continues on into the day as people sip their drinks on the beach. With endless entertainment, this area is the perfect mix of party and relaxation.
Get Out and Go
Argentina has the exact zest of life that you need to liven your adventures. With endless opportunities to escape into nature, explore the local cuisine, or get to know the wine – tourists with fall in love with this South American dream. The high safety of the country also means that you can travel with less worries and test your toes with the tango.